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Published: October 4th 2008
Mark Elliot’s “Trailblazer” guide to Azerbaijan
has proved an excellent purchase. How this man managed to travel so extensively around the country beggars belief. I wonder if he knows how grateful people like us are!
Between Quba and Xinaliq is what he names the “Cloudcatcher” canyon. Presumably it has another name but we didn’t discover it! We left Quba on Monday morning courtesy of a 4 wheel drive jeep arranged for us by Xeyraddin
. The journey took a little over two hours as the road is now tarmac all the way. The weather was pretty dire and we heard it was snowing in Xinaliq.
We raced through the wooded areas where many people from Baku have their dacha
summer residences. All along the route the scenery would no doubt have been spectacular had we been able to see it. The canyon certainly caught far too many clouds that day!
As the canyon opened out into sweeping hills and countryside, the clouds broke affording us delightful views. It was a real taste of what we had missed! We stopped often along the way to take photos and at the first stop near the “minaret” rock formation we even climbed up a stairway
carved into the rock. The waterfalls were dramatic and the river’s summer trickle was swelled into a small torrent by the first post-summer rains.
Lunch was with our driver’s family in a tiny village somewhere along the way. Above us snow glistened on the mountain tops and the temperature plunged as we climbed higher into the Caucasus Mountains. We were served a lovely chicken meal, although we suspect it was actually turkey. We did see a few of them wandering around to support this theory. Chillies hung drying in the windows and there were many unusual ornaments for us to see, including a rather bizarre clock. Tea was served fresh from the samovar
and accompanied by sweet local honey. The ablutions even warrant a mention. This was rural Azerbaijan at its most basic. Leave the house, walk alongside the huge haystack and past the chickens, enter the hut and squat on wooden slats over an enormous (and slightly smelly) hole in the ground!!!!
As we got closer to Xinaliq the snow crept ever further down the mountains. There was a definite chill in the air but the views were magnificent. The next blog will tell you all about
our experiences in Xinaliq. It was an amazing trip and none of us can believe we were only in the village for 24 hours. It seemed like a lot longer than that as we did so much.
Our return to Quba saw much better weather. We were even able to have clear views of the valleys and the canyon as the cloud had cleared. It was fantastic and will live long in our memories.
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