A Day Trip to Qebele and Tufendag
My stay in Azerbaijan lasted 6 days and 2 of these, I spent making day trips outside Baku. I chose Qebele not because of the city but because of the opportunity to see and explore multiple places in a day. It also happens to be the ski resort of the country and offers an excellent location for skiing enthusiasts.
I mentioned it before as well but most cities in Azerbaijan outside Baku haven’t got anything special for visitors on a grand scale. You can get done in an hour. This stands true for Qebele as well.
On the way
I woke up early and after a quick breakfast and a shower I was ready for a day of exploration. The taxi I had hired with the driver was waiting for me.(Cost: AZN 150 for the day with fuel). I was met by Rasim downstairs and we headed out of Baku.
Rasim was my local tour guide/driver/travel companion/friend/photographer throughout this trip.
The skyscrapers of Baku gave way to the poorer areas and then to the desert. Rasim showed me where he lived and it almost shocked me to see the area even form a distance, it resembled a shanty town. Baku is a big bubble for the rich of the country, the rest of country is very poor with limited resources and sub par standard of life. I felt bad for the warm and friendly people of this beautiful country. If you feel the same way, hire local people during your travels and stay in local places for your money to actually arrive in the pockets of people who make the places what they are..
Sadness aside, we grabbed some tea and headed out towards Qebele. The drive was smooth with good roads. We passed through roads big and small and I realised how similar these places are wherever you are in Middle East and Asia. I got the same feeling in Jordan passing through similar landscape.
After 2 and a half hours of drive we arrived at Nohur lake which was our first stop. The lake was crowded with tourists. We left the car in the parking area and headed inside. I saw the beautiful colourful wooden boats that take you around the lake but I don’t think the water level was high enough.
There were also pedal boats available for hire but I preferred walking a bit further to see the wild side of this place. After 10 minutes the forest around covered me and I arrived at a beautiful spot with the lake water splashing gently at the shore. The journey was well worth it, I thought.
I took some photos and then headed back to the car park because I was getting hungry, it was past my usual lunch time.
The city is quite a boring place with a few restaurants and a big adventure park called Gabaland. Since I am no longer a child (thankfully!), I skipped it and headed to a restaurant along the main road and found a restaurant which had mediocre food despite good reviews. Food done, it was time to get out to of the city and on to our next stop.
Yeddi Gozel Waterfall (Waterfall of 7 Beauties)
Rasim told me about a beautiful waterfall nearby and we headed that way. The waterfall is called the waterfall of 7 beauties. I probed around but unfortunately I couldn’t find the reason or the story. When I was researching for this article I found that the name is because of the 7 mountain roads that lead to this waterfall in the village of Vandam.
I arrived at the spot where the main road gave way to a semi paved road. We couldn’t go any further due to road condition but it wasn’t so bad because the solution was my favourite Russian Lada cars. There were a few parked there with drivers waiting. Rasim spoke to them and a bit of negotiation (It is very usual) the fun ride started. I absolutely love these cars! Where I’d be rattling like a coin in a tin in normal cars, I was sitting comfortably in this car like a luxury Sedan or BMW. Not sure why they don’t make cars like this anymore!
The arrival at the waterfall was swift and quick and I headed to the top. There were a million stairs to climb, I grabbed my water bottle and headed up. (The secret is not to look up to determine how many more need to be climbed.)
I was at the top eventually after crossing a small wooden bridge anover a river/stream and found a much needed cafe there with great tea. The seating area was comfortable and the tea was amazing. Rasim told me they use the waterfall water to make the tea so I was drinking essentially glacial waters heated up to brew tea. It made the taste even better.
The tea really refreshed me and we decided to head towards our last stop of the day.
Tufendag is a mountain resort which is the ultimate skiing spot in the country. We arrived ta the Tufendag Resort and purchased the tickets for the cable car which was roughly $6 per person. The cable car has 4 different lines and the more lines you add, the more expensive the ticket becomes.
The entrance is very impressive and everything about this place screams luxury. The cable cars were quite good and we didn’t have to wait a lot.
Note: Despite being quite warm in Baku, the temperature drops drastically as you go up in Tufendag so don’t forget to grab a jacket for this trip.
After changing a few lines, we arrived at the highest spot which offers amazing views. It was summer but the air was chilly and crisp, the mountains around were covered in lush vegetation. The air was clean, crisp and fresh and if I had known I’d definitely spend a night here to feel the silence around me.
The way down we saw the dam which was a beautiful pearl blue colour until we arrived back and the journey back to Baku started.
I thought we were done for the day but Rasim had one last surprise for me.
We arrived in Shimakhi which is a small city on the way back to Baku. The city is lined with small houses in quiet streets and in those streets we arrived at a restaurant for dinner. I am going to be honest I didn’t note the name because I was tired but I think it was Dostlug restaurant. It was a big place inside with a nice garden. The best part was the fresh food. The servers were very friendly and brought us some extra stuff to try. Kufta Buzbash from this place is something I will never forget, it was simply divine. Simple food in a simple setting enjoyed with simple people, what else do you want to be happy in life eh!
It was time to head back to Baku where a king size bed and a shower were waiting for me. It was a blessed day!