by Ucman Scher
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A Day Solo Trip Guide to Quba, Xinaliq & Shelale

Azerbaijan is blessed with all 9 micro-climates. Quba is the hill station with lush vegetation and great scenery. The drive up to Quba is equally beautiful.

I decided to keep Baku as my base and do day trips around the country to avoid dragging my luggage around with me and it was a good decision. On my first day in Baku, I came across a friendly taxi driver who spoke English (it is quite a rare phenomenon to find a decent taxi driver that speaks English in most countries). 

Read my country guide about Azerbaijan to find answers to all your questions for a comfortable trip.

We came to an arrangement and I used his taxi to go around the country, the price was reasonable and he happened to be an amazing photographer which was the ultimate bonus for me.

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Getting to Quba

Quba is easily accessible by public transport as well but they won’t stop for you at the spots you’d like and I’d highly recommend either getting your own car or hiring one. My driver charged me rough 150 AZN for a day including fuel and I paid for his food which was very cheap.

If you’d like to use public transport you can take the marshrutkas which charge 4 AZN or you can take the shared cab from January 20th station or Shamahinka station. I am not sure how much they charge.

Check out all the different modes of transportation you can use in a new city.

The landscape

On the Way

I woke up quite early, took a nice cold shower, grabbed some quick breakfast and we were on our way. The road leaving Baku gave way to vast expanses of desert and as the sun getting higher up, the heat intensified. We drove for about two hours and finally arrived in Quba. Most cities outside Baku in Azerbaijan are simply residential cities without much to see. This is true for Quba as well. 

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I got us some tea and Baklava from a very nice old lady who gave me 2 extra pieces (Aren’t the poorest the most generous people ever!) and then we were on the way.

The Unnamed Woodland

A little drive further we entered an interesting and somewhat enchanted forest. The whole area around the road was covered in these beautiful trees that covered the sky.

Trying to appear philosophical…

There was no other vegetation on the ground which is quite rare for forests. It was my lucky day because we found a nice restaurant for lunch. The food was delicious and the dough (diluted yoghurt with salt and dried mint and cumin) was the last thing I remember before an amazing 30 minutes nap. I walked up and explored the scenery around with a walk. 

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To the Mountains

Soon I was called back for our tea and we were ready and on the way to the mountains…

The ride afterwards took us through beautiful mountain scenery. It was unfathomable that we started in Baku which is less than 3 hours away in the middle of a burning desert and now we are reaching out for our jackets because it is fairly cold.


The lush greenery covered everything and finally, we arrived at the viewpoint of Xinaliq (Pronounced Khaenalek). The village looks like a fairy town in a valley covered with green velvet. My driver cum companion and photographer told me to continue instead of going into the village to show me the area much further with a river and a waterfall higher in the mountains. Who was I to say no to that!


We headed higher up in the mountains closer to the Russian border and arrived at Shelale. I was so happy I listened to the guy. After a bit of exploring around, I saw some folks selling mountain honey and some older women selling Kutabi bread. On my request they made me two, one with savoury herbal filling from mountains and the other one with mountain honey. A cup of tea from the nearby cafe and I was sorted. I sat there listening to the sound of water hitting the rocks, flowing downstream for god knows how long.

It started getting darker and I finally left to head back to Baku. 

To date, this is one of my most beautiful exploration where I just trusted a local to take me around instead of following the maps or guidebooks and I am still thankful to Rasim for treating me with such kindness.

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