Have you ever thought that a whole nation would live only in a single village? There is such village located in North of Azerbaijan. It is called Khinalig. The inhabitants of this village call themselves Ketish. Nowhere else in the world you can find this etnicity. Khinalig people or Ketish have their own language, different from others, their own traditions, architecture. All of them are muslim.
Knowing all these facts, I could not stop myself from visiting this village. Finally, in summer of 2017 I took my backpack & 2 good friends, and we headed to Khinalig. I will not share encyclopedic data about Khinalig but will share my impressions about the trip, village, it’s inhabitants.
On the way to Khinalig…
If you ever wish to have excellent views out of your car window, get some adrenaline, feel the might of mountains and scale of large landscape, then this trip is for you. I even struggled to decide which was more interesting - the trip or the final destination. Actually, on the way to Khinalig many times we stopped the car to go outside and feel all that beauty that surrounds us. In such cases you don’t need to take pictures, but simply see & feel.
Road starts from Guba, where large areas of Gachrash forests covering all your road and sometimes making you to turn on your headlights even during day time. Even in summer it is often very cool in the forest.
After approximately 30 minutes driving you enter a canyon. Driving on narrow, slippary road, between high rocks and aside the full water river will give you extreme feelings. Here you definitely have to stop your car & get out for a while. Once you pass the canyon your car will experience even more struggle with stronger elevation. Yes, now you start the part where there will be lots of climbing with car.
At the last part of trip, you will be driving on the open plain between to mountain masses. This part I liked the most. I felt like I am on another planet. Here you really understand how small and helpless you are, when compared to the scale of these magnificent mountaint.
At the village...
After 1+ hour driving we reached Khinalig. This is a small village on the top of a hill. When you arrive, you will notice a unique architecture of this village. The houses are built in such a manner, that the roof of one house is the yard of other one.
Khinalig has couple of guest houses, some private houses for daily rent. At the entrance to village we stopped at a market. The same building of market had a guest house on the second floor. We contacted the owner and took a room. We definitely had to get some rest. In the market we could by some items of need and even fuel for our car (yes, they also store gas in a large tank).
You can be sure that from the window of your room you will see and exceptional view to the mountains. Especially during night time, when there was no lighting around, we could see pair of small lights on the hills - as we were told, these were wolves. We could clearly hear their wooing at the evening hours.
It was interesting to walk in narrow streets of this village. We visited a private museum, where we could see lots of items belonging to the ancient and modern history of Khinalig and were very impressed. By the way, don’t forget to buy some souvenirs from local kids. All of them are handmade. This way you can support local people as well as keep a sweet memory from an interesting trip.
Hope all written here could give you some understanding of Khinali. There are lots of other stuff which you can explore if you visit Khinalig. None of the told stories will give you the full extend of feelings from this trip. You have to try it yourself. So, why to wait? Go ahead. Get an unforgettable memory.
How to get there? Tips.
The road to Khinalig lays through Guba city. Guba is ~2.5 hrs drive distance from Baku. And from Guba there is a straight road to Khinalig, 55 km. long. All the trip from Baku to Khinalig takes approximately 4 hours. The average speed during Guba-Khinalig trip falls rapidly, due to stong elevation. Road quality is good and you can travel even with a sedan. Important to keep in mind that your car needs to have stong enough engine to climb stong inclinations. I’ve heard from local drivers that some cars with weaker engines failed to climb and even some rolled back. If you are not planning a night stay, then you have to depart earlier. Make sure you have enough fuel in your car’s tank. Lots of climbing during Guba-Khinalig road will consume lots of your fuel. Sure, you would not like to be left out of fuel in the middle of nowhere. Also, make sure you have warm wear if you are travelling during spring or autumn period. By the way, trips during any season, except from Summer, needs to be planned carefully. It is highly recommended that you have an experienced driver and preferably SUV. As I said, the road can be in good quality, but the elevations, the width of the road in some areas, hard turns really require good driving skills and strong vehicle.
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