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debent and shalbuz dag
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Saturday, 12 September 2015

Derbent city, historical border between Europe and Asia, is supposed to be 5000 years old. We take a bit of time to visit the old town, helped by improvised russian speaking guides. It s circled by walls going from a hill top fortress into the sea. The walls are being renovated to celebrate their 2000 birthday in the coming weeks.

derbent fortress derbent fortress derbent walls derbent walls

We have lunch in front of the Caspian sea and later Sophie go to swim in it.

caspian sea 1 caspian sea 1 caspian sea 2 caspian sea 2

In the evening, we meet a local girl and a spanish backpacker, with whom we have dinner in one of the best restaurants in town.

Before leaving Russia, we want to climb Shalbuz-dag, one of the highest mountains of Dagestan (4142m). Once at the beginning of the ascent (2900m already), a young muslim man welcome us, and after feeding us with meat and greasy soup, escort us to the top, and explain (in russian) all the rituals we have to perform during what is a real pilgrimage.

south daghestan south daghestan shalbuz dag 1 shalbuz dag 1

The landscape is great, that may explain why this mountain is sacred. At this altitude, the climb is tough, especially for Sophie, but our new friend make ourselves ridiculous by running and singing. The trail ends at 3800m, with some rock climbing that finishes to tire ourselves out.

shalbuz dag 2 shalbuz dag 2 shalbuz dag 3 shalbuz dag 3

shalbuz dag 4 shalbuz dag 4 shalbuz dag 5 shalbuz dag 5

shalbuz dag 6 shalbuz dag 6

The next day, we cross a border again, which seems to have undefined and not constant opening hours. After having forced a bit our way in, the paper work is normally done on the russian side. But it will take about 2 hours on the azeri side. First, we are asked 17000 deposit for driving the car in, cash. Eventually, with the help of the custom officers, willing to offer us a nice stay in their country, we pay only the road tax and insurance for 70€. Some other customs officers are less flexible, and ask us to unload a big part of the bags to X-ray them. Once the passport stamped, we head to Xinaliq, a nice mountain village next to which we spend our first night in Azerbaijan.

Xinaliq region 1 Xinaliq region 1 Xinaliq region 2 Xinaliq region 2

Xinaliq region 3 Xinaliq region 3 camping near Xinaliq camping near Xinaliq