Up, Down, and Around Again – Hiking in Xinaliq

Posted by on December 14, 2012

Easily my favorite little town in Azerbaijan, Xinaliq village is one of my shining-est memories from the whole country.

Fences from Nowehre

So much hiking to do in this little mountain bowl. This fence (protecting a field of flowers?) was a short ways above town.


With a small population and very few tourists, we hiked past more cows than people.


My travel buddy at the time, Jason, coming back from a short photo stop on the way uphill.


As dark clouds roll in and we start to reconsider the days’ plan, yet another crew of cows line up on the ridge for me.

In Yo' Face

To be honest, Jason and I’s photography got a bit out of hand. We probably spent half an hour stalking this mob of sheep.


Eventually, higher up the ridge, we ran across the shepherds looking after all this livestock.


Though they weren’t terribly stoked about photo-time, they were kind enough to offer us a warm cup of tea on a pretty cold day. They cooked it cowboy style, in an ashy metal heated directly on the coals.

Lunch Another Day

Eventually, the clouds rolled out a bit and a broad view of beautiful mountains opened up. The Russian border is just a short ways beyond this peak.


Eventually, though, we got lazy and headed back down. The next day’s hike would aim towards the tall mountain in the left background.

High-ish Pasture

Once again, more sheep than folks.


Though the owner of these guys spoke a bit of english, and was super friendly. We’d see him again towards the end of the day.

Xinaliq Peak

We eventually hit our peak (as opposed to THE peak) at a pretty vertical rock face that seemed a bit foolish to continue up.

View from on High

To his credit, Jason is afraid of heights and hung on a lot longer than he reasonably should have. He may have been cursing very loudly as we made our way down from this point, though.

Nomadic Sheeppen

On the way home, we took the shepherd (see above) up on his invitation to drop by for tea.

Guard Dog

The families’ dogs were not amused as we tried to come into camp, but once our host escorted us they were content to lie beside us and hope for scraps.

Cud Chewers

But all good breaks must end. And so, on the way back down, goodbye for now to the free-range cows.

Village Valley

My legs were pretty burn-y at this point, so it was about time to head home anyways.

the Next Big Thing

The hike up the little hill to our homestay was perhaps the hardest part, but luckily a couple of vacationers from Quba stopped and picked us up. One last evening, then, Jason and I sat around looking at mountains and drinking tea and wishing everywhere could be this amazing.

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6 Responses to Up, Down, and Around Again – Hiking in Xinaliq

  1. Grace

    Absolutely stunning.

  2. Jonny Blair

    Great photos and post here Stephen. We just visited Azerbaijan last month and also loved Xinaliq – we stayed in Seki as well – best thing is there are just not many tourists about which is amazing!! Safe travels. Jonny

    • Stephen

      Hey, thanks Jonny. Xinaliq was by far my favorite place in the country, though to qualify that we didn’t get far at all off the beaten track. Agreed, though, it was one of those places where it seemed strange to see another tourist!

  3. Yelena

    Hello, beautiful place. Where did you get a guide?

    • Stephen

      No guide necessary, we just went for a bit of a stroll in whatever direction looked most promising on a given day. The only accommodation in the village is in family guesthouses, though, so I’m sure you could ask your hosts to arrange somebody for you.

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