Azerbaijan small group vacation

“Week-long small group overland tour of Azerbaijan leaving in early May or Sept to offer travelers unique access to Azeri communities living within the land of fire. ”

Highlights

Baku | Absheron Peninsula | Gobustan | Guba | Krasnaya Sloboda | Shamakha | Lahic | Qabala | Shekhi | Kish |

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2018: 6 May, 9 Sep
2019: 5 May, 8 Sep
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Azerbaijan small group vacation

Environment

Most of the time on this tour is spent in towns and cities, but we also visit the extraordinary landscapes of Gobustan, where mud volcanoes belch from the earth to create a very unusual phenomenon. We brief our travelers to stick to the trails so as not to disturb this unique landscape and leave it for others to enjoy. Elsewhere at Gobustan are a remarkable collection of petroglyphs and prehistoric rock art, which are particularly susceptible to damage, and again we ensure our travelers do not damage these. Azerbaijan was part of the Soviet Union and as such western European norms regarding the environment are not so well entrenched, therefore it is quite common for local people to dispose of rubbish simply by throwing it out of the window. We operate a strict no litter policy on our tours, and work to educate our drivers and other service providers so as to avoid contributing to this problem.

Similarly, in conjunction with our local team we work with hotels and guesthouses to implement best practices when it comes to environmental matters – in some places this is far behind what we might be used to in other parts of the world. This includes basic things like not replacing towels each day, as well as saving electricity and turning lights off – small things but Azerbaijan, especially outside of Baku is not as used to tourism as countries in western Europe.

Community

On all of tours we strive to include a strong focus on local communities and we are firm believers that tourism should have a positive impact on the places visited. On this tour we try to allow our travelers to gain a real insight into the traditional customs of the country; a good example of this is on our Nakhchivan Extension where we visit the pilgrimage site of Ashabu Kaf. We join local people at the mountain and travelers are explained the complex customs here which intertwine Islam with older beliefs. We ensure that our travelers are appropriately briefed in order so as not to offend local sensibilities. This also applies to the churches, mosques and that we visit on this trip; Azerbaijan is a religious country and it is important that we respect these traditions.

We also stop to visit communities of Armenia’s ethnic minorities including the Jewish community of Krasnaya Sloboda. We only visit villages that are pleased to receive us – it is important that we do not treat such communities just as ‘exhibits’, and we recognise that some traditional groups prefer to be left alone.

We visit a number of sites and monuments on this tour that do not necessarily receive much funding from other sources; the entrance fees that we include help to maintain the heritage of this country for future generations – not just western travelers but more importantly to local people to whom they have far more cultural and historical significance. We use locally owned suppliers and our partners here are deeply involved with the preservation of the culture and heritage of the country. Many of Azerbaijan’s sites have been poorly maintained in the past and entrance fees play an important part in their restoration and conservation.

1 Reviews of Azerbaijan small group vacation

5 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 26 Sep 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The entire trip was both memorable and exciting! Azerbaijan is a beautiful country and has a rich culture, I loved the capital city of Baku a cosmopolitan, vibrant place, where the old historic monuments sit alongside new modern landmarks. The genuine openness of the local people was clear to see who were more than happy to help with directions or places to see in the city. The other locations on route had picturesque scenery and showed an insight into everyday Azeri life and it was clear to see how the culture of the country today is intertwined with the many of the previous settlers that once were in Azerbaijan.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


A top tip would be to be prepared to walk a lot and have suitable footwear, other than that the guide will assist in places other than Baku, when staying in the city it's fairly easy to walk around with the majority of people speaking some degree of English.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, whereever possible we stuck to routes already marked, and lunches or dinner were always in local restaurants, any other shopping was always done in local stores, as well as this we gave some additional Manat (local currency) to all the places we visited or tipped workers. This is not obligatory.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


The organisation was fantastic, the transport, hotels, locations etc. Our guide Kamilla was professional and polite throughout the trip, always on hand to answer any questions we had.

Azerbaijan is a country that isn't brash and loud like some destinations. The appeal of it is in the heritage and history, quiet dainty streets, charming rural areas and the genuine hospitality of the local people. I hope I get to visit again soon.


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