When To Hike
Different seasons offer vastly different experiences in hiking this route. The most vivid and colorful time would be late spring to early summer, once the snow has melted and before the intense heat of the summer has set in.
However, this route is hikeable in all seasons – even in the snowy winter (that is, if you come prepared for the conditions and deeper snow at high altitudes).
Getting To & From The Trailheads
To get to the district of Guba or Gusar from Baku, you can take a taxi from Shamakhinka (Şamaxınka), or a bus or taxi from the Baku International Bus Station (Bakı Beynəlxalq Avtovağzal Kompleksi).
To get to the endpoints of Sohub and Khinalig, you will need to take a taxi. You can take a taxi to Laza village of Gusar, if you wish to start from there. All other villages along the trek are also accessible by taxi. You may dial 0559415044 for a taxi in Guba, and 077 300 00 38 in Gusar.
There are several hotels in the district center cities of Guba and Gusar, ranging from guesthouses to resorts, for overnight accommodation. There are many restaurants and markets, as well as the bazaar, in the district centers.
The following village-specific information is provided by the Azerbaijan Tourism Board:
Sohub: To get to Sohub, you may find a car in Quba’s district center. In snowy and difficult weather conditions, only Niva and UAZ cars can reach the village. Prices range from 65-75 AZN.
Budug and Zeyid: To get to Zeyid and Budug, you will need to take a Niva or UAZ. You can reach these villages from Grizdehne, or from Quba’s district center, where a taxi can take you from 70-80 AZN.
Grizdehne: You can get to Grizdehne in an off-road vehicle. From Guba city centre local taxis can take you there for 20-25 AZN. If you intend to return to Guba from Grizdehne on the same day, you can ask the driver to wait and take you back for no extra payment. If you intend to return to Guba from Griz, you can ask the driver to collect you from there and take you back for an extra 40 AZN.
Griz: Local taxis (only Niva and UAZ jeeps) can take you to Griz village from the centre of Guba city for 60 AZN. If you intend to return to Guba from Griz, you can ask the driver to wait for you and take you back for no extra payment. If you intend to return to Guba from Galakhudat, you ask the same driver to collect you and take you back for about an extra 20 AZN.
Galakhudat: You can get to Galakhudat in an off-road vehicle. From the centre of Guba, local taxis (Niva and UAZ jeeps) can take you there for 50 AZN. If you intend to return to Guba from Khinalig, you can ask the driver to collect you from there and take you back for about an extra 10 AZN.
Khinalig: You can get to Khinalig from the center of Guba by taxi for 60 AZN. The road conditions requires an off-road car such as a Niva or UAZ.
Laza: You can get to the village by taking a car from the district center of Gusar or Guba. Local taxis can take you to Laza from the city of Gusar for 25-30 AZN, or from the city of Guba for 50-60 AZN.
Yergi Kek: You can reach Yergi Kek via the road from the city of Gusar to the village of Sudur, however the road is 60km long and travelling by local taxi will cost at least 100 AZN. The last 10km is only suitable for off-road vehicles. The other option is to come from Kuzun along the Kuzun-Archan-Yergi Kek road. The journey price by taxi from Gusar to Yergi Kek via Kuzun along this route is 70-80 AZN. The part of the road after Kuzun is only suitable for off-road vehicles and is only open in spring and summer. In winter, due to the large amount of snow, it is practically impossible to reach Yergi Kek by vehicle.
Where To Stay
Most villages along the way have guesthouse accommodations available for visitors. See the notes of each section for details. Guesthouse locations are available on OpenStreetMaps, although it may be easier to ask locals for directions by mentioning the name of the guest house or its owner. Prices for food and lodging is generally quite affordable, but vary between villages and seasons.
As in most places in the Caucasus, wild camping is largely tolerated, though you may be visited by inquisitive locals if you set up your tent in a conspicuous location. Please be a respectful visitor and practice Leave No Trace habits so that we can continue our good relationships with people along the trail and so that future hikers can enjoy the experience.
There are no stores with hiking/camping equipment in Guba nor Gusar. It is recommended that you bring all necessary supplies, including gas canisters from Baku. In Baku, you may visit Mountain Shop, as well as Yonja Outdoor Store, Dagchi Shop, or Outdoor Store for any supplies and equipment you may need to purchase or rent.
There are no major supermarkets along the route, although each village hosts small markets/convenience stores. The food options in these markets are often limited. If staying at a guesthouse, hosts provide home-cooked meals from local ingredients. You may ask for food for the road, and there will always be staples such as bread and cheese from local families. It is recommended you bring a sufficient supply of trail snacks and food before you set off on your trek.
As in many parts of the Caucasus, you can find some springs along the route, and water that is piped into villages is safe to drink. Other water sources along the route, such as rivers and streams, should generally be filtered due to the presence of livestock in the region. Carrying a water filter is recommended.
Additionally, there may be droughts in areas where there is usually plenty of water, during particularly hot seasons. Stock up on water whenever you can, as the next water source may not be dependable.
Azerbaijanis speak the Azerbaijani language, of the Oghuz branch of the Turkic language family. In the areas you will pass through, some people may speak Russian and/or Turkish, in addition to the language of their ethno-linguistic group, if they belong to another one. English is not very common. It is recommended you carry a dictionary or translating app, and/or learn basic phrases that may help you get around.
Some useful phrases when backpacking:
- “Where can I fill up on water?” ⇒ Suyu harada doldura bilərəm?
- “Where can I find X’s guesthouse?” ⇒ Xın qonaq evi harada yerləşir?
- “Where is the market/cafe?” ⇒ Mağaza/restoran harada yerləşir?
- “May I get some food for the road?” ⇒ Yola yemək verə bilərsiz?
- “May I get some bread and cheese?” ⇒ Yola pendir çörək verə bilərsiz?
- “I would like a taxi from here/A to B.” ⇒ Mənə buradan/Aan Ba taksi lazımdır?
- “I need directions to X.” ⇒ Xa istiqamət verə bilərsiz? / Xa yolu göstərə bilərsiz?
Aggressive dogs can be by far the biggest animal threat to TCT hikers. Many villagers keep guard dogs for security and train them to bark at potential intruders, but thankfully, such dogs are territorial and will rarely stray beyond their property boundaries. Beyond the villages and farms, dogs often accompany livestock herds as protection from predators, and you should monitor their behaviour closely. If they show aggression, it means they consider your presence a threat to their herds. If you proceed calmly without sudden movements, they will usually back off once you are far enough from the herd.
While the sight and sound of one or more barking dogs running towards you can be frightening, the correct course of action is to stand your ground and wait for the herder (who will usually be nearby) to call them off. Shout forcefully and throw stones or wave your trekking poles if you need to assert dominance. Do not run away, as this will trigger the dog’s instinct to chase.
To avoid these encounters in the first place, try to skirt around grazing herds at a wide distance, or, if there are farmers around, to seek out them as quickly as possible and approach with a friendly greeting.
We also recommend a precautionary rabies vaccination, remembering that this does not make you immune to the disease but does give you more time to receive treatment.
Keep an eye out for giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum), a relative of cow parsley, whose stem juices rid your skin of its ability to protect itself from sunlight, resulting in severe burns on exposed skin and potential blindness if it gets in your eyes. Learn to identify this plant and either avoid it or move gently through patches to avoid breaking the stalk and releasing the juice inside. If you get hogweed juice on you, wash your skin as soon as possible and cover it from the sunlight.
Storms in the Caucasus can be sudden and extremely intense, with lots of lightning and often hail. You should be familiar with best practices for choosing a campsite to minimize the risk of a lightning strike, stay attuned to the weather while hiking, be prepared to get to a lower elevation or to shelter if necessary, and be familiar with first aid practices for treating lightning-related injuries.
In midsummer, the heat can be intense. Make sure to carry plenty of water. Shifting your schedule to compensate, such as starting very early in the day and resting in the afternoon, is a good way to avoid the worst of the heat. Make sure you are familiar with the symptoms, prevention strategies, and treatment for dehydration and heat stroke.
Most villages have a local nurse, but the district centers have larger medical centers and hospitals. Below are emergency numbers useful throughout the country:
- Emergency Situations: 112
- Firefighting service: 101
- Police: 102
- Ambulance: 103
- Emergency and urgent medical aid: 113
Shepherds: Shepherds herd in the mountains between late spring and early fall, depending on location and climate. Some shepherd stations have drinking troughs that fill from a hose that carries spring water; other stations are not located near a water source, and the shepherds have to bring their supply of water. Shepherd stations can be a source for water replenishment, but hikers should avoid depending on them in areas without a natural water supply nearby.
Making calls: The area code in Azerbaijan is +994. If you are dialing locally, without the area code, you must replace them with a zero (0) before dialing the rest of the number.