Roads of Azerbaijan. Part 1: North

I've decided to post a little compilation of photos taken during travelling to northern regions of Azerbaijan. Roads may not be seen on some of the photos nevertheless, they all indeed were shot (from my car's window) while driving or when I just pulled off the road for a minute. There are no photos of locations here, I will just try to emphasize what kind of impressions of surroundings you should expect while traveling towards these directions. Photo qualities have nothing to be happy about because I am not a pro photographer either and I don't have any pro photo tools, most photos were taken via cell phone camera. So, here we go:

a) North-Mid West direction:

Mereze - Gobustan road leading to the city of Shamakhi (nothing but small hills and sand winds):

Road through region of Agsu (leading from Shamakhi to Ismailly):

Road to Lahij (one of most highly located mountainous villages of Azerbaijan with a rich ancient history and a home for brilliant craftsmen). It can be reached by turning right a few km before entering city of Ismailly. Distance from turn until the village is about 20 km. But half of the road is completely destroyed (no asphalt, lots of rocks and some even fall from mountains while driving. The path itself is very narrow and lays right above a canyon; no road lights at all so driving at night is extremely dangerous):

Road via Vendam village leading from Ismailly to city of Gabala (some impressive views):

Driving from city of Sheki to City of Gakh (this ancient Albanian church is built on top of rocks and can be reached only by climbing up):

Driving from Gakh to Zagatala (nothing but hundreds of hazelnut trees):

Driving from Zagatala to Balaken which is the last region on northern border (nice views but nothing significant to be impressed by). After Balaken you'll be entering Georgia:

b) Straight Northern direction:

Road through Gilezi settlement which leads to town of Khizi and Altiagach National Park (nothing particular to notice except for old railroads and empty streets):

After leaving Gilezi settlement, road leads to town of Khizi:

Road to Altiagach national park and its surroundings (low hills and tight forests, not so much of outstanding views but air is unbelievably fresh):

Guba Region. First (southern) direction from the city leading to villages of Amsar, Nugedi 1, Nugedi 2, Rustov, Afurja, Gonagkend and etc (nice views of mountains and forests; villages are located close to the main road so you'll see plenty of farming areas and animals): 

Path leading to Afurja village is the last part that can be driven through on a sedan. In order to go further to see village of Gonagkend, one would better pay a driver on 4x4 because the road is too messed up:

Guba region. The second (western) direction leading out of the city has probably the most remarkable views I have seen so far. It begins by leaving the city driving through Gechresh forest and takes you to villages of Kusnatgazma, Giriz Dehne, Cek and finally Khinalig. Length of this direction is about 40km. Here's a shot taken driving through Gechresh forest, on the beginning of the path:

Driving nearby Giriz Dehne village, heavy rains during summertime (August), driving higher and higher on to mountains:

Driving even higher, no more birds anything else heard on this height, complete silence. Very cold for August. First signs of Khinalig village - red and orange rocks begin to appear (khina is another word for red in Azeri):

Leaving behind the Cek village, weather changes on every other hill here:

Almost there, about 5-10 minutes before we reach ancient Khinalig village (highest mountainous village in Azerbaijan, located 2400 meters above sea level, that is about 7800 ft). Once again, too cold for August and very foggy: 

PS: after Khinalig further road leads to Tufandag mountain (4191 meters) which is said to have fantastic views with its frozen mountain lakes (I haven't got that far yet but some day I will indeed).

Guba region. Third (northern) direction leads to the region of Gusar and city of Gusar as its center. It is a mountainous city well known for its fresh air, beautiful mountains (inlcluding Shahdag peak - 4243 meters) and a very popular ski resort. Road leading to Shahdag mountain:

Driving through mountainous villages of Gusar:

Laza waterfall on the way to Shahdag mountain:

to be continued...