Just 60 km from Baku there is an unusual reserve Gobustan. It is popular for its rock paintings and mud volcanoes. The reserve was created to protect and study historical images, burial mounds and ancient dwellings.
It takes about an hour to get to Gobustan from the capital. Traveling by rented car will be much more convenient, because the main attractions of the reserve are located at a distance of 13 km. And if you find yourself in these places, it is best to see both the drawings of ancient inhabitants and mud volcanoes.
What to see in Gobustan Reserve
The first thing to check out is the interactive museum. It is equipped with computers and 3-D images. In the foyer you can observe the unusual petroglyphs of the locals. There are darkened halls, in which the source of illumination is the exposition on the wall. There are also wax figures of the ancient Azerbaijani ancestors who lived here in the III-II millennium BC.
A map with the sights of the reserve is located in the museum. If you have no desire to see the map, a 3-D projection is available which allows you to virtually step into the territory of the reserve. What you see will surpass all your expectations.
Approximately 1.5 km from the museum is the main attraction of Gobustan - the area of petroglyphs. It is located on a picturesque mountain slope. Studying the petroglyphs you can learn about the life and ways of ancient people. People and boats, bull hunting, cattle, numbers and other signs. Even the stones on which the images are hollowed out are a sight to behold. It is interesting to see the caves of the ancient inhabitants and the mountains. It feels like being transported into the distant past.
If you look towards the sea, you will see picturesque landscapes. On the observation deck you can relax and admire the Caspian Sea, which is well seen in the early morning and at sunset. The rest of the time there is a sandy haze.
Then go to the mud volcanoes. The road is not easy, but what you see is worth it. The vents of the volcanoes erupt quite often, about once every 2 minutes. The flowing mud draws different patterns on the ground and dries very quickly under the scorching sun.
You can also see puddles of oil that have emerged here from the bowels of the earth. Looking at these landscapes, it seems that you are on another planet.
The best time to come to Gobustan reserve is early in the morning so that you can see the surroundings in half a day and go to the nearest cafe to taste the national food. Fish dishes are buglama and levengi, juicy meat with fragrant spices, and genuine rice pilaf flavored with saffron. For dessert you should order baklava, Baku kurabiye (shortbread cookies) or shekerbura (yeast pies with pictures and sweet nut stuffing). It is very popular to take jam for tea, which is made from watermelons, cornelian cherries, apples of paradise and nuts.
Each region has its own "specialties" and this is a great opportunity, traveling through Azerbaijan, to try something new and unusual in different parts of the country.