DISTANCE - 16 KM
ELEVATION GAIN - 1600 M
ELEVATION LOSS - 1450 M
MAX. ALTITUDE - 2280 M
MIN. ALTITUDE - 1020 M
DURATION - 9 H 20 MIN
Continue through the village following the signs from the starting point. After 400m you cross a stream bed and the trail begins on the opposite side. After 1.3km, the trail enters a forest and after 3.5km climbs to pastures at the top of the forest line. Here you will find the first shepherd hut.
After going 4.5km along the left slope, mainly along a slightly ascending path going straight across the slope into the mountains, you reach the next shepherd hut, and a little further to the left you descend into the forest. After a while, the path comes to an open area and passes 1.5km ahead of the next shepherd hut, continues along a steep uphill slope, and 800m ahead reaches a pass, which is the highest point of the route (the Yarpizbasan plateau). There is a small shepherd hut.
From here, the steep, winding path leading to the gorge on the opposite side turns for 1km to the left of the gorge and continues down a slight slope. For 2km the trail continues along a steep, winding descent through sparse forests and reaches the Shamil Fortress (19th century) 1km ahead. A wide path going to the right of the tower leads to the central street of Ilisu village 600m ahead.
It is physically more convenient to start this route from Ilisu village.
Before starting from Gashgachay, you can add the Gumukh-Gashqachay and Kish-Bash Goynuk routes to your hike. Beyond Ilisu, the mountainous areas descend mainly into the territory of the Ilisu State Nature Reserve and the border control zone. If you have a local guide or a detailed map and sufficient experience, you can plan a two-day trek from Ilisu to Gum or Lakit Kotuklu village. It is recommended to go in this direction only in summer and with proper camping equipment.
May-September is the best time in terms of weather and length of the day. It should be taken into account that during this period there will be 4-5 shepherd huts along this route. In May and September, you can check with the local community to see if the shepherds are in the mountains. These huts can be a warm shelter and you can ask for information from the shepherds, but you need to be careful around shepherd dogs.
In general, although it is possible to do this route throughout the year, it requires more preparation in winter months. In winter, spring and autumn, it is important to check the weather forecast more carefully and prepare food, clothing, accessories (tents, sleeping bags, etc.). On cold and short winter days, it is very difficult and risky to finish this route in one day, so it is not recommended to leave without proper camping equipment.
Food and accommodation
In the village of Ilisu, as well as along the road from Gakh to Ilisu, there are small shops, cafes and restaurants. For places to stay overnight, you can find guest houses, hotels and other accommodation facilities, including restaurants and cafes, located on the map.
There are a limited number of springs on this route. There are only two springs near the trail, which have low amounts of water. On the way take at least 1.5 litres of water per person, use it sparingly and refill at every opportunity. You can ask for water from shepherd huts or ask for the location of nearby springs.
You can go by taxi from Sheki to the village of Gashgachay for about 12-15 AZN (using the *0066 and *5577 taxi services). Taxis go from Gakh for about 6-8 AZN (using the ALO taxi service: +99470 298 9966). Buses (0.70 AZN per trip) go from the main bus station in Gakh to Gashgachay three times daily (07:30; 13:00; 18:00).
Permits and specially protected areas
No prior permission is required to walk along this route. The route does not pass through specially protected natural areas or the border protection zone, and there are no permanent border guard posts anywhere along the route. When meeting border guards, it is necessary to show your documents and explain your route.