DISTANCE - 16 KM
ELEVATION GAIN - 1450 M
ELEVATION LOSS - 1600 M
MAX. ALTITUDE - 2280 M
MIN. ALTITUDE - 1020 M
DURATION - 9 H 10 MIN
Follow the signs from the starting point and continue along the main path. After reaching the Shamil Fortress 600m ahead the trail, which continues upwards to the left, passes through bushes and sparse forest and opens up after 1km. Then continue along the trail across the slope to the left towards the mountain in front of you. The trail begins to rise vertically to the right between two mountains 2km ahead and reaches the highest point of the route at an altitude of 2,280m after 1km. Here, there is a shepherd's settlement with a small shelter.
From this point there are paths going in different directions. 800m after this point, the route to Gashgachay descends into a ravine via a steep descent from the pass. After passing a shepherd hut, the path ascends slightly for 1.5km again towards the mountains. Ahead is another shepherd hut with a small wooden shelter. The trail then continues along the slope to the right, mostly at the top of the mountain, and after 4.5km reaches another shepherd hut.
From here, a path leading to a forest on the left opens up after 3.5km, and a little further there is a path to the right going to the village of Armudlu. However, the main path continues straight and descends to the Gashgachay river valley 1km ahead. As long as there is no flood, you can cross the river on foot. Cross this river, follow the signs and continue to the central road of the village. Here you will find the information board of the route to Gumukh village.
After Gashgachay village, you can continue to Gumukh village in the Sheki region by a marked route. Thus, you will pass from the Gakh to the Sheki region. You can go from Gumukh village to Bash Goynuk village by car or on foot (7km), and from there to Kish village by a marked route. With these three consecutive routes, you can walk all the way through the mountains from Gakh to Sheki.
From Kish you can walk to the Marxal Resort & Spa and reach the Khan plateau with the resort’s off-road vehicles. Pedestrians are not allowed on this road. When walking to the Khan plateau, you can do some research on the map and easily select the trails around Sheki city from satellite images. These routes have not yet been marked and are not recommended for inexperienced hikers. It is possible to make short walks from Sheki to Orta Varazat village, and from there to Bash Keldek village along forested, easy paths. The ancient Albanian churches in the villages of Varazat and Bash Keldek, which escape the attention of most tourists, will be found on your way.
May-September is the best time in terms of weather conditions 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 at shepherd huts or ask for the location of nearby springs.
Buses depart from Gakh’s main bus station to Ilisu five times daily (07:30; 09:30; 12:00; 14:00; 17:00). You can also board the bus from other stations within the city. You can get to Ilisu from Gakh by taxi for about 5-6 AZN (using the ALO taxi service: +99470 298 9966).
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.