Khinalug is a high mountain town at an elevation of 2.350m (7,710ft) above the sea level, hidden on the northern slope of the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range, in Azerbaijan. It’s said to be the most remote and isolated village in Northeastern Azerbaijan and among the highest in the Caucasus.
The road to the town, also known as Khinalugh or Khinalig, is a picturesque mountain road on the altitude of 2,000 m. This very challenging cliff road was carved through the stone. There are some narrow sections -scarcely wide enough for two cars- where if two vehicles have to pass each other, one might have to reverse for some kilometers of winding narrow road to get to a place wide enough to pass.
The road, called Xinaliq yolu, is pretty steep. It starts in Quba, the capital of the Quba Rayon of Azerbaijan, at an elevation of 11 m above the sea level. It’s 51.5 km long to this ancient mountaintop settlement in the territory of Azerbaijan. The road is mostly paved, but with some unpaved sections. The road was paved in 2006 due to a visit from Azerbaijan's President. Now a car can make the trip to Khinalig. Before paving an SUV was essential (but still recommended).
Because of the high altitude and remoteness of this tiny mountain village, the road can be closed anytime due to snowfalls. The zone is prone to heavy mist and can be dangerous in low visibility conditions. This trail passes through remote areas, so you need to be prepared. It’s a real challenging road and a true test of your vehicle and your stamina because the road abounds in twists and turns with wheels sometimes hanging above the precipice. Enjoy breathtaking views of the landscape.
Do not travel this road in severe weather conditions. In winter, temperatures at this altitude drop to -20 degrees C and summer temperatures tend to reach no more than around 18 degrees. Avalanches, heavy snowfalls and landslides can occur anytime, being extremely dangerous due to frequent patches of ice. It has a well-deserved reputation for being dangerous because of unpredictable snowstorms and blizzards, and driving under these conditions, can be extremely challenging. The main danger is falling rocks, particularly in the Gudialchay canyon section.
Road suggested by: Hugh Wilson
Pic: Ilkin Zeferli