Baku, April 4, AZERTAC
Straddling the border between East and West, Azerbaijan contains geographical features of both, resulting in a remarkable range of landscapes, habitats, and climate zones.
There are high mountains, extensive coastline and lowlands, reed-fringed lakes, wetlands and rivers, subtropical forests, and dry steppes and semi-deserts – all of which are buzzing with birdlife and their own set of attractive species.
Partly protected by Shahdag National Park, the high mountain areas around the Khinalig and Laza – the ancient mountain villages of Azerbaijan’s Guba district perched picturesquely in the Greater Caucasus Mountains, are ideal places to see regional specialties and endemics of the Caucasus region.
Both villages are set amid some of the most stunning mountainous scenery in Azerbaijan.
Previously too remote for many tourists, greater accessibility has now put Khinalig firmly on the tourist map of Azerbaijan as one of its must-visit places. Besides its tightly stacked stone housing and incredible hilltop location, the village is also home to a completely unique tiny ethnic group speaking one of the world’s rarest languages.
The sparsely vegetated mountainous terrain surrounding it is a great place to look for the Caucasian Snowcock, Guldenstadt´s Redstart, Alpine Accentor, Rock Thrush and Lammergeier (or Bearded Vulture).
Meanwhile, the fabulously emerald-green-carpeted slopes around Laza, a village inhabited by another ethnic group – Lezgins, is well-known among birders for such key species as Caucasian Black Grouse, Great Rosefinch, Mountain Chiffchaff and other high alpine species.
Besides birds, the goat-like East Caucasian Tur, which can be found in higher remote areas, as well as Grey Wolf are iconic animals of these mountains.
Here late spring and summer, but best in mid- and late May, visitors can observe species, such as follows: Caucasian Grouse (Lyrurus mlokosiewiczi), Caucasian Snowcock (Tetraogallus caucasicus), Great Rosefinch (Carpodacus rubicilla), Green Warbler (Phylloscopus nitidus), Guldenstadt’s Redstart (Phoenicurus erythrogastrus), Mountain Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus sindianus), Lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus), Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria), Red-fronted Serin (Serinus pusillus).
As Laza and Khinalig are quite used to seeing tourists, in both villages there are a number of guesthouse and homestay options.
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