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Ilisu - Azerbaijan - location map
If you take the road going north-east from Qax you will reach the village of Ilisu. It is located amid dense woods at the foot of the Caucasus mountains, under Mt. Ahvay, not far from the border with Dagestan (Russian Federation). The road itself is very scenic both for the landscape and for a 16th century bridge. There is no road connection to Dagestan, you'll have to return to Qax.

Azerbaijan - Ilisu - 16th century bridge - Ulu Kerpu - Kumukchai river - photo by F.MacLachlanIlisu is a small place, built around a single street who still remembers its glory days when it was the capital of an autonomous Khanate coveted by Russia. Besides some charming old houses a few buildings denounce Ilisu's past: the almost ruined 16th century Sumuggala tower, the 19th century Galaja tower and a well cared 18th century mosque.

Azerbaijan - Ilisu, Qax rayon - 'beehive' old brickworks - photo by F.MacLachlanBuses go to Ilisu. Services are scarce, though food options are plentiful  with most of the local restaurants advertising local Qax/Ilisu cooking.

These days accommodation options in Ilisu are good: Yasil Park hotel, Ilisu Pansionati, Ulu Dag and a few other smaller places.

Around the village there are several  sulfurated thermal springs. In general acess is not easy.

Azerbaijan - Saribash / Sari Bash - Qax rayon - ruins, mountains and minaret  - photo by F.MacLachlanA very long walk along the Kumukchai river will take you to the tiny village of SariBash, acess by car is difficult a 4x4 is required. The road is not good and is greatly affected by the state of the river. You have to get past the border guards - not problem if you are local, but more problematic if you are a foreigner. The village had 150 families in soviet times, and is now down to 27 families. Change comes slowly to these parts: there is still a statue of Lenin in the village.

Azerbaijan - Ilisu - Hamam istisu - gorge - photo by F.MacLachlanAnother local UAZ  4x4 trip from Ilisu is up a different river valley to the 'Hamam istisu' which is a sulphury spring (istisu) in a spectacular deep river gorge.

In general the area around Ilisu is fantastic for hiking, but have in mind the proximity of the Russian border - encounters with soldiers, border guards and smugglers are common and usually unpleasant.

(410 km northwest of Baku)
see also: Zaqatala, Sheki, Qax, maps, places, history, geography, summary, images
A to Z of Azerbaijan / A dan Z ye Azerbaycan