Goygol Tour

Goygol Tour

The centre of the district formerly was called Elenendorf. It was founded by German colonists in August 22, 1819 at the place of an ancient village Hanlyglar that later formed a base of Hanlar city. Now Goygol district illustrates the friendship between Azerbaijan and German nations. A lot of work was done here to preserve the German heritage. Lake Goygol is the cleanest among the mountain water reservoirs of the Caucasus.

The magical mountain lakes of Goygol National Park are as iconic to the Ganja region of Azerbaijan as the Maiden’s Tower is to Baku. Lake Goygol has appeared on stamps and in poetry, paintings and songs. Yet for years the area has been out of bounds to most visitors. As recently as spring 2015, when Visions last tried to visit, an army barrier prevented tourists getting anywhere near. But in summer 2015, rumours began to surface that parts of the National Park had been unexpectedly thrown open. Social media was rapidly a-twitter with excitement as videos began appearing set to the classic Azerbaijani ballad Göygöle Gel (Come to Goygol). For travel author Mark Elliott, the temptation to see for himself proved too much to resist.

• Blue Lake (Goygol)
• Goygol District
• Hajikand
• Maral Gol

Blue Lake (Goygol) - Due to an earthquake parts of the Kapaz Mount collapsed and blocked the path of the Kürəkçay River. As a result of diversion of water flow, a lake with pure mountain water was created, hence the name given signifying the pureness of the water.

Goygol District - Originally Helenendorf was founded in 1819 by Germans from Württemberg, brought as a colony under orders of Czar Alexander to help settle the region that had just been acquired from Qajar Iran under the Treaty of Gulistan of 1813.

Hajikand - For the second time this year I am driving up the country lane that wiggles up from the hazy plains south of Azerbaijan’s second city, Ganja heading for the forests of Hajikand. We pass the out-of-place windmill-folly that marks the Helenendorf Restaurant-Hotel then climb through Ashiqli village where aproned women stand at tandir stoves selling egg-yolk yellowed bread rounds and jars of mountain honey. Beyond are woodland glades dotted with small kebab restaurants and many stalls with domed saj-hotplates cooking the local speciality - kətə (kata) - a Ganja-regional term for qutab-style savoury pancakes. Behind Hajikand, the bracing scenery starts to get really spectacular as we round the corner onto a high hillside stretch with Mt Kapaz’s rocky beak making regular appearances on the southern horizon.

Maral Gol - The scene at Goygol is undoubtedly beautiful but the area that visitors can explore feels a little restricted. Fortunately, Nabir assures me, the same cannot be said of the slightly smaller lake, Maral Gol, some 7km further up. Apparently that is more peaceful and arguably more beautiful.

So I agree to pay him a little extra and we judder onward, his aging Lada crunching over steep rocky sections of the initially horrendous track.

Where this ‘‘road’’ dead-ends at a car park, my heart drops to see a swampy little pond.