Gobustan National Park is the most fascinating attraction in the whole Azerbaijan. All travelers who visit Baku, always leave the capital city for one day and go ahead the little village Gobustan, which is world-wide famous for unusual attractions like mud volcanos and prehistoric petroglyphs. Organizing the tour to this place is complicated, but we will share with you every single detail how to make it on your own. Need more? We promise that after reading this post, you won’t pay more than $16 for it including all expenses. In addition, if you travel with your partner or friend, the total cost of the your trip to Gobustan won’t break 10 DOLLARS !
How To Get in Gobustan
Gobustan National Park is located almost 70 km from the capital city of Azerbaijan – Baku. To arrive there, you must take two buses from Baku and then take a taxi or private car to drive you around the National Park. The organization of the trip to Gobustan is difficult, but no worries – we will explain you everything step by step.
BUS NO. 125 – from 28 May to Bina Shopping Center (the last stop)
First of all, you should take a bus no. 125. You can catch it at many bus stops in Baku. Probably the easiest one to find is a bus stop “28 May” – just next to 28 May metro station. You need to go by this bus to the last stop called “Bina”. This part of the route takes about 45 minutes and costs 0.35 AZN (payable with BakiKART).
* Our tip: During the ride of bus no. 125, you will pass the beautiful mosque Bibi Heybat in the middle of the way. It’s worth to have a short break there, get off the bus and have a closer look at the mosque. Bibi Heybat is a really nice example of tremendous Muslim architecture. It’s a modern recreation of the medieval mosque, which stayed there in the past. It looks different than classic mosques you can see in other Muslim countries. The mosque is located just next to the bus stop and after your short visiting at Bibi Heybat, get on the next bus (the same number and direction) and continue the ride to the terminus.
BUS NO. 195 – from Bina Shopping Center to Gobustan village
Then you’ll have a transfer between buses. Second part of the journey starts at the last stop of bus no. 125 – Bina, which at the same time is a place where you’ll find your next mean of transport – bus no. 195. In fact, “Bina” stop is just a tiny station with a couple of vehicles, so you can easily find a right bus. It’s the first stop of bus no. 195, so you can take your seat before the departure. The bus no. 195 will take you to the Gobustan village, which is pretty close to your final destination – Gobustan National Park. Keep in mind that bus no. 195 is not under the integrated system for public transport in Baku. That’s why you can’t pay with your BakiKART and only cash is accepted. You pay 0.80 AZN to the ticket collector onboard. The total time of this ride takes another 45 minutes. Moreover, this bus doesn’t have anything in common with brand-new buses in Baku. It’s a very old vehicle that during hot days goes with open doors, which work something like “natural air-con” :) The bus is supposed to have particular stops, but in reality, it stops on demand. That’s why you’d better ask the driver or ticket collector to drop you in Gobustan.
TAXI from Gobustan village to Gobustan National Park
The third part of this journey relates to finding the transport from Gobustan village to attractions of Gobustan National Park. The driver of bus no. 195 will drop you on the roadside in Gobustan, where some taxi drivers wait for tourists to take them on the tour around National Park. You must use their services, because taxi is the only available mean of transport there. The typical tour involves visiting 3 places: mud volcanos, petroglyphs and museum.
There’s no fixed price, so you must bargain. And you’d better bargain HARD! Taxi drivers tend to rip-off tourists and charge much more than the standard price. Or they use another trick – they agree to take you for the low price you suggested, but they will show you only one attraction of the National Park. Taxi drivers will try to scam you for sure, so be cautious! Before getting into the car, CLEARLY fix the price and CLEARLY agree with the driver on that your tour will include all 3 spots: MUD VOLCANOS, PETROGLYPHS and MUSEUM. The standard tour to these 3 main attractions of Gobustan National Park costs 20 AZN in total, regardless the number of passengers in the car. We heard that people who speak Azerbaijani can get it even for 15 AZN, but foreigners usually end up paying at least 20 AZN. Also, speaking at least basic Russian will improve your bargaining position and strongly increase your chances to get a good rate.
So, don’t agree to pay the driver anything more than 20 AZN, no matter what he says. He will be lying to you that you’re not right or you misunderstood something and the hefty price he demands is totally fine. But after long negotiations he will finally give up and take you for 20 AZN. To make sure that he will go ahead with the arrangements, pay him only at the end of the tour when he will drop you at Gobustan bus stop, where you can catch a bus towards Baku.
The whole tour usually takes around 3 hours. The entrance fee to the Gobustan National Park costs 4 AZN, but students pay only 1 AZN. The first attraction of your tour will be mud volcanos. They are situated just a couple of kilometers away, but the road is in horrible condition and is so bumpy that it takes ages to go through it. You will feel like riding a bull at the rodeo :)
Finally, when you reach your destination, you will see about a dozen of mud volcanos standing next to each other. They are just like normal volcanos, but instead of the lava inside there’s boiling mud. The volcanos are very small – only couple of meters high. The whole volcanic land looks surreal. It’s like walking on the other planet. Maybe that feeling comes from the fact that similar mud volcanos were found by NASA on Mars! Mud volcanos are not so spectacular because of their small size, but definitely are very interesting and exceptional. Especially, it’s a rare opportunity to see this kind of volcanos as 30 % of world’s total amount of mud volcanos is on the territory of Azerbaijan.
Next, the driver will take you to the other side of the National Park to see petroglyphs. There are prehistoric rock engravings that are dated to thousands of years BC. Some scientists even suppose that the oldest engravings in Gobustan are as old as 40 thousand years! The petroglyphs present the life of ancient people. It mainly relates to primitive images of people and animals.
The rocks are situated on a small hill, from where you can take good photos with panoramic view of Gobustan National Park and the Caspian Sea in the background.
Just a short ride from the petroglyphs, there’s the last point of your tour – a small historical museum of Gobustan. You can learn more about the life of ancient people, who were living in this area thousands of years ago. Inside this modern museum, you’ll find dummies of those people wearing traditional clothes, their authentic bones and skulls and some original ancient dishes. The ticket to the museum is included in the price of the entrance fee to the National Park.
COMING BACK TO BAKU
And it will be the end of your tour. The driver should drop you back to Gobustan village at the bus stop. This is the time when you pay the driver the price you agreed before. While waiting for your bus towards Baku, there’s really nothing to do in the village. There are a few basic food stores and nothing more. With this bus you go exactly the same way as you came to Gobustan. Firstly, ride the bus no. 195 to the last station and then change to the bus no. 125 to the center of Baku.
✓ Prepare for extremely hot weather. During the summer the temperature breaks 40°C.
✓ Bring plenty of water and some snack with you to Gobustan, because there are very limited food options.
✓ Don’t plan attractions other than the National Park on this day. You will be exhausted enough after sightseeing Gobustan. The tour itself isn’t so long, but when you add the time on transport and the high temperature, it will turn out to be a tiring day.
✓ Don’t forget to bring a passport with you. There is a police checkpoint in the National Park. You wonder why? Nearby petrologlyphs there’s a prison, so the police check all vehicles entering this area. The control takes a few minutes when passengers must show their passports and policemen check if there’s nothing suspicious in the car. They even ask the driver to open a trunk.