Qobustan

Mud volcanoes and prehistoric rock carvings

Qobustan is a small town about 40 km south of Baku. A few kilometres outside the village there is a nature reserve where thousands of prehistoric rock carvings have been found on an area of about 100 square kilometres. The rock engravings date back to the 12th century BC and mainly show hunting scenes, humans, ships, constellations and animals.

On the way there, along the coast of the Caspian Sea, it is again rather foggy.
Arriving in Qobustan I drive, following the GPS, through the unpaved streets of the village until I suddenly stand in front of a high railway dam, which was simply built across the road - without a railroad crossing. 
When I ask a boy with sign language how to get over there, he points further south. So I drive back to the main road and finally find a rail crossing at the very end of the village.

I follow the road towards the mountains. After a few kilometres a relatively modern museum and a large parking lot appeared. There is a lively hustle and bustle and dozens of tourist and school groups cavort around the buses and in front of the museum.
At a small house I buy the entrance ticket, which is explained to me as valid for the museum as also for the nature park.

First, I have a look at the museum, but it rather disappoints me, as there are only a few pieces to see.

Thus, I get back on my motorcycle and drive a few more kilometres to the parking lot of the actual nature park, where there is also a lot of hustle and bustle as well.

A building that mainly serves as a viewing platform seems to be a big attraction for the visitors, although I find the view to the barren plain rather moderate.

A path leads diagonally along a flat slope that is covered with big boulders. 

At some of these boulders, one can actually discover more or less clearly carved rock carvings. Mainly I see buffalo and deer similar animals, but also human figures.

When I finally arrive at the end of the path, I am surprised how small the publicly accessible part of the nature reserve is. As I had read before that here over an area of approximately 100 square kilometres rock drawings were found, I find the approximately 500 metres that can be visited here, but a little lean.

Since it has become quite hot in the meantime, I enjoy a quick ice cream before getting back on my motorcycle.

Since I discovered on my online map that some mud volcanoes are marked about 12 km south of Qobustan, I want to try my luck and drive back to the main road and then south.

At the point where I have to exit, there are a few houses on the roadside and an unpaved road leads inland. Fortunately there is even a kind of rail crossing where I can cross the railway line.

After a few hundred meters, after a small industrial complex, the way changes into a pure offroad track. The further I drive, the more rough the road becomes and I start to doubt whether this was really a good idea. But I don't give up and continue in the direction of a flat mountain range. The path leads up the mountain in a wide arc. Behind the first hilltop it makes a sharp turn and I suddenly find myself in front of a huge puddle of oil, where the oil obviously swells up to the surface. Only one or two kilometres away I see a few oil tanks and an oil pump on the slope. The path leads around the oil pond and then makes a sharp bend steeply up the mountain. 
Probably I would have been turned around at this point, if it wasn't for the fact that two off-road vehicles with tourists were driving down the steep slope at that very moment, which confirmed me that there is probably something to see up there.
So I switch off my traction control, accelerate and hurry up the steep slope and hope that nobody comes towards me. Arriving at the top, the way makes another strong bend and suddenly I am already standing in front of an accumulation of small volcane-like hills, between which some off-road vehicles are standing. 
I'm a little annoyed that I couldn't film this "ascent" because I forgot to charge the battery of my GoPro camera.
I park my bike and take a look at the bubbling mud volcanoes, which similarly I had seen in Iceland.

After a few shots, I get back on my bike and ride down the bumpy slope again - not without being annoyed again that my GoPro doesn't work. 

Shortly before Baku a couple on two big bikes overtakes me. As usual, we wave to each other. 
Not 5 kilometres later I see the two again standing on the side of the road, because they were pulled out by a police car.

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