By Amina Nazarli
Are you ready to embrace the chilly weather with an epic ski vacation? Then you should definitely take the opportunity to feel this adrenaline.
Among many skiing destinations, Azerbaijan just recently appeared on the map, but has already managed to become famous and loved by many.
Heavy and fluffy snow in Azerbaijan this year increased the flow of tourists into the country. So, Shahdag and Tufandag, the most attractive sides for the local and foreign tourists in Azerbaijan during the winter season became the main directions for skiing vacation.
Appearance of ski tourism in the southern country was something improbable and impossible for many, whilst this did not prevent development of successful winter tourism complexes in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan, an incredibly beautiful area of unique nature contrasts: 9 out of 11 climate zones are observed in the country. Northern region is adjacent to the ridge of the Caucasus Mountains, and winters here are cold and snowy.
The country decided to use this advantage in January 2013 and in 30 km from the town of Gusar, the first hotels and the ski slopes of the complex Shahdag was opened. It stands 2,500 meters above sea level and serves as an outstanding getaway with its rich nature, fresh air, and wonderful climate. The temperatures at Shahdag ranges from winter lows of -20°C to pleasant summer evenings of 20°C.
A year later, second winter resort "Tufandag" opened in Gabala region. The complex provides visitors with skiing slopes and cable roads with a total length of 17 km with red, black and blue stripes. Ski pass for the day costs 20 manats (about $12), and a training lesson of ski riding is 35 manats (about $20). Similar prices are applied for services in Shahdag, which offers 12 lifts and 14 trails of varying difficulty - five "green" and "blue" and four "red".
The uniqueness of the ski resorts in Azerbaijan is that they receive visitors both in winter and summer. In hot weather mainly extreme sports are popular, while with the onset of winter skiers and snowboarders flock here.
The complexes repeatedly entered different rankings for tourists. So, since 2013, Shahdag has been visited by over 310,000 tourists and the highest peak was reached last year.
The majority of visitors were from the UAE, followed by Russia. For example, in 2015 only 26 tourists visited Shahdag Hotel, while a year later the number of travelers from this country increased to 3,081 people, according to Moscow-Baku publication. From Russia the hotel welcomed 240 tourists in 2015 and 2016 their number reached 1,636.
"The current winter season in the Shahdag "breaks records",” Marketing Manager of the Shahdag tourist center Gulnar Mustafayev told Moscow-Baku. “From December 15 till today the complex was visited by more than 35,000 visitors. We think that by the end of the winter season these figures will be much higher."
Over the past three years, Tufandag welcomed about 300,000 people. Although most of them were local citizens, the resort has the potential to draw on its slopes more foreign tourists.