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Spotlight Article

Natural Wonders and Adventure in the Caucasus’ Largest National Park

Azerbaijan America Alliance
November 17, 2014

On Wednesday, November 12, 2014, The Azerbaijan America Alliance hosted its Third Annual Cultural Gala themed, The Natural Beauty of Azerbaijan. The evening featured a Keynote address by Sean Gerrity, President of the National Prairie Reserve and National Geographic Fellow, which highlighted conservation efforts in Azerbaijan. Nine of the eleven climate zones in the world are enclosed within Azerbaijan’s territory, and more and more of these territories are being protected by Azerbaijan.

The value of these reserves is multifaceted. In addition to preserving the bio-diversity of the region and protecting the habitats of unique species, the parks are a tourism attraction. As winter approaches, the largest National Park in Azerbaijan will begin its tourism season. 

The first snow has already fallen at the Mount Shahdag resort, Azerbaijan’s first and largest winter resort, and a tentative opening date for the ski and snowboard trails has been set for December 1st. Mount Shahdag has 19 ski slopes that provide a variety of terrain for all skill levels, with impressive snow quality due to the reliable snowfall and regular snowmaking. In addition to skiing and snowboarding visitors can also enjoy snowmobiling, zip lining, mountain segwaying, horseback riding, and snowshoeing.

Shahdag Resort Source: Silk Way Travel

The resort was built in 2012 and has facilities for year round mountain tourism. Hotels and restaurants offer a variety of accommodations, from apartments for families to luxury hotels complete with spas and high-tech gyms. However, it is not the facility itself but the location that makes Shahdag such an impressive resort.

The Shahdag Mountain Resort is located in Shahdag National Park. The park is one of many National Parks in Azerbaijan, which now make up 10.3% of the nation’s territory. The park was established in 2006, by the decree of the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and enlarged from 1,159 km(447 square miles) to 1,305 km2 (503 square miles) in 2010. The Park is the largest national park, not only in Azerbaijan, but in the entire Caucasus Region.

The importance of this park has been recognized globally. The World Bank allocated a $17 million loan to assist in the parks creation, and the government of Japan provided an $8 million grant for the project.

The resort is a luxurious and fun way to experience the natural beauty that Azerbaijan has to offer and bring the people of Azerbaijan and visitors from around the world closer to the geographic variety that comprises the landscape of Azerbaijan. This year’s Cultural Gala aimed to bring the Natural Beauty of Azerbaijan to Washington, and the Alliance hopes that guests of the event were inspired to visit Azerbaijan and experience the hospitality and beauty of attractions like Shahdag Mountain Resort for themselves.

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