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Azerbaijan is an Asian country in the Caucasia. It has borders with Russia, Georgia,Armenia, Iran and via the enclave Nakhchivan to Turkey. English is not very widespread, but many people have at least a basic command of Russian, and almost anybody will be able to understand you if you speak Turkish.
The concept of hitchhiking (more likely: Avtostop or Otostop in Russian resp. Turkish) is -- depending on the definition -- either very well-known or not so well-known at all. People stop quite easily as locals also very commonly wait by the side of the road for a ride. On the other side, drivers often expect money. (Zenit had a Porsche driver stop for him who asked for money). This seems to become less likely the smaller the road gets. Local hitchhikers have reported to just accept rides and not talk about these topics, preferring to deal with potential expectations of the drivers at the end (but insisting that they never pay). If you'd like to avoid that (at the danger of losing some lifts), the following vocabulary can come in handy:
- Russian: bezplatno mozhna? (Is it okay to go for free?) / dingi nyet (I don't have money)
- Turkish: parasiz (gitmek) mumkun? (Is it okay to go for free?) / param jok (I don't have money)
It can help if people can readily identify you as a foreigner, especially a western foreigner. Avoid hitchhiking in Baku and Ganja − and in smaller cities don't hitchhike near the taxi stand. Hitchhiking is really great in remote mountain areas − but only in those with solid roads.
UPDATE: Actually hitchhiking its perfect all over Azerbaijan. Even in Baku or Ganja. You just have to be clear about not paying and that's all. Probably you will spend your travel explaining how do you do to travel without money (Azeri people don't know so much about hitchhiking) but it will be funny most of the times.(Simimoch Two spanish guys, with no Russian or Azeri managed to travel across Azerbaijan without paying any cent, hitchhiking even from the main cities. "Manat niet" and the direction we were going was the only thing we were saying to the drivers at the beginning at it was always fine. They don't use to know the Russian or Turkish word of Avtostop or Otostop with us. Drivers where mostly friendly, offering always tea and sometimes even food or accommodation. We never waited more than 10 minutes.
Hitchhiking in Azerbaijan is not more or less dangerous than elsewhere on the world. But be aware of regions in the southwest, the border to Armenia and the region Nagorno-Karabakh where sometimes local conflicts escalate. In the border region to Armenia there is the additional danger of landmines.
Azerbaijan has a system in which you can recognize from the license plate which of the country's many rayons a car is from. Baku, for example, is 10, 90, and 99, Ganja is 20 and Sheki is 55. See here for a complete list.
- You can take the ferry from Baku to Aktau, Kazakhstan (go to the Baku page for more information).
It is possible to get Kazakh visa in Baku in a day or two. The Embassy of Kazakhstan Republic is on Gandjlik m.st., 82 Hasan Aliyev st., phone: (+99412)4656248/4652121
- The border to Armenia is closed and there are also landmines and border conflicts.
The border used to be closed for non CIS passport holders. The situation has changed in late 2012, now it is possible to cross with valid visas. Pite went through the border in August 2013, border police were surprised to see Europeans here, but they let him go.
- You will need a valid visa to cross the border to Iran, but it is a regular, not impossible to hitchhike border.
- You can take the ferry from Baku to Türkmenbaşy, Turkmenistan.
- There are two borders with Georgia opened for travelers and good for hitchhiking. It is a relatively easy to hitchhike here; Azeri people are quite friendly with foreigners, and there are big truck parking areas in both sides of the border where you should be able to hitch a ride easily.
From the "Red Bridge" border the next main city is Ganja (very easy to reach in one hour or less), and from the Lagodekhi/Balakan border, close to the mountains, the closest main city in Sheki.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/256467861393520/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel Azerbaijani hitchhikers's facebook group.
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