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26 August 2011 / leggypeggy

The mud fields of Azerbaijan

A baby mud volcano. Some reach 200 metres in height.

Azerbaijan is at the crossroads of Eurasia—straddling Western Asia and Eastern Europe. It’s the largest and richest country in the Caucasus region, with low unemployment and an almost non-existent crime rate.

The country has diverse landscapes. It’s lush and agricultural in the northwest where we entered from Georgia but, by the time we approached Baku in the east, parched rolling hills and desert conditions were the rule.

Water seems to be in much shorter supply than in Georgia or Armenia. While there are supposedly more than 8000 rivers, we noticed that most riverbeds are dry this time of year. Narrow streams run their course through wide and almost dry expanses of rock, stones and gravel—very few had enough water for any of us to do more than get our ankles wet.

Two nights ago we camped in an area that resembled a moonscape. We were just below a small collection of Azerbaijan’s belching, burping and blooping mud volcanos. Apparently the world has about 700 such volcanos and almost half of them are in Azerbaijan and the Caspian Sea. These are the visible signs of oil and gas reserves hidden far below the region. About 86% of the gas released from the volcanos is methane, with the rest being carbon dioxide and nitrogen.

We camped about 60 kilometres south of Baku, the capital, and near the Qubustan State Reserve. The volcanos look innocent enough, but about 10 years ago some other nearby mud volcanos spewed out flames almost 20 metres high. I think there was another ‘big mud burp’ in March of 2011, but I can’t find the details online right now.

Fortunately, our night was disturbed only by extremely high winds that had our tents ballooning, snapping and popping much like the mud, but without any fireworks. That’s our tent on the windy side of the truck.

Camping below the mud volcanoes.


Leave a Comment
  1. Gary Walker / Aug 26 2011 4:21 pm

    Good to see you posting again, Peggy!

    I was growing concerned after your webmaster posted on your behalf.

    I was in Hawaiʻi a few years ago and the Kīlauea volcano was spewing lava. It was spooky but very magnificent.

    Love you! Regards to Poor John.


    • leggypeggy / Aug 26 2011 4:59 pm

      Thanks, we’re doing fine, but internet is a challenge. Off to Kyrgyzstan tomorrow and more bush camping. Back soon — I hope.


  2. Brian Lageose / Jun 9 2016 3:53 pm

    And now, for some reason, I don’t think my life will be complete until I camp out near a belching mud volcano. (Sounds of scribbling whilst I update my Bucket List.) Your travels are just fascinating…

    Liked by 1 person

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