Nagorno-Karabakh is an enigma wrapped up inside the South Caucasus. It is a self-declared republic recognised by no one. It is Armenian culture on land claimed by Azerbaijan. Even the name is something of a mystery, being made up from words of three different languages: nagorno means mountainous in Russian, kara means black in Turkish and bakh means garden in Persian. To confuse things further, the locals refer to their region as Artsakh.
While there exist many questions about Nagorno-Karabakh and its political status, the beauty and cultural richness of this remote mountain landscape are undeniable. The Karabakh War left deep psychological and physical scars on the people and their landscape but the Karabakhtis are moving on, rebuilding their land stone by stone. Travel here is still an adventure, involving special permits and military-occupied no-go zones, but rapidly improving infrastructure means better hotels, restaurants and facilities in the main tourist areas. Karabakhti hospitality makes wading through the challenges a joy, even in difficult times.