A newly paved road speeds some 30km from Qusar (13km north of Quba) towards the looming peaks of the High Caucasus. The noble bulk of Şahdağ (4243m) is visible for miles ahead on a clear day, looking especially impressive when viewed from near the historic village of Əniğ. Around 10km later, just after Aladaş, is Azerbaijan's foremost ski resort with seasonal cable cars and ultra-luxurious hotels with gourmet restaurants. Some 5km further on a much rougher road is contrastingly modest Laza, which has what is arguably Azerbaijan's most spectacular setting.
Encircled by soaring mountains with grass-clad slopes and ribbon waterfalls cascading over perilous cliff edges, Laza's setting is remarkably impressive. The tiny village is diffuse and its houses somewhat banal, but a rocky pinnacle beside the metal-roofed little mosque adds foreground for photos of the mind-blowing panorama.
Just beyond Laza, exploration is hindered by the strict visiting requirements of Shahdag National Park.