Immersive health and wellness in Azerbaijan

The current period requires tourism destinations to think of the environment, sustainability and reconnecting with nature as key priorities while improving or creating new offerings for travellers. Azerbaijan, in its turn, has more than one type of natural assets to develop sustainable and immersive experiences.

Along with exhilarating outdoor activities such as hiking, birdwatching, camping and skiing, travellers here may also choose to restore their mind and soul at renowned resorts through multiple types of wellness procedures.

One such experience is taking salt therapy offered in health resorts all over Azerbaijan. However, Duzdag, or ‘Salt Mountain’, in Nakhchivan, a former salt mine converted into a sanatorium, provides the most authentic experience. The mountain is thought to contain about 130 million tonnes of pure natural salt, which has the ability to cure a number of ailments such as allergies, asthma and other respiratory illnesses as well as aging skin.

The Duzdag Physiotherapy Centre consists of tunnels carved 300 metres into the mountain, 110 metres below the ground. Visitors can spend a night in one of the underground rooms in these tunnels and enjoy not only the restorative powers of salt, but also the calmness and peace away from the everyday hustle. A well-equipped resort is located above ground 2 km away from the tunnels.

Another natural wonder of Azerbaijan is its thermal baths and springs. There are more than 30 deposits of thermal mineral waters with different concentrations, sulphur levels and organic substances in the Caucasus. Three of them are located near the charming city of Gabala situated at the foot of the Caucasus Mountains, and are the basis of balneotherapy treatments at several world-class health and wellness resorts in the city.

Several villages in the Lankaran region to the south of the country are also famous for their thermal water springs, with several sanatoriums offering relaxing and therapeutic baths of the hot, mineral-rich water flowing naturally from underground.

Another must-visit place in terms of thermal resources is the village of Istisu in the Kalbajar district of the liberated Karabakh region. Restoration is underway in this region, where a sanatorium used to treat a variety of illnesses related to the nervous system, skin, muscles and bones as well as respiratory, diabetes, digestive and kidney problems.

Last but definitely not least, the curative effect of the famous oil baths in Naftalan leaves visitors in awe each time. According to popular legend, this oil’s healing properties were first spotted by a merchant travelling along the Silk Road who left one of his sickly camels to die by an oily pool and returned to find it fully recovered. Different from conventional industrial oils, this one has a unique chemical composition, thanks to which Naftalan, located around 300 km from Baku, has become one of the leading health and wellness destinations of Azerbaijan.

Having the power to heal more than 70 diseases, such as muscle, skin, bone and joint pains, as well as gynaecology and neurology problems, the crude oil baths and individual treatment sessions are an ideal experience for those in search of healing. Treatment typically involves taking daily oil baths for at least a week at one of the city’s many wellness centres.

Also, a comprehensive city branding strategy has recently been developed for Naftalan city to increase its potential to attract visitors and boost tourism while supporting businesses here. Visitors can now enjoy cycling paths and an Oil Museum pavilion assisted by a Tourism Information Centre and wayfinding signs.