The Qobustan national park is located 60-70km southwest of Baku and covers a dry, hilly area with limestone rock formations. The highlight of the national park are prehistoric rock carvings, which date back to between 5000 and 40000 years ago. The petroglyphs (= rock carvings) were first described by Iskhag Jafarzade in 1939. The first scientific expeditions were organised by A. Bakikhanov in 1940-41, followed by later expeditions in 1947. After 1965 a new expedition discovered about 20 ancient shelters and 40 burial places in Qobustan.
The museum was first set up in 1970. The petroglyphs show scenes with people, wildlife, flora and lifestyles in pre-historic times. Up to now over 6000 rock engravings have been identified. The archaeological site covers an area of 537 ha. The petroglyphs of Qobustan have been a UNESCO World Hertage site since 2007.
There are about 400 mud volcanoes in Azerbaijan. The ones in the Qobustan national park are located 15 km south of the museum. These mud volcanoes are conical structures ouf of which mud flows out due to a geological process by which water mixes with earth and other minerals at a certain depth and is forced upwards by subterranean pressure. Bubbles of gas (typically methane) emerge and explode, releasing the gas to the atmosphere.
Despite the name, the temperature of the mud in the mud volcanoes is relatively low (in the 2°C to 100°C range). At the site in the Qobustan national park there are a few dozen mud volcanoes, most between 1m and 3m high, not all of them emitting mud.
How to access the Qobustan national park:
The parking of the Qobustan museum lies about 70km southwest from central Baku, a distance which can be comfortably covered in about one hour, driving along the coastal motorway. Access is possible with a private car or toru from Baku or by bus from Baku to Qobustan city and from there by taxi to the museum. Access to the mud volcanoes is a bit more tricky, as standard cars don't drive on the mud track to the mud volcanoes. Some cars wait at the junction to the museum and cover the 15km to the mud volcanoes in about half an hour (cost is 15 AZN).
There is no accomodation
inside the park. Peoople usually visit the Qobustan national park as a daytrip from Baku.