The border between Russia and Azerbaijan: on foot through the checkpoint Samur and Yarag-Kazmalyar in Dagestan

I would never have thought that I would have to cross the land border between Azerbaijan and Russia on foot. Pleasure is dubious and time-consuming. In this post, I will share my experience of crossing the Samur (Azerbaijan) and Yarag-Kazmalyar (Russia) border checkpoints in March 2022… 

This year, I finally got to the Shahdag ski resort in Azerbaijan. In general, everything went perfectly according to plan, until all this tin in Ukraine began. As a result, my flight to Moscow on March 6 was canceled, the second flight on March 10 was also canceled. And air communication with Russia ceased…

Having realized that it would be impossible to return to Russia by air, I contacted the Russian Embassy in Baku by e-mail, and promptly received the following response:

Good afternoon,

At the moment, there are no organized sorties, since not a single aircraft can now physically cross the air border. The only option is the land border (checkpoint Yarag-Kazmalyar), and then by plane from Makhachkala to any city in Russia. You can get there by bus, which leaves the main station every day at 7.00 (ticket price is 5 manats), or by taxi (about 60 manats). When it comes to taxis, we recommend that you go not to private traders, but to taxi companies such as BOLT and UBER. Their tariffs are always about the same – from 50 to 60 manats to the border. We just logged into the app ourselves and checked it out. You can download their apps to your phone and order a taxi online. This way you can significantly save money.

Sincerely,
Consular Section
Russian Embassy in Azerbaijan

Of course, this option of a trip home was not included in my plans, but there was no choice. Using Google Maps, I measured the distance to the checkpoint, from Baku to Samur almost 200 km. Travel time from Baku is about 3 hours. The cost of a Bolt taxi ride is 60 manats.

As I found out, there are three customs posts in this area: 

  1. Tagirkent-Kazmalyar
  2. Yarag-Kazmalyar
  3. Novo-Filya

Nothing to say about the other two I can’t, because the embassy wrote only about Yarag-Kazmalyar. Perhaps others are not working now due to coronavirus restrictions. 

A trip to the border of Azerbaijan and Russia

In general, on the morning of March 14, I called a Bolt taxi, the trip cost 60 manats. Travel time is almost three hours. I had a lot of luggage and I didn’t want to complicate my life, so I decided to call a taxi. At first, of course, I doubted that the taxi driver would agree to go, but the first taxi driver agreed. But in general, you can get here cheaper in several ways – by bus, minibus or taxi from the Baku bus station or from the cities of Qusar or Guba closest to the border. 

The border between Russia and Azerbaijan: on foot through the checkpoint Samur and Yarag-Kazmalyar in Dagestan

The road near the border is lined with trucks

Russian-Azerbaijani border: on foot through the Samur and Yarag-Kazmalyar checkpoints in Dagestan

Trucks at the gates of the Azerbaijan Customs

Border between Russia and Azerbaijan: on foot through Samur and Yarag- Kazmalyar in Dagestan

Gate of Azerbaijan Customs

The border between Russia and Azerbaijan: on foot through the Samur and Yarag-Kazmalyar checkpoint in Dagestan

On the left – pedestrians, in the center two huge arches – transport, on the right – the migration office

The driver dropped me off near these gate and I went to the pedestrian entrance.

Russian-Azerbaijani border: on foot through the Samur and Yarag-Kazmalyar checkpoint in Dagestan

The entrance to the customs for pedestrians.

The first border guards are sitting around the corner here, he needs to show his passport, he is something then mark it there and move on.

The border between Russia and Azerbaijan: on foot through the Samur and Yarag-Kazmalyar checkpoint in Dagestan

This is a view of the main gate of Azerbaijan customs from the inside

The border between Russia and Azerbaijan: on foot through the checkpoint Samur and Yarag-Kazmalyar in Dagestan

On the Azerbaijani side, you will always walk along such paths

Further, after 200 meters there will be a second post – it looks like airport security checks. You need to put your luggage on the tape and go through the frame. My luggage is here for no one to look at. At the exit, you again need to give your documents to the border guard. Here they stopped me and said that I would be fined because I did not have a registration, since I had been in the country for more than 15 days. I really did not do it, because it was not possible.

In general, I was deployed and sent to the migration service, an office located just outside the gate, to process a fine. I had a lot of luggage, so I left it before the inspection, and went there lightly. 

Russian-Azerbaijani border: on foot through Samur and Yarag-Kazmalyar checkpoint in Dagestan

Migration office (located to the right of the main gate)

There, I spent about an hour on all these bureaucratic procedures – for a long time I could not understand why the fine was 300 manats, although they have 30 manats on their official website. I even called my acquaintances in Baku, because I thought that I was being bred for money, but they confirmed this to me that they were not deceiving me, indeed, recently they have come across situations that fines of 300 manats arrive for tourists for not registering. Some kind of Soviet-style nonsense for foreigners was invented)) 

I didn’t have any money with me because I faced blocking of bank cards – Visa and MasterCard stopped working abroad. I told the border guard who issued the fine about this, and he offered me two options: either they will deport me without paying the fine and prohibit me from entering Azerbaijan, or they will write me a fine now and I can pay it in Russia. I agreed to the second option – because I plan to return here next year. After a long process of processing a pile of “important” papers worth 300 manats, they gave me these sheets, I returned to my left luggage to go through the inspection again.

Russian-Azerbaijani border: on foot through the Samur and Yarag-Kazmalyar checkpoint in Dagestan

300 manat fine for not registering

I went through security, then handed over my passports again, this time everything was fine . And I was sent further to the third border guard.

The border of Russia and Azerbaijan: on foot through the Samur and Yarag-Kazmalyar checkpoint in Dagestan

There I showed my passport, something broke there and for a long time he could not pass my passport through his system. As a result, I had to stomp to another booth so that they would mark something for me there. After that, I left the territory of the Azerbaijani customs and went to the border zone. 

Russian-Azerbaijani border: on foot through the Samur and Yarag-Kazmalyar checkpoint in Dagestan

Azerbaijani customs gate – view from the border zone

Notice how everything is quite neat on the Azerbaijani side. Soon you will see how depressive and what kind of dirt the Russian one is. 

This is a border zone – here you can see that there is a river there for days, that is, I am walking along the bridge. 

Russian-Azerbaijani border: on foot through the Samur and Yarag-Kazmalyar checkpoints in Dagestan

River in the border zone

In total, the distance between the two customs – that is, from these high main gates of the checkpoint to on the side of Azerbaijan before entering the territory of Russia, customs – almost 1600 m. 

Russian-Azerbaijani border: on foot through Samur and Yarag-Kazmalyar checkpoint in Dagestan

Distance between Yarag-Kazmalyar checkpoint and Samur checkpoint

Keep this in mind if you have a lot of luggage, you get tired of carrying it. I had a big snowboard bag, a suitcase and a backpack. And another minus – on the Russian side there is a partially terrible road – pits, puddles of dirt, it is very likely that there were military operations here. Accordingly, dragging luggage here is completely inconvenient.

The border between Russia and Azerbaijan: on foot through the checkpoint Samur and Yarag-Kazmalyar in Dagestan

Gate to the territory of the Russian customs Yarag-Kazmalyar

As a result, I crawled to the Russian gates, there were already several waiting pedestrians with suitcases. The gloomy border guard eventually opened the gate and told us to gather near the change house of the medical room, where the escort would come for us. It turned out that it was necessary to go through a doctor, who in practice had only to present a certificate of vaccination or that he had been ill. Of course, they could have warned in advance, because some people have been looking for these certificates in their phones for a very long time. We spent about 20 minutes on these formalities. 

Then we were led by an escort to the checkpoint. We walked in single file along this terrible road – pay attention to the generally dull landscapes around, dirt, devastation, some kind of sad sight that causes depression.

Border between Russia and Azerbaijan: on foot through the Samur checkpoint and Yarag-Kazmalyar in Dagestan

territory of the checkpoint Yarag-Kazmalyar

Russian-Azerbaijani border: on foot through Samur and Yarag-Kazmalyar checkpoint in Dagestan

territory of Yarag-Kazmalyar checkpoint, Russia

Border between Russia and Azerbaijan: on foot through Samur and Yarag-Kazmalyar in Dagestan

the territory of the checkpoint Yarag-Kazmalyar, 2022

Russian-Azerbaijani border: on foot through Samur and Yarag-Kazmalyar checkpoint in Dagestan

territory of Yarag-Kazmalyar checkpoint, March 2022

Border between Russia and Azerbaijan: on foot through the checkpoint Samur and Yarag-Kazmalyar in Dagestan

territory of the checkpoint Yarag-Kazmalyar, March 2022

Then we entered the building of the Russian checkpoint – everything was closed here, there were no employees. In general, we stood for about 15 minutes waiting for someone to come here.

Border between Russia and Azerbaijan: on foot through Samur and Yarag-Kazmalyar checkpoint in Dagestan

border guard cat , inspects my luggage

Russian-Azerbaijani border: on foot through the Samur and Yarag-Kazmalyar checkpoints in Dagestan

original toilet on the territory of the Yarag-Kazmalyar checkpoint, March 2022

I went to this beautiful toilet)) Interesting the authors of this repair thought that it would be worth making partitions in the toilet, but somehow it all looks not very comfortable.

Then an employee came – and we quickly went through passport control. Nobody checked the luggage. 

The border between Russia and Azerbaijan: on foot through the Samur and Yarag-Kazmalyar checkpoint in Dagestan

View of the Yarag-Kazmalyar checkpoint from Russia

So we entered the territory of Russia. Here I was waiting for a taxi driver offering their services. But I took care of the transfer from here to Makhachkala airport in advance, because I didn’t want to waste time looking for a car in an unknown place (I was here for the first time). 

If you want to take care of the transfer to Makhachkala or Derbent in advance , I would advise you to go to Avito, and look for transportation services there – look at the nearby villages. I was originally looking for a driver in Derbent, but in fact it was necessary to look for a driver in nearby villages, for example, in Magaramkent. This will be cheaper. On average, you can be taken from the border to Makhachkala for 2500 – 3500 rubles.

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