Transportation: comfortable bus with air conditioning from/to Zvartnots airport
Accommodation: 14x hotel (all rooms with private shower/WC), 3x camping tent
Meals: Full board, two bottles (each 0,5 l) of water per day
Transfer: All transfers according to the program, ride on the ropeway
Tour guide: Qualified tour guide, 24 hours availability on site
Visit to a wine producer, duduk and acapella concert (on request), visit to a brandy distillery and brandy tasting
Flight, insurance, alcoholic beverages, tips.
Armenia is a country of oriental Christianity between Ararat and the
Caucasus with mysterious legends and impressive monasteries. Armenia – a
country on the geographical, political and also cultural border between Europe and Asia. In its history, it has always been a crossing and transit area. Although surrounded by Islam, the oldest Christian country has developed at the foot of the biblical Mount Ararat. Its tradition is deeply Christian, yet it has retained an oriental flair. Impressive monastery castles towering over gorges, tiny stone churches or finely carved stone crosses are testimonies to history. Alpine meadows, mountain lakes, shepherds’ settlements, rock carvings, the ancient Silk Road, ancient monastery complexes (UNESCO
World Heritage Site) line our path. A combination of lots of hiking, nature and the great cultural sites of Armenia.
Meals: B = breakfast / L = lunch/lunch package / C= coffee break / D = dinner.
Day 1: Arrival
Flight to Yerevan. Transfer to the hotel.
Day 2: Yerevan – New Orleans of the East
Early in the morning we will be met at the airport and transferred to our hotel. In the morning we will have a rest before we leave after a late breakfast for a tour through the capital of Armenia – with many highlights such as: The Old Town, Cascade (viewpoint over the city with the first view of Mount Ararat), the Opera House, green areas. We take a break in one of the atmospheric street and park cafés, enjoy the impressive cityscape and watch the people strolling around. Yerevan is considered as one of the most beautiful capitals of the former Soviet Union and has many museums and magnificent buildings worth seeing. Because of its rich jazz scene, Yerevan is often called the “New Orleans of the East”. Afterwards we go on a fascinating journey through the country’s rich history in the historical museum. Journey through the rich history of the country, from the Stone Age to the 19th century. And because fresh air gives you an appetite, a traditional Armenian meal awaits us in the restaurant in the evening as a culinary welcome. Armenian cuisine is another highlight of our trip.
Overnight stay in a hotel in Yerevan (B/C/D)
Day 3: Trekking in the Geghama Mountains to Akna Lake.
After breakfast we drive to the village of Sevaberd (2,100 m) where our 3-day trek into the Gegham Mountains begins. The trail leads from the village path across meadows, alpine pastures and along small streams and in places offers magnificent views of the surrounding mountains, the inactive volcano Mount Aragats down to the Ararat plain. With its 4,090 m, the volcano is the highest elevation in the country. Our tent camp today is located near Lake Akna, where we comfortably enjoy our dinner.
Hike: approx. 6 hrs. (+950 m) Overnight stay in the tent camp near the lake Akna (B/L/D)
Day 4: Mountain hike to Mountain Azhdahak (the highest peak of the Geghama mountain range)
We have breakfast overlooking the mountain lake and today’s destination, the 3,597 m summit of Azhdahak volcano. Once at the top – we are at the highest point of the Geghama Mountains: on a clear day we can look across the whole of central Armenia to the freshwater and high mountain Lake Sevan in the north and the mighty volcano Ararat in the south. The route takes us across high pastures and past lakes. We hike along gentle ridges and cross plateaus. We have a relaxed lunch break before descending to a shepherds’ settlement. Nearby we pitch our tents at 2,900 m.
Hike: approx. 6-7 hrs. (+550 m/-900 m) Overnight in tent camp (B/L/D)
Day 5: Ancient rock paintings & hike via Lake Vank to the plateau
This morning we follow in the footsteps of ancient civilisations and marvel at prehistoric rock paintings with battle scenes and hunting motifs. An impressive sight. In the middle of the mountains at about 3,000 m we suddenly encounter the picturesque legacy of ancient civilisation. We take enough time to marvel at the works of art and discover details. We walk along the edge of the plateau and enjoy the sight of alpine vegetation. We also admire the famous Geghard Monastery, partly built directly into the rocks, deep down in the gorge of the Azat River. As an important testimony to Armenian art and religion and thanks to its unique architecture (cave rooms), it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the evening we pitch our tents directly in the Khosrow Wilderness Reserve. With a bit of luck we spot wild goats, long-eared hedgehogs and black vultures. The Persian leopard and the Syrian brown bear, which also live in the reserve, tend to stay hidden.
Hike: approx. 5-6 hrs. (+50 m/-1200 m) Camp with the Rangers (B/L/D)
Day 6: World Heritage Site – Geghard Monastery & Garni Temple
After breakfast we descend into the Azat Gorge. It is full of bizarre basalt formations that resemble organ pipes. Yet they are only relics from the volcanic past, washed free by the Azat River. We then cross a 13th century bridge and approach one of the cultural highlights of the trip. On the other side of the river valley, high above the abyss, rises the temple of Garni, dedicated to the sun god Mihr and built in the middle of the 1st century AD. Then drive to the Geghard Monastery. According to tradition, Gregory the Illuminator himself founded the monastery on the site of a pre-Christian spring sanctuary at the beginning of the 4th century. Drive to Yerevan.
Hike: 2 hrs. (+100 m/-200 m) Overnight in Yerevan (B/L/D)
Day 7: Free day in Yerevan
Today everyone has the opportunity to relax a little after the overnight stay in tents and to discover the capital on their own. In the evening we visit one of Yerevan’s brandy factories. One of the largest is located in a 17th century fortress. Of course, we will also taste a noble drop. The Armenian brandy is in no way inferior in quality to the French cognac. Afterwards, dinner in a traditional restaurant.
Overnight in Yerevan (B/-/D)
Day 8: Yerevan – Saghmosavank – Gyumri
After breakfast, we drive to the north of Armenia via the monasteries of the Kasagh Gorge. The Kasagh River has carved a deep gorge between the towns of Aparan and Ashtarak, which runs like a rift through the landscape. Directly at this picturesque gorge lies the monastery Saghmosavank (built in 1215), which we visit today. On the way to Gyumri we stop at the most famous bakery in Armenia. Then we drive to the second largest city in Armenia, Gyumri. The city is located in the extreme northwest of the republic on a plateau at the foothills of the Aragats at an altitude of over 1,500 m, only a few kilometres from the closed Turkish border. A short tour of the once flourishing commercial metropolis. The beautiful houses of the old town still remind us of that time. Dinner in the best fish restaurant in the region.
Distance: approx. 150 km, overnight in Gyumri (B/-/D).
Day 9: Gyumri – Odzun – Kobayr – Dilijan
After the approx. 2 hour drive on a beautiful hike, we hike around the Debed Canyon today. This gigantic crevice descends hundreds of metres, where the Debed River meanders through the rock. Also worth seeing is the village of Odzun, where a 7th century church is preserved near the canyon. After the hike, drive to Dilijan (the so-called Armenian Switzerland).
Hike 13 km approx. 4 hrs. (-200 m) Daily distance: approx. 210 km, Overnight stay in Dilijan (B/L/D)
Day 10: Dilijan – Matosavank – Jukhtak Vank – Lake Sevan – Dilijan
On the Transcaucasian Trail – Dilijan: The climatic health resort Dilijan is located in the green, forest- and water-rich northern province of Tavush, which is strikingly different from the barren south. Today we hike first to the Matosavank monastery church (13th century), then through Central European-looking red beech forests rich in undergrowth to the Dzhukhtak monastery, the monastery of the two churches, as its name suggests, was built in the 11th-12th centuries. After a short drive we reach Lake Sevan, where we spend the rest of the day resting. Weather permitting, there will be an opportunity for a swim at a lido, and an Armenian barbecue right by the lake. Please note: the weather at Lake Sevan is often very changeable and downright “unpredictable” due to the altitude of 1,900 m above sea level. Therefore, this is arranged according to weather conditions.
Hike: 6 km, approx. 1.5 – 2 hrs. (+100 m/-100 m) Distance: approx. 160 km, overnight in Dilijan (B/L/D)
Day 11: Over the Vardenyats – Pass to the south
The south of Armenia is a world of its own. With the power of water, the Vorotan has also shaped the landscape. The wild mountain river winds in a deep gorge through the mountains of Zangezur. Today we climb Mount Armaghan, which rises majestically above the land near the villages of Lernahowit and Madina, 2,829 m high. In the crater of the mountain, a small lake formed by meltwater reflects the blue of the sky and the play of clouds. Then drive down over the pass at 2,410 m to the Orbelian caravanserai. It was built by Chesar Orbelian on a small promontory in the terrain and served as a camp and hostel for the trade caravans.
Hike: 14 km, approx. 4 hrs. (+600 m/-600 m) Distance: approx. 170 km, overnight in Hermon (B/L/D)
Day 12: Artabujnkh – Smbataberd – Tsaghats Kar – Eghegis – Hermon
After breakfast transfer to Tsaghats Kar Monastery. According to the 13th century historian Bishop Stepanos, the monastery was founded as early as the 5th century. A burial church is said to have been built here for the Armenian rebels who died in the battle of Avarayr against the Sassanids in 451. From the monastery we walk to the fortress “Castle of “Smbat” Smbataberd. Smbataberd is the ruin of a medieval fortress in the southern
Armenian province of Vayots Dzor above the village of Yeghegis, which was expanded in the 10th century and was owned by the Orbelian princely family until its presumed conquest by the Mongols in the 13th century.
Hike approx. 4 hrs, 12 km. (+500 m/-400 m) Overnight stay in Hermon (B/L/D)
Day 13: Gorge hike near Jermuk
Our hike takes us from the village of Gndevaz to the 10th century Gndevank Monastery, which rises picturesquely above the river with its well-preserved monastery core, restored outbuildings and a high fortress wall. Through the grandiose gorge, which the Arpa has partly carved through multi-level basalt columns here, we continue to the reservoir. After a short rest, there is an opportunity to take a tour of the town centre and spa park in Jermuk. Here you can taste the famous healing water at different temperatures. Afterwards we drive to Goris.
Hike: approx. 3.5 hrs, 10 km (+360 m/-50 m) Overnight: in Goris (B/L/D)
Day 14: Hike to the monastery of Tatev
Drive from Goris to the village of Ltsen (1,800 m). From there we hike to the monastery of Tatev (9th century), 1,570 m high, situated on a large, steep rocky outcrop. There are some – not very steep – ascents and descents. At the end of the trail we reach the village of Tatev with its famous monastery complex, one of the most important medieval centres of the Armenian church and science. This is evidenced by extraordinary architectural and artistic evidence on the buildings. Afterwards, ride on the longest aerial ropeway in the world (length: 5.75 km).
Hike: 5-6 hours walking, 16.5 km, (+600 m/-600 m) Alternatively (instead of hiking) you can take the bus to the valley station of the cable car and from there float up to Tatev Monastery on your own (optional). Overnight stay in Goris (B/L/D)
Day 15: From Stonehenge via Areni Cave 1 to Yerevan
Today we drive to Zorakarer, a Bronze Age burial ground with over 200 basalt megaliths, most of them standing upright. Some of these relics are from the Stone Age and were erected for astronomical purposes. We then drive through the canyon to the famous 13th century Noravank Monastery with its two-storey mausoleum church. Visit to the karst cave Areni 1, which is considered one of the few and best preserved
Copper Age monuments in the South Caucasus and is one of the most important archaeological sites. In the cave, archaeologists found well-preserved remains of plants and fruits that allow for precise dating. The oldest wine press in the world (about 3000 BC) found in the cave attests to the almost 6000-year history of wine production in Armenia. A footwear found in the cave and more than 5,500 years old is considered the
oldest leather shoe in the world and the more than 5,900-year-old woman’s skirt (3900 BC) made of woven straw discovered in 2010 is also the oldest specimen to date. In the late afternoon we reach Khor Virap Monastery, the most popular place of pilgrimage for Armenians. It is above all the beautiful location, directly in front of the snow-covered north face of the biblical mountain Ararat (5,165 m), that makes this place so magical. It was here that Grigor Luisavorich healed King Trdat III; with the consequence of his conversion to Christianity and the designation of the first Christian nation in 301. Built in the 4th century as a simple chapel, the sacred complex today stretches majestically across the vast plain of the Ararat valley.
Drive time: approx. 5-6 h. Overnight in a hotel in Yerevan (B/L/-).
Day 16: Hike from Kari glacial lake to Armenia’s highest mountain Aragats.
We leave Yerevan early in the morning heading north-east. After a 1.5 hour drive we arrive at Kari Lake, a glacial lake in the middle of the mighty – formerly volcanic – Aragaz Massif, Armenia’s highest mountain, at an altitude of 3,200m. The approximately 4-hour ascent, partly over snowfields, brings us to the 3,880 m high southern summit. From the crater rim of the former volcano, on a clear day, we look far across the highlands with its gorges, meadows, plateaus and waterfalls. After conquering the summit, we start the descent. (+680 m/-680 m) If the weather is not favourable for climbing the mountain, we take a hike from Kari Lake to Amberd Fort. The hike leads down the wide slopes of the volcanic massif to the medieval
Amberd Fortress (7th century). On a clear day we have unforgettable views of the Ararat plain and Mount Ararat itself. Return to Yerevan. If you feel like it, you can attend a concert in the evening.
Driving time: approx. 2-3 hrs. (90 km) Hike: approx. 6-7 hrs. (- 900 m), Overnight in a hotel in Yerevan (B/L/-)
Day 17: World Heritage Site Echmiatsin
After breakfast we drive to the city of Echmiatsin. Its cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the most important religious centre in Armenia and the first Christian church in the world. The oldest walls of the cathedral date back to the 4th century. The Church of St. Hripsime dates back to 618 A.D. The city is the official residence of the Catholicos, the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church. On the way back to Yerevan, we visit another UNESCO World Heritage Site: the archaeological ruins of Zvartnots. The huge round cathedral is unique in its kind and shape and is considered one of the country’s national landmarks. A beautiful picture when behind it Mount Ararat stretches against the sky with its 5,165 m. In Yerevan, the Opera House and Republic Square were built on the model of the cathedral. Afterwards we visit the genocide memorial Tsitsernakaberd (Armenian for “swallow fortress”), which commemorates the Armenian genocide of 1915. In the evening we say goodbye to each other together in a stylish restaurant.
Driving time: approx. 1-2 hrs. (70 km) Overnight stay in a hotel in Yerevan (B/L/D).
Day 18: Journey home
Early morning flight back from Yerevan.
Program is subject to change!
Year of travel: 2021