Best nature trips trails in Ararat, Armenia

5 Reviews
Explore the most popular nature trips trails in Ararat with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.
Map of nature trips trails in Ararat, Armenia
Top trails (5)
#1 - Temple of Garni, Gilan Village, St. Stephanos Monastery, Havuts Tar
Urtsadzor, Ararat, Armenia
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(1)
Length: 6.4 mi • Est. 3 h 36 m
Overview This hike is located on the shared border between the provinces of Kotayk and Ararat. After visiting the Garni temple in the village of Garni and exploring its magnificent facade, the trail will then lead to the village of Gilan (8 km from Garni) in the “Khosrov Reserve”. From the entrance of the reserve, a car will take the visitors up to the starting point of the trail, in the village of Gilan. It is also possible to spend the night in Gilan and hike several other routes. For this reason, you can make arrangements beforehand with a local family to provide you with an overnight stay and meals - the most natural and palatable you have ever tasted. The hike begins from Gilan leading to the St. Stephanos church, from there a path leads to Havuts Tar, surrounded by juniper groves, mountain masses, and a panoramic mountainous scenery. Use the same route for the return trip. From Gilan village a hike leads to the waterfall of the Goddess Astghik. The water of the waterfall is potable and it flows into a small natural pool where one can swim. Next on the hike, comes the St. Stephanos monastic complex (a place of pilgrimage for many Armenians) located on the high slopes of the gorge. Cultural and Historic Monument St. Stephanos (Surb Stepanos) Monastic Complex (Aghjots Vank) Aghjots vank or the St. Stephanos monastery is a medieval Armenian monastic complex, located within the territory of the “Khosrov” state reserve, in the province of Ararat. The monastic complex is composed of a narthex (gavit in Armenian), several churches, buildings for monks and a cemetery. The main church of the monastic complex is the St. Stephanos church, built in the early 13th century. The church has a cruciform layout and 4 sacristies. The narthex (built in the second half of the 13th century) is located on the east side of the main church. Only a few parts of its original walls have survived the centuries. The St. Stephanos monastery is situated on a high slope overlooking the nature reserve. Havuts Tar Monastery Havuts Tar is a monastic complex, and architectural monument, situated on the top of the mountain, on the left bank of the Azat River, east from Garni (province of Kotayk). It was one of the cultural and religious centers of Medieval Armenia. Grigor Magistros Pahlavouni built the Surb Amenaprkich Church (St Saviour's church) in the area around the monastery in 1,013. Havuts Tar was destroyed by an earthquake in 1,679. The monastic complex consists of two groups of monuments. The main church (XIII century) in the western monument group, has a cruciform structure in the interior, and a rectangular build along the outer walls, there are also sacristies on all four sides. Numerous inscriptions are carved on the colorful walls (made of polished red tuff) of the church. The dome and the roof of the church have been ruined over the centuries. There are also two one-nave chapels (currently dilapidated) which are adjacent to the church. In the 1st half of the XVIII century, the eastern group of monuments was thoroughly reconstructed with the stones of the church and the four-pillar narthex of the monastery built by Grigor Magistros. Nearby on the north side, is the Surb Karapet church (the domed hall of which remained incomplete), founded by Catholicos Asdvadzadur (Hamadantsi ) in 1,721. Living quarters are adjacent to the walls from the north, with a guesthouse on the southeast. Currently the monastery is under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture. Safety and Connectivity Mobile telephone coverage is available only in some places between the areas of Gilan village, St. Stephanos and the Havuts Tar monasteries. The 911 emergency services operate throughout Armenia in case of any accidents. Be aware of snakes and be sure to bring bottled water! Route Characteristics Best Time: April to November Distance from Yerevan to Garni village: 26 km (37 minutes) Cost from Yerevan to Garni village: 2,700-3,000AMD Cost of the Ticket to the Temple of Garni: 1,000AMD It is possible to get to Gilan village by the service cars of the “Khosrov” reserve Hike Distance: 8km (320m) Hike Duration: 2.5 hours Altitude (from Sea Level): 1,619-1,628m Visible Trail Surface: 100% Show more
#2 - Garni Temple, Gilan Village and Kakavaberd
Urtsadzor, Ararat, Armenia
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Length: 4.1 mi • Est. 2 h 45 m
Garni Temple, Gilan Village and Kakavaberd Overview This hike is located along the shared border of the Kotayk and Ararat provinces. The route takes hikers past some significant landmarks including the Temple of Garni, located in Garni village, Gilan village (8 km away), the Khosrov Reserve and Kakavaberd Fortress. Hikers can choose to spend the night in Gilan and hike a few more routes, as well as interact with locals to experience some delicious Armenian cuisine and hospitality. The route returns via the same path.  Cultural and Historic monuments  Kakavaberd, also known as Keghvaberd, is a medieval fortress on the right bank of the Azat River, in the Mazaz region of the Ararat province. The Armenian Catholicos and historian Hovhannes Draskhanakertsi, first mentions Kakavaberd, in the 9th century, as the ancestral land of the Bagratuni Dynasty. According to Draskhanakertsi’s writings, in 924, the Arab commander, Beshir, attacked the fortress but was defeated by the commander, Gevorg Marzpetuni. However, Marzpetuni’s forces were diminished, and they soon sought refuge elsewhere, leaving the fortress to be taken by Beshir.  In the 11th century, control of it passed to the Pahlavuni family and between the 12-13th centuries it was under the rule of the Proshyan family. The fortress was last mentioned in 1224, when, after losing a battle near Garni, Ivane Zakarian sought shelter there.  The fortress is currently still standing and well preserved. Built on the top of a high mountain – at an altitude of 2,066 m, it is unreachable on three sides, due to the natural layout of the landscape and the walls which stretch all along the north-eastern side, with widths and heights of 2-2.5 m and 8-10 m respectively, and a large number of fortified towers. Inside the fortress lie the remains of a preserved church and a number of other ruins.  Gilan village is located 8 km from Garni, in the Khosrov Reserve. There is no school, village administration or hospital in the village. Gilan does not technically have village status, but people live here together with their families, without any major issues. Here, 20 families work together to cultivate their land, plant new trees and enjoy the large variety of fruits and vegetables that this land provides them with year round. All the people of this old village are highly hospitable, and often host tourists during the summer months, offering them tasty traditional Armenian dishes and a place to stay.  The pagan Temple of Garni is located on the right bank of the Azat River. Legend ascribes Garni’s founding to Hayk Nahapet’s (the ancestor of all Armenians) great-grandson, Gegham, who named the temple of Garni after his grandson Garnik. The fortress of Garni was built in the Hellenistic architectural style, on the high triangular promontory, during the reign of King Tiridates I (Trdat, in Armenian) in the year 76. The fortress of Garni was destroyed several times throughout the centuries, but Armenian kings would always restore it – turning it into a summer residence, a place for the military exercises of troops and even an Episcopal Residence.  Archaeological excavations around Garni have found late Bronze Age tombs, early Urartian and Armenian cuneiform and ceramic inscriptions, attributed to King Argishti, and an urban settlement in front of the fortress, the traces of which had been covered by medieval and modern buildings.  There is also a medieval cemetery on the northern side of the village with carved khachkars (cross stones) and inscriptions on the tombs. Currently the temple of Garni attracts numerous tourists visiting Armenia with its well-preserved majestic architecture and carvings.  The temple is open for everyone throughout all four seasons and at night; it is dressed in the beautiful glow of coloured lights.  Khosrov Reserve is under strict protection by the State of Armenia. The Khosrov Forest (including Urts Reserve and Garni Reserve) was once the hunting grounds of the 4th century Armenian king, Khosrov G. Kotak (Khosrov III the Small), after whom it is named. It was during his reign that, according to Khorenatsi, the forest grew noticeably in size. The reserve extends from the Arax River to the Azat River. At an altitude of 1,600-2,300 m, and with an area of 27,000 hectares, the reserve has been under State protection since 1958, in order to preserve, improve and propagate existing and new species of flora and fauna.  The Kakavaberd Fortress, the Geghard, Havuts Tar, and St. Stephanos (Stepanos) Monasteries, a church carved into a cave, a medieval bridge and other historical monuments can be found in the Khosrov Forest. Azat River flows through the forest, with its abundant tributaries forming numerous rapids and magnificent waterfalls.  Flora  The flora within the Khosrov Reserve is plentiful – it includes around 1,800 species of plants.Show more
#3 - Temple of Garni, Gilan Village, Zhayrapor (Carved into a Rock) Church
Urtsadzor, Ararat, Armenia
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Length: 10.9 mi • Est. 6 h 37 m
Overview The hike is located on the shared border between the provinces of Kotayk and Ararat. After visiting the Garni temple in the village Garni and exploring its magnificence, the trail will then continue to Gilan village (8 km from Garni) in the “Khosrov Reserve”. From the entrance of the reserve, a car will take the visitors up to the starting point of the trail in Gilan village. It is also possible to spend the night in Gilan village and explore several other routes. For this purpose, arrangements can be made beforehand with a local family to provide an overnight stay and food. Zhayrapor Church (Church Carved into a Rock) Half of this medieval church is currently buried underground, and may be difficult to notice at first. Look for the front entrance of the church, it is ornately decorated. Flora The flora within the Khosrov Reserve is plentiful – it includes around 1,800 species of plants, which constitute more than 50% of Armenia's flora, 146 of these are registered in the Red Data Book of the Republic of Armenia. In the areas between the temple of Garni and Havuts Tar monastery there are a variety of interesting plants, trees and flowers, which vary depending on each microclimate. Semi-desert landscape dominates the lower slopes of the mountains, and forest vegetation covers the mid-altitude slopes, where juniper and oak trees grow. Other plants include the broadleaf spindle (Euonymus europaeus), guelder-rose (Viburnum opulus), sorbus and Caucasian honeysuckle, and species of flowers such as cichorium, white chamomile, clary sage (Salvia), valeriana (Valerians), Centaurea, nettle, plantain (Plantago), white bryony, and Achillea, which are said to have healing properties. Plants like thyme (Thymus) and mint grow here, and are often used as herbs in teas and cooking. Thyme is known to lower blood pressure. Fauna It is quite possible to hike this entire route without seeing any animals, however, the opposite is also true. The primary task of the Khosrov Reserve is the protection and breeding of species, which is strictly monitored and controlled. Usurian spotted deer, for example, was introduced to the reserve in 1,954. The birdlife of the reserve is especially abundant; about 142 species of birds can be encountered here, 66 of which (including Egyptian and black kite, griffon vulture, bearded vulture, golden and little spotted eagles, northern falcon) are registered in the Red Data Book of Armenia. There are 55 species of mammals, 18 of which are registered in the Red data Book of Armenia, among them the Syrian Brown Bear, wild boar, long-eared hedgehog, Armenian mouflon (wild sheep), Bezoar goat (wild goat), lynx, wolf, fox as well as some species of amphibious reptiles, 7 species of fish, more than 30 species of reptiles (like Levantine viper, Montpellier snake, dotted dwarf(Eirenis) and collared dwarf snakes, Pleske's racerunner, five-streaked and three-lined lizards, golden grass and Snaider’s skinks, eastern spadefoot and others) that can be encountered here in great numbers in the summer months, due to the hot climate. Route Characteristics Best Time: April to November Distance from Yerevan to Garni village: 26 km (37 minutes) Cost from Yerevan to Garni village (by taxi): 2,700-3,000AMD It is possible to get to Gilan village by the service cars of the Khosrov reserve. Route Distance: 14 km Route Duration: 4h 15m Altitude (from Sea Level):1,584-1,874 m Visible Trail Surface: 80%, 20% difficult to discern Price List in the Khosrov State Reserve (Price per day) http://khosrovreserve.am/ Guide 15,000AMD Transport 15,000-20,000AMD Horse 10,000AMD Entrance ticket to the Khosrov reserve 2,000 AMD Safety and Connectivity Mobile telephone coverage is not available in the area within Gilan village, nor the church carved into the rock (coverage is available only in one place in Gilan village). The 911 emergency services operate throughout Armenia in case of any accidents. Be aware of snakes and be sure to bring bottled water! Show more
#4 - Temple of Garni, Gilan Village, Waterfall of Goddess Astghik, St. Stephanos Monastery
Gilanlar, Ararat, Armenia
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(1)
Length: 5.4 mi • Est. 3 h 6 m
Overview The hike is located on the shared border between the provinces of Kotayk and Ararat. After visiting the Garni temple in the village of Garni and exploring its magnificent facade, the trail will then lead you to Gilan village (8 km from Garni) in the “Khosrov Reserve”. The hike starts from Gilan village and leads to the waterfall of the Goddess Astghik. The water of the waterfall is potable and flows into a round, natural pool which you can swim in. The next destination on the hike is the St. Stephanos (Surb Stepanos) Monastery, a place of pilgrimage for many Armenians, located on the slopes of a high gorge. Waterfall of the Goddess Astghik The waterfall is located 2km from Gilan village and is surrounded by rocks; the water is potable and flows into a small natural pool, which you can swim in. The surroundings of the waterfall are mostly mossy, because the sun almost never reaches there. The waterfall has a height of 6-7 meters. In the spring months, the water flow is so strong that swimming there becomes dangerous, nevertheless, its appearance remains as attractive as ever. Swimming season starts in June. Route Characteristics Best Time: April to November Distance from Yerevan to Garni Village: 26 km (37 minutes) Cost to get from Yerevan to Garni Village (by taxi): 2,500-2,700AMD Cost to get from Yerevan to Garni Village (by bus): 250AMD Distance from Garni Village to Gilan Village: 8 km Distance of Hike: 8.7 km Duration of Hike: 4 hours Visible Trail Surface: 99% Safety and Connectivity Mobile telephone coverage within the areas of Gilan village, St. Stephanos and the waterfall of the Goddess Astghik is available only in one place in the Gilan village. The 911 emergency services operate throughout Armenia in case of any accidents. Be careful, the slippery mossy stones of the waterfall as well as the fallen rocks of the tall wall on the left of the waterfall. Be aware of snakes and be sure to bring bottled water! Show more
#5 - Mount Urc
Urtsadzor, Ararat, Armenia
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Length: 6.2 mi
Description of the trail Today’s ski trail is located between Shaghap and Langanist villages of Ararat marz. After passing 2-3km from Shaghap village, can be reached to the start of the trail. During the winter months on the peaks of Mount Urc of Ararat marz dry grasses are seen, where the wind has taken its dose of snow. On the back side of Mount Urc the weather is amazing, and meters of snow layers are formed. And if the sun shines, you will see wonderful scenes from the peak. There is Armash river to the southwest, where fishes are evolving from the spring. You can see Araks river and the two giants, Sis and Masis mounts (Ararat 5138m), hanging in the air. The wild goat and the Armenian mouflon are encountered in Mount Urc, which are registered in the IUCN Red List, whose hunting is strictly forbidden in the Republic of Armenia. This area is a transit zone because it is immediately adjacent to the Khosrov Reserve. Description of the Monuments Mount Urc: Urc sierra is located in the south of Ararat marz of RA. It stretches from northwest to southeast, the length is 25km, and the maximum height is 2445,9 m (Mount Urc). It is disproportionate– the northern slopes are long and mildly slant, while the southern slopes are short and downhill, cropped. Urtscasar mountain pass (1910m) is located on the eastern edge of sierra. You can also visit: Khor Virap Khor Virap Monastery is located in the Ararat marz of Armenia, on the left side of Arax River, on one of the hills of historical Artashat. According to Agatangeghos historian, Trdat III the Great, during the persecutions of Christians, Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned in the royal prison of Artashat, where he spent 14 years. After imprisonment Gregory Illuminator could achieve the trust and support of the king, therefore, he made the Christianity the state religion of Armenia. In the fifth century the monastery was founded on the royal prison’s pit. Starting from the 13th century Khor Virap, besides being an important sanctuary, also became a center for education and science for all Armenians. More than 10 manuscripts have been preserved there. In 1255, Vardan Areveltsi founded a seminary in the monastery, where they were taught theology, the treatise of ancient philosophers, logic, rhetoric, grammar and spiritual songs. In 1669 the construction of St. Gregory Church started in the place where the 14th century chapel was. The pit is about 4.5 m diameter length and 6.5 m depth. In 1703 the reconstruction of holy Mother central church was completed. In the end of the 19th century, the colonnaded bell tower was built adjacent to the western facade of that church. During the 1970’s, the monastery’s walls and surrounding buildings were renovated through the efforts of Vazgen I, Catholicos of All Armenians. Fauna Wild goats, mouflons and rodent animals that thrive in winter are encountered here. Security issues In the Mount Urc, Ucom and Viva Cell-Mts mobile connections are always available․ In the case of an accident 911 rescue services operate in Armenia 24/7. Beware of dogs in the village. Trail technical parameters Best period: January - March Distance: 67 km from Yerevan, by taxi Duration: 1 hour 14 min Cost: 6700-7000 AMD Ski trail length: 11km Ski run: 5 hours 10 min Height from sea level: 1460-2300m The best drink is hot tea How to get to the trail In order to reach the above mentioned ski trail it should be take a taxi from Yerevan to Shaghap village of Ararat marz, then continue another 2-3 km. The ski trail begins from the allies’ road. Please use the taxies, in which counters are installed. Taxies throughout Armenia are quite affordable. ©State Tourism Committee of RAShow more