Best trails in Armenia

105 Reviews
Ready to check out the best trails in Armenia? AllTrails has 104 great hiking trails, mountain biking trails, views trails and more, with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers, and nature lovers like you. Ready for some activity? There are 72 moderate trails in Armenia ranging from 2.7 to 74.3 miles and from 3,297 to 12,729 feet above sea level. Start checking them out and you'll be out on the trail in no time!
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Map of trails in Armenia
Top trails (104)
#1 - Haghartsin, Jukhtak Monasteries
Dilijan, Tavush, Armenia
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(4)
Length: 11.1 mi • Est. 6 h 55 m
Overview This hike can either be completed in one eight hour day or split into two four hour days; for the two-day option, you can stay the night in nearby mountain huts (1,900m above sea level). The hike is 18.6 km long, and passes through water springs and resorts as it leads to the Jukhtak Monastery. After passing the monastery, hikers will meet a driver at the trail’s end, who will take them back. The hike scenery is extremely varied: passing by forests, gorges, mountain summits and rivers, all the passages are equally interesting and magnificent. Cultural and Historic Monuments Haghartsin Monastery This monastic complex (built in the 10-13th centuries) consist of three churches, two narthexes, chapels, cross stones and a refectory. The chapels and carved cross stones sit on the sloped rocks east of the main monastic constructions. A bronze boiler, weighing in at 350kg, was found at Haghartsin; as a great example of skilled metalwork, it is now preserved in the State History Museum of Armenia. St. Gregory Church The St. Gregory Church (10th century) is the oldest large structure of the Haghartsin complex. The ceilings of the church bear inscriptions and carvings of rosettes, birds, angels and men. Remains of tombs are preserved near the southern wall of the narthex. A chapel (13th century) is adjacent to the St. Gregory church on the north, and on the east side, there is the St. Stepanos domed church (built in 1,244), built of blue basalt, with elegant details. St. Astvatsatsin Church The St. Astvatsatsin is the main aesthetically appealing church of the complex, with its domed roof and halls. According to the inscription on the stone façade of the southern wall, the church was built in 1,281. All façades of the church (except the western one) have niches. The entrances, windows and walls are decorated with crosses and other carvings. There are ruins on the west side of the church which are thought to be the narthex of a previous construction. Refectory The Haghartsin refectory is one of the best examples of artistic Armenian architecture. Located on the west of the complex, it is a rectangular hall containing pillars and roofed by intersecting arches. According to the inscription on the southwest entrance wall, it was built in 1,248 by the architect Minas. East of the refectory, there are other ruins, which are thought to have once been kitchens or bakeries. Jukhtak Monastery The Jukhtak Monastery is located in the Tavush region, 3km northeast of Dilijan. Jukhtak translates to “pair” in Armenian, and as such the 11th-12th century monastery consists of two churches - St. Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God) and St. Grigor (St. Gregory) - as well as a surrounding cemetery. Despite having the same names, these are different from the churches of Haghartsin! Both churches of the monastery are covered with carvings and inscriptions, one of which is situated on the semi-round façade stone of the St. Astvatsatsin church. The St. Gregory church is located 15m east of the St. Astvatsatsin church. This medium sized construction has a centralized dome, four arches, carved stones, and elegantly decorated sacristies. Besides the two churches, there are other ruins in the monastery, as well as a cemetery around the churches with tombstones. Flora The forests of Dilijan cover about 340,000 hectares of territory. In 1,958, a national forest conservation area was opened here in order to protect the space; in 2,002, it was named Dilijan National Park. The park has 94% forest cover, and nearly 40 valuable tree species (particularly hornbeam, oak, beech, maple, birch, ash, willow, lime, and elm). About 123 types of edible herbs, 180 species of medical herbs (including helichrysum, mint, thyme, shandra, and bryony), and various species of edible mushrooms are also spread throughout the forest. Fauna The Dilijan park is also rich with fauna. The forests are home to brown bears, wolves, martens, lynx, roe deer, otters, squirrels, hedgehogs, wild boars, and various reptiles and amphibians. The park is also home to birds such as warblers, quails, grey partridges, wild pigeons, griffon vultures, bearded vultures, booted eagles, golden eagles, and many types of falcons. Route Characteristics Best Time to Visit: April to November Distance from Yerevan to Haghartsin: 110km (1h 40m) Cost to get from Yerevan to Haghartsin (by taxi): 11,000 AMD Hike Distance: 18.6 km Hike Duration: 8 hours (one day) or 4 hours per day (two days) Altitude (from Sea Level): 1,405-1477 m Visible Trail Surface: 90%, 10% easily discernible Safety and Connectivity Mobile telephone coverage (via VivaCell-MTS) is usually available throughout the hike (Haghartsin to Jukhtak). The 911 emergency services operate throughout Armenia in case of any accidents. There are drinking water sources mentioned on the route, however, to be on the safe side, be sure to bring bottled water! Show more
#2 - Odzun, Horomayr, Kobayr
Odzun, Lori, Armenia
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Length: 5.5 mi • Est. 3 h 13 m
Overview This route, located in the Lori province, starts at the Odzun Church in Odzun village. From there, it continues by foot to the medieval Horomayr Monastery, which is 1,000m above sea level. Then, the Kobayr Monastery, which consists of several medieval churches. This complex was one of the significant educational and cultural centers of Armenia. The visitors passing this route enjoy not only the monastery’s beauty and significance, but also the ravishing nature of this area of Lori. While passing the route, a few more chapels and water sources can be seen as well, some of which are mentioned in the route. The way back is through Kobayr. The path is easily discernable and in the distance, settlements, villages, foggy forests, canyons, gorges, and waterfalls can be seen. This is the richest province of Armenia for travel tours, with many routes undergoing preparation to be open to visitors. Description of the Monuments Odzun Saint Astvatsatsin Church (“Holy Mother of God Church”) is a domed basilica church in Odzun village. The current building was constructed in the 5th century in the place of its predecessor, a one-nave basilica church built by Gregory the Illuminator and Tiridates III in the 4th century. The church was covered in logs, with tiles and slabs added to the three-nave basilica in the 5th century, and domed pillars, a cupola, and stone arches introduced in the 6th century. Many Armenian records exist in the inner and exterior walls of the church. The church has had the names of Saint Astvatsatsin, Surb Nshan (Holy Sign), Saint Hovhannes (Saint John), and Khachgund. Its last name, Khachgund, was in memory of a priest buried in the churchyard. In its old age, it has undergone many renovations. Near the church, there is a magnificent monument devoted to the introduction of Christianity in Armenia. The Horomayr Monastery is a medieval architectural complex located 1 km from Odzun village. Its first known mention was in the 7th century. It consists of two groups of buildings, one situated on the Debed canyon’s slope, and the other on the plateau. On the slope is the main church, Surb Nshan (Holy Sign), a one-nave arched basalt church built by the Princes Zakare and Ivane Zakarians in 1187. The high relief of the child Jesus and St. Virgin is on the unique facade stone of the northern entrance of the church. The bell tower of the roof was built in 1290. Next to Surb Nshan is the second one-nave church of the monastery, which includes a small 13th century chapel. The chantry (1301), with its square layout and apsis, is on the northern side of the complex, near the ruins of the St. Apostle (Surb Araqyal) chapel. At the cemetery of the monastery, you will see cross stones and headstones from the 13th century. On the plateau, there are two one-nave arched churches (1206), with a narthex situated between them. The Kobayr Monastery is a medieval Armenian monastery located near Kobayr village. The monastery was built upland, on the edge of the gorge of the Debed river. It was one of the medieval period’s famous spiritual, cultural and educational centers of Northern Armenia. The monastery was founded in 1711 by the daughter of Kyurike II, from the Kyurikyan branch of the Bagratid dynasty. The expansion of the Kobayr Monastery started in the end of the 12th century and continued into the early 13th century, when the monastery was passed onto the Zakarid dynasty. During that period, the main church, the chapel-sacristy, the open hall, refectory, bell tower-cemetery, chapels and defensive constructions were built. All of them are in a dilapidated condition today. The monastery was connected to the activity of the famous writer (matenagir) David Qobayretsy (12th century). The church was turned into a Chalcedonian church in the beginning of the 13th century. According to the references of Vardan Areveltsi and Mekhitar of Ayrivank (Armenian: Mxitar Ayrivaneci) there was a convent in Kobayr. The iconography of Kobayr’s murals is related to the Byzantine ornamentation system, but shows a dominant influence from local traditions. The Flora The forests of Lori are rich with many species of trees (approximately 60 species of trees, and 90+ species of bushes). The main type of tree is the oriental beech, which is rather demanding on moisture and soil. Oriental oak, Georgian oak, Georgian maple, Caucasian Tilia, hornbeam, etc. grow along there too. The Fauna The Lori province also has incredibly diverse fauna. Rodents are particularly common here, of which the field mouse/common vole, five-toed jerboa, and hamster are widespread. There are also martens, ground squirrels, grey wolves, and foxes. Birds like ducks, grey partridges, redbreasts, sparrows, quails, wood larks, swallows, magpies, eagles and falcons can be found here. There are few reptiles. Because of ranching development, many wolves penetrate residential areas, threatening cattle.Show more
#3 - Lake Parz, Goshavank, Lake Gosh
Teghut, Tavush, Armenia
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Length: 10.7 mi • Est. 6 h 20 m
Overview This hike, located in the Tavush region, is rich with forests, streams, clay soil and birdsongs. It is advisable to take some potable water and - with the help of a GPS - begin the hike that leads from Lake Parz to Gosh village, where the Goshavank Monastery is located. The route then passes through a fresh and untouched forest and takes you to Lake Gosh, where the clouds and trees always reflect off the water’s surface, regardless of the weather. Cultural, Historic, and Natural Monuments Lake Parz is 1,350m above sea level, with a length of 300m, width of 100m and depth between 3m-10m. The lake is fed by various springs and is surrounded by beautiful forests. Its water is a transparent, green color, and the trees seem to float on its surface when looking out from the shore. Goshavank is in the center of Gosh village (16 km east from Dilijan), in the picturesque green gorge of the Tandzut River. The monastery was founded in 1,188 by Mkhitar Gosh, a great fable writer and teacher, with the support of Prince Ivane Zakarian. It was originally named Nor Getik, in honor of the nearby Getik Monastery that was destroyed by an earthquake. The monastery’s name changed to Goshavank after Mkitar Gosh passed away in 1,213. Several churches and shrines (founded in the 12th and 13th centuries) constitute the magnificent architectural monastery. At the entrance of the monastery, there is a beautifully carved cross stone that was made by the famous master, Paul in 1,291. The complex was mentioned in historical sources as a school, university and seminary, where subjects such as foreign language, philosophy, rhetoric, music, writing, and painting were taught. Numerous manuscripts were created and kept in the monastery. Lake Gosh is located 2.2 km southwest of Gosh village. Formed by landslides, it is fed by water springs and precipitation. In the summertime, the water temperature reaches up to 14 C. The lake is 100m in length, 80m in width, 8m in depth, and has a volume of 1,500 cubic m. Flora Forests cover more than 340,000 hectares of territory in Dilijan. In 1,958, a national forest conservation area was opened here, which later became Dilijan National Park in 2,002. Forests cover about 94% of the National Park. Nearly 40 valuable species of trees (particularly hornbeam, oak, beech, maple, birch, ash, willow, lime, elm and 18 species of bushes) grow here. About 123 species of edible herbs, 180 species of medicinal herbs (helichrysum, mint, thyme, shandra, bryony and others), and various species of edible mushrooms are spread throughout the forest. Fauna The Dilijan National Park is also rich with fauna. Mammals such as the brown bear, wolf, marten, lynx, roe deer, otter, squirrel, hedgehog, and wild boar inhabit the area. There are also many birds including the warbler, quail, grey partridge, wild pigeon, griffon vulture, bearded vulture, booted eagle, golden eagle, and various types of falcons. Route Characteristics Best Time to Visit: April to October Distance from Yerevan to Lake Parz: 99 km (1h 30m) Cost to get from Yerevan to Lake Parz (by taxi): 9,900 AMD Hike Distance: 12.5 km Hike Duration: 5 hours Altitude (from Sea Level): 1230-1426 m Visible Trail Surface: 100% Safety and Connectivity Mobile telephone coverage is usually available throughout the hike. It is not advisable to pass the hike in rainy weather, as the clay soil makes it difficult to walk. The 911 emergency services operate throughout Armenia in case of any accidents. Be sure to bring bottled water! Show more
#4 - Sanahin Monastery, Kayan Fortress, Haghpat Monastery
Sanahin, Lori, Armenia
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Length: 7.1 mi • Est. 3 h 52 m
Overview This hike is located in Lori, which was the historic Tashir region of Greater Armenia. The starting point of the hike is the Sanahin Monastery in Sanahin village. The hike will then lead to the hilltop Kayan Fortress before proceeding to the Haghpat Monastery (one of the most beautiful sites of interest for tourists). The Haghpat and Sanahin monasteries are UNESCO World Heritage Sites - not visiting them would mean missing something very important in northern Armenia! The discernible trail of the hike promises quite an enjoyable journey. In the distance, on high cliffs, settlements, villages, outlines of foggy forested mountains, canyons, waterfalls, and deep gorges can be seen. The autumn is just heavenly in this area, with its vivid colors and foggy mountains. There are lots of yet unexplored hikes in Lori, which will be introduced to visitors when they are ready. Cultural and Historic Monuments Sanahin Medieval Monastery is located in its namesake village, and was founded by King Ashot III, the Merciful in 966. Between the 10th - 11th centuries, it was a great cultural center, with a high school and rich library. At the end of the 12th century, Sanahin became the summerhouse of the Zakaryan family, but later returned to being a cultural and scientific center that acquired extensive estates through donations. The Sanahin complex includes the Surb Astvatsatsin (St. Holy Mother of God) and Surb Amenaprkich (St. All Savior) churches, Surb Grigor (St. Gregory) small church-chapel, three narthexes, a scriptorium, a belfry and an academy. Kayan Fortress is located between the Haghpat and Sanahin villages, to the right of the Armenia-Georgia highway. The fortress was built in 1233 by Bishop Hovhannes, the leader of the Haghpat monastery. Nowadays, the monastery is also known as Aknaberd. The arched gate entrance of Aknaberd is from the south. Numerous ruins of buildings, water basins, and clay pipes have been preserved inside the fortress. The St. Astvatsatsin church of Dsevank is located in the monastery. Numerous interesting stories about the Kayan fortress have been preserved in nearby villages. Haghpat Monastery was formerly a university. It was founded in the second half of the 10th century and was one of the religious and cultural centers of Armenia during the 10th-13th centuries. Its’ economic, cultural, and structural growth lasted from the second half of the 12th century up to the end of the 14th century. Its school and library were extremely well-known in the 11th -13th centuries. Philosophy, rhetoric, theology, music and other subjects were taught here, and inscriptions were copied and illustrated (Manuscript repository, school, and gospel of Haghpat). The monastery was repeatedly subjected to invasions and earthquakes. In the midst of the 11th century, Haghpat was destroyed and robbed by the Seljuks. In 1105 it was attacked by Ghzl Amir’s army, in the 18th century by the Lezghins, and in 1795 it was ransacked by Agha Mohammad Khan. In order to protect itself from frequent attacks, fortified walls were built around the monastery, and defensive bases (Kayan, Atorik), shelters and dwellings were built in the nearby canyons and cliffsides. An important historical fact is that the popular troubadour, Sayat-Nova, spent many years of his life in the Haghpat monastery, and died while defending it in 1795. Flora The forests of the Lori region are abundant in tree species, counting about 60 tree species and 90+ bushes. The most frequently encountered species in these forests is the Oriental Beech tree (Fagus orientalis Lipsky), which is quite demanding on soil and humidity. Other commonly encountered species are the Oriental and Georgian Oak, Georgian Maple, Caucasian Lime, and common hornbeam. In spite of having a relatively small area, the Republic of Armenia is famous for its variety of flora species due to its favorable geographical position. There are about 100 species of flora on 1km2 of territory (one of the highest scores in the world). The entire Lori – Pambak area is located about 490-3,196 m above Sea Level and is distinguished by its diverse landscapes. The lowest point of Lori is in the lower stream of the Debed river (490 m from Sea Level) and the highest point is the summit of Achkasar (3,196m). Fauna Lori is also distinguished by its diverse fauna. Especially typical to the area are rodents like the field mouse, jerboa, blind mouse, hamster, marten, ground squirrel, as well as animals like the grey wolf and fox. Some of the common bird species are ducks, partridges, European robins, sparrows, quails, woodlarks, martins, magpies, eagles, and falcons. Because of cattle breeding in the territory, wolves are frequently “guests” here. The fauna in the province of Lori have become quite poor because of human activity. There are animal species that have disappeared or are on the brink of extinction. Show more
#5 - Lake Akna, Mount Azhdahak, Lake Vanqi, Petroglyphs, Gilan Village, Temple of Garni
Gilanlar, Ararat, Armenia
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Length: 22.1 mi • Est. 11 h 2 m
Overview This hike will last for about 3 days, and places for overnight stays are also mentioned in the hike. The hike starts from Sevaberd village, in the province of Kotayk. The first day of the hike is the longest one, leading to Lake Akna. It is a small mountain lake surrounded on three sides by red sand and stone mountains, which have found their mirror - reflection in the lake for ages. The hike then continues to the Azhdahak mountain, whose peak also borders with the province of Gegharkunik. Azhdahak has a height of 3,597 meters (from Sea Level) and is considered the most beautiful, the most accessible and the highest point of the Geghama Mountains. The blue-eyed crater lake is located on the mountaintop. The next sighting on the hike is Vanqi Lake and the various petroglyphs that illustrate the artistic skills of Armenia’s ancestors. After examining the petroglyphs, the hike will then lead to Gilan village, where the hospitable villagers will treat their guests with Armenian traditional dishes. Then the cars of the reserve will take visitors to the pagan temple of Garni, in Garni village. Djutakasar is located on the east of the temple, while on the south, in the Azat gorge, flows the Azat River. The route ends here - with views of the rich landscape full of diversity. Cultural and Historic Monuments Gegham Mountains The Gegham mountain range lies in the central part of the Republic of Armenia, in the provinces of Kotayk, Gegharkunik and Ararat, and is a result of volcanic activity. The mountain range extends along the meridian direction. The Gegham mountain range is spread with a number of small mountain and crater lakes. One of the lakes, fed by snowmelt, is located in the crater of Azhdahak Mountain. The mountain chain is like a mountain shield with a central high base of about 65km in length and 35km in width, laid with numerous volcanic cones, including Azhdahak - the highest peak (with a height of 3,597.3 m), Sevakatar (3,225.1 m), Spitakasar (3,555.7 m), Nazeli (3,312 m), Vishapasar (3,157.7 m), Erakatar (2,589.6 m), and Geghasar (3,444 m). From the western slopes of the Gegham Mountains flows the waters of the Azat, Vedi, and Getar Rivers, while from the eastern slopes start the Gavaraget, Argitchi, Bakhtak and other rivers. The famous lakes in the area are Aknalitch (3,031 m), Vanqi Lake, and Vishapalich, as well as the lake located in the crater of the Azhdahak mountain peak. Lake Akna Lake Akna (3,030m above Sea Level, 0.5 square km of area) is of volcanic origin and is situated on the plateau near the Gegham mountain peak. Snowmelt and spring waters feed the lake. Young volcanic cones and alpine meadows surround it as well, and the water is clean and potable. The surrounding mountains and blue sky are reflected in the mirror-like surface of the lake. A piping network of streams starts from Lake Akna and irrigates the wide pastures down below. Azhdahak Mountain Azhdahak Mountain is located in the center of the Gegham mountain chain. Its highest peak (3,597 m) is located on the shared border between the provinces of Kotayk and Gegharkunik. On the north-west side of the mountain, adjacent to its’ top, there is a water-filled crater, formed by volcanic eruptions and lava outflows. The mountain is snow covered most of the year, and its’ slopes are bare. The name Azhdahak has its origins in Armenian mythology, meaning half man and half dragon. Vanqi Lake (Vishapalich) In the Gegham mountains, on the northeastern shore of Lake Sevan, on the slopes of Aragats and in other places, many ancient stone statues are found, known as "Vishapakar", (dragon stone) dedicated to the worship of dragons and attributed to III millennium, BC. The Vishapakars were made from a single piece of stone. The tallest of them is 5.06 m high. Vishapakars have a fish-like appearance with a snake, bull, ram, stork and other animals carved on them; the vishapakars were usually placed nearby water sources, channels, reservoirs and artificial lakes. These stone sculptures were said to be deity idols, patronizing agriculture and irrigation and personifying the worship of water. Near Vanqi Lake (in the Gegham Mountains), two vishapakars have survived, the tallest of which is 3.5m high. Petroglyphs and Cave Paintings The scenes depicted on the petroglyphs reflect the worldview, the material and spiritual lives of people of the respective era. The petroglyphs enable us to have an insight into the lifestyle, habits and worshiping practices of the ancient inhabitants of the Armenian Highlands. According to scientists, the images of the petroglyphs had religious, and/or magical meaning։ consisting of symbols or ideograms, which, according to some experts, served as the basis for the establishment of an alphabet. Show more
#6 - Gnishik, Noravank
Gnishik, Vayots Dzor, Armenia
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Length: 5.2 mi • Est. 2 h 36 m
Overview To reach the Gnishik-Noravank route, which is located in the Vayots Dzor region, you first have to reach the village of Agarakadzor. In Agarakadzor, take a taxi to Gnishik village (16 km away), where the route begins. Gnishik village is home to only a small handful of families, whose total is barely over 15. Then you will see a lovely trail leading down into a beautiful gorge, winding like a snake along the river, leading you to an ancient monastery. Carefully examine the surroundings, and you might see a bezoar ibex (goats), bears tracks, badgers, sky soaring vultures and eagles. Passing through the vertical, crimson colored rocks, you will reach a beautiful chapel known for its healing waters. Crossing through Vayots Dzor, many visitors admire the picturesque, semi-scarlet, medium high cliffs and the high mountains and peaks along the road. Because the route of the trail narrows near the river and the canyon space is limited, taking the Gnishik-Noravank route with two or more people in order to scare the bears away with loud conversations is recommended. Fact The oldest single piece leather shoe in the world was found in the “Areni-1” cave in Vayots Dzor, back in 2008. The shoe is about 5,500 years old. Scientists from Armenia, Ireland, USA, ISRAEL and Great Britain have examined the shoe, in order to determine the approximate age of the shoe in the laboratories of Oxford and California. The shoe was made in the Chalcolithic period or the Copper Age, back in 3,500 BC. When the shoe was found, it was stuffed with dried grass, the purpose of which is not yet clear to scientists. The shoe size is a 37 in European sizing. It has now been moved to the History Museum of Armenia and is in need of conservation. Older sandals, have been discovered in a Missouri cave in the USA, which were made of plant material. Flora The flora in Vayots Dzor is fertile and diverse, and the nature is vibrant with sunny mountains and colourful flowers. Canes and sweet-flags are very popular in Vayots Dzor and they grow in relatively humid areas. The flora is also rich in different flower species. The yellow ascension flowers (daisies), dark purple wild tulips, and yellow bellflowers are widespread in the region. Yellow, aromatic primulas as well as rosehips and other species are popular in spring. The flora is less diverse in the relatively higher areas of the mountain, where the flowers grow sparsely and have short stems. Fauna Out of 25 uniquely picked regions, the Caucasus is considered a hot spot, thanks to its 500 species of fauna, many of which are included in the Red Book. Vayots Dzor is a region with rare, rock climbing bezoar goats and Armenian mouflons. These animals mostly live in the Khosrov Forest State Reserve in Vayots Dzor and the Zangezur mountain ridge. One can also find a few bears, wild boars, gray wolves, foxes, wild rabbits, mice and other species. There are also reptiles, green lizards, frogs, snakes such as grass snakes and vipers (locally called gyurzas), but they are limited in number. Safety VivaCell-Mts mobile telephone coverage is almost always accessible throughout Vayots Dzor, and the 911 emergency services operate throughout Armenia in case of any accidents. It is strongly encouraged to walk in groups of two or more to let bears hear you and not approach. Route Parameters Location: the Vayots Dzor region Best time: April to November Distance from Yerevan: 141 km (2 hours 24 min) Cost of taxi: 14,500 AMD (1 km – 100 AMD) Duration of the hike: 4 hours Route distance: 9.11 km Altitude (from sea level): 1,515-2,000 m Visible trail: 100% Be sure to bring bottled water! Show more
#7 - Shenatagh, Svarants, Tatev Monastery
Tatev, Syunik, Armenia
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Length: 11.1 mi • Est. 6 h 12 m
Overview This hike is located in the Syunik region, about 25 km from Sisian. The trail starts at a monument at the edge of Shenatagh village and leads into the hills, climbing up to 2,500m above sea level. The Aramazd mountain is vividly seen on the right from the route. At 3,392 meters, it is the highest peak in the Bargushat mountain range. The route trails down with beautiful views overlooking an abandoned settlement and the Svarants village. In the middle of this village is the 18th century St. Hazaraprkich Church. Beyond the village, the Tatev Monastery comes into view, one of the most beautiful churches in Syunik, and the endpoint of the hike. Hikers return via Tatev village, a recommended stop for other interesting sites nearby and on the route to Yerevan. Notably, there is Noravank (Eghegnadzor), Zorats Karer (Sisian), the Tatev ropeway (Halidzor or Tatev village), and Devil’s bridge (near Tatev village). It is advisable to cover all the sites in the Syunik site in 2 days, staying somewhere like in Tatev village, where there are B&Bs and meals. For a particularly magnificent view of the Aramazd mountain and the Bargushat mountain chain, it is advisable to take the B&B located behind the St. Minas church in the Tatev village. Cultural and Historic Monuments At Shenatagh village, there are Fort Tatan and Fort Sagu, which - while built in the area of the village - are not visited on the hike. There is also the St. Martiros church in the village center, preserved since 1,704. Svarants village is located 39 km from Goris and 3 km from Tatev. It is near Aghandzuget, on the northern slope of the Aramazd mountain. In the village is the St. Hazaraprkich Church, a 1,705 temple made of carved basalt. There are numerous other medieval monuments surrounding the village; among them are cross stones, a chapel, and the ruins of Tsoraberd (which is visited during the hike). The Tatev Monastery was founded in the 4th century, and used to be a spiritual-cultural center, a large monastic establishment in Tatev village. In the 8th century, it was named after Eustateus (Tateos) - Thaddeus apostle’s pupil, who preached Christianity in Syunik and was martyred there. The Tatev bishops had 47 villages and received tithes from 677 villages. Becoming more economically powerful, the bishoprics attempted to gain independence in 940-950. In the 14th century, the Tatev monastery was one of the centers of Armenian culture, wherein a painting school, library and University operated. Between 1,381-1,387, during Tamerlane's invasion of Syunik, Tatev monastery was robbed and burned, losing a considerable portion of its’ estates. In the late Middle Ages, a gavit (narthex) and a belfry were built on the western side of the large temple. The school of Tatev survived until the 20th century, when it was destroyed at the beginning of the century (and later found during excavations in 1,981-1,982). Between 1,974-1,998 the complex was entirely reconstructed. Legend After completing the construction of the Tatev monastery, the stonemason master required two sliver planers from the workers. Upon receiving them, the master kissed them each and said, “Let the Holy Spirit give us wings” (“ta tev” in Armenian). Suddenly, wings grew on his shoulders and the master flew away. The workers, who were unable to remove the existing wooden supports without the master, they eventually learned that the master was in Constantinople, and sent someone to fetch him. The master refused to return and simply explained the way to take them off. Thus, the monastery gained its name - Tatev, the way the master pronounced it. Flora The hike is rich with species of trees; especially abundant are oak, maple, wild pear, apple, rosehip, hawthorn, currant, as well as medlar. Bushes cover both sides of the trail. At an altitude of 2,200m, there grows another species of rosehip (Rosa svanetica), which bears fruit in the months of October to November. From August to November this route is full of red and yellow wild plum trees, and in the summer, the mountain slopes are spread with multicolored flowers. In the spring, further down near the settlements, grow edible herbs and some species of mushroom. Fauna There are relatively few fauna species in the areas between Shenatagh and Tatev monastery. In the bushes and trees, however, there are foxes, wolves, wild hares, porcupines, field mice, and, rarely, brown bears. It’s common to see birds like sparrows, Chaffinches, partridges, grey crows, and golden eagles. In the pastures, shepherds are usually seen with their herds of sheep. Show more
#8 - Temple of Garni, Gilan Village, St. Stephanos Monastery, Havuts Tar
Urtsadzor, Ararat, Armenia
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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
#9 - Mount Ara
Ashtarak, Aragatsotn, Armenia
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Length: 6.4 mi • Est. 4 h 41 m
Overview Mount Ara is located around 40km from the capital, Yerevan, towards the middle of the Aragatsotn and Kotayk provinces’ shared border, and can be accessed from both sides (from Saghmosavan and Yernjatap in Aragatsotn, or Aragyugh and Saralanj in Kotayk). The elevation of the mountain is 2,606m. Its name is said to originate from the legend of the mythical Armenian king, Ara the Beautiful. The weather is generally pleasant in the spring and summer, with long, warm, windless days making it an ideal hiking and rock climbing destination, as well as a favourite base from which local paragliders take to the air; whilst in the winter, a considerable snowfall makes it an ideal destination for ski-touring and winter mountaineering. A variety of sub-alpine and alpine flora, lush grassy meadows, steep rocky ravines and spectacular panoramic views also make it an ideal destination for nature enthusiasts and photographers. A number of routes exist up to the peak, following its crescent-like ridge, as well as easier hikes to the chapel at the heart of the crater, tall cliffs looming on either side. This route covers the majority of beautiful scenery this mountain has to offer, but feel free to wander around and discover some of the hidden beauties of its cliffs. Cultural and Historic Monuments The Monastery of Tsaghkevank or Virgin Varvara iscarvedstraight into the rock at the centre of the crater. Residents of the surrounding areas celebrate both Christian and Pagan holidays here, and visitors will often come purely for the healing spring within it, whose water source has been found to contain a significant quantity of zinc – said to be beneficial to eyesight, and help cure joint diseases and muscle spasms. Flora With over 650 species of plants growing on its slopes, Mt. Ara boasts an extensive biodiversity. Once the snow melts in spring, a vivid array of flowers, grasses, bushes and trees spring to life, awakening the abundant colours and fragrances, tangible from miles away. Found varyingly over its slopes in wetter months are blue and yellow bellflowers, snowdrops, violets and dark and light nuphars, whilst during the drier season, helichrysum species spring to life. Many of the plants found on Mt. Ara’s slopes, including the aforementioned helichrysum, camomile, and yellow dandelions are medicinal, and many more are edible and make for wonderful teas. Shrubs include the dog-rose (rosacanina), or masur in Armenian, whose large, red fruits are picked between September and March, and eaten or made into delicious jams and teas. Caucasian pines, oaks, ash trees and many other trees make up forests that cover the northern and eastern slopes. Fauna The fauna is evasive but prevalent, and although it is rare, visitors should mind potential poisonous snakes (including the black Armenian mountain viper and the green adder), wolves and brown bears – although the latter two tend to stay clear of humans, preferring instead to chill campers with their howls at night. The forested slopes of Ara provide an ideal playground for the bears to raise their cubs, whilst the wolves make their dens in the ravines and shallow caves. Other, less ominous wildlife include lizards and rabbits hiding out in the rocky crevices, foxes, squirrels and field mice in the woods, and a variety of birds including grey crows, starlings and woodpeckers. The Legend of Mount Ara Mount Ara was named after the mythical Armenian king, Ara the Beautiful, who in spite of externalpressures never betrayed his homeland. The legend goes that the Assyrian queen,Semiramis (Shamiram in Armenian) fell in love with him and wanted to unitetheir states, in order to create one powerful nationruled by the both of them, as the respective king and queen. Semiramis begged the Armenian king to consider it, trying to prove her love, though all she really wanted was to satisfy her lustful desires. However, the Assyrian queen did not take into account one importantfact: the Armenian king was already fulfilled, his wife(his beloved Nuard), his home, his child, his army and his homeland being all he wanted. King Ara rejected all of Semiramis’s dreams and desires, after which the queen attempted to capture the king's heartthrough battle, declaring war on Ara and the Armenian nation. During this war, one of herstrongest warriors injured and killed Ara, striking him with a poisonous spear. Semiramis, who could not come to terms with his death, commanded his body be placed on the mountaintop,so that thearalezs (dog-like mythological spirits) would come to lickhis wounds and revive him. King Ara the Beautiful is still allegedly waitingthere – hence the name of the mountain, Ara or Arayi(Ara’s) – and, according to legend, in some hidden and yet undiscovered place lies his tomb and final resting place. When looked at from Yerevan, the mountain reflects this in its ridgeline, which appears to be the king, lying down. Show more
#10 - Tatev Monastery and Old Harjis
Tatev, Syunik, Armenia
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Length: 7.9 mi • Est. 5 h 8 m
Overview This hike is located in the Syunik province. Departing from the Tatev Monastic Complex, it winds through the narrow streets of Tatev village and forest. From there it descends to the Vorotan estuary and follows it through the canyon until it becomes a lake, where swimming is allowed. Old Harjis village is located 3.5 km above the canyon, with its old roads and an ancient stone bridge built high on the mountains to the left. Inhabitants of the village tell stories of pilgrims and traders that journeyed on these roads long ago. While following the canyon’s path to New Harjis,this unique trail brings together stunning natural beauty and the forgotten village of Old Harjis. The village is full of ruins, with their abandoned walls sprouting weeds and their roofs covered in a thick layer of grass. Cliffs to the east and the Vorotan River to the south enclose the area. There are a number of other highly recommended trails around the Syunik province. There are B&Bs and other forms of accommodation in Tatev, ideal for planning longer stays and experiencing the area in more depth.Staying in the guesthouse located behind St. Minas Church, in the center of Tatev village, the marvelous scenery of Mount Aramazd and the Bargushat Mountain Chain can be enjoyed. En route to the trail there are also some other important sights such as Noravank Monastery in Yeghegnadzor, Zorats Karer in Sisian, the Tatev Ropeway in Halidzor/Tatev, and the Devil’s Bridge at the bottom of the Vorotan gorge. New and Old Harjis are villages in the Syunik province of Armenia, located 79 km to the north of the center of the province, Kapan, on the left bank of the Vorotan River, at an altitude of 1,700-1,730 m. The closest city is Goris, at 24 km.The easiest path leading from the village to the Vorotan Canyon descends to the west of the cliff, and is comfortably covered by foot. The villagers used to be engaged in cattle-breeding and cultivation, and would actively trade with the travelers on the important roads leading to Nakhijevan, Karabakh and Gardman. In the mid 18th century, Turks from the Upper Kirder region had intentions to capture Harjis, but they were afraid of its brave chief. In the evening, they invited him to dinner, got him drunk, and left him in a slumber. In the morning, he woke up, went outside and looked in the direction of Harjis only to see smouldering houses, his village burned. He died on the spot of a heart attack. Only two people were saved, a young girl and boy; the former settled in the nearby Halidzor village, the latter was sold to Turks in Nakhijevan. A priest followed his tracks, found him and returned the boy to Tatev Monastery. The boy, Ghukas, matured and though the initial idea was for him to become a friar, the priest changed his mind, saying that as his home village was now deserted, they should start it anew through him. Instead of taking him back to Old Harjis, they built a church (St. Minas) and a rock-hewn house (Hambu ghab) into the base of the cliff. Ghukas married a girl from Tatev and around their new home grew a village, Yayji, a natural hiding place visible neither from plateau, nor from the road near the Vorotan River. In 1931, an earthquake flattened the village, fortunately without human casualties. Flora The river’s melody, rustling leaves, starry sky, intoxicating scent of plants and other sounds of nature will definitely leave an unforgettable impression of this place. The hike crosses through oak and hornbeam forests, where hawthorn, brier, wild pear, wild apple, maple and elm trees also grow. The Vorotan River, the largest river of the Zangezur region, flows through the Harjis Canyon. The vast Vorotan Canyon is quite well-known in the Caucasus, with a depth of almost 800 m. The “Sosi and Zangezur” and “Shikahogh” reserves are also in this region. Within them are a number of other valuable and unique species, such as Greek walnut, Araks oak, Greek Silk vine, and velvety spindle tree. A number of species of fir grow near Harjis. Fauna Brown bears, wolves, foxes, porcupines, moles, seven species of lizards, eight species of snakes, and two species of turtles are often seen in the area. Lizards (including the shy European snake-eyed skin), cat snakes and Transcaucasian snakes are uncommon but not unheard of. The song of forest magpies and black thrushes will accompany hikers during the whole length of the trail. Other species of bird living here are eagles, large and small titmice, chaffinches,the blackhead, mountain and garden heaven-keepers and the corn bunting. Show more
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