Lake Akna, Mount Azhdahak, Lake Vanqi, Petroglyphs, Gilan Village, Temple of Garni is a 35.6 kilometer moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Gilanlar, Kotayk', Armenia that features beautiful wild flowers. The trail is rated as difficult and primarily used for hiking.

DISTANCE
35.6 km
ELEVATION GAIN
964 m
ROUTE TYPE
Point to Point

hiking

cave

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

historic site

no dogs

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.