A great tour in Armenia, an authentic passage from north to south, from town to town, from monastery to monastery, discovering the country with its rich history and culture. Visits will be combined with short hiking without any difficulties.
Day 2: The first place to visit: Pagan temple of Garni, I century, the Royal Family’s summer residence
Direction to the pagan temple of Garni. It is the only preserved monument of the Hellenistic period in Armenia. The sanctuary is dedicated to the god of the sun Mihra and was built in the 2nd half of the I century A.D., during the reign of king Trdat I. Then, way down to the Garni canyon surrounded by amazing basaltic formations. After that, our next stop will be Gueghard (UNESCO world heritage) – cave Monaster. This marvellous place was renamed Geghard, which meant "lance", as the hermitage was the depositary of one of the relics of the Armenian Apostolic church: the lance that one of the Roman guards had used to pierce the rib of crucified Christ.
Lunch at a villager’s home, degustation of the fish from the river, discovering Armenian hospitality. Return to Yerevan for visiting Matenadaran - depositary of ancient manuscripts, research institute and museum. It holds one of the world's richest depositories of medieval manuscripts and books which span a broad range of subjects, including history, philosophy, medicine, literature, art history and cosmography in Armenian and many other languages. In the evening, let's taste a delicious dinner in a restaurant.
Duration of hiking 2h, distance 5km, altitude ↑200m ↓200m
Day 3: Mountain Aragats: Being dazzled in a wild nature
This day, we will continue to the monastery of Saghmosavank, standing at the edge of the picturesque canyon Kasakh, where a meeting with Yezidis will be hold. The Yezidis, also called Yazidis, are a small religious minority of Kurdish language. After this exciting discovery, hiking through fields to the Fortress of Amberd for visiting the fortress and the church. After, drive to the village Odzoun to see the Odzun Basilica (VI c). Stop at a villager’s home, where a warm welcome will be waiting for you, participation in preparation of a traditional barbeque. Degustation of homemade walnut confiture and herbal tea of the region. If we are lucky, there will also be honey. Overnight homestay in Odzoun.
Duration of hiking 3h, distance 9km, altitude ↑650m ↓650m
Day 4: Hiking towards Haghpat and Sanahin - UNESCO world heritage
After your breakfast, let's do some hiking from Odzoun towards the ruins of the churches Kobayr and Horomayr (VII – XIII cc), which are accessible only on foot. Kobayr was part of the heritage of the royal family in Lori – Bagratid. Next stop to visit Haghpat and Sanahin. Monasteries Haghpat and Sanahin were chosen as UNESCO world heritage monuments, as these two monastic complexes represent the highest flowering of Armenian religious architecture with their unique style. Transfer to the town Dilijan - one of the finest resorts and spas in Armenia, where you can breathe the pure air of coniferous forests and taste the precious mineral water. Dinner and overnight in a 3* hotel in Dilijan.
Duration of hiking 3-4h, distance 13km, altitude ↑150m ↓300m
Breakfast. Transfer by bus to Dilijan national park. Then, direction to Lake Parz, a small lake in a forest on the altitude of 1350m. From there we'll go for a hike through beautiful forest that will bring us to the monastery of Goshavank. Settled in the valley, it was founded in 1181 by the monk and famous jurist, Mkhitar Gosh, author of the first Armenian civil code. Continuation and visit to Haghartsin Monastery. Here, the combination of natural and architectural beauty is very impressive. Discovery of the ancient craftsman’s district in Dilijan and visit of a Molokans family - the "Amishes" of the Caucasus. They form a small community among Armenian minorities. Transfer to the village Tsaghkunk, where a delicious dinner will be served. Overnight in a cozy guesthouse in Tsaghkunk.
Duration of hiking 3-4h, distance 9km, altitude ↑400m ↓400m
Day 6: Selim Caravanserai: Witness on the ancient Silk Road, crossroad between Persia and the Occident
This morning, you will be transferred to Lake Sevan - «Blue Pearl» of Armenia. This huge mountain lake, which covers 5% of Armenia’s surface, is about 2000 metres above sea level and is the second highest freshwater lake in the world. Then, visit of the peninsula and Sevanavank, with its two small churches. Next stop is Noradouz - cemetery of crosstones (khachkars). The city is widely known thanks to its great number of unique khachkars, mostly of the XIII to XVII c. After that, direction to the south of the country and continue the trip by Selim pass. On the way, visit Selim Caravanserai, witness on the ancient Silk Road, situated 2410m above sea level. According to the two building inscriptions, the caravanserai was built by Prince Orbelyan Chesar. Degustation of regional pakhlava and Armenian cognac. Continuation to Hermon. Dinner and overnight in cottages of Hermon. Relax in the nature (pool, sauna, gym). No hike for this day.
Day 7: Fortress of Smbat, Church of the soldiers: battle for the faith and motherland!
Breakfast. Then, you will be moved to Yeghegis. In this marvellous place, you will see the village where an ancient cemetery and Zorats Church (XIV c.) are located. The church Zorats is unique for its architecture among other Armenian churches. Starting point of hiking is fortress of Smbat (X c). Continue hiking to the monastery of Tsakhats Kar (X c). After that, let's walk down to the village Artabuynk. Now, transfer to Syunik region. Visit to the monastic complex of Tatev, which is an architectural masterpiece and is often called a monastery built on the edge of nothing. Starting from the XIVc it became an eminent university. It’s one of the oldest universities in the world where students used to study humanitarian and social sciences, music, writing skills, calligraphy and so on. After this visit you will be moved to Goris. It is one of the most beautiful cities in Armenia in the heart of a landscape of caves and ‘fairy chimneys’, which offers nice hiking opportunities. Accommodation in a cozy hotel in the heart of the city. Dinner. Degustation of regional dishes. Dinner and overnight in the hotel in Goris.
Duration of hiking 3-4h, distance 12km, altitude ↑450m ↓650m
Day 8: Mount Ararat and Khor Virap: The symbols of Armenia
Breakfast. Direction to Karahundj - 3,500 years older than England’s Stonehenge and 3,000 years older than Egyptian pyramids. The total area of the observatory is 7 hectares. According to the scientist’s findings, a temple consisting of 40 stones built in honour of the Armenians’ main God, "Ari", meaning the Sun, which is situated in the central part of Karahundj. Besides the temple, it had a large and developed observatory.
Then, direction to Noravank. Its canyon’s flora is very interesting and the preservation of this area is crucial, because there you can find not only rare plants but also species of endemic cultivated plants. Visit the Monastery of Noravank founded in the XIII century. Located in a deep canyon, the monastery is dominated by high mountains featuring exceptional beauty. Direction to the Monastery of Khor Virap. The landscape here is dominated by Mount Ararat (5165 m). The hermitage is one of the sacred places of the Armenian apostolic church, where one can see the pit that served as a prison for Gregory the Illuminator, the first Armenian saint and founder of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Return to Yerevan. Dinner in a folk restaurant. Overnight in a 3* hotel in Yerevan.
Zvartnots International AirportYerevanGarrniGeghardLe MatenadaranSaghmosavank’AmberdOdzounHaghpatMonasteries of SanahinDilijanGoshavankHagartsinTsaghkunkLake SevanSevanavankNoratusSulemaHermonYegheguisSmbataberdTsakhatsSyunikTatevGorisK’arahunjNoravank’Khor VirapMount Ararat