Traverse the spectacular Transcaucasian trail and be part of a hiking movement
Follow the spectacular Transcaucasian trail through the stunning mountain ranges of Armenia on this world-class, long-distance hike that traverses one of the most biologically and culturally diverse regions in the world – and few have had the chance to explore. Feast your eyes upon the dramatic gorges and rocky canyons of the Vayots Dzor province, witness beautiful Armenian architecture at the UNESCO listed Noravank Monastery and indulge in a delicious drop or two as you navigate your way through one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world. Follow over 3000 kilometres of trail through the impressive scenery of the Great Caucasus and join the community of international hikers helping to put this intriguing region on the map.
- Be captivated by the Caucasus as your traverse through the mighty mountain range that unites Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
- Take a walking tour of Yerevan and visit the sites, experience the culture and listen to the legends and stories surrounding this fascinating city.
- Explore the dramatic gorges and rocky canyons of the province of Vayots Dzor in Armenia on this 110-kilometre trek.
- Discover the architectural beauty of the UNESCO-listed Noravank Monastery, nestled peacefully in a picturesque valley and surrounded by red-hued cliffs.
- Support the local non-profit organisation working to develop a world-class hiking trail that connects diverse communities and ecosystems, providing lasting and wide-ranging benefits for people and the environment.
Day 1: Yerevan
Welcome to Yerevan, Armenia – a city of contrasts. From the top-of-the-range sports cars and European-style wine bars, to vintage vehicles and old-fashioned tea houses, Armenia’s capital sees a mix of Soviet-era architecture among a wealth of gardens and parks and a multitude of cultures as diverse as their fashion. On arrival at Zvartnots airport, you’ll be met by a representative and transferred to the starting hotel when you can enjoy free time before heading out to get your first taste of Armenian cuisine while surrounded with the ambience of traditional music! We highly recommend khoravats (barbecue meats), washed down with some oghee (fruit vodka).
Day 2: Hors Village
After breakfast, enjoy a guided walking tour around the vibrant capital of Armenia, where the ancient culture is mixed with modern lifestyle and great traditions. Begin your tour in Republic Square – the masterpiece of the architect Alexander Tamanian, then continue to Cascade Complex, an open-air museum of modern art. Next visit the Opera House, a remarkable sample of urban architecture and a lively hub of the city! Freedom Square is just behind it, surrounded by parks and outdoor cafes which is a popular spot among locals to spend breezy summer evenings. This afternoon, take the 3-hour journey to the province of Vayots Dzor. On the way, visit the unique collection of over 900 khahkars (cross-stones) at Noratus, and the world-famous Selim Caravanserai perched below the mountain pass, before descending to the village of Hors. Tonight you’ll stay at an eco-lodge in Hors conservation area – enjoy a home-cooked meal and prepare for departure on foot the following morning! (B, D)
Day 3: Yeghegis-Areni
After a hearty breakfast, follow cattle trails and dirt tracks among rocky crags and mountain pastures high above the Yeghegis Valley. Rounding the southern flanks of Mt Gandzakar, descend towards the cavernous Arpa River valley, which splits the province of Vayots Dzor in half. As you descend, open hillsides will give way to the expansive vineyards of Aghavnadzor. During the grape harvesting season (September – October), you may find an opportunity to sample matcharr – a very young type of homemade wine that appears around this time of year – before finishing up at a traditional guesthouse in Areni village. (B, L, D)
Day 4: Gnishik
Today’s hike delves deep into Gnishik Gorge, also known as Noravank Gorge after the provisionally UNESCO-listed monastery that sits beneath its cliffs. Take an early drive to the monastery to enjoy the peace, before plunging into the depths of the gorge along historical footpaths used for centuries by the inhabitants of nearby villages to reach the monastery. Tonight, you’ll stay in the village of Gnishik itself, with dinner cooked by a local family. (B, L, D)
Day 5: Martiros
The morning’s hike will take you out of the Gnishik river basin and over a panoramic mountain pass into the valley beyond. On the way down, explore the ruined hillside village of Horadis, abandoned in Soviet times due to the difficulty of providing modern infrastructure to such a remote location, still inhabited in summer by a family of local beekeepers and with a partially restored 10th-century basilica church. The day’s hike ends at the village of New Martiros, where you’ll enjoy the hospitality of a local family for the night. (B, L, D)
Day 6: Gomk
Today’s hike is relatively short. Begin by exploring the old village of Martiros, a once-important settlement whose founding is recorded on a khachkar dating back to 1283AD, before visiting a unique rock-hewn cave church at the foot of nearby Mount Gogi. From here, follow a newly-built trail around the mountainside – offering truly spectacular views across Vayots Dzor – to Gomk, where you’ll take a well-earned half day off to enjoy local food, horseback riding and hospitality. (B, L, D)
Day 7: Artavan
This morning’s hike is perhaps the hardest of the trek, with a steep climb up an ancient stone staircase to the top of nearby Kapuyt Gorge – but the effort is more than worth it for the panoramic views at the top, as well as a truly spectacular cliff-ledge traverse above the gorge. The route continues along another historical trail, winding down through the oak groves of Artavan Forest and passing among the remains of ancient settlements, bandit camps and iron forges. Overnight at the guest house in the village. (B, L, D)
Day 8: Artavan
Drop your bags at a local homestay in Artavan village before making a loop of the nearby meadows and mountains, visiting several points of interest along the way, including waterfalls, lakes, tomb fields, and the ruins of an ancient fortress on a rock outcrop – which also marks the furthest point south on this section of the Transcaucasian Trail. Return to your guesthouse for a final celebratory meal and a well-earned night’s sleep. (B, L, D)
Day 9: Yerevan
Enjoy a sleep in this morning, the after a relaxed breakfast at your homestay, hit the road and take a tour of a renowned small-scale winery in the region for tour and degustation. Proceed to the famous Areni cave where the world’s oldest leather shoe was found. The shoe is now displayed at the History Museum of Armenia. Then drive back to Yerevan and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure, this evening perhaps join your group for a celebratory Armenian-style dinner, and toast to your trekking adventure! (B)
Day 10: Yerevan
Your adventure comes to an end after breakfast and you are free to leave at any time today. (B)
- Meals: 9 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 7 dinners
- Transport: Private vehicle, Trekking
- Accommodation: Standard Hotel (2 nights) Guesthouses (5 nights) Wild Camping (2 nights)
Images courtesy of IntrepidGroup