Armenia! A hidden gem, located right between Europe & Asia! Small country, with very rich history, great culture, beautiful nature, amazing hospitality and ancient architecture! Within last 2 decades, Armenia became more and more popular among traveler's community all over the world, and many tourists, not only were amazed after their first visit, but they keep returning to see this beautiful country during different seasons of the year, and advising their friends to do the same! During our trip we will be doing lots of very interesting and not difficult hiking, explore the nature and local villages, test local food, talk to local people, watch how Armenian famous bread lavash is being baked etc. We will see beautiful mountains, forests, waterfalls, lakes, many different ancient monasteries, castles, khachkars (cross-stones) etc. We will even have a 4x4 off-road day to a breathtaking high mountain plateau! Optional, you can have Zipline, horse riding and wine degustation if you want... Price includes: + All accommodation during the trip! Double/Twin rooms. In Most places will be hotels (3*-4*, very convenient with available Wi-Fi, each room will have its own bathroom!), and also a nice local BNB. + Transportation (with local driver) during the entire trip (including 4x4 offroad vehicles on Day 2) + Guiding/Trip leader services during the whole trip (including during all hiking parts!) + All the breakfasts + 2 Dinners in Dilijan BNB+ last farewell dinner in Yerevan + All necessary tickets for places mentioned in the program (when needed), + different degustation and wine tours, cheese testing, lavash making etc. + Tickets to Wings of Tatev ropeway and Garni pagan temple + Bonus: photography tips and advises from your trip leader During the entire time, I will be personally guiding you! From start to finish! Almost forgot to introduce myself lol :) My name is Hrach Hovhannisyan, I'm a professional trip leader, guide, and a photographer! I've graduated Bachelor's degree in Tourism in Armenia! Have been working more than 10 years in tourism field and know Armenia as we say "like my ten fingers" :) From in and out! Have worked as tour manager, adventure guide, off-road driver and camping organizer! Since 2017 living in the USA, working as a professional photographer, and organizing trips in Armenia and in the United States! During this trip, we will have a minivan bus (like a Mercedes Sprinter or similar) for our transportation, from airport to airport! Also, on one day, we will have 4x4 offroad vehicles! From my TripMates, I expect to be very energized and passionate about traveling and exploring new places, respect local culture, be willing to be part of the team, be kind to other TripMates and of course follow the directions of the trip leader, for your own safety and quality time. And of course, have fun! :) Few important things: You must speak English besides your native language! Please understand, that it's possible that many of the TripMates will be from different countries or nationalities, so we all have to communicate with each other in English. Another important point. You must have Travel Insurance! Equipment and outfit: As Armenia is a mountainous country, we have big altitude changes and very diverse places (even though the country is small). So in May, the weather can be very changeable, in one place you can wear shorts and have a hot day hiking, 2 days later it can even snow a bit.. so please have both warm and light clothes, a raincoat, hiking poles, good hiking shoes, sunglasses, hat, sunscreen, and a small backpack, probably max. 30L. And of course a water bottle. contact: email@example.com
Day 1. Arrival to Yerevan, the Capital of Armenia (Zvartnots Int. Airport) - Transport to the hotel. Free day in Yerevan. Depending on each tripmate's arrival, we will arrange the transportation to be in 1 or 2 groups. Also, depending on the time when the whole group arrives, we might have a short briefing in Downtown Yerevan. Yerevan is really nice, especially when the weather is warm and everyone is out enjoying the city... The main highlight of the center is the Opera House, The Republic Square, Northern Avenue, Matenadaran Museum, the Mother Armenia statue, The Cascade stairways, etc. If the weather is clear, you can see mount Ararat from the top part of the Cascade! Overnight in a hotel in Yerevan.
Day 2. The great trip begins! Our 1st stop will be Bjni village. It's one of the oldest villages in Armenia, located in the Hrazdan river valley. These two interesting churches are there and one of them is actually considered the smallest one in Armenia. Another great highlight is Bjni Fortress, dated 9-10th cent. After Bjni we will visit beautiful lake Sevan (the biggest in Armenia, located at an altitude of 1900m!), Sevan peninsula and Sevanavank monastery, after which we will head to the "Armenian Switzerland" town of Dilijan! There our 4x4 off-road vehicles will be waiting for us to take up high to the Dimac mountain plateau to enjoy some great views! Overnight will be at a very cool local BNB, a very comfortable, and hospitable place! The rooms there are like a real nice hotel room, and the homemade food is just amazing! Much better than in many restaurants! (Believe me, I've been there many times since 2012!!)
Day 3. Hiking day! 1st part of the hiking is about 5km, 2.5-3 hours, 200m elevation gain,. 2nd part is about 4km, 250m elevation gain. We will visit Parz lake, from where we will start hour nice hiking through the forests and nice place till Gosh village, will visit Goshavank monastery, have some rest and then hike up to the Gosh lake! (those who will be tired, can wait for us in Gosh village, near our bus at Goshavank monastery, having some cold beer:)) And you will have possibilities to compare those two lakes, as both are in nice forests, but one has a tourist place nearby, a restaurant/hotel and many people, and the other (my favorite!) is pretty wild! The only to get to the 2nd one is either off-road driving or hiking! Overnight again in our favorite BNB in Dilijan (it will be your favorite, believe me! :)
Day 4. Another cool adventurous day! Today we will visit Lastiver! One of the best places in Northern Armenia! It beautiful forestry gorge, with a waterfall, caves, and tiny tree-houses, we will do about 3 hours of hiking there (if it's rainy, the downhill to the gorge can be tricky, but fun:)! Don't forget your hiking poles and good hiking shoes for the whole trip!! Optional (not included in your package), if you like, you can have a Zipline or horse riding here as well, if we have time after our hike. The costs of those activities are varying, depending what level or distance you choose... But they are really fun! Overnight in Haghpat village.
Day 5. We will visit famous Haghpat monastery, which is in the list of UNESCO Worlds Heritage, after that Odzun church, and from a village, next to Odzun we will start a cool nice hiking towards the ruined (renovated) Kobayr monastery, a hidden in the forests and a gorge. It's mostly downhill to a gorge, but the trail is pretty convenient. The views toward Debed canyon are just amazing! Hiking will be about 2 hours, and 2.5 km (depending on where we start..) After the hike, drive to Yerevan. On the way we will visit Saghmosavank monastery with a great view of Kasakh canyon!! Overnight in hotel in Yerevan.
Day 6. Heading to the South today. First visit the best viewpoint of mount Ararat: Khor Virap monastery! After which the 2nd stop is Noravank monastery(13th cent), which is located in a breathtaking red rocky gorge! That is something completely different from what we saw before, in northern Armenia. After Noravank, we will have a (most probably) hot noon hiking up to Smbataberd Fortress(9-10th cent) and Tsakhats Kar monastery(10th cent)! That's about 4-5 hours of hiking (depending on each group's average speed, might take a little faster or longer.. also the hours are usually lunch picnic time included), about 9km. Elevation gain 400m. Overnight either in Yeghegis or Hermon.
Day 7. Another nice hiking day. We will hike either to Martiros lake or to Artavan lake. Both are very nice! But we won't manage to the same day, as we have to drive further South towards Tatev and Goris. We will discuss which hike to do the night before (on Day 6). Tatev is just fantastic! One of the most famous, important, and beautiful places! I would say majestic! There we will take the Longest Continuous Ropeway in the World - Wings of Tatev. Overnight in Goris.
Day 8.The longest driving day! But, many interesting sightseeings on the way, won't be boring for sure!:) First, we will visit the Old cave village Khndzoresk! Will do a short nice hike there, in the gorge, and walk through a cool hanging bridge! After that, we will head towards Selim pass and via lake Sevan back to Yerevan. On our way we will visit Shaqi waterfall, will do a hike to not famous but very interesting and important Sevsar petroglyphs old observatory, around 3 hours of hiking, 350 altitude change, then we will visit very unique and old Noratus cemetery, with more than 800 khachkars! After that back to Yerevan. Overnight in hotel in Yerevan.
Day 9. After the long Day 8 this will be a lighter day:) we will visit 2 UNESCO world heritage places, Garni pagan temple and Geghard - the biggest rock-cut monastery in Armenia, also will see the famous Basalt Symphony in the Azat river gorge. Back to Yerevan. Free time. Farewell dinner! Overnight in hotel in Yerevan.
Day 10. Transfer to the airport. Departure. Unfortunately, each trip has to come to an end! But I hope you will enjoy these great adventures with me in my home country and will take a lot of amazing unforgettable memories with you.