from $685

TREKKING ARMENIA

TREKKING TO MOUNT AZHDAHAK

ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE FROM YEREVAN

TRAVEL SEASON | LATE MAY TILL THE END OF SEPTEMBER

8 DAYS | 7 NIGHTS

You will traverse the fantastically wild landscapes of the Geghama Mountains with its volcanic lakes, dragon stones (vishapkars) and the camps of nomadic people. Experience breathtaking scenery, camp under the stars, enjoy the cuisine by our field chef, watch for wildlife, learn about the fascinating natural and cultural history of the region, and challenge yourself physically. The most beautiful period to visit the Mount Azhdahak are the months of June & July, where the alpine flowers blossom in full swing.

DAY 1  YEREVAN
Arrival to Zvartnots International Airport in the evening. Meet your Phoenix Tour representative. Transfer to the hotel. Check in. Dinner. Overnight in Yerevan.

DAY 2  YEREVAN - SEVABERD - LAKE AKNALICH
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Depart Yerevan on a shuttle bus, which will drive you to the starting point of the Geghama Trail, the village of Sevaberd (1 hour ride). The Sevaberd is a small village at the foot of the Geghama Ridge at the altitude of 2,100m above sea level. This entire area is a showcase for the powers and beauty of the forces of nature.

Leave your heavy packs behind in the 4WD support vehicle, which will transport your luggage to the overnight camp at the Lake Aknalich. The accompanying car would carry the equipment, such as, the bivouac gear, tents, sleeping bags, mats, gas burner and the utensils for cooking. All this will be supplied to you during the duration of the tour, along with the professional trekking guide and a first aid kit. Carrying just a small backpack with the packed lunch box, start the hike, walking from the Sevaberd Village to the Lake Aknalich (3,030m), next to which we set our camp, after an approximated 5-6 hours walk. Dinner. Overnight in a tent at the Lake Aknalich.

Total distance: 15 km (9,32 miles)
Estimated walking time: 5-6 hours
Maximum altitude point: 3,030m (9,842 ft)
Campsite altitude: 3,030m (9,842 ft)
Ascent: 970m (3,182 ft)

DAY 3  LAKE AKNALICH - MOUNT AZHDAHAK - LAKE KAPUT
Breakfast. Leave your packs behind in the 4WD support vehicle, and start the hike, walking from the Lake Aknalich to the top of the Mount Azhdahak, the highest peak of the Geghama Mountains (3,597m). The Geghama Range is of volcanic origin, including many extinct volcanoes. The range is 70 km long and 48 km wide, and stretched between the Lake Sevan and the Ararat Valley.

The gradual ascent enables you to build the slow, but steady rhythm required for long walking at the high altitudes. Reach the summit and enjoy the unforgettable views of the serene lake in the crater and the surrounding vistas. Descend to the Lake Kaput (3,100m), next to which we set our camp, after an approximated 6-7 hours walk. Dinner. Overnight in a tent at the Lake Kaput.

Total distance: 14 km (8,69 miles)
Estimated walking time: 6-7 hours
Maximum altitude point: 3,597m (11,801 ft)
Campsite altitude: 3,100m (10,170 ft)
Ascent: 550m (1,804 ft)
Descend: 500m (1,640 ft)

DAY 4  LAKE KAPUT - MOUNT SPITAKASAR - LAKE VANKI
Breakfast. Leave your packs behind in the 4WD support vehicle, and start the hike, walking from the Lake Kaput to the top of the Mount Spitakasar (3,560m). The Spitakasar is a dome-shaped structure with a 3,500 diameter at the base and 500 meters in height. The north and east slopes of Spitakasar are strongly indented by glaciers, and once you reach the top you’ll find an unparalleled view of the Biblical Mt. Ararat. Descend to the Lake Vanki (2,900m), next to which we set our camp, after an approximated 6-7 hours walk.

Along your route you will encounter two prehistoric vishapkars, a dragon stones, a long fish-shaped stelae. Found in various regions of Armenia and often associated with water sources, they resemble large, tailless whales with fish-like designs, sometimes with a stream of water flowing from the mouth of the fish.

You will also stumble across some petroglyphs on your path. A great number of petroglyphs and rock carvings have been found in this area of the Geghama Mountains. Most images depict men in scenes of hunting and fighting, the astronomical bodies and the heavenly phenomena: the Sun, the Moon, constellations, the stellar sky, lightning, etc. Dinner. Overnight in a tent at the Lake Vanki.

Total distance: 16 km (9,94 miles)
Estimated walking time: 6-7 hours
Maximum altitude point: 3,560m (11,679 ft)
Campsite altitude: 2,900m (9,514 ft)

DAY 5  LAKE VANKI - GEGHARD - YEREVAN
Breakfast. Leave your packs behind in the 4WD support vehicle, which will transport your luggage to the bus, waiting for you at the Geghard Village. Start the hike, walking down from the Lake Vanki to the village of Geghard (1,750m). You can notice the gradual change of scenery, from the volcanic moonscape of Mount Azhdahak to dramatic mountains, covered with undisturbed forests. Rare flowers will line your trail, snaking its way to rocky viewpoints, where you gain the impressive views of the surrounding landscape, bizarre rocks, and weirdly sculptured erosions to add to the impressions. The trail continues through the pleasant picnic areas, then the narrow dirt road descends into the wonderful rocky gorge, with the hidden small villages in it.

At the Geghard Village you will board a bus, which will take you to one of the most beautiful monasteries in Armenia, the 13th century cave monastery of Geghard (UNESCO World Heritage Site). The Geghard Complex is set in the landscape of great natural beauty, surrounded by towering cliffs at the entrance to the Azat Valley. Geghard literally means “Monastery of the Spear”. The name of the monastery originates from the spear which had wounded Jesus at the Crucifixion, allegedly brought to Armenia by Apostle Jude, called here Thaddeus, and stored amongst many other relics. Now it is displayed in the Echmiadzin’s Cathedral Museum. Return to Yerevan. Check into a hotel. Dinner. Overnight in Yerevan.

Total distance: 13 km (8.077 miles)
Estimated walking time: 4-5 hours
Maximum altitude point: 1,750m (5,741 ft)
Descend: 1,150m (3,772 ft)

DAY 6  YEREVAN
Breakfast. Start exploring Yerevan, the Armenia’s capital city and one of the oldest cities in the world. Stop at the Victory Park and Mother Armenia monument to get a spectacular view of the Biblical Mt. Ararat with a panorama of central Yerevan.

Visit one of the richest depositories of manuscripts and books in the world, the Matenadaran Institute of Ancient Manuscripts. The Matenadaran stands like a cathedral at the top of Yerevan’s grandest avenue. At the base of the building there is a statue of Mesrop Mashtots teaching his alphabet to a disciple, while six other statues of great scholars and writers stand by the door.

Take a walking tour of Cascade Complex, with its Sculpture Park and Cafesjian Center for the Arts. See Fernando Botero’s sculpture of “The Black Cat” and other renowned artist’s works decorating the Park. The Cascade is an Art Deco version of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, a massive white stairway up a hillside of central Yerevan, decorated with green stretches, fountains and waterfalls, that run uphill and crowned with the obelisk of the Revived Armenia.

Visit the magnificent building of the Opera House, the postmodern Northern Avenue and the city’s main Republic Square, the centerpiece of the architect Alexander Tamanian’s master plan for Yerevan. The Republic Square is ringed by the National Gallery, National History Museum and several government buildings. Be sure to return to Republic Square after dark to see the “Dancing Fountains”, a choreographed water show synched with lights and music.

Continue to the Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex on the hills of Tsitsernakaberd. The Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex houses both the Armenian Genocide Museum, and the Tsitsernakaberd Genocide Memorial. The museum offers an account of the 1915 genocide in which as many as 1.5 million Armenians perished while Armenia was part of the Ottoman Empire.

Take a tour of the “Ararat” Brandy Factory, featuring degustation of the two types of Armenian brandy. While Georgia has gained its fame for its wine, in Armenia it’s the brandy that has a solid international reputation. Even Winston Churchill himself was turned into Armenian brandy after Stalin introduced it to him at the Yalta Conference, after which the former British Prime Minister continued to have cases shipped to him until he died.

Stop at the popular fruit market “Shouka” to buy traditional sweets and dry fruits. You will be greeted by vendors of all types asking you to sample their goods – from delicious homemade dried fruits stuffed with nuts, paper thin fruit lavash and grape sujukh (local walnuts threaded on string and dipped in grape molasses) – right through to fresh lavash bread, an organic fruit and vegetables. Dinner. Overnight in Yerevan.

DAY 7  YEREVAN - KHOR VIRAP - NORAVANK - ARENI - YEREVAN
Breakfast. Drive to the Khor Virap Monastery, where the Mt. Ararat reveals its breathtaking size and splendor. The monastery is located a few hundred meters from the border with Turkey, on the banks of the river Araks, right at the foot of the Mt. Ararat. Khor Virap is one of the most popular destinations in Armenia for a number of reasons, primarily because it is where the St. Gregory the Illuminator, the future head of the Armenian Apostolic Church was imprisoned here for 13 years. To this day you can visit the underground chamber which he was imprisoned in, located in the St. Gevorg Chapel, apart from the main church.

Continue to the masterpiece of medieval Armenian architecture, the 14th century Noravank Monastery. Set in the spectacular valley of red rocks, the monastery built out of the local stone, blends into the background of the molten red gorge, that contrasts with the stark blue sky. In the 13th–14th centuries the monastery became a residence of Syunik’s bishops and, consequently a major religious and cultural center of Armenia, closely connected with many of the local seats of learning.

Continue in the Vayots Dzor Province, which is Armenia’s most storied wine growing region. Armenia is considered one of the most ancient cradles of grape growing and wine making, as the Bible states: “Noah descended from Mt. Ararat and he planted the first vine, and made wine from it.” Stopover for wine tasting at the local winery in Areni Village, which is famous for its rather delicious dry red wine. Areni is marked by spectacular cliffs and caves, where archaeologists found evidence in one of the caves of the very first winery in the world, along with the world’s first shoe. Return to Yerevan. Dinner. Overnight in Yerevan.

DAY 8  YEREVAN
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Transfer to Zvartnots International Airport. Departure from Yerevan.

THE FEATURED TIER PRICE OF 685 USD PER PERSON IS BASED ON GROUP SIZE OF 8 PERSONS IN 3 STAR HOTELS

PRICE INCLUDES

all transfers according to a program in a 17 seater bus with A/C; accommodation in a DBL room in 3 star hotel (4 nights in Yerevan); accommodation in the tents for 3 nights (1 night in a tent at the Lake Aknalich, 1 night in a tent at the Lake Kaput, 1 night in a tent at the Lake Vanki); meals HB (breakfatst & dinners, when you have overnights in Yerevan); meals FB (during the hiking days: hot breakfasts, packed lunches & hot dinners); 4WD support vehicle; camping gear (tents, sleeping bags & mats); field cook; English/Russian speaking professional trekking guide; foreign language speaking guide services for the excursions; 1 country map per person; 1 bottle of water per person per day; entrance fees to museums and temples; “Ararat” brandy degustation; wine tasting in Areni.

PRICE DOESN’T INCLUDE

airfare; entry visas; insurance; emergency evacuation cost; alcohol during the meals; all additional tours not mentioned in the program; tips.

 

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