Armenia

Natural sights

Location: Syunik region

From Yerevan: 331km / 5h

    “Zangezur” Reserve was created in 2009, October 15th. It is one of the protected areas; has a territory of 17368 ha. The aim of the reserve is to provide landscape and biological diversity of nearalpine meadow and meadow-steppe natural ecosystems of Bargushat Ridge southern slope in Syunik region and Zangezur Ridge eastern slope, as well as to preserve unique natural monuments, provide appropriate development of natural resources. The main priorities are preservation, restoration, reproduction and permanent use of natural and recreational resources. The “Zangezur” is under control of “Shikahogh” Reserve. Fauna of the reserve includes 200 species of vertebrates. Caucasian leopard Panthera Pardus ciscaucasica, bezoar goat Capra aegagrus, Armenian mouflon Ovis orientalis gmelinii Caucasian grouse Tetrao mlokosiewiczi, Armenian viper Montivipera raddei are registered in the International Red List of Endangered Species and the Red Data List of Armenia, and the others: brown bear Ursus arctos and Caspian snowcock Tetraogallus caspicus - only in the Red Data List of Armenia.   Difficult mountainous terrain and proximity to the national park "Ordubar" in the Nakhichevan Republic contribute to the preservation of the area. Mountain mining, poaching, overgrazing and infrastructure development are the main dangers of the territory.

Location: Shirak region

From Yerevan: 145km / 2 hours

  Trchkan Waterfall is located above the River Chichkhan: on the left tributary of the River Pambak, which is situated on the border of Shirak and Lori regions of The Republic of Armenia. The River Chichkhan starts from the North-Western slopes of Shirak Ridge, at height of 2250 m. The length of the river is 29 km, catchment basin – 192 km2. It is situated 12 km North of Shirakamut village of Lori region, above the river Chichkhan.   The river Chichkhan is rich in trout. During the spawning period the fish start to swim against the flow. Once villagers noticed that touts, swimming against the flow, were jumping over the waterfall of 25 km height. Since then, the waterfall was called Trchkan («Jumping»).   Trchkan is a pure waterfall, erupting from the rock. Those, who once saw the waterfall, can never forget about it. Hundreds of people yearly pass a long distance to see this wonderful gift of nature. Parents bring their children to watch the fairy waterfall, which they were told about in their early childhood. There are lots of tourists in the territory. Yereruyk monastery is in the same region.   In 2008 the Waterfall Trchkan was listed as a natural heritage site. In 2011 the territory was included in the list of protected sites.

Location: Kotayk region

From Yerevan: 28km / 38min

    Garni Canyon lies across the length of the Azat (Garni) River and its confluent Goght. The canyon is attractive for the wonderful natural rocks, formed of regular hexagonal cylinders. These rocks start from the beginning up to the highest point of the canyon. The composition is called “Symphony of Stones” or “Basalt Organ”. World Tourism Organization summed up the results of the competition for the best tourist poster «Vettor Giusti», which is held once in two years. According to the rules, a poster is represented from each country, and usually organizations, representing UNWTO, organize photo-competition to choose the bester photo for partaking in the international contest «Vettor Giusti». As a result of online voting world chose Armenia to become the winner, and the poster represented by Armenia is considered to be the best in territory of Europe. The fact, that Armenia became the first in the territory of Europe will be posted on official web page of UNWTO during two years, until the next session of UNWTO. The poster is on foyer wall of UNWTO in Madrid as well. “Symphony of Stones” is registered in the list of natural monuments and, consequently, is protected by law. You caould visit Garni and Geghard monastery and then Sevan Lake.

Location: Lori region

From Yerevan: 133km / 1h 56min

“If I were to be asked where on the planet Earth one can see the most incredible wonders, I would first of all say – Armenia… Armenia is a land of miracles.” These are the words of an American painter and writer Rockwell Kent who has fairly described the beauty of our country and nature as far as Armenia really has many graceful natural sights that cannot but delight the visitors. One of such miraculous beauties of Armenian land is “Sochut” botanical forest-reserve.   “Sochut” dendropark of Stepanavan is one of the remarkable districts of Armenian nature. The Botanical garden is at 12 km from town of Stepanavan of Lori region. It will take only 40 minute drive to get to Odzun temple. The huge part of dendropark of about 35 hectares is covered with natural forests embracing multi species plants. Most of them remind of the ornamented works of art with their beautiful look.   Stepanavan dendropark is the first botanic garden of Armenia. It was established by Polish engineerforester Edmon Leonovich who had worked as the director of the botanical garden since 1984. Afterwards his son took the position of director. Local climate at dendropark is cool as the area of 1550 meters above the sea level. The collection of plants growing here represents a great variety. Most specimens were acquired from the botanic gardens as part of an international exchange programs with the Botanic Gardens in Tbilisi, Kiev, Moscow as well as Far East. Specimens were also obtained further afield from Germany, France, Portugal, USA.   The collection of plants represents a great scientific development of species in uncommon climatic conditions. For 30 years continuously the scientists had tested 2500 species of plants try to find out those that would survive here. But only 500 species and forms of trees could succeed in growing in the cold climate that belong to 27 families and 115 species including Betula, Juglans, Cedrus deodara, Sequoia, etc.   Californian Sequoias are of special interest; 5 of them are graciously planted together. The works held in dendropark are targeted to protect and expand the collection as well as to reproduce the species of high demand. The mild climate of this area, with its cool and wet summers and moderately cold winters is favorable to reproduce and distribute coniferous, precious and highly decorative species of trees and shrubs. Being in the health-improving zone the dendropark serves as pleasure resort and elegant place of nature.   This district is a pleasant and peaceful place for the excursions all year round with your family or friends. The garden is charming in every season. In autumn, for example, you will see the beautiful harmony of colors, and since December the garden is filled with new verdure as all around is covered with white. In other words everyone can have a nice and interesting time walking in the garden and those who would like to spend their rest in the neighborhood of such beautiful nature, they are welcomed to spend charming rest in “Sochut” resort in the surroundings of the healing climate of botanic garden.

Location: Artsakh

From Yerevan: 356km / 4h 44min

  Skhtorashen plain tree (Tnjri) is the oldest and highest tree in the territory of CIS. 2028 year old gigantic tree Tnjri is located in lowlands of Skhtorashen of  Vananda region in Artsakh. During Soviet rule the tree got «identity» as the oldest and highest tree in USSR.   The height of the tree is 54 m. Trunk cavity of the tree has area of 44 sq.m. More than 100 people can accommodate inside the tree. Basis diameter of the tree trunk is 27 m. The territory of 1400 sq. m is under the shade of this tree. Leaf size is 0,5 m.   It is not surprising that the tree became an object of worship for locals. It is believed that if a person destroys the holly tree, he/she will have only seven days left. The spring, which is located near the tree, has watered it and provided nearest mills with water for centuries. Mesrop Mashtots (V c), Movses Khorenatsi (V c), Sayat-Nova (XVIII c), Raffi and others liked to have rest under the shade of this tree. According to the manuscripts, the spring was constructed by locals Hovhannes Kasibekyan, Nerses Musaelyan, Manas Gasparyan.   People leave inscriptions on the tree hollow. Many people burn candles right in the hollow area. We kindly ask the visitors to save wonderful heritage of Armenian nature.   Amaras monastery is also located in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Location: Syunik region

From Yerevan: 322km / 4h 32min

    Shikahogh State Reserve was established in 1958 by a decree of the ArmSSR Council of Ministers (No. P-341 of 13 September 1958) on the basis of the Kapan Forestry in order to conserve, study and recover unique flora and fauna of the broadleaf forests on the northern slopes of the Meghri Ridge. In 1963 it was reorganized to Bartas Sanctuary and reinstated as reserve only in 1975. Conservation is targeted at broadleaf (mostly oak, hornbeam and oak-hornbeam) forests, unique plant communities (yew, oriental plane and oriental beech groves), their flora and fauna.   The reserve is located in the extreme south of Armenia in the Kapan district of the Syunik Province, covering the area of 29505.845 ha, including 12137.075 ha of the reserve and Plane Grove Sanctuary and 17368.77 ha of Zangezur Sanctuary. The reserve comprises the Shikahogh and Mtnadzor districts. Before 2006 its area was smaller, just 10330 ha.   Shikahogh occupies the northern macro-slope of the Meghri Ridge within the Tsav and Shikahogh riversides and includes the peaks of the Mt. Shakhbuz (2372 m), Gyumarants (2366 m), Mazra (2198 m) and Bartas (2186 m). The adjoining villages are Shikahogh, Srashen, Tsav, Shishkert and Nerkin Hand.   Reserve boundaries are stretched along the Meghri catchment area in the south and along the community lands of the above-mentioned villages on the other sides.   All activities related to research of natural ecosystems, genetic resources, landscape and biological diversities, preservation of natural heritage, recovery and inventory of natural resources have been carried out by the Shikahogh State Reserve state non-commercial organization. This entity is also liable for management of Plane Grove and Zangezur state sanctuaries.  

Location: Syunik region

From Yerevan: 205km/2h 44min

      Shaki Waterfall is situated in Armenia, above Lake Shaki. The altitude is 18 m. The waterfall is located 3 km North-West of Sisian city, in gorge of the River Vorotan.   According to the legend, enemies kidnapped 93 beauties from the Gegharkuni village for their commander, who had stopped in Mughan with his army. When the caravan of captives was on the spot, ladies turned to the invader with request: “The road was long and exhausting. We got dusty and dirty. Let us have a bath in the river and then only show up to your majors.”   The invaders agreed. The ladies undressed and jumped into the River Vorotan. They sank and disappeared. Only blue-eyed lady, named Shake, swam across the river, trying to escape. The invaders managed to catch up with her, but on that very moment a rock appeared under her and the water, flowing above the rock, hid her under its foams. After that story, the waterfall and the village, where it is located were called Shaki.   The nature here is life as it is. Everyone wants to leave home for a while and breathe life, feel positive attitude and just be in the bosom of nature, forgetting about difficulties and everyday life. You can visit "Zorats Karer" on the road.  

Location: Syunik region

From Yerevan: 248km / 3h 48min

  Khndzoresk is one of those places, about which we can precisely say, that people were able to dominate the nature and take the best of it. With its rocky hills Khndzoresk Canyon moves our imagination to the times, when giants lived in Armenia. Khndzoresk is famous for its antique cave dwellings, which have been used up to 1950s. From ancient times people lived in these rocky hills, constructing artificial shelters and places for food storage.   The length of the cave city is 3 km. The village had 3000 houses and population of 15000 people. Most of the houses in the village are dug into the rock.  There were 2 churches and 3 schools, which tells not only about huge population, but about active cultural and spiritual lives. Great Armenian general Mkhitar Sparapet’s grave is located in this canyon.   According to the legend, Khndzoresk, being situated in the deep canyon, was called «Khor Dzor»(«Deep Canyon») or «Khordzoresk», which was later renamed as «Khndzoresk».   The village is famous for its numerous and indescribable defensive battles. Absolutely everyone took part in those battles, regardless of gender and age. The caves are connected with secret passages, which every dweller knew about. During invasions people moved to more save caves, dug into the steep cliffs.   This village had a great contribution during David Bek's liberation movement, and the fortress was Mkhitar Sparapet’s military unit in 1728-30. In 1735 Abraham of Crete was here and wrote about this village in his work “History”.   The two banks of the canyon are linked with a long bridge, built in 2012. The length of the bridge is 160 m, the height is 63 m.   Being in Syunik region it would be interesting to visit Devil's Bridge as well.

Location: Lori region

From Yerevan: 186km / 2h 30min

Natural Healing Source in Ardvi village.

Odzi Port is one of the wonders of Lori Province. According to the legend, on the right side of the canyon there was a school, where wise old pilgrim educated his seven pupils. Very often on the left side a huge vishap (dragon, snake) appeared and his scaring voice silenced everything around. Once, a villager woman, walking down the slope with jug on her shoulder, noticed the animal and immediately turned into a stone. The sage send one the pupils to find out what was going on, but he did not return. All the seven pupils sent never appeared and the pilgrim decided to go and look for them. As soon as he left the school he faced the horrible creature. The pilgrim hit the dragon’s head with his rod and told: “You become a stone and let a spring come from your heart. You become a medicine for the sick.”   It seems as if two vishaps are “crawling” down the slope. These are two stone veins: one is longer and thicker and the other is shorter and thinner. From “Big Vishap” there are two streams, which just save tired travellers during summer heat. The first stream is an ordinary one and the second one has healing properties. The water stream, flowing from the Western side is thin; it is called “Odzi Port”. As the water is mountainous, it has healing properties. Water, which is used not only by locals, but by anyone who wished to … They say, once the woman with the jug was clearly seen, but in 1939 it was destroyed and the stones were used for shed building. The view is awesome and unique: comfortable settlement, wonderful monastic complex, picturesque gorge.   Visiting Lori region, you would be delighted to see Stepanavan Dendropark as well.

Location: Vayots Dzor region

From Yerevan: 127km / 1h 42min

  A proved fact: a lot of historical and tourism destinations are unknown among the Armenian people, and it will still take a long time to discover them. Generally, the concept of cave is associated with a whole “world”, and many of Armenian caves, created by a human being, can completely be compared with the most wonderful ones throughout the world – Old Khndzoresk, Old Goris, Geghardadzor. Mozrov Cave is one of Armenia’s little known natural wonders. Located in Vayots Dzor province near the town of Yeghegnadzor, the cave was discovered 30 years ago during the construction of the road that leads to Mozrov village. It is a deep cave rich in diverse geological formations. By that time the cave was considered a “blind one” – these are the caves which do not have an exit to the surface. The constructors had exploded the mass of the cliff which caused the origin of the cave. The cave is the third one in Armenia with 260m length, Archeri cave is on the first place with 3,5 km length, and Mageli cave – on second place (1,7 length).   The National Competitiveness Foundation of Armenia proposes to develop “Mozrov as Armenia’s first show cave”. This will be a new kind of tourism product in Armenia, appealing to nature lovers, adventure seekers, general visitors and locals.   Mozrov Cave has a great potential in tourism sphere, as it is an ideal candidate for development as the first “Show Cave” in Armenian due to its natural beauty and the diversity of its geological formations.   Show caves are caves that are made accessible to the gene-ral public. Generally, the following conditions must be in place in order for a cave to be classified as a show cave: trails, lighting, guided tours, entrance fee, closure, regular open hours. Mozrov Cave is rich in beautiful and diverse natural formations. It contains a large variety of speleothems or decoration (limestone cave formations) such as stalactites, stalagmites, helictites, columns, flowstone, cave bacon, draperies, and rimstone dams.   The cave even has a unique “crocodile” formation, which visitors will enjoy. These types of formations are what most visitors wish and expect to see when touring a cave. There are areas in Mozrov Cave where such formations are dramatic and plentiful. Because of the easy accessibility of Mozrov cave it has overgone some damages by vandals and those not respectful of this natural resource, and commercialization will ultimately lead to preservation of the cave, and can be a tool for educating visitors as to the need for ongoing preservation and conservation of caves, in general. Recently, with the discovery of the world’s oldest shoe in Trchuneri Cave, Armenian caves have been receiving significant international media attention, and accordingly, Mozrov cave is going to pose the opportunity to be the first among a series of cave-related tourism products, setting Armenia in a position to be recognized as a caving destination.

Location: Vayots Dzor region

From Yerevan: 112km / 1h 32min

    Magil Cave is one the largest in Armenia. The territory is 1,7   km inland, though there are several undiscovered places as well.   Bones and tool of Stone Age, as well as findings of IX century were discovered in this Neolithic cave.  In those past days it was considerable to construct inaccessible caves with narrow entrances. The entrance of Magil Cave is so narrow that only a person can enter it. The purpose of inaccessible caves was protection from enemies, because such constructions were reliable shelters during invasions.   A group of archаeologists discovered a shoe, dating back 5500 years. It is 1000 years older than Egyptian Pyramids of Giza. What is really surprising is that the shoe was preserved quite well.   After the finding of 5500 years old shoe, the researchers discovered the most ancient winery. This finding is very important and unique, because it proves that the largest wine production in the world was in Armenia.   Magil Cave is a rare underground ecosystem: settlement of thousands of bats. Bats are inseparable part of Armenian ecosystem and preserving the stability of it is of key importance.   The cave is closed and entrance is possible only with an expert.  

Location: Tavush region

From Yerevan: 130 km / 1 hour/45 min

Caves and Waterfalls of Lastiver

  Lastiver is located in Tavush region. Most of Tavush, which is in the North-East of Armenia, is covered with forests and green zones. The name of the region derives from Tavush country of historic Great Hayk. Today’s territory partially corresponds to the previous one. The region is rich in rivers. The largest is Aghstev; one of its significant tributaries - Kachaghbyur, leads to the wonderful corners of Ijevan, to Lastiver. Cave, desert, swift river, small and huge waterfalls, forest and wonderful nature. Tourists from abroad, as well as locals, choose a tour to Lastiver, come to see this awesome cave-desert. The road itself is very interesting and attractive, especially for extreme lovers.   During Mongol invasions in XIII-XIV cc locals found their shelter exactly in this cave. The cave is located on almost flat slope of the canyon. In order to reach the cave people had to construct a ladder, made of superposed logs. The ladder reminded a raft. From then on the location has been called “Lastiver”, which is translated as “up the raft”.   Someone left a bas-relief on the wall of the cave. It is easy to notice that he wanted to illustrate a wedding. The author was creating this bas-relief during his seclusion in this cave. That is why the cave is also called “Anapat”, which is translated as “desert”.   There is wonderful waterfall, noising in the bottom of the canyon. It is the inseparable part of local nature.

Location: Gegharquniq region

From Yerevan: 68km / 52min

  Lake Sevan is the only lake in Armenia, which belongs to the class of large lakes. This is one of the 3 major lakes, which we used to call seas (Sevan was called Geghama Sea and Gegharkunyats Sea). Sevan is the largest lake inCaucasus and the highest fresh-water lake in the world. The lake is 1900 m above sea level; the area is 1240 km2; the depth – 83 m. From the South the lake is surrounded byVardenis Mountains, from West – Geghama Mountains, from North-West – Pambak Mountains, from North-East –Areghun Mountains.   28 rivers flow to Sevan Lake. The most prominent ones are Gavaraget, Argichi, Martuni, Karchaghbyur, Masrik, Dzknaget. Only the river Hrazdan starts from Lake Sevan.   There are lots of so called «cyclopean» castles (Lchashen, Ayravank) in the adjacent areas. The archeological excavations, performed in the dried areas of the lake, showed that 3500 years ago most part of Sevan was land. There were settlements here, the population of which kept survival due to agriculture and cattle breeding.   A lot of buildings and inscriptions from Urartian period were preserved in the territory of the lake (Velukhi, inscriptions of king Rusa). And, of course, there are also middle age buildings: Sevanavank, Ayravank and so on.   Lake Sevan is a gift of nature, an irreplaceable resort, where summer tourism is already developed. However, the lake with its catchment basin has also great opportunities and perspectives for winter sport tourism.

Location: Tavush region

From Yerevan: 93km / 1h 8min

  Parz is a lake, formed by springs; it has course. The length is 300 m, the width – 100 m. Average depth is 3 m, approximate – 10 m. The surface of the lake is 0,027 m2, mass - 83,8 cubic meters.  Landslides are common. The lake is surrounded by forests.   Water in the lake is transparent, a little greenish. The forest is very close to the shoreline and the massive trees, leaning to the lake, are reflecting on the hyaline.   Relief of the coastal regions is flat, Southern belt – rocky. In summer water temperature reaches up to 15,50 C. The lake is impregnated with springs and atmospheric depositions. The basin is covered with forest; it has productive function. Kirakos Gandzaketsi called Lake Parz  “Tzka Tsov”.   According to the legend, a newly married couple died in this lake. That is why, there is a tradition to go to this lake after wedding ceremony to commemorate the deceased couple.   Apparently, Parz Lake cannot be compared with Lake Sevan, the blue pearl of Armenia, which offers endless fun and adventures but it definitely should be visited if you are a nature lover and appreciate peace and rest.

Location: Aragatsotn region

From Yerevan: 60km / 1h. 2min

    Lake Kari is situated on Mount Aragats. The Altitude is 3402 m; the surface area is 0,12 sq.m; the depth is 9 m. It is possible to reach Kari Lake from Byurakan by highway. There is a meteorological station, equipped on the Eastern coast of the lake.   The climate on Aragats depends on the altitude. From the foot of the mount up to the peak the temperature varies from -3 °C to 10 °C, precipitations – 300-900 mm and more. In summer weather is mild and warm, in winter – cold. The territory is rich with vegetation, many representatives of animal world.   The lake appeared from ice formations. It is surrounded by snow most of the time and that is why water is rather cold. The river Arkashen starts from Kari Lake. There is a Cosmic ray research station, established by brothers Alikhanyans (Artem Alikhanyan, Abraham Alikhanyan) in 1942.   There is a very popular belief about Mount Aragats.  In the twilight, when last rays of sun are disappearing in the dark, a long lamplike ray hangs between the four peaks of the mountain: the symbol of all Armenianս, of their hope.Hovhannes Tumanyan (there is a House-Museum of Hovhannes Tumanyan in Yerevan), one the greatest Armenian writers described this in one of his works.  

Location: Tavush region

From Yerevan: 117km / 1h 51min

  Lake Gosh is located in Tavush region, near Gosh village. The length of the lake is 100 m, width – 80 m. Approximate depth is 8 m. In summer water temperature reaches up to 14 C.   There are lots of different hand-made monuments in the territory of the lake: various rock formations, mineral springs and so on.   A place where the Gods reside? Or is this the heaven we have been searching for? At least that is the sense one gets when in the presence of this extraordinary and strange beauty. One have rarely confronts with so much alluring beauty, calmness, tranquility, and a seductive manifestation of nature’s splendor.   Before seeing Lake Gosh you can visit Goshavank (Gosh's Monastery) as well. Monastic Complex Goshavank is located in Gosh village. The complex was founded by Ivane and Zakare Zakaryans with the direct assistance of Vakhtang and Grigor, their vassals-rulers of Khachen, by the initiative of Mkhitar Gosh, a great medieval Armenian thinker. (12,13 cc). The monastic complex was built in the place of the ruined Getik, that is why first the monastery was called «New Getik». Years later it was renamed after Mkhitar Gosh (Goshavank).

Location: Shirak region

From Yerevan: 179km/2h 35min

  Lake Arpi is one of the hidden beauties of Armenia. It is situated on the plateau of Ashotsk, in the north-west of Armenia, which is known as the area with a minimum temperature in the Republic of Armenia.   Lake Arpi is located 2025 m above sea level. The basin is 220 km2. The Akhuryan River starts from Arpi. It was facilitated as a reservoir of Lake Arpi in 1951. Before that the river had had area of 4, 5 km2, depth- 1, 6 m, water volume – 5, 000,000 m3.   Lake water is made up of springs and small rivers. It is frozen in winter. The water is used for irrigation and as anenergy source. There is a lot of fish here: carp and flying fox.   Lake Arpi today is a result of human intervention. Due to the 10 meter weir, equipped in the flow of the river Akhuryan, at lake entrance, the water level of the lake and quantity of the reserved water grew. This regulates flow of the river Akhuryan and makes it possible to increase quantity of water for irrigation.   Recently «Lake Arpi» national park was created. The total area is 62, 00 ha. In the territory there are 670 species of plants, 22 of which are recorded in Armenian Red Data Book. There are also 200 species of birds, 40 of which are recorded in Armenian Red Data Book. 30 species of mammals, including European otter and polecat live here as well.

Location: Syunik region

Elevation: 3206 m

From Yerevan: 320 km / 4h. 9min

        Khustup is a mountain peak in the South of the Republic of Armenia, in the Western part of Syunik region, South of Kapan city. The altitude is 3206 m. The climate is variable: frost weathering is normal here. There are alpine meadows as well. In the process of snow melting lots of small mountain streams appear; they all make up the Vachagan river. On the hillside of Khustup Mount Armenian prominent figure Garegin Njhdeh is buried.   We, as all the other nations, have our heroes, the personalities, which played a significant role during our long and very often tough history, saving their country and people. Up today these people continue to admire and inspire Armenians. One of these prominent people is Garegin Njhgeh (Garegin Ter-Harutyunyan, 1886-1955).   Njhdeh was a significant military, state and political leader, and his presence enywhere would precisely leave its mark. As a leader he was participant-winner of many battles, was appreciated not only by his own nation. As a military leader he was strict towards native and foreign opponents.  Due to this strategy Syunik-Zangezur are in the territory of the Republic of Armenia.   Thanks to the group of Armenians, Njhdeh’s body was moved from Russian Vladimir city to homeland. This was in 1983, and up today people make pilgrimage to the relics of this great Armenian: in the territory of Vayots Dzor monastery Spitakavor, on the slope of Khustup mountain in Syunik and at the memorial to Garegin Njhdeh in Kapan city…

Location: Ararat region

From Yerevan: 61km / 57min

Treasures of “Khosrov Forest”

  One of the Armenian kings, Khosrov II Kotak decided to plant a forest on the Southern slopes of Geghama Mountains in the IV century. He bred the forest with various animals and birds and made it a royal chase. Today, “Khosrov Forest” Reserve is situated in the same territory in the basins of rivers Azat and Vedi. For many centuries Khosrov Forest has been mentioned in the history of Armenia as a noble chase – main entertainment place for the Armenian kings. In spite if its small territory of about 30000 hectares, the state reserve can be proud of a unique biodiversity of plants and animals. Forested and semidesert landscapes of Armenian nature are presented here with unique symbiosis of their flora and fauna.   More than 1850 species of plants are grown in the territory of state reserve, which makes more than 50% of the flora ofArmenia. The main plants of the treasury of “Khosrov Forest” are the juniperus and oak forest, and of course, steppe wormwood. Luxuriant landscapes and flora of the whole territory of not only reserve but also that of the region create favourable environmental conditions for the preservation of diversity of fauna. Steep slopes and the flowery glades of the forests are considered to be the settlement of Armenian endemic species, such as Armenian brown bear, bezoar goat that are registered in the Red Data Book of Armenia. In the forest-reserve you can meet also such unique and beautiful animals as Asian panther (Panthera pardus ciscaucasica) and leopard living in deep canyons and shrubberies. As you see, the flora and fauna of the reserve are very rich and there are unique species that are worth to see. In general, the 70% of the animals, registered in the Red Data Book of Armenia, dwell here. Most of them are in danger of disappearing and are registered in the International Red Book, such as Armenian Mouflon (wild sheep) and an amazing hedgehog with large ears.   Talking of the treasures of “Khosrov Forest” we should mention also historical memorials, monuments and natural obelisks: cave settlements, ancient medieval monasteries, cross-stones and churches. “Khosrov Forest” reserve is a perfect travel destination for scientific, cognitive and eco tours, as well as pilgrimages. Next to all wonderful centuries-old monasteries there is a holy place for pilgrimages – Saint Stepanos Church which for many centuries has been a sanctuary for millions of people.   Now about the main attractions of the “Khosrov Forest” reserve. For expeditions the most exciting peaks are Khosrov reserve's falls, and of course, “Symphony of Stones” – the miracle of the gorge of Azat River. This monument of nature, called “Basalt Organ” is a massive rock structure formed by basalt hexagonal pillars due to the frozen flows of lava. These huge rocks have a look of the organ, that's why people are used to call it “Basalt Organ”.   In the territory of the reserve you are to have a wonderful walking tour during which you will see the other miracle of the region – 2 wonderful waterfalls. People call the waterfalls by the names of beloved pagan gods of ancient Armenian mythology - goddess of love and beauty Astghik and god of war Vahagn because, as the legend says, the goddess used to take bath in these falls. And the last cozy sight of the reserve is “Lonely tree” that welcomes the visitors to have a rest under its dense branches.

Location: Vayots Dzor region

From Yerevan: 172km / 2h 22min

      Jermuk waterfall is located in Jermuk. It is in the bosom of forest mountains, 2080 m above sea level. The city is located in South-East of the Republic of Armenia, in Vayots Dzor region. (In Vayots Dzor province of historical Syunik region).   Jermuk waterfall, 72 m high, flows into the river Arpa. The waterfall reminds girly hair. Hence the other name of the waterfall: mermaid's hair.   There is a wonderful belief about this waterfall. According to the legend, the castle of an Armenian nobleman was located on the steep cliffs. He had a marvelously beautiful daughter, and men from all over the world asked her to marry one of them. But she refused everyone, because her heart belonged to a brave and handsome man: shepherd’s son.   Every day after midnight from the room window the lady threw a long rope into the gorge so that her beloved one could reach her house. Once the nobleman found the rope and everything became clear to him. In anger he cursed his daughter saying: “If you meet him again, I want you to become a mermaid and never be able to come out of water”.   During next meeting the lady threw her hair instead of the rope. But at that very moment her father’s curse became true. She became a mermaid and her hair – the waterfall.   Average air temperature in Jermuk in spring is +0,4 C, in summer - +15,3 C, in winter - -9 C.

Location: Shahumyan region, Artsakh

From Yerevan: 235 km / 3 hours 33 min

  Jermajur is located 2200-2400 m above sea level, on the bank of the river Tartar, North of Qarvachar. Railway station of Sotk is situated 75 km of Jermajur. Jermajur is rich in natural hot springs. That is why the name of the spring is Jermajur: “hot spring”.   Mineral water has healing properties. You can have long rest in the basin, built round the spring.   The basin is situated on the bank of the river Tartar: 20 km of Qarvachar city. The road, leading to the Jermajur is attractive too; it passes through the bank of the river Tartar; within mountains and forests. On the bank of the river Tartar there are hot natural curing springs, water temperature of which reaches 60º C, regardless of the season.   Hot, acidic water, available in this underground spring, is similar to the mineral waters of Karlovy Vary in Czech Republic. By the way, the place, where Jermajur hot spring is located, is also called Jermajur. Visiting Artsakh, you can also see Amaras monastery.

Location: Artsakh

From Yerevan: 318km / 4h 18min

State Natural-Hystoric Reserve

    State Historic Museum “Hunot Canyon” amazes guests with its unbelievable beauty. From the highest point ofZrnduz you can see 250 m high walls of the canyon. They are situated above the river Karkar, in the South-West of Shushi Fortress. Travelers, preferring walking tours in the canyon, will have the chance to see awesome waterfalls, thick forests, caves, which were inhabited during Stone Age, ruins of Hunot village, ancient bridges … And all these are surrounded by huge mountains and a river, which rushes through the rocks to surprise its guests.   More than a dozen ruined mills were saved in the territory of the State Historic Reserve “Hunot Canyon”. This proves the fact, that once Hunot was a prosperous settlement.   Cave–spring is fresh water, which flowing from the cave riches “Mamrot Kar”, and getting the creek, creates the impression of natural «mossy umbrella», which became one of the most scenic spots of «Hunot Canyon».   «Avana Karan» cave has served as a defensive shelter. Due to the hardly accessible location, the cave can become a safe refuge.   All the roads, leading to the attractions of «Hunot Canyon» are marked on the tablets.

Location: Ararat region

From Yerevan: 54km / 52min

    Gorovan State Nature Reservation was founded in 1958, on the territory of 200 ha. The reserve is located in Ararat region: on South-Western slopes of Urts Mountain Range.   The flora is rich with plants, typical for desert. The average annual temperature in the territory of the desert is +12 °C, minimum - -25 °C, maximum - +42 °C. The only Calligonum polygonoides ecosystem can be found right here. There are lots of various rare and valuable types of plants, listed in the Red Data Book of Armenia.   The fauna of the reserve includes about 20 species of animals. The most prominent ones are Mediterranean turtle, Persian Puritan, Dali mouse, listed in Red List of The International Union for Conservation of Nature. Dali mouse is an endemic species for our country. Despite the fact, that fauna of invertebrates is not studied in detail, 6 species of beetles were found in this plain of Araks. These beetles are met nowhere else in the world. There are also 20 species of endemics of Araks plain.  According to the researchers, the fauna includes 700 species of invertebrates. Khor Virap monastery is in the same region.

Location: Kotayk region, Gegharquniq region

Elevation: 3597 m

From Yerevan: 26.8km / 38min

  Geghama Mountains, the highest peak is Mount Gegh (Azhdahak) - 3597m   Geghama Mountains are situated between Yerevan city and Lake Sevan. They lie from North-North-West to South-South-East. The range of 2800-3000 m and volcanic cones (Ajhdahak, Spitakasar, Nazeli Sevkatar, Armaghan ) make up Geghama Mountains.   Climate is mild continental: short cool summers and cold winters. The climate on the peak is cold. The average annual temperature from the slope to the top is -2°C-+4°C. The average annual precipitation is 500-900 mm.   According to the legend, the rage was called after a man, whose name was Gegham. This man, strong as a lion, was in love with a lady, whose name was Khosrovanuysh.  For the sake of his love, he decided to fight the mountain streams, which often destroyed local communities.   For years, Gegham went to the mountains with a basket, full of silt seeds on his shoulders. Having reached the peak, he overturned the basket and seeded the rage, devoid of vegetation.   Years passed, and the hard work did not pass in vain. Once, when another stream started to stoke the mountain terrain, people noticed that it cannot break the barrier, made of silt.   From then on, the rage was called after that gentleman – Geghama Mountains, and the lake was called Geghama Lake (Lake Sevan).

Location: Kotayk region

From Yerevan: 28km / 38min

    Garni Canyon lies across the length of the Azat (Garni) River and its confluent Goght. The canyon is attractive with wonderful rocks, called “Symphony of Stones”. These rocks start from the beginning up to the highest point of the canyon.   The length of the River Azat is 55 km, surface of the catchment is 550 km2. The river starts from the South-Western slopes of the Spitakasar of the Geghama Mountains, from 3000-3200 m height.   During excavations in Garni a settlement of early Bronze Age, 2nd half of III millennium BC, was found: houses and constructions of round and quadrangular plan. Since III millennium BC Garni was one of agricultural and cattle-breeding settlements of Armenia. They experts also found sepulchers and archeological materials of late Bronze Age (II millennium BC), pottery of Urartian and late Armenian period (VI-IV cc BC), as well as cuneiform, on which king Argishti proclaims Garni and nearest territories Garnian country. Before the castle there were urban settlements; the traces are hidden under constructions of medieval and modern periods.  There is a medieval cemetery with delicatecross-stones and inscribed tombs.   The valley of the river Azat is mostly full of huge boulders, formed as a consequence of destructions. There is a footbridge of XIII century beside Garni village. Pagan temple Garni and Monastery Complex Havuts Tar are located on the higher part of the canyon.  From Garni side the rocky peninsula is like a guitar.

Location: Tavush region

From Yerevan: 102km / 1h 15min

    Dilijan National Park is situated in Tavush region, Armenia. The reserve occupies the basin of the Aghstev Riverupspring: Western slopes of Halab, North-Western slopes of Miapor and North-Eastern slopes of Areghun mountain range. The territory of the reserve is 24000 ha.   Dilijan National Park is one of the unique corners of Armenian nature, which is significant for rich and specific biodiversity, mesophilic forest landscapes, scientific-educational, health and recreational values. Park incorporates separate ecosystems and natural monuments, which have scientific, educational and economic values.   The park was planned in 1958 for preservation of beeches and Caucasian mesophilic oak forests, unique yew grove, historical-architectural monuments, 902 vascular plants, 172 vertebrates.   The forests are of high quality. They have water-regulative, scientific and economic importance and, of course they play significant role in preservation of soil. The main varieties of trees are beech, oak, hornbeam, linden, ash, elm, pine and juniper. Monuments of the second millennium - redwood groves ( Crescent ) are preserved in the Dilijan National Park. Among them Agnabatin ( Getica pool ) is the largest in Transcaucasia. The reserve has a rich fauna. There are brown bears, roe deer, badger, wild cat, fox, lynx, Persian protein and many other reptiles and amphibians. You can also find different species of birds: Caucasian black grouse, mountain turkey, partridge, thrush and dove. Ussuri spotted deer, wild pigs successfully pass climate adaptation. Haghartsin, Jukhtak , Goshavank, Matosavank are in the territory of the reserve.  

Location: Syunik region

From Yerevan: 245km / 3h 12min

    The Miracle of Vorotan Canyon: Devil’s Bridge (IV – II mil. BC)   Nature is amazing with its wonderful sights and miraculous monuments which make an integral part of world natural heritage. Such natural obelisks are “Devil’s Bridges”. Yes, there are many bridges in the world with that name, for example in Switzerland, France, Bulgaria, etc. You can find the “Devil’s Bridge” (Satani Kamurj) in Armenia as well…   The Bridge is situated in the Canyon of Vorotan River, and stretches for nearly 30 meters length. It is located in the deepest part of the gorge in the depth of 700-800 meters. In that part the gorge is so narrow that even the sun rays are not able to penetrate to the bottom of the gorge. One of the picturesque monuments of nature – the Devil’s Bridge is situated here in this deep canyon, surrounded with many mountainous springs the waters of which had painted the rocks of the canyon with pink, yellow and green colors.   This wonderful structure is natural bridge formed from travertines. During many centuries huge masses of limestone have been gathering to form this powerfu stone arch. The stalactites made by the mineral water springs hang from the edges of this stone arch, and there are beautiful falls rushing down from the rock caves under the natural bridge. The mineral springs are situated just under the bridge. They are poured into Vorotan River to make it more abundant. At the first sight it seems that the small and thin river flows under the bridge but, instead, we see a deeper river flowing from the bridge. Perhaps, this is the reason that people named the natural bridge “Devil’s Bridge”. Nowadays, people are used to look at the river-bed of Vorotan and to say, “It is the devil’s work…”   The hot mineral waters of healthy traits made ponds under the bridge. It is known that still in the ancient times Armenian wealthy people used to visit this wonderful cave in summer months to have a bath in the healthy waters of the basins. The nature of Syunik region is marvelous.   River Vorotan (178 km) – the natural treasure of Syunik flows through the wonderful area of the region. Flowing in the beautiful canyon, the river passes through the caves of Stone Age, fortresses and monasteries of Bronze Age. The river-bed is a perfect place for trekking tours. The footways stretching through the forests lead to Tatev, Karahunj, and Halidzor Fortress. In spring and summer months the amateurs of river rafting can have a wonderful rafting experience in the Canyon of Vorotan River.   You will have an opportunity to row in the abundant river and at the same time to enjoy the beauty of picturesque natural scenes: deep canyons, pointed mountain peaks, island-fortresses. Never forget to follow the recommendations of experienced guides who should by all means accompany you during your rafting tours through the river. Well, now we are sure that the amateurs of wild nature are going to pack their expeditionary utensils to travel to one of the most gorgeous sights of Armenia.

Location: Hadrut region, Artsakh

From Yerevan: 369km / 3h 50min

Azokh Cave (in the past called Vorvan, Vorvan Cave) is located in Hardut region, near South border of Artsakh. The territory of this limestone cave is 8000 square kilometers, where 8 intricate entrances of 600 m length are situated. Very often during Mongol-Tatar invasions wealth of Artsakh was saved right here. Stone tools, dating back more than 700 000 years were found here. Surface of the biggest hall is 3000 square kilometers. Pottery, processed stone pieces, thousands of animal bones were found in the cave as well. It turned out, that primitive people consumed quite diverse food. Scientists found bones of long-extinct animals in remnants of the food. In 2002 researchers found several more untouched entrances, as well as different findings of pre-human period, including tools, animal fossils and marks of the tools on them. Due to the analysis of the findings, the researchers concluded that humans lived in South Caucasus region about two million years ago. Up today, of course, not all the secrets of the Azokh Cave have been revealed. This prehistoric settlement, used for many thousands of years, is regularly researched and has lots of surprises for scientists.

Location: Gegharquniq region

Elevation: 3597 m

From Yerevan: 26km / 36min

  Azhdahak is a peak in the central part of Geghama Mountains, the highest point. The altitude is 3597 m. There is a crater with water adjacent to the North-Western part of the peak.   The mount is covered with snow most of the year; slopes are desert. Name “Azhdahak” dates back to the king of mars from a very famous Armenian epos.   “Azhdahak” means “giant”, dragon (vishap). However, whichever of the two you will chose, the meaning of dragon is obvious.   Azhdahak is Azhi Dahakan, a famous figure in Armenian and Iranian mythology.  “Azhi” means snake, dragon. According to the legend, Traetaona, god of thunder, was fighting against the dragon in Shah-Nameu: Azhi Dahakan was in the role of foreign king-tyrant, named Zohak. Khruden was able to win him and kept him in chains.   According to old Armenian mythology, Azhi Dahakan was the king of the country of mars; he was bet by Tigran.   Getting to the peak of Azhdahak and back takes 6-7 hours (for tourists with medium athletic background). The route passes along very beautiful alpine meadows and desolate places. There is a gorgeous glacial lake in the crater of the volcano.   The Western slopes of Geghama Mountains are traditional places of cattle grazing within Yezidis. Yezidis are very interesting people. Being far from people for a long time, shepherds-yezidis are always happy to accept every guest.

Established: 2009 Area: 21179 ha Location: Shirak Marz Altitude: 1500 - 3100 m above sea level

  "Arpi Lake" National Park was created in 2009.   Aim of establishment, protection objects: Protection of biodiversity, meadow-steppe, sub-alpine meadow and wetland ecosystems of Javakhq-Shirak Plateau and Lake Arpi basin, breeding and resting sites of migratory birds, natural sights. The national park is a habitat for 670 species of vascular plants, including a number of endemics of theCaucasus and Armenia, as well as 255 species of vertebrate animals, including more than 10 species registered in the IUCN Red List (otter, European marbled polecat, Darevski's viper and others). It is the habitat for the biggest colony of Armenian gull in the world and the only breeding site of Dalmatian pelican in Armenia. It is the only habitat of Darevski's viper in the world.   Forests: Plantations of pine and poplar, natural poplar stand in the Akhuryan River gorge, small juniper stands, bush areas and others.   Ecotourism opportunities: The national park has a Visitor Center in the neighbouring Ghazanchi community and a Guest House in Berdashen community nearby the administrative building of the national park. The Visitor Center provides various ecotourism services including organization of field trips on foot and horse, bird-watching, skiing opportunity and others.  

Location: Gegarquniq region

Elevation: 2829 m

From Yerevan: 136km/2h

    Armaghan Mountain is located in Gegharkunik region. The altitude is 2829 m. There is a lake on the peak of the mount: diameter – 50 m., depth – 15 m.  The mount is a part of the Geghama Mountains. The volcanic crater of the peak is partially filled with water. This little lake is surrounded by alpine vegetation.   In 2009 a new domed basalt church was built instead of the old chapel. According to the legend, sometimes celestial fairies come here to drink water from the Lake Kari, and at that moment the peak of the mount is covered by for making them invisible to people.   The inhabitants of Lernakert and Madina villages (overall 200 families) have old Soviet cars “Vilis” and “Niva”. They say, no other car can pass such a route. Climbing Armaghan Mount is not easy, but as soon as you reach the peak, the unbelievable beauty of the wonderful nature fully reimburses the efforts.   Due to the attractive force and lovely environment time flies very fast. Anyway, it is better to return earlier: at least 2 hours before sunset.   Locals say that Armaghan Mount is God's gift, and having once been here, you will certainly return.  

Location: Syunik region

From Yerevan: 358km / 5h 20min

  Southern part of Armenia, particularly Syunik region, is famous for the unique ecosystems, geological, landscape, biological, geomorphological nature diversity, big number of natural monuments, recreational resources, and huge potential of stable development of the territory.   For the purpose of widening protected areas system in Meghri of Syunik region the decision to create “Arevik” National Park was made. The national park was opened in 2010. The territory is 34401, 8 ha. Almost all the system of landscape belts is represented in the territory of the national park: from low and medium mountain semideserts up to high mountain steppes and nearalpine type landscapes of the Meghri river upstream.   Preservation of rare and endangered species is of great importance here. For the first time in 60 year striped hyena was found in Armenia; it is recorded in Red Data List of Armenia. According to some scientific sources, since the 20th century hyena was met in the Araks River basin, Echmiadzin, Meghri, Shamshadin and Ijevan regions. The last record about hyena was made in 1925, when the animal was noticed near Novruzlu village of Artashat region. According to other evidences, the animal was met in 1940 as well. The national park supports mutual beneficial cooperation with “Shikahogh” Reserve and neighboring communities in development of ecotourism, appropriate use of pastures and other natural resources.

Location: Western Armenia

Elevation: 5165 m

      Ararat is the highest peak in the territory of Armenian Highlands (5165 m). It consists of two cone-shaped peaks:  Sis(5925 m) and Masis (5165m). The mount is situated on the right bank of the river Araks, 32 km of the Republic of Armenia. By the relative altitude Ararat is the highest mount in the world (4300 m). Ararat is in Western Armenia, in the territory of today's Turkey.   Ararat is the biblical holy mount, on which Noah's ark landed after the World Flood. According to the legend only 8 people were saved: Noah, his wife, his sons, and his son's wives. The history of Noah and his family's salvation is described in the Bible (Genesis 7, 8). From Ararat Noah went to South-West. That is why the location is called Nakhichevan «the first shelter».   In 1829 Johann Fredrik Parrot was the first to reach the top of Ararat. He was accompanied by Armenian writerKhachatur Abovyan, two villagers: Hovhannes Ayvazyan, Murad Poghosyan and two Russian soldiers: Aleksey Zdorovenko, Matvey Chelpakov. They carried physical and bioclimatic observations on the spot.   In June of 1845 academician Abikh, having observed the territory and found the shortest way to the top of the mount, successfully did his mission by his own.   Due to its beauty, inaccessibility and rich natural resources Ararat was considered magical in the past.  This mount, worthy of honor, found its place in Armenian mythology. According to the old Armenian religion Ararat was the home of brave gods.   Even today, Ararat continues to delight people from all over the world. Ararat is  our holy mount, which is still one the symbols of Armenia.  

Location: Aragatsotn region

Elevation: 2577 m

From Yerevan: 36km / 49min

      Araler Mount (Ara’s mount) is located between the Hrazdan and Qasakh rivers. The altitude is 2577 m. It has an irregular shape: crossed peak with circular crater.   The climate is continental; precipitation is 300-400 mm. On the uplands meadows are spread. Andesite–basalt and andesite are the most common minerals in the territory. There are 650 kinds of vascular plants, listed on the mount; 20% of vegetation in Armenia.   When you look at the mountain from afar, it seems as if there is a giant, lying in front of you. According to the legend, in the battle between Armenians and Assyrians Armenian king Ara the Beautiful arranged his troops under this mountain, and Assyrian queen Shamiram (she was willing to marry Ara the Beautiful, but was rejected) – under Hatis Mountain. The king, who was faithful to his wife Nvard , died right here. Ninos king’s wife, voluptuous Shamiram, left his body in one of the caves of the mount so that aralezes could bring him back to life.   Armenian king perished heroically in the battle, and the mount has been called after him for centuries. So, this exceptionally strong and brave Armenian king became the unique symbol of Armenian’s unbending will against invaders.   Araler is very beautiful, especially the road, leading from the bottom to the peak. On 24th of April large groups of people usually climb this mount to commemorate the victims of the Genocide and the same thing is in Tsitsernakaberd.  

Location: Aragatsotn region

Elevation: 4094 m

From Yerevan: 50km / 45min

      Aragats is the highest mount in Armenia and the forth in the territory of Armenian highlands. The mount has 4 peaks. The highest is the Northern – 4090 m, then North-Eastern – 4080 m, Western – 3916 m and Southern – 3873 m.   The climate on Aragats depends on the altitude. From the foot of the mount up to the peak the temperature varies from -3 °C to 10 °C, precipitations – 300-900 mm and more. In summer weather is mild and warm, in winter – cold. The territory is rich with vegetation, many representatives of animal world.   There are hundreds of spring waters on the mount. They make up the Qasagh, Amberd, Mantash, Getadzor, Tsaghkahovit rivers.  Here there are tufa, perlite and pumice stone reserves.   There is a popular belief about Aragats mount. In the twilight, when last rays of sun are disappearing in the dark, a long lamplike ray hangs between the four peaks of the mountain: the symbol of all Armenians, of their hope. Hovhannes Tumanyan, one the greatest Armenian writers, described this in one of his works. Aragats is also associated with tourism. It is one of the most favorite mountains within Armenians. There are lots of songs and works, dedicated to Aragats.  
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