Trek Armenia: The Transcaucasian Trail
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.
Ages: 15 - 99
Theme: Walking & Trekking
Accommodation: Standard Hotel (2 nights) Guesthouses (5 nights) Wild Camping (2 nights)
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 your important welcome meeting. This evening, why not ask your tour leader where to find the best pandok (tavern), so you can 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).
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 – although the city’s roots date back more than 2800 years, it still manages to keep up with the latest trends through the hustle and bustle of contemporary life. 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!
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.
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, and perhaps spot a herd of the wild Bezoar goats that frequent the gorge, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Your adventure comes to an end after breakfast and you are free to leave at any time today.
- Areni - Areni Cave
20 Tigran Mets Avenue
Phone: +374 10540708
Fax: +374 10545000
20 Tigran Mets Avenue
Phone: +374 10540708
Fax: +374 10545000
1.A good level of fitness is required for this trip.
2.Two nights of this trip are wild camping. One tent per two persons is supplied and a camp mattress for each person. A sleeping bag will be required, which can be rented.
3.There is no single supplement available on this trip.
All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
This trek is lead by the expereinced crew of Transcaucasian Trail Tourism Support NGO of Armenia.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trips. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests or relax and take it easy. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
In case of emergency the group guide has connection with the support team in the nearest village/town. The support team is equipped with 4X4 UAZ automobiles, motorcycles and horses. The nearest settlements between day treks are: Agahavnadzor, Areni, Gnishik, Martiros, Gomk, Vayk, Yeghegnadzor, Khachik, Artavan settlements. Arpa Protected Landscape’s rangers are always informed about group hikes and are ready to help in any case.
WiFi is available is some guesthouses, as well as 220-240v mains electricity (with European-style sockets) in all guesthouses. If you wish, you may bring your own power packs to charge phones and other devices. Mobile data is available in certain areas via the purchase of a local SIM card and data package, but reception cannot be guaranteed.
There are three cell phone companies in Armenia offering prepaid data plans for visitors and tourists. Packages start at 3500 drams depending on company and data requirements. You will require your passport to purchase and activate a service.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.
Many countries including Australia, New Zealand, UK and the USA are no longer required to obtain a visa for visits to Armenia up to 180 days in duration.
Nationalities requiring a visa to enter Armenia are listed in the drop down menu on the following link and subsequent application for E-Visas are available. https://evisa.mfa.am/check-eligibility
Please use the address of your finishing point hotel for the Contact Information in Armenia. You will need to upload a scanned passport sized photo and a passport copy to complete your application.
In the case that the website is down, it may be possible to obtain a visa on arrival at the land border. Please check http://www.mfa.am/en/visa/ for the list of nationalities that are allowed to apply visa on arrival.
Why we love it
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.
Is this trip right for you
This trip involved a lot of walking. Please ensure you bring sturdy walking shoes and comfortable clothes. To make the most of the trip, it's best if you have at least a good level of fitness.
Tried and tested all-purpose hiking equipment is required. Whilst Vayots Dzor province is known for its moderate weather and low rainfall, it can get frosty at night so warm clothing and a sleeping bag are essential. You can hire this equipment if need be.
Your safety comes first. We have support teams in all locations and local ranger are on standby for group treks.
Hiking for several days without a shower can be tough – be prepared for some dust and dirt. A mask, wet wipes and face washer may become your best friends!
All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
As a rule we recommend you don't drink tap water, even in hotels, as it contains much higher levels of different minerals than the water you may have at home. For local people this is not a problem as their bodies are used to this and can cope, but for visitors drinking the tap water can result in illness. Generally this isn't serious, an upset stomach being the only symptom, but it's enough to spoil a day or two of your holiday. Bottled water is widely available and your leader can recommend safe alternatives when available. Water consumption should be about three litres a day. Rehydration salts, motion sickness tablets, and diarrhoea blockers are available from many pharmacies.
There will be up to 26km of hiking daily, with a daily elevation gain/loss of 500-1000m. You will need to have a good level of fitness and be conditioned to regular long days of hill walking and wild camping in locations without facilities.
Total distance: 110km;
Elevation gain/loss: +4,844m/-5,118m;
Average gradient: +7.1%/-6.9%
Min/max altitude: 1,007m/2,529m
Food and dietary requirements
Meals through out the Trek are included, lunches will be picnic style and dinners will be camp style or local guest house home cooking. It may be difficult to cater for all dietary requirements, please check with your booking agent. We recommend bringing a water purification bottle, there will be opportunities to refill your bottle during each day.
When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).
We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result there may be some extra costs involved.
The recommended amounts are listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however the local currency is needed in the countries you are visiting.
The Armenian national currency is the dram. Paper notes are issued in denominations of 500, 1.000, 5.000, 10.000, 20.000 and 50000 Dram. Coins replace all banknotes less than 500 dram (10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500).
What to take
Although a guide will always accompany you on the trail you are required to carry your hiking kit including tent, bed roll and sleeping bag.
Light clothing is generally sufficient during the day however in the evening your will require something warm and it is a good idea to have something waterproof.
Hiking /Camping Equipment
• Backpack (large enough for all your kit, with space for trail snacks and water)
• Pack raincover
• Sleeping bag (3-season) - Can be rented
• Knife or multi-tool
• Headlamp with spare batteries
• Water filter or purification tablets
• Matches or lighter
• Bowl, mug & utensils (for eating/drinking)
• Small day-pack(optional)
• Waterproof map case(optional)
• Trekking poles (optional but recommended)
Clothing and Footwear
• Quick-drying long-sleeve shirt
• Quick-drying trekking trousers
• Quick-drying T-shirt(optional)
• Fleece jacket or vest, or insulated jacket or vest
• Waterproof/breathable rain jacket (it will rain!)
• Waterproof/breathable rain trousers
• Bandanna or Buff
• Sun hat
• Warm base layers & hat for sleeping
• Waterproof hiking boots or hiking shoes suited to rocky, mountainous terrain
• Socks (synthetic or wool) plus spares
• Sandals/flip-flops or water shoes e.g. Crocs (for fording streams and relaxing in camp)
• Swim wear (optional)
• Trail snacks for full days of hiking
• Water bottles or hydration reservoirs (3 litres total capacity)
• Lip balm
• Toothbrush with cover and biodegradable toothpaste
• Biodegradable soap
• Toilet paper
• Hand sanitizer
• Wet wipes
• Plastic bag for trash
• Spare eyeglasses or contact lenses
• Personal medication
• Insect repellent
• Personal first-aid kit(optional)
• Quick-drying towel(optional)
• Mobile phone & backup power pack (optional, don’t rely on signal)
• Book/e-reader/diary & pen(optional)
A couple of rules
Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden.
Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption.
The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips.
By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund.
If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.
Before you travel please download our pre-departure checklist to make sure you are fully prepared for your trip.
GENERAL ISSUES ON YOUR TRIP
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
Our Local Intrepid Operator: +995 598 25 27 23 OR +995 599 55 89 98
Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers and staff are trained on these principles, and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel.
Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting:
This trip is operated in partnership with a group of conservationists, nature lovers and volunteers who make up the Transcaucasian Trail NGO of Georgia and the Transcaucasian Trail Tourism Support NGO of Armenia. These local organisations are coordinating the development of the trail in Georgia and Armenia respectively.
Guest Houses: Guesthouses in the Caucasus are of a simple and basic nature with shared bathroom facilities. Shared rooms generally accommodate two or three people in single beds.
Wild Camping: a two man tent and a camp mattress is supplied, you will need to bring a sleeping bag with you.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.
Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour.
A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist.
Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
Standard Hotel (2 nights) Guesthouses (5 nights) Wild Camping (2 nights)