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Armenia - The Hidden Track - Experience Armenia through the elements test

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Test Whether it’s by air, earth, water or ice, there are so many different ways to immersive yourself in Armenia. Prepare to embrace the force of Mother Nature on your next visit…

 

 

Amid the clouds that settle low over the Armenian crag or atop the rivers that cleave between its rock, your perspective on the country’s mountainous terrain will shift. Hiking through its wildflower blooms or skiing in Ararat’s imposing shadow, you’ll come to know Armenia from every angle. Plan your next trip here with vantage in mind: whether from sky or slope, river or routeway, you’ll see a new side to this country…

Experience Armenia by air…

Hot air balloon rides offer lofty vantage points over the Armenian countryside (Armenia Travel)

Any traveller willing to fling themselves from a precipice in the name of a view is one to be rewarded, particularly in mesmerising Armenia. Embark on a paragliding adventure to admire the country from above — popular spots include the expansive waters of Lake Sevan and the Azat Reservoir whose serene waters are set among rugged landscapes. Ziplining hotspots are also scattered across Armenia, with areas surrounded by thick forests being favoured by locals and travellers alike. Visit the village of Yenokavan or the southern town of Kapan to glide over verdant valleys, offering sweeping views if you’re quick enough to catch them.

One of the most spectacular views in Armenia, however, is found high in the sky. Among the best times to travel is during the annual hot air balloon festival, when the Armenian peaks are dotted with floating explorers. The October festival takes in panoramic views of the lakes, canyons, mountains and places like the village of Garni where you could soar over the magnificent, Greco-Roman Garni Temple and Yerevan where you can admire Armenia’s oldest continuously inhabited city from above. Another way to admire Armenia from above is venturing on the Wings of Tatev, the world’s longest aerial tramway, that runs over 5.7km between the village of Halidzor and Tatev Monastery. You can also opt to take a helicopter jaunt, taking in the majestic mountains and awe-inspiring scenery that makes Armenia so picturesque.

…by water

Go rafting on Debed River (Armenia Travel)

Armenia’s rivers rove through its mountain ranges and its lakes’ waters sit serenely, transporting travellers through rushing ravines or to tranquil sailing spots. Armenia knows how to make the most of its many waterways, with rafting, kayaking, and paddleboarding all on the table. Face the rapids that surge through Debed Canyon on a rafting excursion, carrying travellers through the rocky ravine at high speed. Once your inflatable raft has rocketed over the adrenaline-inducing rapids, you’ll smooth out to a peaceful paddle through the verdant gorge.

From the vast lakes spotted throughout the Armenian mountains, more water bound activities are available. Head to the Azat Reservoir to paddleboard amid its colour-layered hills, striped by millennia of climbing waters and waning rock. On the Aparan Reservoir, adventurous kayakers are surrounded by fresh, green fields as they slowly make their way through the water. Those opting to sail across the surface of Lake Sevan are treated to views of the mountains and famed monasteries, while being carried by nothing but the wind. Lake Sevan also offers an interesting opportunity for divers — 1900 m above sea level, it’s one of the highest altitude spots on earth that has diving on offer. The volcanic lake is underlaid by natural reefs that shelter a thick forest of underwater plant life.

…down to earth

Hike Mount Aragats to reach the highest point in Armenia (Armenia Travel)

Armenia’s diverse landscapes, from spectacular mountain peaks to gushing rivers and vibrant valleys means that there are plenty of hiking trails to try throughout the country. Roaming Armenia’s portion of the Transcaucasian Trail entails ambling through wildflower fields and taking riverside strolls, pausing to marvel at the medieval monasteries scattered through the wilds. By choosing a segment of the trail to follow, hikers can venture deep into the Caucasian backwoods, visiting the small villages and trailside respites that embody Armenian hospitality. But beyond traipsing the trails, Armenia’s mountain routes offer adventurous excursions for travellers enticed by adrenaline. Head to Vanadzor, surrounded by rolling mountains whose textures change with the seasons, to try out the tracks in Boo Mountain Bike Park. Armenia’s first pump track.

Make the most, too, of the gorges that carve apart the Armenian countryside. Among the verdant Hrazdan Gorge, the red rock cliffs of Gnishik Canyon, the rugged landscapes of Mount Khustup, or the meandering rivers of Hells Canyon, rock climbers can scale the mighty rock walls in a graceful scramble, or travel through the rivers of Armenia on canyoning tours that involve rappelling down cliffs, plunging into refreshing pools and discovering hidden wonders. The courageous can delve even deeper into Armenia, allowing you to uncover unique geological formations, marvel at the subterranean wonders and explore hidden passages.

…among snow and ice

Admire Armenia’s landscapes when they’re dusted in white powder (Armenia Travel)

Snow envelops Armenia from mid-December, transforming the rough crag to soft, white powder. The winter sports season takes travellers to lesser-traversed mountains and gorges. Adventurers are quick to take to their lofty heights, and quick to plummet down them. Snow kiting is a unique adventure to try in Armenia and is guaranteed to get the adrenaline pumping as you marvel at the unforgettable landscapes of Karmravan or Aragats, draped in snow. Try Tsaghkadzor, a retreat that is home to a modern ski resort, whose summer gorges are carved into runs for the winter. Yeghipatrush is another popular choice for winter sports enthusiasts, where you’ll find a mountainous sports complex, as well as Jermuk, a secluded spa town, where travellers can finish up a day on the slopes in the healing hot springs. Active explorers preferring to sweep between the frost-dusted flats of Ashotsk should opt for a cross-country skiing excursion, while snowshoers can venture between Lori’s peaks on foot.

As the surfaces of Lake Sevan solidify in the winter chill, skaters strap on their shoes and venture onto the great lake’s frozen façade. Enjoy the serenity of wild ice skating, gliding through nature and admiring the landscapes blanketed in snow. Take a moment to admire the unique ice patterns that form under the freeze as you skate freely over one of the largest freshwater sources on earth.

SJ Armstrong
15 May 2024


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