Spring Trekking in the South Caucasus

Today, one has so many opportunities to explore the world and make days brighter. All you need to do is to find like-minded people and go to conquer the world. There are six of us in a group of crazy adventure lovers. We are not afraid of challenges and bad weather. By supporting each other, we follow the goal and achieve it. Our next goal was the South Caucasus and its snow-capped mountains. After studying the characteristics of nature and the landscape, we chose the best month for trekking in the South Caucasus and identified specific routes. So, our destinations on May were Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. We hope that our story and experience will be helpful in your trip planning.

Trekking in Armenia

The first stop of our spring trekking was Armenia. We heard a lot of controversial reviews about the country, but for us, it was an absolute surprise. Most of the country managed to get rid of the “stigma” of the post-Soviet country.

Climbing the volcano Azhdahak

The first serious trip was scheduled to the volcano Azhdahak. This is the highest point of the Geghama Range (3597 meters above sea level). The ascent was of medium difficulty; time and again we stopped at the ancient petroglyphs or just to enjoy the beauty of the nature of the Alpine meadows.

gobustan-petroglyphs

We made a stop at the mountain lake Akna. We had a trekking route, but we will definitely get back here for camping. And finally, the last stop of the route is Azhdahak volcano, overlooking Lake Sevan, Mount Aragats and Ararat. We returned to Yerevan through the village of Sevaberd and discussed the trip the whole night.

azhdahak

Trekking from Sevan to Dilijan

We were lucky with the weather. The next two days we were so full of impressions. We reached Lake Sevan by car, and then continued hiking about the sights of the region.

Sevan was so big and impressive and no wonder the locals call it Geghama Sea. You may stand on the shore and listen to the sound of the waves. Looking at the horizon you will only see the peaks of the Geghama Range in the distance. The lake is quite large and we decided to explore only the most interesting parts.

sevan

The temperature of the water was still too low for swimming and we had to simply explore the sights nearby. We visited Sevanavank Monastery on the peninsula and Ayrivank Monastery. Sevan is really a must-visit natural gem included in almost all guided tours in Armenia like the credible Arara tours.

22894225_1571920042871460_9038583440461115630_n

The first part of the day ended with an early dinner by the lake. Main dishes were trout and whitefish BBQ. Guys, you should definitely try them, the taste is unforgettable.

We left Sevan and move on to Dilijan. The next stop is the resort town of Dilijan. The road to the town passed through very steep passes, and on the halfway, we started feeling the warm and slightly damp smell of the coniferous forest.

Dilijan is the most popular resort town in the reserve. From Dilijan, there are several trekking routes in different directions. We chose the most Interesting one that passed through Lake Parz, Gosh village and Goshavank monastery. The lake is located about 7 km from Dilijan and it was a truly nice walk. The lake turned out to be a spectacular place. The green trees and the bright sun reflected in the clear waters of the lake. It was a perfect place for a picnic. From the lake, there is a ready trekking route with marks to the village of Gosh. A small cozy village is hidden in a dense forest. The main attraction of the village is the medieval monastic complex Goshavank. The last stop in the village is Lake Gosh, smaller than Lake Parz, but no less colorful.

goshavank

Trekking in Georgia

We said goodbye to Armenia and continued our journey to Georgia. When planning trekking in Georgia, we had so many options to choose and so many routes that it is rather difficult to find the best destinations. I think we will return to Georgia not once.

Trekking in Svaneti

Svanetia was selected as our first destination. Georgians used to say that if you have never been to Svaneti, you have not seen the beauty of Georgia. From Tbilisi, we got to Mestia, the capital of Svaneti. The city and the whole Svaneti are famous for their Svan towers. On our way, we saw the most interesting of them. The whole area is absolutely fascinating for its picturesque landscapes, and we spent the whole day just walking around the neighborhood.

svaneti

The next morning we had an ascent to the mountains at 2,200 meters. Ushguli village is considered the highest mountainous village in Europe. The locals are truly blessed to see one of the most breathtaking panoramas of Mount Shkhara (5068 meters) every morning. The architectural monuments of the village are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. In the village, we saw more than 30 towers.

ushguli

At that altitude even in May, it was windy and cool, the nights were rather cold. On the last day of our stay, we decided to take a ride on the cable car from Mestia to the ski resort Hatsvali. From the top, there is a beautiful view of the city.

Trekking in Kakheti

Tourists come to Kakheti for a wine tour, we decided to combine a pleasant experience with the more pleasant one. The first stop is the city of Sighnaghi. We chose Sighnaghi because it seemed more picturesque than Telavi. Tile houses, narrow alleys, fortress walls, and small towers resemble a provincial town somewhere in Italy, and the wine completes the whole landscape.

For this trekking, we chose one of the national parks of Kakheti, Lagodekhi, which borders Azerbaijan (our last stop will be in Azerbaijan). The nature of Georgia has been revealed to us from the best side. Of course, we didn’t manage to explore the whole park, but we visited the most beautiful places with rivers, lakes, waterfalls, alpine, and subalpine meadows. We walked to the Lagodekhi gorge, which extended to the Alazani Valley.

lagodekhi

Trekking in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan was chosen as the last destination in the South Caucasus to bring an oriental flavor to the journey.

From the very beginning, we decided to spend the whole day in Baku and take a walk around the city. We have never seen such a contrast. On one side there is a super modern metropolis with skyscrapers, on the other hand, it is an eastern city with narrow streets, brick houses, and a bazaar.

To make our stay in a new country safe and sound we tried to follow the popular trekking routes rather than exploring new ones.

On the second day of our stay in Azerbaijan, we visited the Gobustan reserve. The park was not far (50 km from Baku), we could easily get there and spend more time exploring the territory in detail. The first thing we saw was mud volcanoes. By the way, most of the mud volcanoes of the whole world are located in Azerbaijan. Mud volcanoes and the cracked land look like a shot from the Martian Chronicles. In Gobustan, volcanoes are of medium size and quite safe. After a hundred interesting shots of volcanoes of all angles, we move ahead to other attractions.

 

The next attraction in the park is rock paintings. Traces of ancient civilizations are still preserved on the mountains like images of a human, his life, hunting scenes, and wild animals.

Khinalug Village

The last stop of our trekking tour is the mountain village of Khinalug, or “Island among the Mountains”. The ancient settlement, which appeared more than 5 thousand years ago, is located at an altitude of 2350 meters. For us, a trip to Khinalig became a wonderful opportunity to take a closer look at the life of the ancient inhabitants. The houses are built on steep slopes, from the side they are adjacent and look as if one house is built on the other. Climbing the slopes is not easy as it may seem to you.

Khynalyg

We say goodbye to the South Caucasus looking through the photos in the plane.

-By Arpi Kazaryan

Advertisements

20 thoughts on “Spring Trekking in the South Caucasus

  1. If you have finances, it is better not to go to the Caucasus (Russian and Abkhaz) by car, but fly to Adler airport and rent a car here. Yes, it will cost a lot of money, but you will not tire yourself, and the rest will take place in the full sense of the word.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If you have finances, it is better not to go to the Caucasus (Russian and Abkhaz) by car, but fly to Adler airport and rent a car here. Yes, it will cost a lot of money, but you will not tire yourself, and the rest will take place in the full sense of the word.

    Like

  3. Wow! It looks amazing! I could not imagine how beautiful it could be in the South Caucasus. I heard that there is a very winding area and a lot of mountains, but that there was so beautiful nature at this time of year… It reminded me of Italy and Georgia. I would love to go there and take some pictures live.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The main thing in Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia is hospitality, a trip to this region will bring a lot of positive emotions. People, friendly and open, will meet you throughout the journey, invite guests to treat and wish a happy journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We chose a tour to the South Caucasus on the advice of friends. And never regretted. First, we visited Armenia with her husband, enjoyed the beauty of nature. We visited the volcano Azhdahak in Armenia, visited Lake Sevan. Loved the dinner by the lake. After Armenia we went to Georgia. We visited Svaneti, then went on a wine tour to Kakheti. Everything was great from the beginning to the end of the trip, beauty indescribable. Very like feasts in Georgian families. Come back with my husband here more than once!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Here is the best and clean air. Many architectures, as well as stunning beauty of nature and animals.People are friendly and kind, and always help))) I’m here constantly resting with my family

    Liked by 1 person

  7. May I just say you make me jealous for having seen this in person? No joke, my parents also just came from Georgia and I was already amazed by photos they sent me and now this article. I’m set to go there now for sure as soon as I can!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I believe that in our country there are a lot of beautiful places that just need to see every person and not necessarily to go abroad. This tour of the South Caucasus is a vivid proof of this.

    Like

  9. Everyone knows that Georgia is a very beautiful country. It has all the high mountains and beautiful lakes. People here are famous for their hospitality. To be here is happiness and no one will be indifferent.

    Like

  10. What an amazing time spring trekking in the South Caucasus. To be honest I do not know much about this area but I look forward to visiting one day. The petroglyphs at the Volcano Azhdahak remind me of the petroglyphs I saw on a volcano in Ometepe Island in Nicaragua – thousands of miles away. I enjoy visiting UNESCO sights and would dearly love to visit the 30 towers of Ushguli one day.

    Like

  11. I never imagined Caucasus could be so beautiful. It looks so pristine with its winding roads and mountains. Lake Sevan looks absolutely stunning. It all looks worthy the effort taken to reach there.

    Like

  12. I’ve heard a lot about how beautiful this part of the world is but your article really seals the deal. It looks absolutely stunning and this hike is definitely something I’d love to do. How long did you spend hiking each day?

    Like

  13. I’ve only just started liking hiking these past two years and even then I’m not crazy fit. These treks definitely make me want to take up the challenge though. I mean, climbing a volcano and seeing breathtaking views of those mountains and Lake Sevan and wow. Just wow! Good that you guys decided to visit despite th controversies!

    Like

  14. I have been to Caucasus in Georgia and I am fall in love with Mount Kazbeg at first sight. I still have to visit Azerbaijan and Armenia which is high on my list. Thanks for sharing a guide to trek south Caucasus in spring as all these regions are worth trying out. I would surely check for Arara tours.

    Like

  15. Interesting post and sounds like a great trip. The caucasus region is on my wishlist as well. Not trekking but sightseeing. Thanks for sharing. It looks beautiful.

    Like

  16. Wow this is the first I have heard of South Caucasus and I am absolutely loving it! Trekking in Georgia sounds incredible and a great adventure. I would so love to explore all the rock paintings. And to trek up the mountains for some incredible view is amazing. Being able to trek up to the Ushguli village would be a great bucket list check, especially since it is the highest mountainous village in Europe!

    Like

  17. Frankly, I had not heard much about this place but after reading your post I so wanna trek so badly in the south Caucasus. The volcano Azhdahak looks absolutely divine. I am putting this on top of my 2019 travel list.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.