Duration: 9 days/8 nights
Best season: From May to October
Accommodation: Tourist hotels, camping tents
Food: Breakfasts, meals in the mountains
Mode of travel: 4WD vehicles, minibuses/ hiking
Number of people: Tour is available starting from 1 person
Included: Accommodation for tourist hotels and camping tents
Breakfasts, meals in the mountains
All transfers, rent of horses
All activities as per itinerary with all entry fees
Travel permits in protected areas
Guiding service, local guides in museums
Excluded: Optional activities
Long time ago, in the days of the great King Tigran of the I century BC, Armenian cavalry was renown in Ecumene, the inhabited world. In those days a special breed of horses was developed, ideally suited to battles and long treks in the highlands. Time has passed… no great kings or campaigns, most states and nations of the time disappeared from the face of the earth. But in Armenia, in the mountains, there is a region where the descendants of those brave riders live. Karabagh, Black Garden, a high country in the Lesser Caucasus, with strongly fragmented mountainous terrain of deep gorges and picturesque valleys and ancient history permeating every meter of our route. It is here that we invite you to hike.
On our 7-day hiking tour of Karabagh we’ll walk in remote corners of nature and explore sacred sites, visit mountain villages and witness traditions lovingly preserved for generations, trek to Kirs and Dizapayt, the highest mountains of Karabagh ridge, see the giant 2000-year-old sycamore, the same age as Christianity and explore Azokh, a Stone Age dwelling-cave as old as mankind itself.
Day 1: Exploring Stepanakert
Stepanakert is the capital of de facto independent Nagorno-Karabagh Republic. It is the largest city of the region. One of the symbols and largest monuments of the city is We are our Mountains (other names are Tatik – Papik, Mamig – Babig, Grandma – Grandpa). The monument is made of volcanic tuffa stone, presenting an old man and woman hewn from rock and representing the spirit of the people of Karabagh. After exploration of Stepanakert, we will visit a famous character in Stepanakert, winemaker Joseph, the Alchemist. The locals gave him this name for his experiments with liqueurs. He will perhaps present something exclusive from his famous cellars, of course if he is in the right mood. We spend the night at his home. (B)
Day 2: Hiking to the Ruins of Khan’s Villa
We will drive to the city of Shushi located on a huge rock at the heart of modern Karabakh. During daytime we’ll get acquainted with the cultural legacy of the heyday of the city with patches of Soviet era buildings, ramble around in elegant cobblestone streets, looking for old houses, which outlived several generations. After a light lunch at a cozy restaurant, we’ll climb down the gorge of Karkar River. Our overnight site located on a narrow canyon edge hidden from everyone’s eyes is the surprise awaiting us today. We will set our wild camp among evocative ruins once belonging to a royalty; locals call the site Hanin Amanat, Khan’s Wealth. After short rest we will gather for a dinner and evening by a crackling campfire. (BLD)
Day 3: Hiking to Waterfalls and in Fields of Wildflowers
We start hiking and go deeper into the mountains. A wholesome breakfast and start walking along Karkar river. We are going to see the Umbrella, a beautiful waterfall, subject of locals’ pride. Passing several kilometers we find ourselves in Karintak, a picturesque village with a rich history. After light lunch at a village home with bread, wine and local delicacies, we continue hiking to the end point of our route today, a rocky ridge. We reach the subalpine zone, totally untouched where a few, if any, visitors venture. We are among barberries and junipers, surrounded by a field of wildflowers. We put up our tents by a solitary farm and have our dinner by the fire. (BLD)
Days 4, 5: Trekking to Kirs, the Highest Peak of Karabagh and Katarovank Basilica at 2150 m
The next target of our expedition is the conquest of Kirs Mountain. Today we’ll walk along paths in alpine meadows. We have unsurpassed views of fast flowing streams and vast meadows with flowers everywhere. We climb the steep section of the route to the top of Kirs Mountain (2724 m), one of the highest points of Karabakh Range. From the rocky ridge, we will enjoy the view of Shushi, neighboring foothills, endless steppe turning into the mist of the Caspian Sea, and, if we are lucky, we will admire even the Great Caucasus. In the morning we continue trekking in Karabakh ridge to Dizapayt peak with legends and fairy tales attached to its name. There is a little basilica church, Katarovank (17th c) on one of its spurs at an altitude of 2,150 meters above sea level. We camp near the church. (BLD)
Day 6: Azokh Cave
This morning will see us going down to Toomey village famous for strong craft traditions. We will have a demonstration by local craftsmen making trekhs, traditional shoes. Descending we reach the village of Tokh, the center of historic province of Dizak and patrimony of Prince Eganyanovs’. Our aim is trekking at Mount Tohasar, a nature reserve. Almost on top of the mountain, on a small glade, we explore Gtich monastery, a prominent religious and cultural center. We have picnic lunch at the top and a short walk to enjoy the surroundings. Off to Azokh village famous for a cave where Neanderthal bones were found. We will explore the cave, its vast caverns and halls with a colony of bats on its walls. You can skip the cave visit if you are afraid of these friendly creatures but those we make the visit will remember it for the rest of their life, guaranteed! We stay in the village for the night. (BLD)
Day 7: Back to Stepanakert
On our last day we’ll have a slow drive to Hadrut in Southern Karabakh. Driving two kilometers from the city, we visit village of Tyak with its ancient quarter completely preserved and two giant sycamores making the views even more memorable. Back to Stepanakert in the evening, en route we stop at a little church in Tsakori village with a 2000-year-old sycamore. We have dinner and overnight in Stepanakert. (BLD)
Day 8 In the morning drive to Yerevan, end of trip.
There are 7 places available on this tour.
Trekkers need to provide their own personal clothing and equipment. Some items of equipment are available for hire from our local partners, please request information at the time of booking. We strongly recommend that you purchase your own personal equipment. A complete equipment list is part of your Tour Dossier, which you receive upon confirmation of your booking.