Armenia - Ararat

Armenia: a Walking Tour through History


Armenia, an ancient civilisation whose territory once stretched from the Black Sea to the Caspian, was the first nation in the world to officially adopt Christianity, in 301 AD, and their heritage of early stone-carved churches is unsurpassed. Travelling through the mountainous terrain (the Lesser Caucasus) resembles traversing an open-air museum – we access remote monasteries, ancient standing stones and early forts on foot and observe the traditional way of life of shepherding and wine-making communities, whilst based in a series of very comfortable (4 star) heritage hotels.

HIGHLIGHTS of the tour include:  

  • Exploring fortified monasteries in remote, dramatic settings, often with eagles and lammergeiers overhead
  • Visits to the most important early stone-carved churches and cathedrals in the country, and to the Matenadaran Museum to see the exceptional Armenian manuscript collections
  • Moderate walks on 8 days of the tour (1 – 4 hrs) – amongst the splendid scenery of the Lesser Caucasus and by Lake Sevan
  • Crossing the 2,401 metre Selim Pass on the Silk Route, with a short walk to see the well-preserved 14C caravanserai

Guests’ comments on this trip:

‘An enjoyable introduction to a culture and scenery unlike anything I have experienced before; enhanced by the enthusiasm and knowledge of the local guides. It was an advantage to benefit from the extensive research conducted by Kudu. I appreciate the many hours you obviously spent on all aspects of the tour. Food, simple but delicious; scenery, breathtaking; company, good as always with Kudu.’

An excellent programme with good choice of walks, am appropriate mix of architecture, sites and landscapes, and all extremely well guided.

‘Fascinating and enjoyable - another hit for Kudu!’

DAY 1 
D included  
After arriving in the evening at Yerevan airport, we have a brief transfer to our 4 star heritage hotel in the centre, adorned with traditional Armenian carpets, and taste a glass of the celebrated Armenian brandy (Churchill’s favourite) before dinner.

DAY 2 
B, L, D included  
Archaeological evidence suggests that Yerevan, Armenia’s capital, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in history, and we begin our explorations at the Erebuni Fortress, dating from 782 BC, with its museum displaying the earliest known proof of wine making. We visit the important collection of Armenian manuscripts in the Matenadaran and walk up the strikingly modern Cascades for views of Biblical Mount Ararat (lost to Turkey in 1921).

DAY 3 
B, L, D included 
An hour’s drive brings us to the legendary Monastery of the Spear at Geghard, a UNESCO World Heritage site, carved into the rock to house one of the most cherished relics of Christianity. Our walk takes us into a gorge with outcrops of basalt columns and we picnic in the shade of poplars by a river. The afternoon sun gives fine definition to the Parthenon-like outlines of the Garni Temple, a first century Graeco-Roman pagan temple probably devoted to Mithra, where Armenian visitors often give impromptu choral concerts.

DAY 4
B, L, D included
We visit the moving Genocide Memorial and Museum, then drive out of the city to visit Echmiadzin, the earliest (more than 1,700 years old) and most important cathedral in Armenia. Returning to central Yerevan, there are opportunities to visit the National Gallery and the Historical Museum; to inspect top-quality Armenian carpets - or simply people-watch from a café in Republic Square.

DAY 5
B, L, D included
Heading south, our first stop is Khor Virap, set photogenically below Mount Ararat, and the site of the Royal prison where St. Gregory the Illuminator was held for thirteen years before converting Armenia to Christianity in 301. After a guided tour we cross a mountain pass and drive through the vineyards of the Areni valley before lunch at the 12th century red rock monastery of Noravank. We investigate the marvellous carvings of the churches before a short walk through a dramatic red rock gorge. Eagles and long-legged buzzards soar above us as we stroll round the standing stones at Karahunj, an ancient astronomical observatory rather like Stonehenge, but smaller and older (c 2,000 BC). Continuing to Goris, in the far southeast of Armenia, our next hotel is simpler in style, with many kilims and a pretty garden. 

DAY 6 
B, L, D included
This morning we see the cave homes which earlier inhabitants carved out of the mushroom-shaped volcanic rock before departing from Goris. On a superbly scenic drive we encounter numerous flocks of sheep before descending into a deep gorge, then climbing again to access the fortified 9C Tatev monastery, once a renowned centre of study for more than 600 monks in residence. An hour and a half’s walk takes us gradually up to a viewpoint from a grassy ridge and gives us an appetite for a lunch of local specialities. Our hotel for the next two nights is a recently refurbished 4 star spa (still with Soviet overtones!).

DAY 7
B, L, D included
Our walk today follows the beautiful gorge of the Arpa river and we hope to encounter Persian bee-eaters, blue rock thrush, birds of prey (including lammergeyers) and perhaps bear prints en route to the Monastery of Gndevank. Founded in 936 by Princess Sophie of Syunik and dedicated to St. Stephen, the monastery also has a collection of gravestones with finely carved depictions of falconry, ibex and boar hunting. There is time to enjoy the new swimming pool back at our hotel in the late afternoon.

DAY 8
B, L, D included
Driving north, we stop to walk through the village of Yeghegis to see the 14th century Zorats church where horses and arms were consecrated before battle, and the oldest known Jewish cemetery in the world. Our route now follows part of the Silk Road, and we walk a short section and visit the well preserved 14th century caravanserai situated just below the Selim pass (2,401 m). On the shores of the high altitude Lake Sevan we visit Hayrivank monastery and see a number of khachkars (mediaeval carved crosses) before reaching our 4 star hotel.

DAY 9
B, L, D included
A morning walk takes us through the nearby village with its horses and walnut and apricot trees, then along a picturesque river valley, and the rest of the day is free for relaxing in the hotel swimming pool or outdoor hot tub, reading or enjoying the views of the lake. The hotel has an excellent, stylish restaurant featuring traditional Armenian dishes such as marinated aubergine salad with walnuts and beef roll with plums and red wine sauce.

DAY 10
B, L, D included
We set off early to drive to north eastern Armenia, characterised by the oak and beech forests of the Dilijan Nature Reserve. After a walk we visit the monastery of Goshavank, once famous for its library, founded in the 13C. In the attractive town of Dilijan we visit a small ethnographical museum and the former Soviet composer’s summer camp (where Shostakovich often stayed) before proceeding north, on the Tbilisi road, to our next 4 star hotel, an imposing stone building set in a river gorge, with an indoor pool and a spa.

DAY 11
B, L, D included
13C frescoes reward us for a steep 10 minute climb up to the semi-ruined church at Kobayr, and lammergeyers, griffon vultures & golden eagles can be seen on the cliffs above. We explore the UNESCO World Heritage listed 10C Haghpat monastery then walk down into the valley. In complete contrast we see a MiG-21 fighter plane in Sanahin, the birthplace of its designer, then drive up to a high plateau to visit the interesting country home of the Armenian poet Hovhannes Tumanian. The sure-footed have the option of a steep descent back down to the hotel.

DAY 12
B, L, D included
High on Mt. Aragats, an extinct 4,000 m volcano just north of Yerevan, we begin our (optional, and weather permitting) 2.5 hour walk at 2,300 m by the ruined Amberd Fortress (destroyed by the Mongols in 1236) – clear weather brings marvellous views of Mt. Ararat and we may well encounter Zoroastrian fire-worshipping shepherds and their flocks. Returning to our original 4 star hotel in Yerevan, we enjoy a farewell candlelit dinner.

DAY 13
B included 
We have an early transfer to the airport for flights home.

£2,150 per person sharing
£300 deposit per person
£240 
single room supplement

Price includes

  • All accommodation for Days 1 through 13, on a twin shared basis
  • All meals (with wine/beer at lunches and dinners) as listed in the daily notation
  • All land transportation in a private vehicle as described except during free periods
  • All entrance and sightseeing fees except during free periods
  • Services of an English-speaking local guide plus our Kudu Travel tour leader 
  • Gratuities for hotel and restaurant staff (appreciation for tour leaders is discretionary)

Price does not include

  • International transportation to and from Yerevan
  • Trip cancellation, medical or other insurance
  • Immunisations, prescriptions or other medical requirements
  • Passport, visa and health documentation
  • Personal expenses (laundry, alcohol besides wine/beer with group lunches and dinners, free time activities, etc.)
  • Meals noted as excepted in the daily notation
  • Transport and transfer of excess baggage
  • Armenian departure tax, if any


VALUE FOR MONEY - SO MUCH IS INCLUDED

On Kudu trips you will only need money for postcards, presents to take home, the odd G & T or an irresistible ice cream. Festival and opera tickets, museum and gallery entrances, National Park fees, all meals (with a very few exceptions specified in individual itineraries), wine with lunch and dinner, access to specialist books carried by the guides, gratuities for porters and hotel and restaurant staff, boat rides, train trips, internal flights, wine tastings, 4WDs with drivers, the services of skilled local guides and trackers etc are ALL INCLUDED in the cost of your holiday. 

We are confident that, like previous very satisfied guests, you will discover that our tours give you excellent value for money.

  • 5 nights (first 4 and the last night) in a 4 star hotel in the centre of Yerevan, adorned with traditional Armenian carpets

  • 1 night in a small friendly hotel in Goris, simpler in style, with many kilims and a pretty garden

  • 2 nights in Jermuk, in a recently refurbished 4 star spa

  • 2 nights in a 4 star heritage hotel on Lake Sevan

  • 2 nights in a 4 star heritage hotel, an imposing stone building set in a river gorge in Northeast Armenia, with an indoor pool and a spa

 

Visa and Health Requirements
Visitors from the EU currently require a valid passport for entry to Armenia and no longer need a visa. For most other nationalities a Visa is issued on arrival at Yerevan airport (approximately £30, payable in Armenian drams which can be purchased on the spot). If you are a national of a non EU country, please check visa regulations with your nearest Embassy of Armenia.

At present there are no specific and compulsory health requirements for entry to Armenia, but you may wish to consult your doctor (at least 6 weeks before you travel) about updating your immunisation against Hepatitis A, polio, tetanus and typhoid, or anything else they consider advisable. You may also wish to check the advice given to travellers by the Department of Health and the FCO.

Insurance
It is essential, and a condition of booking, that you protect yourself with a suitable travel insurance policy as soon as you book a trip. Follow this link for a quote for a policy available to UK residents.
If you are already insured or a non-UK resident, please inform us of your policy at the time of booking.

Size of party
This trip will run with a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 14 guests.


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