Tour to Nagorno Karabakh
5 days / 4 nights
Nagorno Karabakh is an enigma wrapped up inside the Caucasus. Having an extremely rugged mountainous surface covered by dense forests, it has the most beautiful landscape in the whole Caucasus. It is a ‘country’ recognized by no-one. Even the name is something of a mystery, being made up from words of three different languages: “Nagorno” means mountainous in Russian, “Kara” means black in Turkish and “Bakh” means garden in Persian. The name “Mountainous Black Garden” was given to it because of too dense forests where it’s almost dark inside. To confuse things further, the locals refer to their region as Artsakh which is the ancient Armenian name of the region with over 5000-year old history. While there exist many questions about Nagorno-Karabakh and its political status, the beauty and cultural richness of this remote mountain landscape are undeniable. Up steep cliffs, wedged into narrow valleys and hidden in remote forests there are hundreds of moss-covered churches and monasteries, and while most of them are abandoned, a few are being renovated and reopened.
You can go hiking through snow-topped mountains and fields of yellow and red flowers feasting on shish kebab and grilled vegetables. Don’t be surprised if you’re offered homemade mulberry vodka or fruits by the locals even if they don’t know you. The people of Artsakh are extremely hospitable.
Reveal the secrets of the Armenia and Artsakh Republic (Nagorno Karabakh)
Ride the world’s longest aerial tramway taking to Tatev Monastery.
Visit Gandzasar Monastery -“the encyclopedia of Armenian architecture.”
Enjoy the tasty traditional food of Armenia & Nagorno Karabakh
Visit Amaras, the first-ever school where they used the Armenian Alphabet scripts
Taste Zhengyalov Hats*the famous national dish of Karabakh, , prepared of extremely tasty local herbs
Admire the beauty of Shushi’s architecture
Rates & Departures
Accommodation at hotel in DBL/Twin rooms (4 nights)
Transportation with a comfortable cars with AC
English speaking guide with more than 5 years of experience
Breakfast at the hotel
Entrance fees to all visited places
Wine tasting in Areni
Visa to Nagorno Karabakh Republic
5 Lunches during the tours
1 dinner at the hotel in Goris
Dinners in Stepanakert
Accommodation in Yerevan
Visa to Armenia (if required)
Single room supplement
Bank transfer fees
Visit Khor Virap Monastery. To this day you can visit the underground chamber where St. Gregory the Illuminator, the first Armenia’s Patriarch, was imprisoned for 13 years before curing King Trdat III of a disease. This caused the conversion of the king and Armenia into the first officially Christian nation in the world in the year 301. Its location, near the closest point to Mount Ararat within Armenian borders, offers a spectacular view of the mountain, the national symbol of Armenia. Proceed to Noravank Monastery (13-14th centuries), an architectural gemstone nestled among brick-red cliffs, just above a deep gorge.
Lunch in a lovely restaurant.
Near the town of Sisian visit Karahunj-Armenia’s Stonehenge. This stone circle, now shown to be a prehistoric observatory, long predates Stonehenge in England. Ancient inscriptions found here may mark the birthplace of the Zodiac – and of Western Civilization itself. Possibly it was the world’s first astronomical observatory founded 7500 years ago. Its history is really very impressive.
Continue to Goris town which is in a deep gorge having houses with red roofs. It’s a town of orchards having a rather interesting architecture of civil structures.
Overnight in Goris
In the morning we explore Goris, one of the most beautiful towns in Armenia. It’s a town in orchards where the houses have the same unique architecture with red tile roofs. The town is beautifully planned by a German architect in the 19th century. We visit the miraculous monastery of Tatev riding the world’s longest aerial tramway (5.7 km) built by the Swiss in 2010. Tatev is a formidable monastic complex founded in the 9th century. It’s the biggest monastery in Armenia. It’s located on a rocky peninsula more than 100 meters above the Vorotan River. According to tradition the relics of the Apostles, Sts. Peter and Paul, were placed under the dome’s supporting pillars. we drive to the most impressive city of Nagorno Karabakh – Shushi City. This is the 2nd city of Karabagh and historically, it used to be the capital of Artsakh.Shushi is nestled on a frozen wave of rock. Because of its impregnable location it received the name “the eagles’ nest”. The fortress had never been taken by force in the course of its history till 1992 May 9 when the Karabakh Armenian soldiers climbed up the huge rock and liberated the historic capital of Artsakh. Here we’ll visit the only surviving churches of St. Ghazanchetsots and Green Church. We also visit 19th the Persian Mosque and one the most beautiful old districts of the city completely abandoned.
Continue to Stepanakert, the Capital of Artsakh.
Overnight in Stepanakert
Stepanakert City Tour. Visit the Museum of History and Country Study of Artsakh (Karabagh). Have a stroll in the city’s main food market. Then we’ll have a photo stop at the national landmark of Karabakh, the statue “ We and Our Mountains”, tenderly called by the inhabitants grandfather-grandmother (the Grandfather and the Grandmother). The old man with the old woman, as if they grew on the top of the hill, symbolize the attachment of Karabakhian people to their native ground. Otherwise, this sculptural composition is called the monument to Long-Livers.
After lunch we are off to Skhtorashen village where we visit the famous Tnjri, a 2,035-year old (as of 2015) plane tree going high into the air. The platan was awarded a passport of the oldest and highest tree in the territory of the ex-USSR. The hollow of a tree trunk is of 44 sq.km. On its area 100 persons can stand freely. We continue to Amaras, a 4th century monastery founded by St. Gregory the Illuminator. At the beginning of the fifth century the creator of the Armenian alphabet, Mesrop Mashtots,established in Amaras the first-ever school that used his script. To this day it’s possible to see the Armenian alphabet letters on the ceiling of Amaras school engraved for the students bored during the classes. Even staring at the ceiling they could see the Armenian script. This amazing monastery has survived many invasions throughout its 1700 year old history. Driving through the endless orchards of mulberry trees and vineyards, drive back to Stepanakert.
Overnight in Stepanakert
After breakfast drive to Gandzasar Monastery, perhaps the most important architectural monument of Artsakh (13th century). According to renowned Russian scholar A. L. Yakobson of St. Petersburg’s Hermitage, Gandzasar Monastery is “the encyclopedia of Armenian architecture.” Stop in the village of Vank where you can socialize with the locals. Lunch in a nice restaurant. Later we visit Askeran Fortress.
On our way to Tigranakert Hellenistic city and archaeological site from the distance we see the ruins of Aghdam ghost city. Once a thriving city of 50.000 souls with its own airfield it was destroyed during the war in 1993. Tour of Tigranakert. Archaeologists date the foundation of Tigranakert to a period in the 80,s BC, during the reign of King Tigranes the Great, the most powerful king in the history of Armenia. Archaeologists have uncovered two of the main walls of the city, as well as Hellenistic-style towers and an Armenian church dating to fifth to seventh centuries.
Back to Stepanakert town. Rest. A walking tour in Stepanakert’s park in the evening.
Overnight in Stepanakert
After breakfast drive to Dadivank Monastery. It dates back to approximately 9–13th centuries and is located at the foothills of the Mount Mrav, on the left bank of river Tartar. Dadivank was founded by St. Dadi who was the disciple of Thaddeus the Apostle who spread Christianity in Eastern Armenia during the 1st century A.D. In June, 2007, the grave of St. Dadi was discovered under the holy altar of the main church. Visit the Stone Garden – Noraduz, the largest field of Armenian exquisite cross-stones in the world. Continue to the Lake Sevan, the largest lake in Armenia and one of the largest high-altitude lakes in the world, situated at 1900m above sea level. A famous writer has poetically characterized Sevan, “A genuine piece of sky, dropped down on earth among mountains”.
Back to Yerevan
Overnight in Yerevan
1. Hiking in “Hunot Canyon” (You can do this on the day to Shushi)
Those hiking down into the canyon will be rewarded with the discovery of waterfalls, lush forests, caves inhabited since the stone ages, the ruins of Hunot village, old stone bridges, and all of this framed by massive canyon walls with a river rushing through. But the icing on the cake if the waterfall “Mossy Rock” and the cave spring “Mossy Umbrella” of almost surreal beauty. A deep water source comes out of the stone of the canyon to form a perpetually dripping waterfall in the shape of a huge mossy umbrella.
2. Jeep tour to Jermajur hot springs (You can do this on the day to Dadivank)
Visit Big Jermajur— warm mineral spring similar by its features to Jermuk (Armenia) and Karlovy Vary (Czech Republic) springs — located in the ravine of the river Tartar. After taking a bath in those amazing warm waters, we have a picnic lunch.