Mount Ararat Climb and Excursions in Ani, Kars, Van, and Akhtamar (7 days)
Duration 7 days, 6 nights
Tour Brief Majestic Ararat emerges as a reminder of Armenia’s glorious past and as an inspiration for a better future. It dominates the national landscape and spirit. Many curious minds dream of conquering its proud peak following the footprint of Noah, be one of those dreamers.
a) a trekking pole
b) trekking boots
c) a big and a small backpack
d) a warm sleeping bag (with an inflatable pad or a mattress)
e) trekking sunglasses
f) skiing/mountaineering clothing
g) trekking flashlight
In the morning we will depart Yerevan to drive to the Armenian-Georgian border. We will pass through the town of Gyumri, cross the border at Bavra point and enter Javakhq in Georgia. After Akhalkalaki we will come across Khertvisi fortress towering above the convergence of Parvana and Kura (Mtkvari) rivers, they say it was the favorite castle of Queen Tamara (12-13 cc.). After a short rest we will go on to the Georgian-Turkish border. Passing the beautiful mountains and forests of the Ardahan region we will arrive in Kars, walk its narrow streets, see the medieval stone bridge of “Vardan”, the remnants of the house, where Yeghishe Charents, a celebrated Armenian writer lived, and the imposing Church of Apostles (10th century). We will ascend to Kars fortress, once a stronghold of the Armenian capital, the seat of Bagratouni kings. Continuing the route we will reach the town of Igdir / Dogubayazit and stay there for the night.
A car/minibus will take the group to 2200 m., the point from where they will start climbing Ararat hiking to the camp at an altitude of 3200 m. The baggage will be taken to the camp on horseback. Lunch and dinner on the route or in the camp. Overnight in tents in 3200 m. camp.
The group will continue climbing Ararat hiking to the camp at 4200 m. The baggage will be taken to the camp on horseback. Lunch on the route, dinner in the camp. The group will arrive to the camp in the afternoon and rest in tents till midnight.
After midnight the climb to the summit of Mount Ararat begin, from 4200 to 5165 m. The group will leave the baggage in the camp and take small backpacks for water and other necessary items. The distance of the route is approx. 14 km., duration - about 6 hours. At dawn, the group will reach the summit of Mount Ararat and stay there for 40 minutes. Afterwards they will descend to 4200 m. camp, rest, then down to 3200 m. camp and rest again. Finally the group will descend to Dogubayazit. Overnight at the hotel in Dogubayazit / Van.
In the morning we will visit the ancient Urartian fortress Tushpa/ Van (9th century BC) that has impressing cuneiform inscriptions and tombs of Urartu kings Argishti and Sarduri. Passing through the town we will stop by the rock-cut door of “Sasna Tsrer” legend’s hero Junior Mher. We will then drive up the Varaga mountain to Varagavanq church complex (which locals call “Seven Churches”), the archbishopric seat of medieval Vaspourakan Kingdom. Then we will head to the turquoise Lake Van and take the boat to Aghtamar Island. The latter hosts the unique Sourb Khach cathedral (10th century). It used to be a museum until September 2010, when a Sunday Service/Liturgy was held in the church, the first time after a century in Historical Western Armenia, now it is the only operating Armenian Church in this region. We will taste the famous “Vana tarekh” fish, the only fish specie found in Lake Van, and enjoy swimming and resting on the beach. We will return to Van for overnight accommodations.
We leave Van to visit legendary Ani. On our way we will stop and rest by the beautiful waterfall of Berkri (Muradiye). Then we reach Dogubayazit (Bayazed), where we will see the unassailable fortress of Daroinq, the Arshakouni kings’ (1-5th centuries AD) treasury and stronghold. We will explore the magnificent 18th-century palace of Ishak Pasha, a fortress-palace-mosque complex where Persian, Arabic, Ottoman and Armenian architectural styles are intertwined. In the afternoon we will finally reach Ani, the magnificent capital of the mighty Armenian kingdom of the 9-11th centuries, which was once called “the city of one thousand and one churches”. Located on the Great Silk Road Ani used to be the largest religious, trade, and cultural center on this Europe and Asia crossroad. We will experience the power of the medieval city walls and towers, glorious cathedrals, palaces and mosques that are still standing after a millennium. In the evening we will arrive in Kars / Sarikamis and stay there for the night.
Before going back we will visit the town of Ardahan located on the Kura River. The ancient castle here used to belong to Armenian then Georgian branches of Bagratouni (Bagrationi) royal dynasty. In the 16th century it was invaded by the Ottomans and later by the Russian army. From Ardahan we will drive to the Turkish-Georgian border. In Georgia we will pass Akhalkalaki and cross the Georgian-Armenian border. Then through Gyumri we will return to Yerevan.
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