Discover the stunning beauty of Dilijan National Park on the first purpose-built stage of the Transcaucasian Trail in Armenia – newly extended for 2020!
If you’re keen to hike this classic stage of the Transcaucasian Trail in Armenia, and you want to support our work by doing so, why not join this exclusive 8-day adventure through the forests & mountains of Dilijan National Park?
You’ll join core members of the TCT Armenia team as part of an intimate group of fellow supporters, taking in the very best of the natural and cultural gems the national park has to offer – an experience you’ll find on offer nowhere else.
Brand new for 2020, we’ve extended the classic itinerary by an additional day, taking you beyond the National Park on a newly explored backcountry route through remote mountains and forests to the provincial capital of Ijevan.
As always, all the proceeds from your participation will be invested directly back into our work in Armenia to ensure the future of this ambitious long-distance trail.
July 5th–12th 2020
Day 1: Afternoon transfer from Yerevan, welcome meal & night in homestay.
Day 2: 17km hike & lakeside camp.
Day 3: 15km hike & mountain camp.
Day 4: 10km hike, walking tour of Dilijan & night in guesthouse.
Day 5: 24km hike & monastery stay.
Day 6: 18km hike & mountain camp.
Day 7: 21km hike & night at hotel.
Day 8: Walking tour of Ijevan, afternoon transfer to Yerevan.
I have done a lot of hiking in my time so am qualified to say that this was by far the best group hiking experience I have ever had.Guy, June 2018 fundraising trek participant
A truly exclusive opportunity to hike a pioneering stage of this ambitious long-distance trail.
How do we know this experience is one-of-a-kind? Simple: we built this trail with our own hands. Nobody knows it like us!
In 2017, an army of local and international volunteers descended upon Dilijan National Park to take on a new and unprecedented mission in Armenia. Over six months of sweat and strain, we built new trails and rehabilitated old ones, resulting in over 100km of new hiking routes in the Park, and a showcase for the vision of the Transcaucasian Trail across Armenia.
This trek represents your exclusive opportunity to become part of this story and experience first-hand the fruits of our labours. You’ll be accompanied at all times by members of the team who actually built the trail, who’ll share their stories of how the trail came to be, what we discovered through designing and developing the route, and what the future holds for this ambitious and unprecedented project.
This experience combines stunning natural beauty with the best of Armenian hospitality.
The Caucasus is famous for two things: gravity-defying mountain landscapes, and some of the friendliest people on Earth! The most authentic experience possible, therefore, is a combination of both – and that’s exactly what you’ll find in store for you when you join us in July 2020! Read on for the full itinerary…
Sunday July 5th: Walking tour of Yerevan & transfer to Dilijan
We’ll meet in the Armenian capital of Yerevan at 12:00 midday, take a short walking tour, then at 14:00 depart for Khachardzan, a small village in Dilijan National Park. We’ll spend the night at family guesthouse, enjoy a home-cooked meal, and prepare for our departure on foot the following morning.
Monday July 6th: 17 km / 5 hour forest hike & lakeside camp
The hike begins with an easy riverside walk, following dirt roads and traditional footpaths through the Khachardzan valley. When the road ends, we’ll head into the forest, have lunch, then continue up the mountainside using ancient paths along the steep gorge sides. Emerging from the forest at the abandoned village of Chermakavan (meaning ‘white church’ in Armenian), we’ll continue down into the neighbouring valley and make camp by the natural monument of Gosh Lake.
Tuesday July 7th: 15 km / 5 hour forest hike & mountain camp.
Today’s hike weaves in and out of the lush broadleaf forests and meadows of Dilijan National Park. After visiting Goshavank monastery, you’ll be amongst the very first to test out the newest trails that have been built by the Transcaucasian Trail volunteer team. Our route will bring us to a wonderful alpine meadow where we’ll make camp with views over the whole of the National Park.
Wednesday July 8th: 10 km / 3 hour forest hike & night in guesthouse.
We’ll descend from the mountains and follow footpaths new and old right into the centre of Dilijan city. We’ll explore this historical Soviet-era spa town and spend the night at a charming local guesthouse.
Thursday July 9th: 24km / 7 hour mountain hike & monastery stay
We’ll head out of Dilijan via the Jukhtakvank twin churches, visiting traditional farmsteads along a challenging route up to a spectacular mountain pass. After a break to enjoy the panoramic views, we’ll descend through temperate rainforest to the world-famous Haghartsin Monastery, staying the night at a newly-opened seminary on the site of the monastery itself.
Friday July 10th: 18km / 8 hour mountain hike & mountain camp
Our penultimate day of hiking is perhaps the most spectacular of all. We’ll climb out of the forest and above the limestone cliffs that dominate the northern half of Dilijan National Park, taking in a stunning panoramic route along the escarpment (if the weather is fine!) before crossing the ridge and descending towards the Sarnaghbyur valley to camp.
Saturday July 11th: 21km / 7 hour hike & night in guesthouse
What goes up must come down! We’ve crossed the highest ridge, and now it’s all downhill as we follow the Sarnaghbyur valley through alpine pastures and along ancient forest trails towards Ijevan, the capital of Tavush province. We’ll check out a cave complex that once served as a refuge for local people hiding from invading forces, then end the day at a spectacular mountain resort for a final celebratory meal.
Sunday July 12th: Tour of Ijevan and transfer to Yerevan
No need to get up early (except if you want to!) – we’ll arrange a walking tour of the old Silk Road town of Ijevan, an important historical stop on the Silk Road route through the Lesser Caucasus Mountains (‘ijevan’ means ‘caravanserai’ or ‘inn’ in Armenian), then take you to our favourite local restaurant for a final celebratory lunch. After lunch, transport back to Yerevan will be arranged (city centre or airport, estimated arrival time 17:00) and we’ll say our final goodbyes.
Hiking Boots At The Ready!
So you’re interested in joining this supporters’ hike in 2020? Get in touch using the form below! We’ll send you an application form to join the team. Places are offered on a first-come first-served basis, so register now to secure your spot.
If you prefer not to use the online form, you can contact our bookings coordinator directly on [email protected].
What happens after I click the big green button?
This is an enquiry form, not a booking form, and using it neither obliges you to take part in the trek nor guarantees you a place! We first want to make sure that you’re fully informed about the experience and that your expectations match what we’re offering. Our fundraising trek coordinator will respond to your message to go over the details of the trek and ask you a few more questions relating to your level of hiking experience and fitness. If all is well, we’ll ask you to pay 50% of the amount as a deposit to secure your place on the team. We’ll be in further contact with you before your departure for Armenia, and we’ll always be on hand to answer any questions you may have during that time.
Frequently Asked Questions
What exactly is included for the fee?
For your USD $1,750, you’ll receive all of the services detailed in the itinerary above, including transfers to and from Yerevan, all meals and accommodation (including packed lunches), and the company of two guides for the duration of your experience with us. Not included are items of a personal nature (e.g. phone credit), trail snacks, visas or applicable fees, international flights, accommodation in Yerevan before and after the trek, personal travel insurance, tips, or any personal hiking/camping equipment (except for stoves and cooking equipment).
How does prior membership of TCTA affect the price?
If you are a member of TCTA at the time of paying your deposit, we will offset your membership fee against the nonrefundable deposit for this trek. In other words, if you paid $100 for membership, and your membership is active when you register, the deposit amount will be $775 instead of $875.
If you are not a member, you will acquire complimentary TCTA membership for one year from the date of paying your deposit, including all the benefits of membership unless stated otherwise.
(Free TCTA membership acquired as a result of participation in previous treks, events, projects or fundraising campaigns cannot be redeemed against the cost of this trek.)
How do I secure a place on the team?
Get in touch using the registration form to inform us of your interest. We’ll send you a full application form to ensure that your expectations will be met by the kind of experience we’re offering. We’ll ask you to pay a nonrefundable 50% deposit of USD $875 to the Transcaucasian Trail Association within 15 days of being accepted in order to secure your place. The balance (USD $875) is due 30 days before departure and is paid directly to our local NGO in Armenia.
Where exactly does my money go?
Your nonrefundable 50% deposit comprises a donation to the Transcaucasian Trail Association, a 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit organisation based in Washington, DC. This portion of the fee supports our work in the region and is distributed to projects and operations based on need. The 50% balance payment covers the on-the-ground costs of your participation in the trek and is handled by our local NGO in Armenia.
How fit do I need to be?
You’ll be hiking up to 26km (16 miles) per day, with a daily elevation gain/loss of 500-1000m (1,650-3,300 feet), carrying a day-pack with all of your water, food supplies and equipment for a full day in the mountains. In other words, you must be fit and conditioned to multiple long days of hill walking, steep trails, adverse weather, and camping in wild locations without ‘proper’ facilities.
Is any equipment provided? If not, what do I need to bring?
We’ll take care of cooking equipment for shared camp meals, but team members are expected to bring their own personal hiking/camping equipment with them. You’ll be carrying a day-pack while hiking, and your overnight bag will be shuttled between overnight locations (including campsites) by a support vehicle. Click here to download a full packing list (PDF).
What is the weather going to be like?
Dilijan National Park is famous for its relatively mild, fresh climate, and is popular with Yerevan residents for that reason. In July, we expect hot and mostly sunny days, pleasantly cool mornings and evenings, and a reasonable chance of scattered rain-storms throughout the week. Bring waterproofs!
I want to book my flights – when should I aim to arrive and depart in Yerevan?
On Sunday 5th July (Day 1), we ask you to make your way to central Yerevan by 12:00, so we suggest arriving the previous day in order to rest, orient yourself, and ensure a timely rendezvous.
If you wish to depart on the final transfer day to Yerevan (Sunday 12th), we will aim to arrive in Yerevan city centre or airport at 17:00, so any flight departing after 20:00 is suggested – it may be preferable to stay an additional night in Yerevan and depart the following day.
I have special dietary requirements – can these be catered for?
Vegetarians and vegans can be catered for. We suggest bringing personal trail snacks if you have any other special dietary requirements, including nut allergies. These meal requirements can be provided for only if we know in advance and within reason considering the remote location.
I notice that on some of the nights we’ll be in guesthouses. What should I expect?
Guesthouses in Armenia are of a simple and basic nature, generally with shared bathroom facilities. Rooms generally accommodate two or three people in single beds, so you will be expected to share (couples will of course be accommodated together). A hearty dinner and breakfast should certainly be expected!
How many other hikers will there be?
We’re accepting up to a maximum of 10 participants for this trek, not including the two guides, in order to keep the supporters’ experience as unique and personal as possible.
Is the itinerary set in stone?
The dates and the general route through Dilijan National Park will remain as advertised. Depending on weather and on the availability of accommodation, exact routes taken and overnight accommodation options may vary, for reasons of practicality and safety.
Can the Dilijan fundraising hike be combined with other adventures in the region?
Yes! We can recommend several operators to create and coordinate other adventure and cultural experiences in Armenia and the Caucasus, in order to make the most of your visit to the region. Or why not consider combining this trek in Armenia with one of the fundraising treks in Georgia?
Are there any safety or security risks I should be aware of in Armenia?
We suggest you check the UK FCO website or the equivalent travel advice from your home country for comprehensive information and guidance on travel in Armenia.
What kind of travel insurance will I need?
Personal travel insurance is mandatory for each individual to cover any accidents and emergencies. Your policy must include trekking up to 3,000m altitude. Please be aware of the possible dangers of this type of travel (e.g. limited medical facilities in some areas, mountain travel, non standard accommodation with limited electricity and water), and that conditions can mean a greater risk of discomfort, sickness, theft, natural disaster, etc. We will ask you for your policy number and the 24-hour medical emergency contact number of the insurers so that in the event of a medical emergency we will be able to contact the insurers on your behalf. We would also advise you to buy cancellation insurance as soon as the booking is made to protect your non-refundable deposit.
What happens if the trek has to be cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances?
We will do everything possible to deliver the experience as detailed here and to make sure that you enjoy your time on the TCT as much as possible, even in the case of unexpected circumstances. However, we cannot always provide the planned service in the the case of unavoidable events or beyond our control, including Force Majeure. In the case of Force Majeure, this means that we will not pay you compensation if we have to cancel or change your travel arrangements in any way. These can include, for example, war, threat of war, riot, civil disobedience or strike, industrial dispute, terrorist activity and its consequences, acts of god, natural or nuclear disaster, fire, adverse weather conditions, technical or maintenance problems with transport providers, closure of airports or any unforeseeable or unavoidable event beyond our control. This is standard practice in the terms and conditions of organised treks such as this, and should be covered by your personal travel insurance.
I’d prefer to hire camping equipment rather than bring my own. Is this possible?
We can arrange tent hire on your behalf at an additional cost of USD $120 per two person tent. This additional cost may be split with other interested group members. We can also arrange hire of camping mattresses; please mention this in your enquiry if you are interested.
Will I be able to charge my phone/camera/other device? How about internet access?
WiFi is available is some guesthouses, as well as 220-240v mains electricity (with European-style sockets) in all guesthouses. If you wish, you may bring your own power packs to charge phones and other devices. Mobile data is available in certain areas via the purchase of a local SIM card and data package, but reception cannot be guaranteed.
Is this experience available anywhere else?
No – this is an exclusive offer to supporters of the Transcaucasian Trail who wish to explore the region with local TCT team members, and at the same time help raise funds to support our future work.