Join our 2022 fundraising trek in Syunik, Armenia!

14-day Itinerary: September 11–24, 2022

Registration is now closed.

A unique opportunity to explore a new stage of the Transcaucasian Trail in southern Armenia!

How do we know this experience is one-of-a-kind? Simple: we’ve spent the last five years working on the route and helping to open it. Nobody knows it like us!

Starting in 2016, we’ve been sending our trail explorers every year to the far south of Armenia in search of the perfect hiking route. Then, between 2019 and 2021, a huge shared construction effort by our partners People In Need and ARK Armenia (with funding from the EU) resulted in the Legends Trail – a regional long-distance route in its own right, and a major section of the Transcaucasian Trail through Syunik.

Based on the feedback from our 2021 supporters’ trek, we’ve newly tweaked and extended the route to incorporate even more of the best trails Syunik has to offer.

This is an exclusive opportunity to experience first-hand the fruits of our labours, and help ensure the trail’s future.

You’ll be accompanied by members of the team who explored, mapped and rebuilt the historic paths you’ll be walking on, who’ll share their stories of how this pioneering project came to be – and what the future holds for the Transcaucasian Trail.

Itinerary Overview

Day 1: 5hr transfer to Goris & night in hotel
Day 2: 11km hike & night in hotel
Day 3: 17km hike & overnight camp
Day 4: 15km hike & night in guesthouse
Day 5: 6km morning hike, afternoon tour of Tatev & night in guesthouse
Day 6: 20km hike & overnight camp
Day 7: 17km hike & overnight camp
Day 8: 19km hike & night in hostel
Day 9: 11km morning hike, afternoon monastery visit & night in guesthouse
Day 10: 15km hike & night in guesthouse
Day 11: 12km morning hike & afternoon/overnight at basecamp
Day 12: 18km early-morning summit hike & night in guesthouse
Day 13: 13km hike & night in Kapan hotel
Day 14: 7hr transfer to Yerevan

Total distance: 174km (108 miles)
Avg daily hiking distance: 14.5km (9 miles)

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
The Transcaucasian Trail Logo

A unique opportunity to explore a new stage of the Transcaucasian Trail in southern Armenia!

How do we know this experience is one-of-a-kind? Simple: we’ve spent the last five years working on the route and helping to open it. Nobody knows it like us!

Starting in 2016, we sent our trail explorers to the far south of Armenia every year, in search of the perfect hiking route. Then, between 2019 and 2021, a huge shared construction effort by our partners People In Need and ARK Armenia (with funding from the EU) resulted in the Legends Trail – a regional long-distance route in its own right, and a major section of the Transcaucasian Trail through Syunik.

Following our successful 2021 supporters’ trek, we’ve tweaked and extended the route to include even more of the best hiking Syunik has to offer.

This is an exclusive opportunity to experience first-hand the fruits of our labours, and help ensure the trail’s future.

You’ll be accompanied by members of the team who explored, mapped and rebuilt the historic paths you’ll be walking on, who’ll share their stories of how this pioneering project came to be – and what the future holds for the Transcaucasian Trail.

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This experience combines the dramatic beauty of the region with a deep exploration of Syunik’s legendary history and the very best of local hospitality.

The Caucasus region is famous for three things: gravity-defying mountain landscapes, a stunning richness of culture and biodiversity, and some of the most welcoming people on Earth! We combine all three for the most authentic experience possible. Read on to find out exactly what this trek has in store for you…

Sunday 11th September: Transfer to Goris, walking tour & night in hotel

There’s no getting away from it: it’s a long drive from Yerevan to southern Armenia! We’ll keep it interesting by visiting a couple of worthwhile sights along the way. Once in Goris, we’ll take a short afternoon stroll around the town to warm up our leg muscles for the trek to come. We’ll stay the night in a local boutique hotel, where we’ll also have the opportunity to sample some of the special cuisine typical of Goris.

Monday 12th September: 11km (7mi) hike & night in hotel

After breakfast we’ll take a short minibus ride to Old Khndzoresk and explore one of the most famous cave villages in the region, before crossing Armenia’s longest suspended footbridge and hiking on historic trails through deep canyons and across medieval bridges back towards Goris, with lunch in a stunning clifftop orchard.

Tuesday 13th September: 17km (11mi) hike & overnight camp

We’ll start the day hiking through the outskirts of Goris before plunging into deep forest, where walnut groves and the ruins of ancient settlements litter the sheltered valleys. Emerging from the trees high above the Vararak gorge, we’ll pass through the quaint village of Karahunj before following a panoramic route into the Vorotan valley, descending to the ruins of a thousand-year-old village to camp for our second night on the trail.

Wednesday 14th September: 15km (9mi) hike & night in guesthouse

The third day continues the medieval theme. We’ll explore the ruins of two more settlements that for centuries stood upon the steep sides of the gorge, connected by ancient footpaths which we’ll use to travel between them. We’ll hear stories of these villages from their last remaining inhabitants and visit some of the monastic complexes that can still be found among the ruins. Dropping back into the canyon, we’ll descend to the River Vorotan and follow the canyon upstream to the natural monument of Devil’s Bridge, where we’ll spend the night in a nearby guesthouse.

Thursday 15th September: 6km morning hike, afternoon tour of Tatev & night in guesthouse

After breakfast we’ll head back along the gorge to the Great Hermitage of Tatev – just as grand as the monastery above it, but almost entirely deserted as a result of its inaccessibility. From here, we’ll follow a popular walking route up to Tatev itself for a tour of the monastery. The afternoon is yours to spend as you wish (or simply rest!). We’ll stay in a local guesthouse and enjoy a traditional Armenian dinner.

Friday 16th September: 20km (12mi) hike & overnight camp

We’ll set off early on the newly restored trail to Tandzatap village, built by TCT volunteers in the summer of 2019. From Tandzatap, we’ll follow a historic route down to the canyon floor, doubling back on yesterday’s route. The day finishes with a tough but spectacular climb along a 19th-century gold-mining trail, one of the most unique walks in the country. This newly restored trail brings us to the hidden church of St Minas Kratak, set among the gigantic boulders left by a rockfall, and up above the cliffs to Bardzravan plateau, where we’ll make our camp for the night.

Saturday 17th September: 17km (11mi) hike & overnight camp

Continuing along a brand new trail to the clifftops, we’ll emerge near Bardzravan village and hike up through oak woods to a vertigo-inducing viewpoint called Harsnadzor, meaning “Bride’s Valley”, before continuing to the village of Tandzaver. We’ll stop for a locally-prepared lunch at a local campground, before continuing along the Kashuni river valley to camp for the night on the banks of Davit Bek reservoir.

Sunday 18th September: 19km (12mi) hike and night in hostel

From the lake we’ll climb the pass to the Khotanan valley, then hike village-to-village among the tiny communities below the jagged peak of Mount Katar (3,012m). We’ll stop for a break in Dzorastan to check out the local historical museum, before finishing up at a summer house in Arajadzor, converted into accommodation for hikers by one of our long-time local partners in developing this section of the trail.

Monday 19th September: 11km (7mi) morning hike, afternoon monastery visit & night in guesthouse

Today we’ll venture into the forests of the Voghji valley, which was a centre of resistance for the Syunik independence movement of the 18th century. As part of our explorations of the area’s turbulent history we’ll take a short detour to the 10th-century monastery of Vahanavank, where we’ll also have a picnic lunch. After checking out a local land-art trail, we’ll take a short transfer to a nearby traditional guesthouse.

Tuesday 20th September: 15km (9mi) hike and night in guesthouse

Our route today passes several historic sites connected to the legend of Davit Bek, beginning with Halidzor Fortress, a former convent turned military headquarters, and continuing via the village of Bekh to a hidden hermitage deep in the forest on the mountainside above. After exploring the monastery we’ll head down to Verin Vachagan and stay at a guesthouse overlooked by the towering peak of Mount Khustup.

Wednesday 21st September: 12km (7mi) morning hike and afternoon/overnight at basecamp

We’ll begin our approach to Mount Khustup by crossing a 9th-century bridge over the Vachagan river, then passing the hilltop hamlet of Baghaburj before starting along the ridge towards the base of the 3,210m peak, passing outlying farms along the way and finally reaching the summer farming settlement of Storot. We’ll make camp at this popular ‘basecamp’ location and prepare for the final summit!

Thursday 22nd September: 18km (11mi) early-morning summit hike and night in guesthouse

Today is summit day! We’ll start early for the best chance of clear skies at the top of Mount Khustup, following an ancient pathway through high-alpine steppe landscapes to the ridge south of the summit. Weather permitting, we’ll make our final scramble to the peak and celebrate this achievement, before continuing down the far side of the mountain to the remote village of Shishkert, where we’ll stay in a local guesthouse.

Friday 23rd September: 13km (8mi) hike and night in hotel

For this final day of the trek, we’ll check out the work-in-progress on the future route of the Transcaucasian Trail through to the Iranian border, using previously unmapped historic trails to reach the ridgeline above the mighty Araxes valley, Arevik National Park, and the southern terminus of the TCT. After enjoying the view, we’ll head back to Kapan by road for a celebratory meal and a well-earned night in a hotel.

Saturday 24th September: 7-hour transfer to Yerevan

We’ll spend most of the day making our way back to Yerevan, stopping in the wine region of southern Armenia on the way for a wine-tasting session along with lunch. We’ll be back in the capital late afternoon in time for check-in at your hotel of choice, at which point we’ll say our final goodbyes.

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Fee for participation:

$2,950 USD per person

(See this in GBP / EUR / AMD)

Includes 1-year membership of the Transcaucasian Trail Association.

Already a paid annual member of the TCTA? Did you know your fee counts towards your place on this trek? Find out more

Registration for this trek is now closed. Check back soon for 2023 supporters trek dates and details!

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Frequently Asked Questions

What if the trek has to be cancelled at the last minute due to Covid 19-related concerns?

We’re fully aware of the current uncertainty surrounding international travel, and of the possibility that changes to travel restrictions and other safety concerns may make operating this trek unviable at short notice.

For this reason, the balance payment for your participation will not be requested until 30 days before departure, and then only if the trek is deemed viable within any national-level regulations in place at that time.

If we cancel the trek for Covid 19-related reasons within 30 days before departure, your balance payment will be refunded in full. Your deposit is considered a charitable donation and is therefore nonrefundable, but if you do decide to cancel your participation, you will be pleased to know that it can be credited towards any future TCT fundraising trek.

What exactly is included for the price?

For the $2,950 USD fee, you’ll receive all of the services and inclusions as detailed above, including all transport, luggage transfers, meals (including lunches), and accommodation, as well as the company of two guides for the duration of your trek. Not included are items of a personal nature (e.g. phone credit), trail snacks, visas or applicable fees, international flights, accommodation in Yerevan, personal travel insurance, tips to guesthouses or any other services, or any personal hiking/camping equipment.

How does prior membership of TCTA affect the price?

If you are a paid annual member of TCTA at the time of signing up (including membership gained as a result of a previous donation to the TCTA), your membership fee will be discounted against the 50% deposit payment, so you’ll pay $1,375 USD instead of $1,475 USD, or the equivalent in Euros or Armenian drams.

If you are not a member, you will acquire TCTA membership for one year from the date of paying the deposit, including all the benefits of membership, with no obligation to renew.

How do I secure a place on the team?

Get in touch as soon as possible, using the registration form, to inform us of your interest! We’ll send you an intake questionnaire to ensure that your expectations will be met by the kind of experience we’re offering. If all is well, we’ll ask you to pay a deposit of $1,475 USD ($1,375 for paid TCTA members) within 15 days of being accepted in order to secure your place. The balance of $1,475 USD will be due 30 days before departure (further details will be included as part of your pre-trip information pack).

How does payment work, and where does my money go?

Both the deposit and balance payments can be made online by debit/credit card, or by international bank transfer, directly to our local NGO in Armenia. Your deposit is considered a charitable donation for tax purposes, and is distributed among local projects that support our goals. The final balance payment covers the direct costs of running the trek.

Card payments can be paid in US Dollars, Euros, or Armenian Drams (AMD). In the case you wish to make payment in a currency other than US Dollars, the amount will be converted into your preferred currency at the rate published by the Central Bank of Armenia on the date the payment is requested. If you prefer to make payments by international bank transfer, please contact us for the requisites.

What level of fitness and experience do I need to be?

We’ll be hiking up to 20km per day, with a daily elevation gain/loss of 300-1,200m (900-4,000ft) and a maximum elevation of 3,210m (10,531ft). In other words, you must be fit and conditioned to regular long days of walking in mountainous terrain and on rough tracks and trails. You must also be comfortable camping in a wild location with basic, temporary facilities, and with setting up your own tent and camping equipment.

Is any equipment provided? If not, what do I need to bring?

We’ll take care of all meals, including when we’re camping. We’ll also provide ingredients for packed lunches, which you will be able to choose from before the start of each day’s hike. All team members are expected to bring their own personal hiking/camping equipment with them. Click here to download a full packing list (PDF).

What is the weather going to be like?

Syunik in September is generally warm, clear and sunny, with the possibility of occasional showers, and cooler temperatures at night. Expect a mixture of dry and pleasant days on the trail together with sudden rain! Most of the route is at moderate elevations, where severe wind and exposure is unlikely to be a problem, but you should still pack for poor weather, including good boots and full waterproofs.

The summit of Mount Khustup (3,210m/10,351ft) is a different story: prepare for adverse conditions including strong sun, high winds, cold temperatures, rapidly changing weather, and a generally exposed high-mountain environment.

I want to book my flights – when should I aim to arrive and depart in Yerevan?

On Sunday 11th September, we ask you to make your way to central Yerevan by 10:00, 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 (Saturday 24th September), we will aim to arrive in Yerevan city centre by 18:00, so any flight departing after 21:00 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 rural location.

I notice that on some of the nights we’ll be in guesthouses and homestays. What should I expect?

Guesthouses in Armenia are of a simple and basic nature, usually with shared bathroom facilities. Shared rooms generally accommodate two or three people in single beds; sometimes more. Expect hostel-style conditions in most rural locations. A hearty dinner and breakfast should always be expected!

In the hotels at the start and end of the trip, we will do our best to accommodate solo group members in single rooms, although this cannot be guaranteed.

What should I expect from the camping nights?

Since full-service campsites are yet to be developed along this route, we will set up temporary camps where necessary and provide you with essential facilities. Clean drinking water, a washbasin and a basic outdoor toilet will be available, but don’t expect a shower on these nights – unless you fancy jumping into a nearby river!

How many other hikers will there be?

We’re accepting a maximum of 10 supporters for this trek, not including the two guides, in order to keep the experience unique and personal.

Is the itinerary set in stone?

The dates and the general route through Syunik 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. We will also have arrangements in place for any additional transport the trek leaders deem necessary for a safe and enjoyable trip.

Can the Syunik 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 with one of our other group treks?

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 above 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 may 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 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 $100 USD 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. For reasons of health and safety you must bring your own sleeping bag.

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 the TCT team members themselves, and at the same time help raise funds to support our future work.