When To Hike
Southern Vayots Dzor has a moderate, dry climate in comparison with other parts of the Caucasus, with cold winters and very hot summers.
The months of December to March usually see the landscape dusted with snow. Winter hiking is often possible, but of course dependent on the amount of accumulated snowfall at any given time, which can vary from year to year.
Spring tends to arrive in March/April, and until July the hillsides are an explosion of wildflowers, making these some of the best months to hike the route.
High summer from July to September can be very hot during the middle of the day, and the fields will be drying out and the villagers making hay.
The autumn colours and cooler temperatures can make October to November another good time to visit.
Getting To & From The Trailheads
Neither trailhead is directly served by minibus, but most of the journey can be made on public transport, followed by a taxi or hitchhiking. Taxis generally charge AMD100/km. If the taxi does not have a meter, it is advisable to negotiate a price before departure.
If you are starting from Selim Caravanserai:
- The closest towns reachable by mashrutka (minibus) from Yerevan are Yeghegnadzor and Martuni.
- Minibuses from Yerevan to Martuni depart from the Northern Bus Station, costing AMD1,200.
- Minibuses from Yerevan to Yeghegnadzor depart from the street outside the entrance to Gortsaranayin metro station, costing AMD1,000.
- From Yeghegnadzor to the Selim Caravanserai it is 34km by taxi, and from Martuni 25km.
If you are starting from Ughedzor:
- The closest town reachable by minibus from Yerevan is Vayk.
- Minibuses from Yerevan to Vayk (via Yeghegnadzor) depart from the street outside the entrance to Gortsaranayin metro station, costing AMD1,200.
- Ughedzor is 28km from Vayk by taxi.
If you plan to join the route mid-way, local minibuses from Vayk serve Zaritap and continue to Martiros, costing AMD500, but only run three days a week and are timed to suit locals going shopping in the morning and returning in the afternoon. You may find it more practical to hire a private taxi in Vayk.
Where To Stay
As in most places in Armenia and the Caucasus, wild camping is largely tolerated, though you may be visited by inquisitive locals if you set up your tent in a conspicuous location.
There is one formal campsite, Crossway Camping, at the junction of the M2 and M10 roads near Yeghegnadzor, which is very popular with foreign travellers and may be a good option for your first night in the region before departing early for Selim Caravanserai.
Indoor accommodation is available at several points along the trail, with the notable exception of Gnishik:
- Above Hors, approximately half-way between Selim Caravanserai and Areni, is the attractive Hors Guesthouse which sleeps up to 10. Staying here demands advance booking, as it is remote from the village and not permanently staffed. Call +374 91 19 54 78.
- Options in and around Areni are particularly plentiful. We suggest searching Booking.com for a full list of options.
- Martiros has a single homestay, in which three twin bedrooms in the family home are available, and meals can be provided on request. Call Mher on +374 (0)98 83 21 63.
- Gomk has one main guesthouse, Horseback Tours Farm, consisting of two clean, modern and nicely furnished properties near the village school. The price is AMD5,000 per person per night, including breakfast. Call +374 (0)94 33 36 82 or +374 (0)94 99 64 60.
- Artavan has a single homestay in the center of the village. Call Dustrik on +374 (0)77 09 25 36.
For assistance with local guesthouse bookings, transportation and guides, consider visiting the HIKEArmenia resource center (5 Vardanants St, Yerevan) or the Arpa Protected Landscape Visitor Center (8 Yerevanyan Highway (M-2), Yeghegnadzor).
Gas canisters for camping stoves are unavailable to buy in the region. You will need to bring gas canisters with you from Yerevan (see HIKEArmenia above), or else use a multi-fuel or alcohol-burning stove.
The villages on the route either have no store or carry a poor selection of goods. If camping, we suggest you bring all necessary supplies from Yerevan, or else to stock up in Martuni, Yeghegnadzor or Vayk, all of which have supermarkets.
Areni does not have a supermarket, though it does have several small convenience stores.
The main road between Areni and the Noravank gorge junction is lined with stalls selling every conceivable type of homemade preserve, as well as plenty of village wine!
If staying in guesthouses and homestays, we highly recommend you arrange dinners (cooking facilities are usually unavailable in any case). The staff will prepare a variety of delicious home-cooked food with organic, locally grown ingredients.
Every village has a local nurse on duty if minor medical treatment is needed, who can usually be found at the municipality office (ie: village hall). Martuni, Yeghegnadzor, Vayk and Zaritap all have small medical centres.
The nearest fully equipped hospitals are the military hospital in Sisian, 70km distant from Vayk, or else the hospitals in Yerevan.
There are no pharmacies in any of the villages on the route; only in the towns of Martuni, Yeghegnadzor and Vayk.
Cellphone service is reasonable throughout the area passed by this trail, though notably absent in the gorge between Noravank and Gnishik. We tend to find that VivaCell-MTS currently has the best coverage in rural Armenia. Wi-Fi at the B&Bs and homestays cannot currently be relied on, so subscribing to a data plan in advance is recommended if internet connectivity is needed. Even so, signal quality can be variable.
Find this and other trails in Vayots Dzor on the free HIKEArmenia app, which allows you to navigate the trail using your GPS-enabled smartphone, as well as recommending accommodation and local guides:
…and on the following platforms:
Partners & Sponsors
This section of the Transcaucasian Trail was developed between 2016–2018 with the generous support of: