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  • Explore Armenia’s Nature and History with HIKEArmenia

    Zvartnots Temple in Armenia. Photo by Hrair Hawk

    Zvartnots Temple in Armenia. Photo by Hrair Hawk

    “Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”
    —John Muir

    Armenia is a mystical land where stones, magnificent lakes, rushing rivers, diverse vegetation, and snow-capped mountain peaks shed light on a rich and complex history of the Armenian people, often interlaced with legends, including Marco Polo’s voyages along the Silk Road and of Noah’s Ark landing on Mount Ararat.

    Layers of Armenia’s fascinating cultural heritage are embedded in the country’s pristine landscapes, which are dotted with ancient cave dwellings, mountain monasteries, fortresses, and Armenian khatchkars (cross-stones). One of the main treasures of Armenia lies in the warmth and hospitality of its people.    

    Armenia is increasingly budding into a hotspot for tourism. Many consider this tourism a way to reintroduce Armenia to the world by funding the revitalization of various Armenian traditions and landmarks.

    “You can hike for four, five hours, end up at the top of the mountains, and in the middle of nowhere, there’s a seventh-century church!” remarks Edele Hovnanian, an avid hiker and the founder of HIKEArmenia. “I don’t know why it’s there and how it got there. It’s just a miracle, because the stones are massive. But it’s one wonderful thing about Armenia that I have personally not seen in any other country.”

    In 2016, the Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation approached ONEArmenia about investing in their new program, HIKEArmenia. Since 2017, together they have been working toward a goal of developing world-class hiking infrastructure and resources throughout Armenia. According to Hovnanian, the new organization does not try to compete with travel guides or agencies, or any preexisting infrastructure. “We’re just a facilitator to make that connection.” One of the goals of HIKEArmenia is to ensure a support system for international hikers exploring Armenia by foot.    

    To help promote hiking and ecotourism in Armenia, HIKEArmenia has created a variety of trails. It offers the resources hikers need to plan their unique single or multiday hikes: digital maps, accommodation options that range from camping locations to bed-and-breakfasts and high-end hotels, and contact information and profiles for local multilingual guides.

    The following hike will take you through a single trail from starting in the HIKEArmenia resource center in Yerevan, Armenia’s capital city, to a shepherd’s home for a cup of coffee, along a trail in the Tavush region of Armenia. The trail starts in Dilijan, goes through the Haghartsin Monastery complex, and ends in the village of Hovk.

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    The trails featured above are two of the eight sections that make up the entire multiday hike funded by HIKEArmenia and created along with local partners, the Transcaucasian Trail and Caucasus Nature Fund. The entire trail network in the Dilijan National Park is roughly 100 kilometers (60 miles) and could be hiked continuously through the course of a week or split into day-hikes.

    Explore Armenia with HIKEArmenia!

    Rachel Barton is the media intern at the 2018 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

    HIKEArmenia is a sponsor of the Aygi Stage at the Folklife Festival, featuring folk and jazz music and Armenian dance workshops.


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