Armenia’s geography is extraordinarily diverse. The Ararat Valley is very fertile, its main production being grapes, vegetables and fruits. Proceeding to the south east, the landscape changes as rocky mountains appear. In spring blooming flowers abound as we make our way to mountain passes. Groups of women pick wild vegetables, the smell of herbs is in the air and big wild mushrooms are sold on the roadside.
The city of Jermuk is known for its nearby resorts with warm natural springs. Moving further east to Goris, embedded in rocky mountain cliffs are caves that were inhabited in ancient times. The mysterious stone formations near Zoratskarer, sometimes referred to as Karahountj, are most intriguing. One circular formation has 204 stones, many with a hole in them. It is believed to have been an observatory dating back to roughly 1000 B.C., near the town of Sisian.
Travelling in the direction of Lake Sewan, we have a view of Mount Aragaz. Rising almost 5000 metres, this is the highest peak of Armenia, covered with eternal snow. Lake Sewan is located at an altitude of almost 2000 metres. Surrounded by mountains and covering more than 1300 km², it occupies 5% of Armenia’s territory and is considered one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world. In summertime it is a favourite spot for recreation and picnics, a pleasant place to escape the heat in Yerevan. Along the road leading around the lake, freshly caught fish is offered for sale.
A special place to visit is Aghtamar Peninsula, which juts into Lake Sewan. A long stone staircase leads up to two tiny churches and the view over the lake is beautiful. In early spring wild bulbs show their blue flowers and a bit later the scent of dill rules.
As we head north east of the lake, an abrupt change in landscape occurs and we could fancy ourselves in the Alps. Hardwood trees cover mountain slopes and mountain rivers flow alongside the road.
Outside Yerevan it is quiet and we pass small villages. We will go on hikes with a guide to enjoy the landscape from close up.
Famous Mount Ararat is situated in Turkey, but the outline of this formidable snow-peaked mountain is visible on a clear day travelling southeast. Standing at an impressive altitude of 5137 metres, Ararat surpasses Mount Aragaz.