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Skiing & Snowshoe in Armenia
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Skiing & Snowshoe in Armenia

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 10 day(s)
Group Size: 2 - 12 people
Destination(s): Armenia  
Specialty Categories: Multi-activity   Snowmobiling  
Season: January - March
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: No
Minimum Per Person Price: 990 Euro (EUR)
Maximum Per Person Price: 990 Euro (EUR)

Tour Dates for 2011:
- January, 20 - 30
- February, 11 - 21
- March, 17 - 27
- April, 1 - 11.

Tour Itinerary:

Day 1: Cave Monastery & Winter Wilderness. Our itinerary starts in Yerevan with a quick pre-tour orientation meeting with your tour leader followed by a trip to Temple of the Sun at Garni and to Geghard Cave Monastery, UNESCO World Heritage site. Transfer to Vedi, the headquarters of Khosrov Nature Park, our base for 2 days of winter activities. Start with an exciting snowmobile safari across the awesome gorge - frozen forests, vast peaks and ridges stretching as far as the eye can see and dark basalt pillars of surreal extravagance, a geologist's paradise (usually about 30 kms - about 3 hours of driving). Snowmobiles are shared between 2 persons and we take turns to drive (all drivers must have a valid driving licence). Russian 4WD UAZ is available for those who prefer this mode of transport. Overnight: Khosrov Lodge. Includes: (B), (D).

Day 2: Snowshoeing at Khosrov Nature Park. Time for leisurely breakfast and we start our exploration of Khosrov Nature Park. A short transfer gets us to the head of the trail amongst astounding rock formations. Our circuit will last about 3-4 hours, stopping en-route for lunch by a campfire. Snowshoeing is easy to learn, and modern snowshoes are lightweight and perfect for travelling through deep, fresh snow. This trail is also suitable for horse ride. After half an hour's gentle walk you can see Tapi Fortress in the distance - a sudden and dramatic sight amid surreal mountain scenery. We stop for lunch by an open fire. After rest fit your snowshoes and start walking to the observation point of the weather station with fantastic views of the gorge. A different experience as we travel by Russian off-road car UAZ into the mountains to reach Trchnaberd, a rocky mountain that locals call Bird's Fortress. Back to your lodge and dinner. Overnight: Khosrov Lodge. Includes: (B), (L), (D).

Day 3: Kakavaberd. Morning start with walk or snowmobiling in Kakavaberd gorge ideal for snowshoeing during winter months (the group will be split according to preferences). The snowmobiling group will follow quiet routes (no human habitation in the area). Large groups of snowmobilers can cause noise pollution, that's why we keep our groups very small to cause minimal disturbance to the wildlife. The walkers' group will explore an alternative route surrounded by deep gorges with healing thermal springs, waterfalls and caves. Due to altitude we have reliable snowfall while some mystic combination of natural factors guarantees sunshine.

Sun and snow, a perfect combination for a wonderful winter walk. Even those who do not regularly snowshoe will enjoy today's leisurely journey through the rocky landscape dusted by the snow. Both groups will be accompanied by a local guide who will show how to read the various animal tracks on the snow including those of wolves that still roam wild. Lunch by a campfire en route. Back to your lodge where we can enjoy the great experience of a Russian steam sauna known as banya, very popular during the cold season, rest up and enjoy. Overnight: Khosrov Lodge. Includes: (B), (L), (D).

Day 4: Yerevan. After breakfast we pack up and leave the mountains returning to the capital. On the way we visit Khor Virap, the site of Royal Prison where St. Gregory the Illuminator was kept for 13 years. Back to Yerevan, transfer to hotel, evening free for independent exploration. Overnight: Hotel in Yerevan. Includes: (B), (D).

Day 5: Snowmobiling at Ashotsk. Evening transfer to Gyumri, a historic town at the north-western edge of Armenia. We have short walking tour of the historic center of Gyumri, a favourite promenade for locals and continue to Mets Sepasar setllement in Lake Arpi National Park. On arrival we have time for safety briefing and instructions before we get ready for our first activity, snowmobiling. There will be two clients on each snowmobile following the instructor who will determine the best course over the terrain. We will explore the mountainous terrain, after approximately 1 hour we will reach Arpi Lake and make a stop to have some circular walks for about an hour to fully appreciate the scenery and snow covered shores of the Lake.

We are accompanied by a park ranger, who will show us how to read the various animal tracks and tell us about the wildlife at Lake Arpi. We head back on our snowmobiles to Ashotsk to settle into our guesthouse. We have time to change and have a walk around the village before dinner. We will be based for 3 nights at Skymik Pension in Ashotsk village (twin rooms with shared shower and hot running water). Overnight: Pension at Ashotsk. Includes: (B).

Days 6 & 7: Cross-Country Skiing at Lake Arpi National Park. Ashotsk is located at 3,196 m above sea level and has six months of winter with 2 meters average snow cover. This beautiful area is unknown outside Armenia and offers many miles of cross-country skiing potential. The majority of the area falls within the protection of the National Park named after Lake Arpi (2,023 m), the center of Javakheti-Shirak ecosystem recognized as a globally important area for birds, reptiles and plants of which many are listed as endangered in the Red Book. Guided by Alla born in Siberia, Russia, the winner of 6 USSR Ski Racing Championships and Margarita, participant in XIX Olympic Games at Salt Lake City we will divide the group into 2 groups each day (including instruction for beginners).

So you can make the most of the activities offered whatever your level of previous experience. We prefer not to specify in advance where we will ski each day. This is to enhance the flexibility and adapt to weather and snow conditions and to some extent the ability of each group. When choosing routes, the leaders' priority will be to take in a variety of scenery and to ensure that participants become better and more confident skiers as the days progress.
Routes begin from outside our pension, taking us into the National Park and alongside Akhurian River. We spend two days exploring routes on this high plateau. We will travel through a network of cross country trails and walking tracks through the valleys, linking small villages or taking us to beautiful spots such as Ttu Jur. Overnight: Pension at Ashotsk. Includes: (B), (L), (D).

Day 8: Gyumri. In the morning we will have a little more practice and say goodbye to our local guides to transfer to Gyumri. Upon arrival we check in at hotel to rest and refresh. Free time to relax and change before dinner at a famous trout restaurant. Overnight: Hotel in Gyumri. Includes: (B), (D).

Day 9: Lake Sevan. Today's walk is a special one - we travel to Lake Sevan, the world's second largest freshwater lake. The endless white space of the Lake, frosty air and silhouettes of Geghama Mountains in the background will make this day a magical experience. Reaching the Lake we use snowshoes to walk through deep unbroken snow at Artanish Protected Area. Walking here we admire the fantastic ice formations which develop on the frozen surface. If weather and snow conditions are on our side we may try our hand at ice fishing with the help of local fishermen. Alternatively we enjoy the winter bird life of the lake with our local guide. Visit to Stone Garden at Noraduz and romantic Hayrivank. Later in the afternoon we catch our last view of Lake Sevan and drive back to Yerevan. Overnight: Hotel in Yerevan. Includes: (B).

Day 10: Yerevan. We have a full day to see the sights of Yerevan. The city offers a great variety of sights most of them very close to each other within a few minutes' walk. We will start our exploration by Republic Square, spend time at Vernisage where we can browse over 200 wooden stalls filled with handicrafts, ramble in the central part of the city. We will also visit Yerevan Brandy Factory to learn age-old secrets of brandy-making and sample the finished product.
Overnight: Hotel in Yerevan. Includes: (B).

Notes:
Airfare is not included in the tour price.

Price Includes:
- Accommodation for 7 nights
- Meals as specified in the itinerary
- Hiking guide with winter training/driver
- All activities as per itinerary, snowshoes and poles provided
- All transfers in comfortable 4WD vehicles
- Luggage handling
- Winter Walking in Armenia information kit.

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