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Goris to Karahunj to Khot

Goris to Karahunj to Khot

6.5h
14.5 km
1476m
1232m
Medium

Things to see

Old Goris Medieval Cave Dwellings

Enjoy fantastic views as you hike from the town of Goris to the villages of Karahunj and Khot on Day 2 of the Legends Trail in Syunik Province. Along the way, you’ll find abandoned medieval villages and caves. Though part of the Legends Trail, this trail can also be hiked on its own. 


The trail leaves Goris from the southwest residential district on the hillside above the Goris-Kapan highway. To reach the trailhead from the center of Goris, take Syunik Street south until you reach the junction with the old road to Shinuhayr (H-46), then walk up a steep hill and take a left. Walk along the residential backstreets, which will turn into a grassy path passing through sparse woodland. After passing a couple picnic shelters, you’ll head deeper into the forest along historic paths through former orchards where you can see the remains of stone walls, terraced hillsides, and irrigation channels. Continue to follow the path, which goes through the forest, into the valley, and down to the river. You’ll soon emerge from the woods and into a meadow overlooking the village of Karahunj. 


Though Karahunj shares a name with the better-known standing stones near Sisian, there is no connection between the two. Archaeological finds have been made in the village and surrounding area dating back to the 2-1st millennium BCE, and traces of medieval villages can be found in the nearby hills. Sometime in the 18th or 19th centuries, the locals moved out of their cave dwellings and into stone houses. The upper part of the village, through which the trail passes, has a historic atmosphere to it as Soviet-era expansion mostly happened closer to the highway. Just east of the village and center and uphill from the market trail, you’ll find the Church of St. Hripsime, which was built in 1675. Further south of the river, you’ll see just some of the many cave dwellings in the area that have been used as storage rooms and animal pens since the Middle Ages. 


From the village center, you’ll continue towards the river (passing St. Hripsime Church along the way) and use a bridge to cross. Follow the 4x4 track up past caves at the base of a cliff and make the climb up the hillside, which offers spectacular views of Karahunj as well as Goris and the Vararak valley. After passing an abandoned pumping station, you’ll enter the Vorotan gorge and then enter the Vorotan Canyon. From there, make your way up the zig-zagging path to Khot village, which was built during Soviet times after it was decided that the original Khot settlement down in the gorge was inconveniently located and difficult to access. Take a 4x4 2 km to Shinuhayr to spend the night before embarking on Day 3. 


Overnight in Shinuhayr:

There are a number of basic motels on the main road through Shinuhayr, as well as a few guesthouses in the village’s residential areas and all can provide meals on request. If you don’t mind a detour, Hatseni Tavern (+374 091 495 059) is located just a few kilometers north toarwds the M-2 Sisian-Goris highway and serves classic Armenian cuisine made from local, organic ingredients. In Shinuhayr, you’ll find grocery stores, restaurants, a pharmacy, and a small medical center. Taxis are easy to find. 


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This trail constitutes Day 2 of the 15-day Legends Trail starting in Goris and ending in Kapan but can also be hiked on its own. Although the Legends Trail doesn’t have a website, you can find further information and stay up to date with official announcements by following its Instagram and Facebook pages. If you’d like to purchase the physical guidebook in preparation for your journey, you can buy one at the HIKEArmenia office or order online. The Legends Trail was created as part of the EU-funded "EU4Tourism: Outdoor adventures on the historic trails in Syunik " project, implemented by People in Need in partnership with Armenian non-governmental organisation ARK Ecological.

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