If you’ve hiked a trail or two using our app, then you’re probably already a little familiar with the history, culture, and nature that Armenia has to offer. But do you know what makes it truly unique? With 12 distinct regions featuring an extensive variety of landscapes, plant and animal species, and rich history, there’s lots to explore! Of course, all our regions are worth visiting, but here are a few we’d like to highlight.
We’ve already talked about the fertile fields of Vayots Dzor Province in the south, so allow us to introduce you to the lush lands of Lori Province in the north!
Armenia is one of few countries that features diverse, breathtaking landscapes all across its countryside. Steeped in nature, Lori Province is no exception. Particularly beautiful is the village of Dsegh and its surrounding forests, meadows, and mountains. If you’re interested in exploring this area, we have a few trails that will take you through and around Dsegh, like the Smart Stroll trail, the Giqor Trail, the Dsegh Loop trail, and the Forty Children trail. From Dsegh, you can hike the Forty Children trail to the village of Tsater, or hike the Ancient Avenue trail, which also ends in Tsater. Otherwise, you can leave Dsegh via the Once Upon a Time trail, which takes you into our other favorite natural feature of Lori Province: The Debed River Canyon and Valley.
Follow the Debed River, which snakes through the Lori countryside, and you’ll be in for some truly spectacular natural sites. See if you can spot a wild goat on the Goats Goats Goats trail and hike into the Debed River Canyon by continuing onto the Canyon Railway trail. On the World Heritage Trail, trek even further into the canyon as you hike past the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Sanahin Monastery and Haghpat Monastery. If you time your hike just right on the Blackberry Road trail, you can pick fresh, wild blackberries as you make your way along the path.
All of the abovementioned trails are connected, so if you’re feeling extra adventurous, we recommend a multi-day hike that will take you from Dsegh through the canyon and its numerous natural wonders and cultural sites.
Oh, and depending on the season, keep your eyes peeled for wildflowers growing along the trails of Lori, like arrowheads, orchids, and irises. If you’d like to learn more about the wildflowers of Armenia, check out our most recent blog article, A Beginner’s Guide to the Wildflowers of Armenia.
Nature aside, there is much to learn about Armenian culture and history in Lori Province. Perhaps its biggest claims to fame are the striking, 10th century monasteries of Sanahin and Haghpat, which count among several UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Armenia. To see both of them in one hike, try out the World Heritage trail! Of the four connecting trails along the Debed River, each offers opportunities to see relics of Armenia’s ancient and medieval history, like the Kayan Fortress, Odzun Monastery, and the monasteries of Horomayr and Komayr. Still other monasteries, like Hnevank along the Twin Fortresses trail and St. Gregory Bardzrakash on the Giqor Trail and the Dsegh Loop, can be found outside of Debed.
Speaking of trails that pass through Dsegh, did you know that this village is the birthplace of celebrated Armenian poet Hovhannes Tumanyan? In fact, the Giqor trail is named after one of his novels, Giqor, whose movie adaptation was partially filmed in Dsegh! On this trail, you can even find the actual freshwater spring featured in the movie.
While Lori is steeped in history and culture with monasteries and villages, its also making its way into the future by way of innovation. In 2020, we recognized Lori’s potential and focused our attention on the development of tourism in the region. We funded the creation of 7 of the 9 trails mentioned in this article, covering 70 km and connecting to and complementing numerous other trails in the existing trail network. As Lori, and more specifically the Debed Canyon area is the gateway to Georgia, it is a great strategic location for hikers to explore the two countries conveniently and consecutively.
We aren’t the only ones focused on the Debed Canyon. Founded in 2004, the Children of Armenia Charitable Fund (COAF) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that aims to empower rural Armenians through child-centered community development programs. In Debed, they have been working to develop children’s education while facilitating the development of the tourism sector, making Lori a cool, desirable place to visit and symbolizing progress in the area. See some of their developments for yourself! The Smart Stroll takes you past the COAF Smart Center in Dsegh, a children’s tech and educational center revolutionizing rural life.
A 15 minute drive from Dsegh is the village of Debet itself, where Tatevik Aghababyan’s house and coworking and coliving space, Debed.life, is located. What started as a desire to establish a home for herself in 2006 soon became the coworking space it is today. Guests looking for an extended stay in this quaint little village enjoy both an office conducive to productivity and an accommodation that provides all the comforts of home. Tatevik also offers fantastic home-cooked meals and is very involved in the development of tourism in the area. In fact, there’s a hiking trailhead sitting just outside her building.
Speaking of hiking, have you heard of WOW Glamping? Armenia’s first true “glamping” spot, the business was started by a COAF employee who saw great potential in the area, as organizations like HIKEArmenia (that’s us!) had developed trails there.
So, whether you’re planning on staying in Lori for an extended period of time or just for the day, there’s lots of nature to see, history to experience, and innovative businesses and organizations to check out. With our free app or website, you can try out several different trails that will let you experience it all!