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біля Aragats, Aragatsotn (አርሜኒያ)
This trail begins at an altitude of 3,250m above sea level. Located near the high-mountainous, cold, freshwater lake known as Kari Lake (Stone lake). The beauty of the lake is greatly accentuated by the surrounding alpine meadows, varied flowers, mountainous fresh air and by the view of the snowy peaks of Aragats. The best time to hike here is around the middle of May. The weather should be warm, although the area is covered with snow. There is a 1-2 km road leading to the lake with 2-3m high snow formations stretching along either sides of the road, with interesting shapes created by the influence of the sun. These snowy formations will entirely melt by the end of July and the rest of the snow in the surrounding area will be completely melted sometime between August and September.
Aragats Mountain is the highest mountain top (4,090m) in the Republic of Armenia. It is a shield-shaped massif, with a diameter of about 200km and about a 4,000 square km area, together with its fan-shaped slopes, lying between the areas of the Aragatsotn and Shirak regions. Aragats was formerly one of the largest volcanoes in the world. It has four peaks and an immense crater (with a depth of 400m and 3km in diameter). The highest point is found on the northern most peak (4,090m), the second is the western (3,995.3m), the eastern peak is in third place (3,908.2m) and the southern is fourth (3,887.8m). The crater of Aragats is a water accumulating large pool, from which begins the river of Gegharot, a tributary of the Kasakh River. Aragats is famous for its coolwater sources, which form a number of large and small rivers (Gegharot, Amberd, Mantash, Narishd, Getadzor, Tsaghkahovit and others).
Legend of Aragats
The origin of the name of Aragats is ascribed to either Hayk’s son, Aramanyak, or to the God, Ara (Aragats - Ara’s throne). Once the mountain had only one big peak, but over the course of centuries, earthquakes and strong volcanoes resulted in the split of the mountain into several parts, thus creating the four peaks of Aragats which can be seen today.
Tradition of Khash
There is a hotel-restaurant located near Kari Lake, which is famed for serving khash – one of the most tasty dishes in the Armenian cuisine. Khash represents a special ritual: it is prepared using domestic animals’ (cow, bull, calf) legs, heads and tongues. The preparatory work lasts for 1-2 days, while the cooking duration is 6-10 hours. The table setting also has its rules: on the khash table, it is necessary to put salt, garlic, different herbs, radish, dried lavash (traditional Armenian thin bread), other types of bread (baked only in Armenia and only by Armenians) and wet lavash, alcoholic drinks like vodka can also be a part of the khash table. This traditional Armenian feast of khash usually begins early in the morning on Saturday or Sunday.
Saghmosavank is a monastery in the Aragatsotn province of the Republic of Armenia. It was erected in the 13th century by Prince Vache Vachutyan and his family. The monastery is located on the edge of a deep gorge by the Kasakh River. In 1,255, a manuscript library was built in the monastery and on the western facade of the library, cross stones can be found.
Armenian Alphabet Monument was built in 2005, dedicated to the 1,600th anniversary of the creation of the Armenian alphabet. The monument includes the 39 letters of the Armenian alphabet and sculptures of notable Armenians. Each letter has a height of 1.5-2m. Continuing on after the Alphabet monument, you can stop at the Viktor Hambardzumyan Byurakan Observatory. A place that gives the viewer a chance to see the secrets of the universe, like following the movement of stars, and better understand the various discoveries of Armenian astronomers.
Amberd is a medieval fortified town, built in the 10th century in the historical Aragatsotn Canyon - 7km to the north (on the southern slope of Aragats mountain), at the meeting point of the Arkashen and Amberd rivers, on a triangular promontory, and at an altitude of 2,300m above sea level. This fort vividly illustrates the principal features of medieval Armenian fortresses. The fortress and some parts of the walls were built in the 7th century, by the Kamsarakan Family. Later, in the 10th century, the fort was passed to the family of Pahlavuni and in the possession of the Bagratuni Kingdom, became an important military defense base. Amberd lost its significance after the invasions of Seljuq Turks and was abandoned during the reign of Tamerlane (Timur Lang), at the end of the 14th century. Vahram Pahlavuni built the church of Amberd in 1,026. All these places are worth the trip, to admire the silhouettes in the distance, to enjoy the fog of the mountain peaks seen on the horizon, or to simply walk in the cradle of ancient civilization and to be close to ancestral memories.
Kari Lake (Stone lake)
There are two reasons that the lake received its’ name:
1. Smooth faced stones with sharp-edges surround the lake.
2. It is as cold as a stone.
This mountain lake is usually covered with a thick layer of ice and snow (not a unique case in Armenia).
Meteo Sation is the only one in the region. The Alikhanyan brothers founded the institute of physics at Aragats: they undertook the scientific exploration of cosmic rays created by elementary particles beamed down from the sun, the stars and from other parts of the universe. For this reason, in the summer of 1,942, they founded the high-mountainous cosmic ray station (first in the USSR). Here, on the slopes of mount Aragats, they were the first in the world to discover new, unknown elementary particles and protons with high energy in cosmic rays. This discovery was of great importance in revealing the secrets of cosmic rays.
Semi-desert, dry mountain grasslands, alpine and snowy zones follow after each other in the region of Aragats. The rivers flow through low grass covered valleys and small gorges, forming rapids and waterfalls from time to time. People from different corners of the world come here to see Aragats, to enjoy the mountain alpine zone and the meadows decorated with variegated flowers. There are small, blue forget-me-nots and alpine violets growing here. The meadows are abundant with fragrant flowers – violets, wild lily, poppies, bellflowers and so forth. Snowy vegetation and “alpine carpets” are typical to this high mountainous zone (2,800-3,400m). There is also a small oak forest located on the southern slope (1,800-2,300m).
It is possible not to encounter any animals during this hike, because of the harsh weather conditions. The fauna of Aragats includes dipodids (a rabbit like mouse), hare, fox, wolf, brown bear, lizard, lots of birds and sometimes turtles and snakes.
Safety and Security
Mobile telephone coverage (via Viva Cell - Mts) is almost always available on the hike to Mt. Aragats. The 911 emergency services operate in Armenia in the case of any accidents. Be sure to bring bottled water!
Best period: May -September
Distance: 70km from Yerevan
Duration: 2 hours
Hiking trail description: 9.2km
Walk duration (one-way): 5 hours
Altitude from Sea Level: 2,150 - 3,897 m
Visible Trail Surface: 30%, 70% easily discernible.
How to Get There
It is possible to get to Kari Lake from Yerevan by taxi. It is better to take a taxi with a working meter (be sure the driver uses it), or agree on a price beforehand.