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Daytrip from Yerevan to Mount Aragats
Yerevan, Armenia, July 201
Oh how lucky have we been in finding a couchsurfing host like Gohar. We made friends from the first moment on. Gohar is full of energy and ideas and it was also her who proposed the daytrip to Mount Aragats, the highest mountain in the mountainous country of Armenia.
We left Yerevan in the morning by bus. The cost was 400 Drams each (0.80 €) and it took us half an hour until we arrived to the village of Byurakan, 35 kilometer outside Yerevan’s city center and on 1,500 Meters of altitude. This is the place where Gohar goes to several times a week because a big observatory is situated there. Gohar is an astronomer and one of her duties is to observe the sky.
Outside the observatory we met two of her friends who wanted to join us. All together we shared a taxi. At first the driver did not want to take us because we were five persons and he only had space for four. But when Gohar asked for the extra-fee he was interested again.
We all entered the car and I regretted from the first moment on to have chosen a seat in the middle of the car. I held my breath but I knew that I could not hold it forever. Why couldn’t the driver use deodorant? I watched to the right, tried to breathe the fresh air from the open window.
Roberto, Gohar and I looked at each other, knowing that each was thinking the same and we all started giggling.
After 18 kilometers of squeezing towards the window, we stopped. “This is Amberd Castle“, Gohar said and pointed with both arms towards the old castle. Amberd was one of the few military castles. It was constructed in the 7th century probably by prince Kamsarakan.
We walked to the church Surb Astvazazin, explored the ruins of the castle and marveled at the green canyon behind us. After an hour we walked back to the taxi. Amberd Castle is situated on 2,300 Meters above the sea level and we were planning to go even higher.
Our next stop was going to be the Kari Lake, situated on 3200 Meters above the sea level. It was a one-hour-drive for only 19 kilometers. We drove through high canyons, the street turned thinner and more rural, we hardly saw any other cars or people outside. Instead we spotted more and more sheep that searched for grass in the bleak landscape.
It was getting colder and colder outside. We had a decision to do. Shall we close the windows and suffer of the smell or open them and suffer of cold? We decided for the cold and as soon as we arrived I ran to get my winter jacket.
Now I know why Gohar has asked us to bring warm clothes and I was more than happy in my jacket and with waterproof winter boots.
Like little children Roberto and I were very excited and walked straight towards the snow fields. “Can you believe that?”, I shouted over to Roberto who was trying to make footprint-art in another snowfield, “Yesterday at this time we sweated in the sun and now we walk in snow”.
The Kari Lake is the last place for Mount Aragats expeditions that is accessible by car. There is a space to camp and a Bed and Breakfast just on the waterfront. Many expeditions start here to hike towards one or more of the four peaks. The highest is the North Summit with 4090 meters. Unfortunately we have arrived far too late to hike any of the peaks, so we surrounded the lake and climbed a rock pile instead.
It was a great feeling to sit by the cross of the summit and watch the lake. There were no noises, no people, only us, the wind and the nature.
After a lunch break we walked through some more snow fields back to the taxi. Our driver has been waiting for us all the time and now brought us back towards the observatory. The entire afternoon he spent driving us around and the price was 3,500 Drams (7 €) each. I had to pay more for a half hour’s train ride in Germany.
What an exciting day. I definitely want to come back one day and hike up to one of the peaks.