Janapar Trail Descriptions
Paper maps can be downloaded from this website and printed. You can print the maps at http://www.agprint.am/ in Yerevan before setting out - although it's always easier to print them in your hometown and bring them with you.
GPS tracks and guides for the trail are freely available on several platforms: This website has links to GPS tracks hosted on the ViewRanger.com. You must create an account and login to download the tracks. You can also download the ViewRanger app and download the tracks directly to your phone.
The Hiking Project website has descriptions of each section with photos and downloadable GPX tracks of each section. An affiliated website called the Mountain Bike Project has information about biking the trail. The GPX tracks can be loaded to any GPS app of your preference although, there is also a free hiking project app that works offline. The app however does not contain any waypoint information.
The most comprehensive guide for thru-hiking the trail is available on Atlas Guides' Guthook app. The app is free to download from the Apple Store and Google Play. The guide can then be installed through the app and used offline. The Guthook guide contains the most accurate and up to date information about trail including practicalities like drinking water sources, campsites, accommodations, stores and natural and cultural points of interest. The guide is designed for thru-hiking, but can just as easily be used for hiking any portion of the trail. We highly recommend the Guthook Guide as it allows you to interact with all waypoints along the trail in realtime.
- 1 Trail overview
- 2 Marked Trail Guide
- 2.1 Day 1: Hadrut -> Togh
- 2.2 Day 2: Togh -> Azokh
- 2.3 Day 3: Azokh -> Karmir Shuka
- 2.4 Day 4: Karmir Shuka -> Avetaranots
- 2.5 Day 5: Avetaranots -> Karintak
- 2.6 Day 6: Karintak -> Shushi
- 2.7 Day 7: Shushi -> Stepanakert
- 2.8 Day 8: Stepanakert -> Patara
- 2.9 Day 9: Patara -> Kolatak
- 2.10 Day 10: Kolatak -> Gandzasar (Vank)
- 2.11 Day 11: Gandzasar (Vank) -> Andzavner
- 2.12 Day 12: Andzavner -> Zuar
- 2.13 Day 13: Zuar -> Karvachar
- 2.14 Day 14: Karvachar -> Tsar
- 2.15 Day 15: Tsar -> Vardenis
- 3 Unmarked Trail - Armenia Extension
The Janapar is designed as a series of day hikes generally accessible to novice and intermediate hikers. Each section ends at a village where you typically can find amenities such as food, water, and homestay or camping options. You can also double up on sections in some cases if you are a faster hiker, or have less time. The Artsakh section of the trail (Hadrut to Vardenis) is 270 kilometers in length and typically takes 15 days to complete. It is marked and maintained. The Armenia Extension of the trail (Vardenis to Yerevan) is 280 km and typically takes 14 days to complete. The Armenian Extension is currently in development and available as an unmarked, unmaintained route suitable for more experienced, self-sustained hikers.
Marked Janapar Trail
The Artsakh/Karabakh portion of the Janapar is well marked and typically takes 15 days to complete. Trail markings include a vertical blue and white stripe and/or a blue and yellow Janapar Trail decal. Blazes are typically 250 to 500 meters apart although, there are some areas where there is nowhere to paint or attach a trail blaze such as hay fields. Work to install posts and signage is on-going. In short, you may need to refer to the app in order to follow the trail in some areas. Do not expect to follow the trail by blazes alone.
|Hadrut -> Togh||Hike from the town Hadrut over the crest of a small mountain, then descend to the village of Togh, with great views of the cool mountain you will hike the next day.||16km||Medium||GPX|| J-38-22-B-2a
|Togh -> Azokh||Begin your day in Togh Village, climb around Togh mountain on a forest trail to Gtichavank Monastery, then descend the mountain to old stone footbridges crossing the Shnakar and Ishkan Rivers on your way to Azokh Village.||18km||Medium||GPX||J-38-22-B-2a||Phone Guide|
|Azokh -> Karmir Shuka||Explore the Azokh Cave, then hike over a mountain to the village of Shekher. Descend to hay fields tranversing the Sargsashen valley on your way to Karmir Shuka Village. Finally, climb gradually to a magnificent 2000 year old Plantus tree called Tnjri.||11km||Medium||GPX|| J-38-10-G-2b
|Karmir Shuka -> Avetaranots||Descend to the narrow Sargsashen Canyon and wade up the refreshing river on your way to Avetaranots, a Medieval village with a restored convent and church.||15km||Medium||GPX||J-38-10-G-2b||Phone Guide|
|Avetaranots -> Karintak||Hike through the forested foot hills of Great Kirs Mt, then up to a grassy plateau overlooking Karintak and Shushi. Descend to a crossing of Karkar River and climb up through the streets of Karintak Village 16km||Medium-Difficult||GPX||J-38-10-G-1b||Phone Guide|
|Karintak -> Shushi||Descend from Karintak Village to the Karkar River, then follow its course through the forested Hunot Canyon. Marvel at the famous Umbrella waterfall (Zontik) and Hunot Village ruins, then begin a steep ascent out of the canyon to the fortress city Shushi.||10km||Medium-Difficult||GPX||J-38-10-G-1a||Phone Guide|
|Shushi -> Stepanakert||Explore the semi-ruined fortified city Shushi then, traverse a narrow valley down to the capital city Stepanakert.||14km||Medium||GPX||J-38-10-V-2a||Phone Guide|
|Stepanakert -> Badara||Admire the iconic "We Are Our Mountains" Monument on your way out of Stepanakert, then hike through rolling foothills and series of small villages on your way to the quaint mountain community, Patara.||17km||Easy||GPX||Phone Guide|
|Padara -> Kolatak||Hike up a forested mountain with top-of-the-world views from 'Kachaghakaberd', the pinnacle fortress. Descend to a suspension footbridge crossing the Kolatak River on your way to a village of the same name.||17km||Difficult||GPX||Phone Guide|
|Kolatak -> Gandzasar (Vank)||Hike 2km up to the ruins of the unassuming Metsaranits Monastery (Hakobavank). Then, make a gradual descent through forested hills and pasture to the town Vank. Make a steep pilgrimage up to the revered monastic site, Gandzasar, or Treasure Mountain.||20km||Medium||GPX||Phone Guide|
|Gandzasar (Vank) -> Andzavner||Make a long, steady ascent up along the Khachen River to its high mountain headwaters near the nearly abandoned community Andzavner. Pass the night off-grid at the rustic Poghosyan Ranch Hostel.||21km||Medium||GPX||Phone Guide|
|Andzavner -> Zuar||Make the final ascent to the mountain pass, then descend the other side passing an abandoned village on your way to Zuar. Ford the Tutkhun River just before reaching the relaxing pools at Zuar Hot Spring.||15km||Medium||GPX||1, 2|| Phone Guide
|Zuar -> Nor Verinshen||Climb out of the Tutkhun Canyon. Traverse low mountains with great views of the distant Mrav and Eastern Sevan Ranges. Descent to the Trtu Canyon and Nor Manashid village.||23km||Difficult||GPX||1, 2||Phone Guide|
|Nor Verinshen -> Tsar||Hike up the Trtu River Canyon to the small town, Karvachar. Marvel at basalt columns lining the sheer walled canyon as you make your way toward to Karvachar Hot Spring. Continue up and out of the narrow canyon on your way to the village Tsar situated on a broad grassy plateau overlooking the spectacular canyon.||23km||Medium||GPX||Phone Guide|
|Tsar -> Vardenis||Climb steadily up to Tsar Pass in the Sevan Mountains. Cross the border of Artsakh and Armenia, then begin your descend toward Vardenis passing a scenic picnic area with spring and a couple small villages along the way.||34km||Difficult||GPX||Phone Guide|
Speeding up the hike
Most people hike at about a pace of 5km per hour on a flat path, while difficult terrain and wet conditions can slow you down. These trail sections are usually planned in order to give you some time to enjoy the sights along the way, as well as the company of others. However, if you are interested in completing the trail sooner, you can pretty easily double up on sections a few times during your hike. For example you could hike from Stepanakert to Shushi to Karintak in one day instead of two if you push ahead, as the combined total of these two sections is still only 25km. Karmir Shuka to Azokh to Togh can likewise be doubled up, as can others, depending on your pace and how much oghi (vodka) the villagers convince you to drink the preceding night!
Marked Trail Guide
The 15 sections of the Janapar from Hadrut to Vardenis (270 km) are marked with blue and white verticel blazes and round trail decals.
Directions - When you need to ask where the trail is, always ask where the arahet (trail) is, or to be even more exact, Ur e kapuyt yev spitak n'shanov arahetuh? (Where is the blue and white marked trail?).
Day 1: Hadrut -> Togh
From Stepanakert, catch a bus or hitch a ride to the main southern town of Hadrut (1.5 hours). Fill up your water bottles at the 'khor aghbyur' (deep spring) which is somewhat hidden behind the row of shops in front of the bus stop. You can opt to go up to Spitak Khach Vank (White Cross Monastery) above town to light a candle before setting out. 16km Medium
In Hadrut, the trail officially starts at Surb Harutyun Church, the only working 'yekeghetsi', which is in a neighborhood called Yerebazaar (upper market). You'll see the blue and white trail blazes and Janapar decals by the church, which you will follow up into the hills. As you make your way to the edge of Hadrut the markers are slightly less frequent. You'll pass some fences and farms before turning sharply to your right off the dirt road to begin a short but steep climb up to the jeep track you will follow over the mountain. At the top of the mountain you'll meet a larger dirt road and take a right to head down towards the paved North-South Highway.(Left would take you to the distant Katorovank on Mount Dizapayt).
At the highway, take a left and proceed only about 50 meters until you reach a jeep trail on the right. Turn right and follow this track down to another intersection with the same highway where you will merge again and descend a couple switchbacks. Below the switchbacks there is a sign and dirt road on the left going to Taghut village and Togh. Take this sharp left and wind your way through Taghut and onward to Togh.
Togh has a local winery (Katoro) that produces red dry wine from the local grape variety Khndoghni (Խնդողնի). It is sold chilled at the petrol/benzine station north of the village on the highway turnoff and in the central village store 1,200 dram (about $3) per 1.5 L. You can also visit the winery itself, which produces the nice Karasi wine.
Day 2: Togh -> Azokh
Walk from historic Togh Village to Gtichavank (monastery), around Mount Togh, cross old stone footbridges on your way to Azokh. 18km Medium
There are three marked trails from Togh to Gtichavank (two pass around Togh Mountain to the north, the other to the south making for various loop options around the mountain). We recommend taking the marked Janapar Trail around the northern side of Togh Mountain which has a nice section of beech forest. From the village store across from Melik's Palace, head right toward a couple of steps going off to the left to a narrow street which will wind its way toward the old village cemetery. At the cemetery, make a sharp left to continue up looking for a foot path going off steeply to your right through pasture. Follow this foot path up to the entrance to the forest and continue climbing until you pop out at a gravel road. Take a left at the road and climb another 5 minutes to Gtichavank Monastery. Then return down the same road and past the trail junction to proceed down the mountain toward Azokh.
You'll pass a ruined farm on your left and turn right just after it when you see a marker on the rocks. You'll wind your way along a river and pass through a mulberry orchard. You'll eventually descend down to the river to cross an old stone arch bridge. You'll go right after the rbridge then pass a ruined building, climb uphill briefly and make a right on to a large dirt road with large water pipe (for hydroelectic power plant). After a bit, you'll reach another stone foot bridge to the right of the road. You'll need to look for a footpath on the right before the wet car crossing of the river. You continue on the opposite side of the river and descend through some cultivated lands and continue along the trail until you hit a better road dirt. You need to go right on that road downhill. The left would otherwise take you to Mets Tagher/Taghlar. Go down this stretch until you find another jeep track on your left to take you across hay fields as you climb up to Azokh.
Togh loop trail
A great day hike is the Togh loop trail. It will take you all the way around Togh Mountain, beginning and ending in Togh.
Head to the very south end of Togh village. As you reach the last houses, keep an eye out for the Janapar trail signs. Follow them past the last house in the village and you will soon see a turnoff to the right (around 46.9567849,39.5761733). You'll head uphill on a gentle slope the entire way up to the monastery. The first 15-20 minutes will be grassy terrain with rocks. Then you'll enter a low-growing forest that you'll be in much of the way to Gtichavank, with few opportunities to see the great layered mountain views across the valley from you through the thick forest growth.
Towards the end of this long stretch of forest, you'll come to a little spring-fountain, with a trough under it. A great spot for a break. Soon after you'll come to the first clearing where the views are finally visible. After this short clearing is another stretch of forest, followed by short stretch of forest, another short clearing and a final short stretch of forest before reaching the clearing where you see Gtichavank just above you close-by. You can explore the monastery and take a break.
To continue on the loop trail, you head back down and follow the road instead of going back on the trail you came from. Heading down the road, you after about 5 minutes you come to a turnoff to the right. (Note that if you continue down the road and miss this turnoff, you will end up following the marked trail to Mets Taghlar, instead of heading back down in Togh!!)
A few meters into the trail, the scrub clears up into a tall, beautiful beech forest. It is a very clear trail that takes you all the way back around the mountain and back to the north end of Togh village. Along the way there are only one or two places where the trail branches off, and they are well marked. You should never go very far without encountering a trail marker.
As you come out of the forest, you are already approaching Togh Village, and soon reach the village where you skirt above the cemetery and down into the houses. The trail takes a left at the dead end after the cemetery, then the first right, and ends at the next intersection. There are no markers beyond this point. From here you can just go left straight down where you hit the main road through the village in 3 or 4 minutes. Turning right you can head back through the village, with a 20 minute walk on that main village road taking you back to the original trail head.
Day 3: Azokh -> Karmir Shuka
Explore the Azokh Cave, head over the mountain through Shekher, and down through the fields to Karmir Shuka. 11km Medium
Check out the Azokh cave above the village, before heading down to the main highway. There is a small WWII memorial where the highway has about a 90 degree bend. At this memorial, you head uphill through the main road of the village, past a couple of small shops, and to the end of the village. Follow the markers as you continue to ascend, sometimes through stream beds which will be wet in the spring, until the top of the mountain.
You'll start to head down and eventually on your left you may notice a small grave/shrine where people come to light candles. There will also be some remains of animals that were sacrificed at this spot as offerings - usually the legs of chickens or lambs tied to the trees. Past this, in 5 or 10 minutes you'll come out of the forest and onto the dirt road again, where there will be some nice views of the valley below.
You'll quickly reach and pass through Shekher village and the trail takes you to a point where you hit the highway. You do not really walk along the highway at this point, you turn left at the petrol station there and head back through the field. There will be few markings, but not many. You continue pretty straight however and at the first real fork/intersection which comes pretty soon you keep right. Again go straight until the road dead ends at another road/intersection where you make a left. Continue along that dirt road until it hits the river. You can either pass a couple dozen meters before the road hits the river - where you'll find a big pipe and wire to hold which will get you across nice and dry. Or if the river level is low enough you can cross through and continue up the road a few dozen meters to the highway, where you turn left and immediately enter Karmir Shuka.
Day 4: Karmir Shuka -> Avetaranots
Walk up from Karmir Shuka to the massive 2,000 year old tree, then head down and west to Avetaranots, also known as Chanakhchi. 15km
Starting in Karmir Shuka, head along the highway to the last building in the town on your right. Make an immediate right heading up the trail after this building. Follow the trail up to the huge, 2,000 year old tree. Continue along the trail which heads past the tree and then down to the highway again. You follow the highway for about 2.5km before turning off to your left on a smaller road towards Avetaranots. This turnoff is about 200 meters before hitting the main marked entrance road in to Avetaranots.
Follow the trail markings along this road. You'll have to walk through the river once or twice. You will eventually come to a waterfall area. Enjoy the water, but don't let the leeches enjoy you. Continue along the clear road without any turnoffs, straight into Avetaranots Village.
Day 5: Avetaranots -> Karintak
From Avetaranots (Chanakhchi) you head through forested hills and fields to the beautifully sited village of Karintak. 16km Medium-Difficult
The trail markers take you through Avetaranots Village, and up to the northwest where you soon enter the forest. Follow the trail along a large clearing, then a good stretch of forest, and when you hit the next large, you don't enter it, but rather fork right. This takes you around and down to a river crossing. Unless there has been recent rains, it is very easy to cross. You head right at the opposite bank, and quickly hit a clearing where you make a hard left along the trees of a large clearing. After a few steps of forest you enter another, smaller clearing, before entering a long stretch of forest.
The trail eventually will hit a couple of bigger fields in the forest. Soon after you will hit the crest of the mountain, and find yourself at an intersection where you will see down the opposite side of the mountain to Karintak and the massive cliff above. Turn right here and walk along the crest for about 1km before you hit a fork (46.7696099,39.7264116). From here you take the left fork, and head down the mountainside towards the village of Karintak. The road is very well defined, and you should not leave this road. At the bottom it hits the Karkar River, where you cross over an old stone bridge and head directly into Karintak.
Day 6: Karintak -> Shushi
Head down the river from Karintak village, make your way through the breathtaking Karkar Canyon, check out the surreal Zontik Waterfall, the ruins of Hunot Village, and then head up the cliff to Shushi, a fortified town with a lot to explore. 7km Medium-Difficult
Please note that the directions for this section of the trail are the reverse direction from the rest of this guide. In other words, they're written from the perspective of someone heading from Shushi to Karintak, rather than the opposite, because this popular section is usually hiked beginning from Shushi as a day hike... you can of course hike it from Karintak to Shushi if you prefer.
This hike takes you from the top of the cliffs in Shushi, down through ruins of Hunot village, along the Karkar River in the spectacular Karkar Canyon, past the Zontik ("umbrella") waterfall, and over to Karintak ("under the rock") village.
Distance: 7km Hike Time: 4 hours
This hike is a pretty short hike, and the only real challenge can be some narrow and steep sections of trail, especially if they're muddy tracks after a rain. It is also a must-see section of the trail, and no doubt many hikers will find it to be their favorite. If you have a bigger pack on your back, you can leave it in Shushi, and do the hike with some water and a picnic lunch. When you get to Karintak you can have a cab bring you your gear from Shushi. Have someone wherever you stayed the night in Shushi arrange this ahead of time, so that you just call them and they have it brought to you.
Beginning in Shushi, head to the mosque (mzkit) next to the restored market (shuka). Facing the mosque, look down the road to your left. Head down this road all the way to the end. You'll come to one large somewhat unusual intersection/square after a while, but stay straight (the right-hand road) and continue down. The road will not be as straight from here, but you quickly come to the end of the road, with an old water spring on your left. From here the trail is marked. You take your right at this dead end, take your second small street on your left, and go down through some narrow cobbled streets. The street ends and you're forced to turn left. Go down this passage/overgrown road and you pretty soon reach some small cliffs with a fence and gate at their foot. Open the gate, pass through, and close the gate again. Follow the marked trail over a small stream and to the right. As you descend, you follow a rusty sheet metal fence that's mostly fallen over. Continue until this fence ends, and take an immediate left at that spot. Go through the forest until signs lead you out into the grass. People miss this last "right" turn mark, please look carefully for it! On your left will be a few old Armenian tombstones. Continue straight across the unmarked grass field as downhill as possible and you'll in no time come across stones. Look for the stones with trail markings and follow those. This section will use a "breadcrumb" trail marking method with smaller, more frequent markers to ensure you don't lose the trail.
After the trail turns right you begin to pass some of the cliff's face on your right, with a sheer drop on your left. You'll pass a cave where shepherds take breaks during the day. Continue until the first place where you can really descend downwards. Follow the trail downhill, and at the bottom you'll reach the first of the ruins of Hunot village. This old Armenian village was abandoned in Soviet times because no road could ever be built to reach it. Cross the old stone bridge, and at the end of it make a sharp right to head upriver, and you pass some more ruins. You come to a suspension bridge and cross it. Upon crossing, head left as close to the riverbank as possible to the trail around the rocks. From here you continue heading upstream for a short section until you reach the Zontik waterfall. If the water level is high from a recent rain, you may need to head directly up upon crossing, go left, and then head back down to the lower trail as soon as you can.
The unusual mossy umbrella of Zontik waterfall has a stikingly beautiful appearance. At the falls you cross the river again on a small bridge. Head right upon crossing, and the following long section of trail meanders between the river and the cliffs and has a couple of steep and narrow sections which can get slippery after rains. At one or two points you may pass through the riverbed a spell. Take your time and you'll eventually make your way to a farmer's field on your right. At the end of this field the trail comes out towards the river in an open area, and you'll find a nice, solid bridge on your right. Cross that and head left. The village of Karintak is not far from the bridge.
REVERSE: If you begin this hike in Karintak instead of Shushi, you should ask which way to go to "Zontik". You will be directed onto the one road that goes down river and soon you'll begin to see signs for the Janapar trail.
Day 7: Shushi -> Stepanakert
Hike down from Shushi along a back country road to the capital city of Stepanakert. 14km Medium-Difficult
The Shushi - Stepanakert trail is a 14 km hike. Rather than taking a car or walking on the main highway, this is a very beautiful hike, with a lot of forest, nice views, an old bridge, old church, and great flora and fauna.
The trail out of Shushi begins near the town square. Facing the town square with the tall hotel directly behind you, you see a statue of a man sitting on a bench. To the left of that man you see a road heading down, lined with trees. Follow those trees and you'll find the trail start marking. Following the road straight down, you see a marking to go left. You go through a little turnstile into what looks like a restaurant courtyard of some sort. Keep to your right and duck through a passage to exit one of the main old gates of Shushi's fortified walls.
Go straight out of the gate and down to the main road, and continue downhill on the main road until you see the big Shushi sign at the junction with the main Yerevan-Goris-Stepanakert highway. Look both ways before crossing the quiet highway, and cross it. You'll notice a dirt road right where you cross. Take that heading downward, following the Janapar marks. You will follow this road the entire time, until you reach Stepanakert. Staying on this dirt road is quite easy, and there are very few intersections of any sort.
The first section of trail mostly descends until you reach an old bridge crossing a river. Very shortly after that the road ends at an intersection of sorts. Take the rightmost, which is marked, and continue again virtually uninterrupted as you mostly ascend to a tiny little village of a few houses. There is a small ordinary old village church, and a harder to notice cemetery above the village. After this the road will have some descents and ascents, before eventually hitting the edge of Stepanakert. After a few houses, you go left to stay on the more heavily traveled road, and in a short block you reach the paved road. This spot is known as Gərgəjhan. From here you can continue on foot into the center of Stepanakert, or wait a few minutes for the route 19 marshutni to take you to the city center for 70 drams (at the time of writing in 2012).
Day 8: Stepanakert -> Patara
Hike from Stepanakert through the foothills and villages to reach Patara. 16km Easy
You can start this hike at the Stepan Shahumyan Statue in the central square of Stepanakert, however the markings do not begin until you reach the northern part of the city. With the statue at your back, walk down Azatamartikneri Ave until you reach Freedom Square, a large roundabout. Turn left onto Tigran Mets St. Follow the road as it bends to the left. Shortly after take a hairpin turn down and to the right onto Tumanyan St. The blue markings begin here. Follow the main road. At the top of the hill, take the right fork (you’ll see a blue bus stop sign at the fork). Continue following this main road past Khnatsakh Village to Aygestan Village. You'll see occasional markings along the road. When you reach Aygestan, go over the small bridge and turn right along the river. Go left up a steep hill, cross the road, and follow the street into the village. Turn left at the marking, heading down and out of the village. You’ll pass a large fenced in area on your left with markings on the fence posts. At the end of the fence, follow the footpath up into the hills. At this point, markings become less frequent through the fields. You’ll go through a large field on a hill. At the top of the hill continue through the field and under the large hanging wires. Eventually the path meets a small dirt road which you follow through Dahrav Village. After the village you’ll pass through some scrubby forests. When you reach the large field, turn right and walk along the perimeter. Then you’ll cross a stream (there’s a footbridge to your right). At the main road take a left and follow the road into Patara.
Day 9: Patara -> Kolatak
Hike directly into the wilderness and forested mountains the whole day. 17km Difficult
Note: This is probably the most difficult section of the Janapar Trail. At times, it is a steep hike with an ascent in elevation of 700m to Kachaghakaberd Fortress. At some points, the trail does not follow an established path and you must bushwhack through the forest. Long pants are highly recommended. While there are markings throughout, it is important that you have the GPS tracks you can follow electronically (on a smartphone or GPS) and printed maps for this section.
Patara (also called Badara) village is nestled at the bottom of a few mountains. From the town square, which has a couple of small shops, head uphill and take your first left. Heading toward the edge of the village on what appears to be the more traveled road, you pass the small village church on your left while still in the village. Out of the village, go up the hill into the fields. Go through the field and meet the dirt road. Follow it past the Surp Prkich Church on your right. It stands out of the forest, and has simple architecture with some carvings. A little further along the trail you'll enter the forest. Follow the trail through the forest and over the creek. Shortly after the creek you’ll see a left turn marker going up the hill through the forest. Don’t follow this marker and instead continue straight along the path. Soon after, the trail markers head off the road and through the trees up a steep slope. This time, you will follow the markings. Markings may be sparse as there is evidence of logging in the area, and many trees have been cut down. As you get higher up the slope you’ll notice more undergrowth within the forest. Eventually you’ll reach a small path which you will follow through the forest and fields. Towards the top of the mountain, take a sharp right up into the open field. Follow the tree line where you’ll reconnect with a path. Follow the path through the trees and fields to the top of the mountain. Enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding mountain chains and of the Kachaghakaberd fortress.
Begin your descent at the edge of the mountain looking directly across at the fortress. Climb down the steep slope, passing to the left of the fortress rock. When you reach the far side of the rock outcropping, follow the markings down through the trees. There is no defined path until you reach the logging road. Follow the road until it takes a sharp left turn. Turn off the road, following a small path to the right. You’ll reach another road which you’ll follow through more open space. Look out for the left hairpin turn which you will take back into the forest. Continue along this road. Then, follow the trail down to the river. Cross the new suspension bridge across the river. On the other side of the river, follow the dirt road. Turn left up the hill, cross another road, continuing up the hill to a third road. Turn right and follow the road through the field to the paved road. Turn left, and follow the road into Kolatak.
Note: If you are hiking this trail in reverse, at the very start there is no marking for the right turn off the paved road which brings you through the field when leaving Kolatak. This is the first turn out of the village.
Villagers are often available to guide you up to the fortress or all the way to Kolatak, but it can be impossible to find a guide if you do not make arrangements the evening before your hike. You can find villagers either with or without a horse, and possibly with a horse for you as well. A simple guide to lead you on the hike can cost between 5,000 dram to 10,000 dram - though it usually tends towards the higher end. If you're going all the way over to Kolatak, you may need to pay for their transport home.
Asking around in Patara's village square (where to shops are located) will probably yield some results or you can directly contact some men willing to guide you. You should arrange a guide the night before your hike!
"Vorsord Armen", or Hunter Armen is a seasoned mountain man. He can take you up and potentially over the mountain to Kolatak. (097) 202-081. Speaks Armenian and Russian.
Melik can take you up and knows the ways well. He has at least one horse, which he'll probably share with you part of the way up. But not all! (097) 211-917.
Stepan is a young guy in Patara who speaks some English. He may be able to help you find or talk to a guide - (097) 250-314
From the other direction, in Kolatak, you can see if Artur, the former mayor, is available to guide you, at least to the summit.
Day 10: Kolatak -> Gandzasar (Vank)
Hike on the trail through forested hills after passing the beautiful old monastery 2km above Kolotak. Much of the trail is well defined and easy to follow, but the trail can seem to disappear for short stretches here or there - just continue to follow your tracks. You eventually cross a small footbridge and enter Vank village, where you can proceed up to the stunning Gandzasar Monastery. 20km Medium
Day 11: Gandzasar (Vank) -> Andzavner
IMPORTANT ANDZAVNER HOMESTAY INFORMATION:
There is one room that is simple, remodeled and should be clean. There are at least 5 comfortable cots with very warm military sleeping bags, and sheets to insert inside of them that are changed for each guest. There are tea and coffees and a stove which you are free to help yourself to on the small gas camping-style stove. There may also be a couple of food basics you can use (like kasha), but really at this point it is better to bring your own food supplies. This is a situation that is being worked out, and suggestions for easy cooking dry foods are welcome. There should be no expectation of a meal being prepared or available for you!
There is a wood fired heater, the bathroom is an outhouse, and there is no hot shower yet, but there is running cold water outdoors.
Despite these very basic conditions, we have suggested a sleeping-only price of 5,000 dram (just about $10) a night, which may seem relatively high, but is necessary for the following reason. The sheet washing requires sending the sheets back down to the village of Vank and back up each time they are to be cleaned. Also, there is simply no other family available to host, so we really want to make sure there is a real incentive for the family to continue to host, or this connection on the trail will be lost. They are also giving up the one renovated room in their entire house for this. For all these reasons, we hope the 5,000 dram per night will be acceptable for guests for sleeping only - any food would be a bit extra. The Poghosyan family has been very friendly and cooperative - it is us who have suggested this price - and we believe they will use the income to continue improving conditions for future hikers.
Camping is of course an option as well.
This section of the trail is a very infrequently traveled and easy to follow road leading from Vank village (and Gandzasar Monastery) up to the top of a mountain, where you spend the night at a small cattle farm. Very nice scenery, with virtually nobody anywhere to be seen.
Day 12: Andzavner -> Zuar
This and old eroded Soviet jeep track that's almost unused, going though virtually uninhabited mountainous regions brings you down to the Zuar area. When you reach the river and cross, you can head upriver (south) to the Zuar hotsprings, or downriver (north) to the village of Zuar.
Day 13: Zuar -> Karvachar
Take an early morning soak in the hotsprings north of Zuar before hiking over the rolling hills, mostly following unused and fallen Soviet electrical towers until you reach the next river valley and descend to the Tartar River, and head upriver to the tiny regional capital of Karvachar town. 28km Difficult
Day 14: Karvachar -> Tsar
Descend north into the Tartar Gorge and follow the river upstream (south). Take a soak at the geyser before continuing along the Tartar until your turnoff to Tsar village, which is a steep ascent. 20km Medium-Difficult
Day 15: Tsar -> Vardenis
Head up the mountains to the southeast corner of Lake Sevan, where the larger town of Vardenis lies. To shorten this hike you can try to catch a lift/cab from the first village you reach in Armenia named Verin Shorzha to Vardenis - or in the reverse direction it's strongly recommended to take a cab from Vardenis to Verin Shorzha to start your hike. That would bring down the total length of this section from 34km to about 24km. This is by far the most remote hike, with virtually nothing along the route. Do not hike it without a fully charged device showing the GPS tracks, and a full day of light to hike. 34km Difficult
Unmarked Trail - Armenia Extension
2016 saw the scouting of large parts of northern Armenia for an extension of the Janapar Trail to Yerevan. At this time there are no plans to mark this trail. Because the Armenia portion is not marked, you'll need to rely solely on the smartphone app!
|Section||Well Marked?||Description||Distance||Difficulty||Tracks||Maps||Viewranger Guide|
|Vardenis -> Daranak||Unmarked||Commemorate the beginning of your trek by lighting a candle at St Astvatsatsin Church in Vardenis. Follow the paved highway out of Vardenis for about 5km. Just after Vanevan, you'll take a right on to a jeep road across pasture toward Lake Sevan. You'll cross the Masrik River over a road bridge and wide dirt road, then take a left off the road into some parallel jeep tracks through nice bits of forest and scrub. There is a piped spring near the bridge and another piped spring in the forest, a last chance to fill up your bottles for camping before Areguni. The trail then rejoins the dirt road and follows along the base of low hills/cliffs where you'll get some nice views of Lake Sevan. There are various perpendicular roads that go down to the lake shore that can be explored. Be advised that the area right next to the lake can be swampy. Before Areguni village, there's a loosely fenced area housing an experimental "Clima" reforestation project. You can skirt around the fenced area or easily go through the fence. The trail passes under a road bridge and over a small stream before entering the village. There is a small store with a spring in Areguni if you continue up to the main highway(last chance to fill up your bottles if you intend to camp after Areguni). After Areguni the trail follows the highway a couple km before veering off toward a short section along the rocky lake shore. (There is an open grass area as you reach the lake shore that is good for camping). The trail veers back toward the highway as you near Daranak village to access a bridge across another stream. You can continue up to Daranak Village where there is a small, quaint church, but no store or guesthouse.||30 km||Flat|
|Daranak -> Artanish||Unmarked||From Daranak, you'll continue northwest on the highway for about 300 m looking for a left turn on to a dirt road. You can follow the published trail on a jeep track running parallel to the lake shore or continue down to the lake shore and walk on the loose rocky beach for about 2 km. You'll reach another lake access road that will take you back to the main highway and on to Pambak Village. There is a very basic store and a very rustic guesthouse in Pambak. After the village the trail continues on the highway as there is little alternative. Hitch to Tsaghapat(6km)or Artanish(20km) at this point if you wish to avoid road walking. After Pambak it is possible to walk on a nice jeep road between the railroad and cliffs (above the highway) but only until the road to Jil. The last 6 km before Artanish, you'll be back on the highway. There is an expensive luxury hotel and restaurant in Tsaghapat and a very basic store. There is also a small store in Artanish and an unconfirmed guesthouse. Beware of private property along the beach with aggressive guard dogs.||27 km||Flat|
|Artanish -> Shorzha||Unmarked||Turn left off the highway on a dirt road with nice views of the Shorzha Peninsula. There is an interesting dry docked boat near the shore that makes an short side trip. The boat is a replica of a merchant vessel from Cilicia, a Medieval Armenian kingdom on the Mediterranean. The trail follows the dirt road around a large swampy pond before contouring the shoreline around the peninsula. The trail follows jeep road past some pristine areas before crossing fenced pastures and private property. (Again beware of guard dogs) At the point of the peninsula is the Painter's Union Resthouse (pansionat), then a row of private beach front property as you approach Shorzha. There are stores and accommodation in Shorzha.||30 km||Flat|
|Shorzha -> Kalavan||Unmarked||From Shorzha you continue along a dirt road with nice landscapes, until it skips back and forth from the main paved road to the dirt road running parallel to the railroad tracks, then back along the main road to Drakhtik Village. From Drakhtik, a dirt road climbs through mountain pasture to 2300 meters, then drops down toward Kalavan along a small stream through nice forest. Note: Kalavan has no village store.||21 km||Hard|
|Kalavan -> Gosh||Marked from Khachardzan(TCT)||Get an early start on this 30 km day through the mountains. The first part of the trail climbs modestly through a nice bit of forested trail to Antaramej Village. The trail is overgrown in a few spots, but is still very visible and not difficult to walk. After Antaramej, you'll quickly climb toward a cellular tower and over a ridge, then begin a gradual 1.3 km descent on a dirt road. Watch for an undefined trail going steeply down a gully toward Khachardzan village to the west (left). The 2.5 km descent can be quite steep (but there is really no alternative). You'll pass through bits of undefined trail, then pick up animal and jeep tracks as you reach grassy pasture areas before hitting the main village road. Taking a left at the intersection, you'll then head up in to the folds of the mountains following the Khachadzan River on the well marked and maintained Transcaucasian Trail (TCT red and white blazes). You'll pass a hydroelectric power station on the edge of town and follow large pipes along the river road that carry water to the plant. You'll climb gradually along the stream about 4 km, watching for off-road diversions of the trail to avoid wet river crossings. Then, watch for an orchard where you'll take a right turn off the road to begin a steep 3 km traverse over the mountain. You'll climb to the abandoned settlement of Chermakavan, then gradually descend to Gosh Lake (3km) and finally Gosh (4km).||20 km||Hard|
|Gosh -> Dilijan||Marked (TCT)||The track from Gosh to Parz Lake is a good dirt road, however the start from Gosh that is steep for the first 2km. From the lake you can follow the trail to Dilijan.||19 km||Hard|
|Dilijan -> Margahovit||Marked to Juktakhvank(TCT)||From downtown Dilijan until the beginning of the trails to Jukhtak vank and Matosavank, it's a paved road. From Matosavank the dirt road eventually ends, after which you head to a path through the forest and eventually another dirt road to Margahovit which takes a very steep uphill for a while, which is rewarded with very beautiful landscapes and views. The last 4km before Margahovit you finally head downhill after heading uphill most of the day. Best to get an early start on this day.||21 km||Medium|
|Margahovit -> Meghradzor||Unmarked||From Margahovit you follow a trail that the villagers still use to Meghradzor. It is a steep trail that reaches 2700m elevation, but is not a difficult trail, even with a pack. From the top you'll follow a beautiful road taking you all the way down to Meghradzor, other than the factories and power lines in the valley. If you want a more gradual hike up, you can take the dirt road for cars that switches back and forth more, but takes a bit longer. Be prepared for aggressive large shepherd dogs in these mountains.||20 km|
|Meghradzor -> Tsaghkadzor||Unmarked||17 km|
|Tsaghkadzor -> Bjni||Unmarked||22 km|
|Bjni -> Arzni||Unmarked||26.5 km|
|Arzni -> Yerevan||Unmarked||26 km|