Society 16:56 09/09/2017 Armenia

Englishman Val Ismaili takes adventurous trip to Armenia, conquers four peaks of Aragats

21 years old Val Ismaili, who lives in England and is currently studying Civil Engineering in Bristol University, has made an adventurous trip to Armenia, conquering the four peaks of Mount Aragats and walking to Batumi through the territory of Armenia within eight weeks.

In an interview with Panorama.am, Val Ismaili has shared the details of his incredible trip.  

- Where have you been in Armenia?

- I walked through entire of Armenia. I start in Meghri, walked through Shikahogh to Kapan and climbed Mount Khustup, kept walking to Tatev, then Sisian, through mountains of Vayots Dzor to Artavan and then Noravank and walked all the way through Geghama mountains to Dilijan. This took me 4 weeks. Only walking, no transport!

I stayed in Dilijan to work with The Transcaucasian Trail and build a new hiking trail from Dilijan-Parz Lich-Gosh.

I then continued walking through the mountains in Dilijan National Park to Alaverdi and then to Georgia, I kept walking all the way to Batumi.

I became the first person to walk 1500km of The Transcaucasian Trail.






- You have reached four peaks of Aragats Mountain. How long did it take you to conquer them? Why did you decide to climb the mountain and which part of it was the most difficult for you to overcome?

- I completed the four peaks in a total time of 9 hours, starting at Kari Lake, walking to the n-e pass to completed the East and North peaks and then back to the s-w pass to complete West and South peaks before finishing at Kari Lake. I was only walking for about 7 hours, the other 2 hours I relaxed on the peaks to enjoy the awesome views.

Aragats is such an incredibly beautiful mountain! When I was on the North and East peaks the sky was perfectly blue and I could see most of Armenia. Probably my favourite view on any mountain I've ever climbed! But when I got to the West peak very strong winds began and it actually started snowing - it was cool to experience different weather conditions in one day.

- Please share your impressions about Armenia's nature.

- Armenia has a fascinating range of nature. Down south in the province of Syunik, Shikahogh State Reserve and Arevik National Park offer their own wilderness through dense forests contrasted with the vast sweeping mountains of volcanic origin in the Geghama range or even the rocky cliffs North of Dilijan or the stunning gorge in Alaverdi.

Syunik and Geghama were my favourite areas. Syunik because of the lush greenery everywhere and seeing birds I never even knew existed. Geghama because of how wild and remote those mountains are. People are few and far between; you really feel like you're out there on your own at the mercy of landscape.

For a country the size of Armenia, the range of scenery throughout the country is very impressive. Walking through Armenia and being able to notice the gradual change of scenery was a special experience.

- How long did it take you to walk from the southern Armenia to Batumi? What obstacles did you experience along the road?

-  It took me 8 weeks of hiking to complete the 1500km trek from Meghri to Batumi. I was walking on average 30km per day. Although this was physically challenging; the most difficult was the mental aspect for being alone for such a long time. You start to feel very lonely and not happy. But eventually the loneliness passes. Although I stopped at small villages and stayed with shepherds in the mountains, I don't speak enough Armenian to have a good conversation.

- In general, as a tourist what can you say about Armenia and its cuisine? Where did you usually eat?

- Armenian food is amazing! When I walked I was carrying a small camping stove so I could cook myself pasta and tuna or ramen which I would buy when I was in a big town that had a shop. So I would carry food for 3-5 days. But almost everyday when I was walking, shepherds would see me and invite me in for food, coffee and of course Oghri. My favourite dish was probably Matsun and freshly baked breadade by the shepherds.

I pretty much only ate lavash by itself for breakfast and dinner. It's nice because it's easy to carry, tastes good and you can use it as napkin as well. 


- What is your profession? Have you taken similar trips in other states? If it is so, which one is the most impressive journey for you?

-  I'm 21 years old and currently studying civil engineering at the University of Bristol in England. Hiking is my passion and my favourite thing to do in my free time.

I've hiked all over England, Scotland and Wales and in Albania, Kosovo and Croatia as well.

My expedition hiking the Transcaucasian Trail through Armenia and Georgia is by far my favourite trip so far because of both the range of nature in Armenia but also the friendliness and hospitality of the Armenian people. I've never experienced anything like it!

- Will you climb Mount Ararat one day?”

- Hmm that's an interesting question...you're giving me ideas now! I've never been to Ararat (but really want to). You're making me want to try now.

- What is the last thing you intend to do before leaving Armenia?

- I think I'll go up to the cascades and enjoy the view of Ararat one last time. Hopefully it'll be good weather.

 



Source Panorama.am
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