Hiking in Tatev: why you should go for it and how to plan properly

Hiking boots

Tatev and surrounding areas are a real paradise both for beginner and experienced hikers. The incredible range of various landscapes, stunning views and spectacular routes make hiking in Tatev a truly unforgettable experience.

And because all great experiences need some careful planning to go smooth and fuss-free, here are some helpful tips on what to pay attention to and what to consider before you pack for hiking in Tatev. I’m glad to share this virtual hike with you and I really hope you’ll share your future great hike with me on Instagram or Twitter, with #ArmeniaTravelTips.

First things first: where is Tatev & what’s so special about it?

You have maybe had a ton of different options and maybe even had difficulties zooming in a specific region. Well, I have earlier written about how to choose a hiking destination in Armenia. But If you’re reading this, you surely know that there must be something special about this region.

Tatev is a small village located high up in the hills in the southern part of Armenia, Syunik Province. The word Tatev means “giving wings, inspiring” and it usually refers to the church complex situated next to the village.

Tatev monastery

This beautiful monastery complex is one of the greatest outcomes of a genial architectural mind: simplicity, functionality and sustainability, all in one. The monastery is built on the edge of a cliff, facing a beautiful gorge. It used to once be an important hub of enlightenment and spirituality. Tatev used to be the most significant medieval university of Armenia. Religion, science, philosophy, miniature painting, and book reproduction were taught and practiced there.

Tatev Monastery
Tatev Monastery, Photo credits: Raki_Man on Wikimedia (CC)

Hiking trails in Tatev: a hiker’s paradise

This part of Armenia is comparatively hard to reach but is absolutely worth seeing. The whole region is full of breathtaking views, thus it has a great potential of hypnotizingly stunning outdoor recreation experiences like offroading, backpacking and camping.

Syunik, Armenia
Syunik, Photo credits: @haykbarseghyan on Facebook

Wings of Tatev: the longest aerial cableway in the world

Operating since 2010 and holding the world record for the “Longest non-stop double track cable car”, Wings of Tatev connects the village of Halizor with Tatev Monastery. It offers a picturesque journey across the Vorotan river gorge. The length of the tramway is 5.7 km (3.5 miles) and the highest point gets to 320 meters. 

mountain cable car
Photo credits: blitzmaerker on Pixabay

This 12-minute ride is a perfect chance to experience the whole beauty of the region from high above the ground. You might need to spend some time waiting for your turn to finally get into the cabin, but this is definitely a must-do here, so don’t even think of skipping it. Still, make sure to check operating hours and ticket pricing on their website.

4 Tips on how to plan your hike in Tatev

Most tourists’ landing point or initial destination in Armenia is the capital city Yerevan, and as it’s relatively in the middle part of Armenia, so here is what you need to know when packing to Tatev. 

  • Distance from Yerevan to Tatev: roughly 254 kilometres (157 miles)
  • Duration of a drive to Tatev by car: around 5 hours

Tip 1: Dedicate a full day for the drive

road in Armenia
A road in Armenia. Photo credits: Rohan S on Pixabay

The main road to Tatev goes through gorgeous gorges, narrow and winding parts amid natural wonders but the road conditions are not smooth. So if you don’t want your trip to exhaust you before a difficult hike, you should consider dedicating a full day for a one-way trip. You’ll really be content to be able to regularly stop for energizing breaks and taking nice shots from amazing viewpoints. And naturally, the same tip applies to your way back – don’t let the road back become an exhausting experience and ruin the whole pleasure of the hike.

Tip 2: Search and organize lodging beforehand

guesthouse entrance
Cozy reception. Photo credits: Sally Jieun Kim on Pixabay

Just like any other popular tourist destination, Tatev has a peak season. And even though there are plenty of accommodation options to every taste and pocket, you might want to consider reserving or at least filtering available options in accordance to your budget. From single-room guesthouses and budget-friendly b&bs to luxurious hotels with a mountain view, organizing beforehand can save a lot of time and extra spendings.

Tip 3: Plan your hike in details

There is an impressive number of hiking trails all across Syunik region, and many of them pass through the gorge where Tatev is situated.
Here is a list of the most spectacular ones right around Tatev, both single-way and loop trails: 

Tatev village – the Devil’s Bridge

  • Sights to see: Big Desert (The Great Hermitage of Tatev)
  • Hiking trail length: 5.35 km (3.32 miles)
  • Walk duration: 3.5 hours

Devil’s Bridge – Big Desert of Tatev – Tandzatap Village – Tatev Monastery

  • Hiking trail length: 9.34 km (5.8 miles)
  • Walk duration: 4.5 – 5 hours

Tatev to Aghvani

  • Hiking trail length: 10.71 km (6.6 miles)
  • Walk duration: 5 – 6 hours

Tatev Monastery – Old Harzhis village 

  • Sights to see: Caravanserai Kotrats, lake Harzhis, Old Harzhis village, the ruined Kurdish village of Kertser, the Tomb of King Alan
  • Hiking trail length: 12.68 km (7.8 miles)
  • Walk duration: 6-7 hours

Tip 4: Do dress in layers

Hiking
Photo credits: Hermann Traub on Pixabay

Even if you choose the easiest trail and plan your hike on a beautiful cool and sunny weather, always keep in mind the basic principles of layering clothes. Syunik is the most mountainous region of Armenia and weather shifts can occur fast and unexpectedly. It’s better to be prepared. If layering is something you’re unfamiliar with, this article can become a handy guide.

So now that you’ve read this through, chosen a trail, booked a place to stay, and prepared your hiking clothes, it’s time to pack your things. Start tuning in to an exciting-to-be hike. And when you’re back, reach out to me to share your personal tips with me on Twitter or Instagram and use #ArmeniaTravelTips. Have a nice hike!

Featured image credit: LUM3N from Pixabay 

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