The South Caucasus region consist of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia is a perfect travel destination for any season. While its majestic mountains, thick forests, mysterious trails are ideal for hiking and trekking activities, its small cozy villages and resorts are perfect for relaxation and wellness.
If you are planning for winter trips, here is a list of the best areas for trekking and hiking. These places are not only for extreme sports lovers but also suitable for family due to the number of historical monuments and scenic views in the area. You will be able to experience the best out of it during the escorted trips to Armenia, Georgia and Azarbaijan.
In mountainous Armenia, there is usually a lot of snow and sun in winter. Ski resorts in Armenia have long become a popular destination for snowboarders and freeride lovers. For hiking, you can find so many interesting and beautiful places. If you feel a lack of adrenaline, mountain peaks are waiting for you.
Dilijan is one of the best mountain-resort areas in Armenia and the CIS. Unique flora and fauna, mild climate and clean mountain air are great for winter trekking. In the surroundings of Dilijan you will find many natural and historical gems worth exploring.
In winter, Dilijan turns into the fairy tale. Its thick forests and mountains are covered with white and virgin snow. It’s a nice time for hiking around this area.
One of the most popular itineraries passes from Lake Parz and the Agstev River, to the medieval monasteries of Haghartsin, Goshavank. If you are not a fan of hiking you can just walk around the historic center of the resort town and enjoy its ancient architecture.
Syunik region and, in particular, Vorotan River Gorge is the most spectacular places in Armenia. Vorotan gorge and river trails attract camping and trekking lovers. Winter is no less attractive season for visiting this area.
Trekking itinerary in Vorotan gorge passes mainly along the river in several directions. The route to the west leads through the spectacular Devil’s Bridge to the most famous historical monument, the monastery complex of Tatev. The route to the north leads to the oldest stone monument Karahunj, which is often compared with the famous Stonehenge, next it takes to the city of Goris and higher into the mountains along a winding road.
Climbing the mountain Azhdahak in winter requires special training due to more severe weather conditions, beginners are recommended to trek to the volcano in spring and summer months.
The extinct volcano Azhdahak is the highest point of the Geghama Range (3597m). The crater of the volcano is filled with icy water all year round. The ascent begins from Lake Vanqi. On the way, you can see the prehistoric petroglyphs the origin and mystery of which still remain unsolved.
Georgia offers an infinite number of opportunities for those who love life in all colors. So, what are the most beautiful corners to visit in winter?
Svaneti is one of the most beautiful and undiscovered places in Georgia. Here are located the main destinations of mountaineering Ushba, Tetnuld and Shkhara. People come here to see the unique nature of the Caucasus Kazbek.
Depending on the purpose of the trekking, you can choose among Upper or Lower Svaneti. The two parts are separated by the Svaneti ridge. Upper Svaneti is popular with medieval monuments, Svan towers and monasteries and offers a breathtaking view on the snow-capped peaks of the Caucasus Mountains.
Borjomi National Park
Borjomi is the most popular balneological resort in Georgia and in the Caucasus. Walking through the territory of the national park Borjomi Kharagauli, you will have a chance to enjoy dense forests, mountain peaks, mineral springs, river and simply breathe crystal clear air.
The reserve Borjomi is beautiful all year round. It can be explored on foot in both winter and summer. The infrastructure of the park is one of the most developed and convenient for trekking. There are eleven tourist routes of varying difficulty. In winter, you can take a trip with snowshoes. You can also stay in the park for an overnight.
The Kazbek volcano (5033.8m) is the eastern peak and pride of the Caucasus. It is one of the most popular destinations for climbers. Climbing Kazbek requires special skills and training, especially if you have planned a trip in the winter.
The ascent begins from a height of 1,700 meters, from the village of Kazbegi, Stepantsminda. The village is popular with interesting architectural monuments. Climbing is complicated by the abundance of snow, so most of the way will be passed on snowshoes. Due to strong winds, the top of Kazbek has no snow layer in winter.
Winter in Azerbaijan is milder. While there is almost no snow in flat areas, mountainous regions will surprise you with a thick layer of snow. The country is actively promoting winter active tourism by developing infrastructure in ski resorts.
Gobustan National Park
Gobustan is one of the most popular sights of Azerbaijan; it attracts lovers of exotic natural phenomena and ancient monuments. This historical and archaeological reserve is suitable for one day trekking all year round. The reserve is located near Baku. In winter, it is not very cold here and you can comfortably walk in the park.
What can be seen in Gobustan Park? The most popular sights in the reserve is mud volcanoes. This part of the park is covered with gray cracked earth and from time to time water and oil breaks through earth. For a second you may feel yourself on another planet.
Next stop is the rock paintings of the Mesolithic era. The drawings in the Beukdash, Dzhingirdag, Kichikdash, Shongardag and Shyhgaya mountains are living proof of the existence of civilization on this territory.
Khinalig village is considered the oldest settlement in the country. It is located at an altitude of 2350 meters above sea level, in a mountain valley, surrounded by the mountains of Gyzyl-Gaya, Tufandag, Shahdag and Khynalykdag. The village is called “Island among the mountains”. The proof of the ancient settlements are the cemeteries. The area of the cemeteries is larger than the village itself. The most ancient of them have more than three layers. The inscriptions on the graves are made in different languages.
Often the participants of the trip get to the village on foot. Trekking runs along the left bank of the Gudvalchay River. There are no hotels in the village, so tourists often stay with local people. This is a great opportunity to get to know the culture and life of the local people.
Another village that attracts tourists with its authentic way of life is Lagich. The small village is located in a picturesque area, in the canyon of the Girdimanchay River. The village is included in the territory of the historical and architectural reserve. The Great Silk Road passed through the village, and the locals are still actively engaged in trade. In the village, many artisans sell beautiful items made of copper, wood and leather.
Trekking through the village will take place along narrow streets lined with cobblestones. On both sides are works of local craftsmen.