After a brief rest at the hotel, guests will embark on a tour of Yerevan city that includes stops at Republic Square, Victory Park, Mother Armenia, Cafesjian Center for the Arts, The Cascade, a carpet factory, the monument to A.Tamanyan, Opera House, and Tsitsernakaberd Armenian Genocide Memorial.(Note: Arrival day activities will be adjusted as needed according to the itinerary of the traveler.)
End of April – beginning of May, or end of June-July. Early spring or summer flora of Armenia.This route goes south-east of Yerevan and lies at an altitude of 700-1200 m in the Ararat plateau – the cradle of the Armenian nation and one of the ancient centers of civilization. In the distant past, the plateau was covered by wormwood scrub or salt marshes. In its western part, there were forests consisting of various Tamarix species, stretched along the perimeter. Now almost the entire plain is cultivated and planted with grape vines, orchards and gardens. However, here and there small, strongly camphor-scented colonies of Artemisia fragrans survive. The characteristic plant of wormwood scrub seems to be Capparis spinosa, whose buds, pickled and dried in salt, are a much valued culinary item. Entire plants are covered in white aromatic flowers of exotic appearance. These open usually in the evening. In the vicinity of Vedi near Narek, on a low mound among wormwood scrub, one can see and photograph a large number of the beautiful Iris elegantissima whose variety of forms and colours is impressive. Other rare and endemic species can also be found there: Leontice armeniaca, Ornithogalum navaschinii, the lovely Allium materculae, Gladiolus atroviolaceus, Scorzonera gorovanica, etc.Near the town of Ararat, in the unique mixed rush-iris marshes of Juncus acutus and Iris musulmanica, one can find a rare, disappearing Merendera sobolifera. Due to the draining of marshes and land privatization, only small areas of ather threatened species remain: the endemic annual flax, Linum bersegianii, Thesium lycaonicum, Microcnemum coralloides, Orchis laxiflora, Flacaria falcarioides, and a recently discovered Sphaerophysa salsula. Interestingly, by its morphology, ecology and biology, Linum barseghianii is so different from the cultivated flax and all other wild relatives that Egorova classified it in a separate section. The final stop of this route is in the vicinity of Sevakavan. Here, on dry stony or clay slopes of the nearby low hills among the scrub grows another beauty of dry habitats, the lovely Iris lycotis.In contrast to Iris elegantissima, found with differently coloured cream and wine standards and falls, these are identical in the above species. However, varied colours of the large flowers of this iris, ranging from pale purple-red to a vary dark, almost black shade, are amazing.Back to Yerevan. Overnight.Meals:
Breakfast LunchTravel Distance:
220 km (138 miles)Day 3Yerevan - Garni - Geghard - Yerevan
May or June-July. Spring or summer flora.The rout generally lies east of Yerevan on the south-facing slopes of lower Geghama ridge, in an altitude of 1200-1600 m.The rout begins in wormwood scrub with Artemisia fragrans. In early spring miniature ephemera flower here: Androsace maxima, Ceratocephalus falcatus, a strange tiny umbellifer Hohenackeria excapa and various ephemerals: Allium, Muscari, Ornithogalum and others. Towards the end of April and beginning of May, there is a short flowering season of the beautiful Iris elegantissima, whilst Capparis spinosa flowers all summer. Its spreading, shrubby growth can reach 2 m and more in diameter. Characteristic members of the wormwood scrub include also prickly cushions of Acantholimon armenum, covered in pink flowers, and various species of Astragalus, Centaurea, Consolida, etc.On a high hill near Vokhchaberd stands an arich, erected in memory of a famous Armenia poet Eghishe Charents. A wonderful panorama of the Ararat valley opens here, trailing into the distance towards the foot of the biblical Mt Ararat. A little to the side of it the beautiful double-peaked massif of Mt Eranos is visible. Its slopes are covered with rose-red, cream and violet slabs of marlaceous limestone. On this background here and there appear dark candles of evergreen juniper. This, together with the blue-white, as if on air floating Mt Ararat, makes a most poetical impression. A little higher there are various grasses (Stipa capillata, S. caspia and others), giving the flora a steppe character. Here one can see a beautiful composite Gundelia tournefortii, a rare umbellifer Actinolema macrolema, wild wheat, Aegilops sp., etc. The route then winds down towards Garni with its picturesque neighborhoods, unique architectural monuments and very rich and interesting flora. Garni is located on a basal plateau on the right bank of the Azat river. The uncommonly beautiful river runs through 100 m deep canyons in places, flanked on both sides by regular basalt prisms. The river bed is lined with smooth hexahedrons which form alcoves in the canyon walls. The dry, steep, rocky terrain is similar to monotonous stony semi-desert and upland steppe. Here one can recognize another type of flora – phrygana, characterized by xerophytic shrubs, briars, etc. In rocky crevices, among the stones and on scree slopes, wild pistachios, almonds, cherries, pears, rhamnus and spirea (Pistacia mutica, Amygdalus fenzliana, Cerasus incana, C. mahaleb, Pyrus salicifolia, Rhamnus pallasii, Spiraea crenata) are common. Cushion plants such as Astragalus, Acantholimon, Onobrychis cornuta have an important role here. The latter is very beautiful in spring when the entire cushion is covered by bright pink or purple flowers. Another shrub, Hymenocrater bituminosus, a labiate with violet-blue flowers and a large yellow calyx, is also pretty. By crossing bridge from the 11th century, one can reach the left bank of the Azat river where, near a steep path a little higher, one can find Tulipa Julia, beautiful sky-blue Linaria armeniaca, Verbascum phoeniceum, Iris caucasica, Muscari, Bellevalia flowering in May. A whole range of new species has been described from the vicinity of the river Azat, including Pyrus sosnovskyi, P. takhtajanii, Scrophularia zvartiana, to name but a few. The phrygana is composed of many interesting plants, among them Michauxia laevigata and Allium materculae. The first is noticeable by its appearance, unusual for the Campanulaceae, as it has a rather large red-green basal rossete and a thick, strangely bent, often taller than a man stem with open, white flowers. The other plant, Allium materculae, is jokingly called “Armenian Welwitschia” by botanists because, as that plant, it has 2 wide, flat, prostrate, twisted leaves.Before one reaches Gekhard, on dry, very steep stony slopes, many different species of rare larkspurs and other plants flower in June-July, such as Serratula serratuloides, S. coriacea, Tomanthea aucheri, and Lotus gebelia with bright pink flowers and silvery-grey leaves. Lunch in Garni. In the Geghard area, fragments of an oak forest (Quercus macranthera) have been preserved. Apart from the oak, 5 spacies of rowan grow there (Sorbus aucuparia, S. persica, S. graeca, S. kusnetzovii, S. hajastana), and also Fraxinus excelsior, Acer ibericum and other species (Crataegus, Malus, Pyrus, Cerasus, Prunus, Vitis) etc. The area around Geghard is very beautiful; huge rocks drip with decorative flowers of Symphyandra armena, Campanula choziatovskyi and others. In amongst the rocks, the grassy slopes are aflame with the flowers of Papaver orientale whilst near the water grows a rarer, interesting Datisca cannabina. In March-April-May the following are commonly seen: blue Scilla sibirica, pale blue Puschkinia scilloides, lilac coloured Crocus adamii, Primula macrocalyx, purple Dactylorhiza romana, D. flavescens and other species.Back to Yerevan. Overnight.
Meals: Breakfast Lunch
Travel Distance: 110 km (69 miles)