Short of time in Goris? Visiting on a Monday when the Tatev ropeway is closed? Why not join me for a one-hour walking tour of Goris?
We will start at a lavash bakery, learning how Armenia’s famous flatbread is made and learning a little about our traditional oven–the tonir. We will stop by the Axsel Bakhunts museum–a great way to learn about home life in Armenia in the 1930s, as the house showcases much of its original furniture and contents. Bakhunts was a writer whose own story has a sad ending. He was killed on Stalin’s orders in 1937. But the beautiful garden he planted has been preserved and is worth a visit. (Note: the museum does charge to enter).
Walking towards the center of town, we will see the stone buildings built in a style unique to Goris and featuring the arched windows and doors that are typical of this area. We will also learn about the large porches or balconies that are features of many houses here.
In the center of the city, we will drink from the water fountains in the park, and stop to admire the large square with its statue of 14th century philosopher and Apostolic priest Grigor Tatevatsi.
Depending on your interests, we might visit the theater, a small, local museum, an art gallery, the chess club, or the church of St Gregory the Illuminator. Perhaps you will want to buy a jingalov hats–the flatbread stuffed with herbs which is a popular local snack, or stop to watch the old men of the town play nardi–our word for backgammon.
The tour will finish at the Tur Baza cafe which serves traditional Armenian food and offers a great view of our famous needle rocks.
This tour can be extended to include the church of St. Hripsime and an exploration of the needle rocks. Alternatively, you can choose to do this short tour by car if that would be more comfortable for you.
I love to spend time outdoors and am always eager to learn more about the natural world. Although I am not an ornithologist, I would be pleased to take you bird-watching. Check out the information below (from armenia.travel) and let’s pack our binoculars and go. I am patient, quiet and curious and can pack a picnic for us to enjoy in the outdoors. Of course, birdwatching can also be combined with some of my other cultural, historical and food and drink tours.
A Rewarding Destination for Every Keen Birder
Armenia is located between the Black and Caspian Seas, an ideal bio-geographic bridge between Europe and Asia, and, therefore, home to a rich diversity of flora and fauna. Worldwide, there are approximately 9,700 species of birds, 350 of which have been reliably recorded within Armenia, 245 of which have been proven to breed here, and around 170 have been found in winter. This may not seem like a lot, but by comparison, the whole of Europe has 550 species and the entire landmass of the former Soviet Union has only 750!
The richness in birds and other wildlife in addition to the famous hospitality of the locals, the delicious cuisine, numerous ancient historical and cultural sites and some of the most impressive landscapes in the Western Asia, makes Armenia an amazing and rewarding destination for every ambitious birdwatcher.
The country lies on the main migration route between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Following a major flight path, more than 180 species pass through Armenia on the way to and from their wintering grounds that spread from the Middle East to South Africa. With its diverse terrain and vegetation zones overlapping in such a compact area, Armenia attracts diverse bird species that would otherwise not be found so close together. Thus, it is possible to observe desert and forest birds, waterfowl, high plains and alpine species living in the same area – sometimes even within the same square mile.
A Variety of Bird Species
You can find the world’s largest breeding colonies of Armenian Gull near lakes Sevan and Arpi. Arpi lake is also famous for holding a small population of the well known Dalmatian Pelican species. Glossy Ibis, Pygmy Cormorant, Marbled Ferruginous and White-headed Ducks found their home in the Ararat plane due to the location of fish farms there.
Ménétries, Moustached, Paddyfield and Savi Warblers can be found throughout the reeds and the scrub in this area. White-tailed Lapwing breed is mostly found in the nearby salt planes. White-winged, Whiskered Terns and Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters all inhabit the banks and canals of this area.
The forests of the mountainous areas are full of big variety of birds. Among this huge variety of species you’ll be able to spot the Lesser-spotted Eagle, Black, Green and Middle-spotted Woodpeckers, Samamisicus Redstart, Greenish Warbler, Mountain Chiffchaff, Red-breasted and Semi-collared Flycatchers.Caucasian Grouse, Magna Bluethroat and Radde’s Accentor all found their home in the slopes that are covered with scrub from above the treeline. Meanwhile, the mountain springs in the alpine meadows are inhabited by the Horned Lark, Caucasian Twite and Red-fronted Serin. Crags and scree adjoining the alpine meadows are home to Caspian Snowcock, Crimson-winged Finch and Wallcreeper.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Armenia for bird watching falls between the months of May-July as well as September-October. In order to get the full experience by getting most of the country’s species you should plan your trip for at least 8 days, 12 ideally. An important thing to note is that you must consider the weather conditions of the mountains even during the hot months of summer. While looking at high montane species you must consider bringing warm clothes with you.
If you’re still hesitant about visiting Armenia for bird watching purposes, you must know that certain parts of Armenia still remain underwatched. You as a birdwatcher have the exclusive chance to make new discoveries and share with the world. Once done with your expeditions you can enjoy all of the other things Armenia has to offer to you, from the mesmerizing landscapes of the countryside all the way to the active urban life of the capital. You won’t have to limit yourself to just one activity.