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The Janapar Trail is in Nagorno-Karabakh.

UnderstandEdit

 
Along the trail section from Karintak to Shushi

The trail goes through the beautiful landscape of the Caucasus mountains, specifically in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which means mountainous black garden. The marked trail involves 8-16 days of hiking, starting from the southern end of the trail in Hadrut and ending in Vardenis, Armenia. The entire Janapar is 284 km long.

The trail was originally marked in 2007, and since then volunteers have returned a few times to maintain markings in the southern half of the trail. There is a good website with substantial information, as well as an active Facebook page with a lot of photos where questions can be directed.

The majority Armenian-populated region of Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence from Azerbaijan around the same time the Soviet Union collapsed, and won a bitter war. No peace treaty has ever been signed however, so the region remains unrecognized internationally. It is beautiful, remote, and surprisingly to many, rather safe.

Online information is available on the official website and the dedicated Facebook Group. The former website does not seem to work anymore—you can still try.

SummaryEdit

The complete trail can be re-viewed on OpenStreetMap and downloaded here: GPX, KML. Furthermore, all 16 trail sections are described, displayed and downloadable in detail below.

Also, checkout the Wikipedia and Wikidata links to the left of this page for additional information.

Get inEdit

Nagorno-Karabakh is only accessible through Armenia. Most will take a mini-bus from Yerevan to Stepanakert. From there a bus or another mini-bus to Hadrut will get you to the starting point. A visa is required, and can be obtained in Stepanakert upon arrival at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (ask for the Artakin Gortseri Nakhararutyun). You'd want to list all the provinces of Nagorno-Karabakh in order to be able to hike the various sections of the trail and have freedom to move wherever you'd like.

Fees and permitsEdit

There is no fee for accessing the Janapar Trail.

However, a special permit might be necessary for the Dadivank to Vardenis section of the trail, i.e. sections 13-16. Such a permit can be obtained from the Karabakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Nevertheless, if found along that part without a permit the worst that can happen is that you will have to leave the trail and go back to the main road. But the remoteness makes it very unlikely anyone will ask. And as soon as you have gone back into Armenia, you are on the safe side.

Get aroundEdit

Map of Janapar Trail

The hike is broken into day-hike sections, with a village or town you can sleep in at the end of each days hike. Nevertheless, some sections are shorter and might only require half a day of hiking. Starting from the southern point of Hadrut and heading north, this is the order of places along the marked Janapar Trail.

Due to the often remote nature of the trail, it is important that you are well prepared and have a proper and reliable map with you. In addition, using GPS adds an extra layer of safety, both in towns as well as the countryside. For reliable (offline) maps, and comprehensive trail and map information, consult OpenStreetMap, which is used by this travel guide, and by many convenient mobile Apps like OsmAnd (complex with many add-ons) and MAPS.ME (simple but limited).

Section 01: Hadrut to ToghEdit

Links: OpenStreetMap, Wikidata, GPX, KML

Summary: 16 km, medium, well-marked

You hike from the edge of the town of Hadrut up to a crest, then head down to the village of Togh, with nice views of cool mountain you will be hiking the next day. Make a trip up to Spitak Khach Vank to light a candle upon completion.

Section 02: Togh to AzokhEdit

Links: OpenStreetMap, Wikidata, GPX, KML

Summary: 18 km, medium, well-marked

You hike in a circle around the impressive mountain that the 12th century Gtichavank monastery is on. Nice monastery undergoing restoration, nice forest, and depending on your route you may cross over a nice old bridge or two. You can explore the cave in Azokh village in the evening when you arrive, or in the morning before you depart for Karmir Shuka.

Section 03: Azokh to Karmir ShukaEdit

Links: OpenStreetMap, Wikidata, GPX, KML

Summary: 11 km, medium, well-marked

Hike up from Azokh over the crest, to Shekher village and through the fields below Karmir Shuka before reaching the town.

Section 04: Karmir Shuka to AvetaranotsEdit

Links: OpenStreetMap, Wikidata, GPX, KML

Summary: 15 km, medium, well-marked

From Karmir Shuka you hike up to the impressive 2,000 year old tree of Skhtorashen, then hike across the highway past a waterfall, and on to Avetaranots village, with an old melik's house.

Section 05: Avetaranots to KarintakEdit

Links: OpenStreetMap, Wikidata, GPX, KML

Summary: 16 km, medium-difficult, well-marked

This hike takes you through some thick forest, up to a crest overlooking the cliffs of Shushi, and down across the Karkar river into aptly named Karintak (meaning below the rock) village.

Section 06: Karintak to ShushiEdit

Links: OpenStreetMap, Wikidata, GPX, KML

Summary: 7-10 km (4 hr), medium-difficult, well-marked

This stunning section of the trail takes you along the Karkar river, through the sheer and spectacular canyon walls, past the otherworldly Zontik waterfall, across an old bridge, through the ruins of the abandoned Hunot village, and up the cliffs to Shushi.

Section 07: Shushi to StepanakertEdit

Links: OpenStreetMap, Wikidata, GPX, KML

Summary: 14 km, medium(-difficult), well-marked

This easy hike takes you across a rarely traveled back road, through nature, across an old bridge and up to a tiny hamlet was a simple old church, and then down to Stepanakert. A pleasant alternative to a ride to Stepanakert even if you're not hiking the entire trail.

Section 08: Stepanakert to PataraEdit

Links: OpenStreetMap, Wikidata, GPX, KML

Summary: 16-17 km, easy, not so well marked (esp. along the fields)

Mostly across fields, and through a couple of villages along the foothills, the markings are not frequent where there are no stones. Use a proper app and ask for the next village when needed.

Section 09: Patara to KolatakEdit

Links: OpenStreetMap, Wikidata, GPX, KML

Summary: 17 km, difficult, well-marked

The toughest day of hiking, involves climbing a very steep mountain to the mostly natural fortifications of Kachaghakaberd fortress, and then down the mountain and across the river to Kolatak village. Rewarding with top-of-the-world views.

Section 10: Kolatak to GandzasarEdit

Links: OpenStreetMap, Wikidata, GPX, KML

Summary: 20 km, medium, not or badly marked

Hike up to the monastery of Metsaranits and back to the village of Kolatak before heading downriver along the only road out of the village. When you read the junction of the main road, head left up to the village of Vank, and up to the stunning monastery of Gandzasar.

Section 11: Gandzasar to VaghuhasEdit

Links: OpenStreetMap, Wikidata, GPX, KML

Summary: 14 km, medium, not or badly marked

This entire day is spent hiking over the forested mountains to the village of Vaghuhas, which has an old church.

Stay safeEdit

A special safety notice from the HALO Trust, responsible for the trail development and maintenance. Read carefully and do not hike this section if you are uncomfortable with this information.

There are no records of any minefields or cluster munition sites close to the route. However, in the past our survey teams have responded to a number of callouts to destroy ammunition (including mines and cluster munitions) around both villages, Vank and Vaghuas, reported by local population. Since the area was a scene of heavy fighting in the early nineties, it’s possible that there might be more abandoned or unexploded ammunition lying around.

Our recommendation is to try to avoid walking on any unused ground or going deeper into forested areas where fighting might have taken place. If the Janapar Trail runs through a well-used footpath or a forest track, then it should be safe, but it is still worthwhile to get some advice from the local villagers who use the area on a daily basis for collecting firewood or hunting.

In case anyone from your team comes across any ammunition or an unknown item, it’s strongly recommended not to touch/investigate it, and report the findings to HALO as soon as possible.

Section 12: Vaghuhas to DadivankEdit

Links: OpenStreetMap, Wikidata, GPX, KML

Summary: 14-22 km, easy-medium, not or badly marked

The entire day is spent hiking between the river and the road to Dadivank, in a narrow and impressive gorge. Dadivank is a beautiful, large monastery with a small village under it.

Section 13: Dadivank to ZuarEdit

Links: OpenStreetMap, Wikidata, GPX, KML

Summary: 19-24 km, easy, not or badly marked

Following the river towards Karvachar, you leave the main road and follow up the river to the Zuar hot springs.

Section 14: Zuar to KarvacharEdit

Links: OpenStreetMap, Wikidata, GPX, KML

Summary: 28 km, difficult, not or badly marked

You hike over rolling hills towards Nor Manashid village. Following the unused and fallen Soviet electrical towers until the next river valley, you head down towards Tartar River. Then upriver to Karvachar, the tiny regional capital.

Section 15: Karvachar to TsarEdit

Links: OpenStreetMap, Wikidata, GPX, KML

Summary: 20 km, medium, not or badly marked

Down from Karvachar into Tartar Gorge you hike though a canyon upstream, dip into the geyser and continue along the Tartar. At the turnoff to Tsar village a steep ascent follow up to the mountain plateau of Tsar.

Section 16: Tsar to VardenisEdit

Links: OpenStreetMap, Wikidata, GPX, KML

Summary: 34 km, difficult, not or badly marked

Over the mountain plateau into Armenia and finally Vardenis at the southeast corner of Lake Sevan. You can try shorten this part by trying to find a taxi as soon as you reach the first villages in Armenia.

See and doEdit

There are many popular sights like monasteries and monuments along the way (sometimes a little off-track), and several hot springs allow for a refresh during a day of hiking.

Checkout Nagorno-Karabakh aka Artsakh itself for a comprehensive list, and all the articles of cities along the way, like Stepanakert, Shusha, and Vank.

SleepEdit

There exist marked campsites along the trail—consult OpenStreetMap.

Otherwise numerous homestays offer their service along the way. In the following a list of such homestays for each village and town in the order of hiking.

HadrutEdit

ToghEdit

  • Artur and Sveta.
  • Nikolai. Just a campground in the backyard.
  • Vardan, 279-099.

AzokhEdit

  • Armo. 3 separate bedrooms with 6 beds for guests.
  • Aro, +374 97 297329. 8-9 beds in separate bedrooms.

Karmir ShukaEdit

Avetaranots (Chanaghchi)Edit

  • Henrikh and Madlen Stepanian, +374 97 255300. A double room with 2 extra beds possible.
  • Mardik sister, +374 97 233-101.
  • Surik and Zamira Hayrapetian, +374 97 208688. 2 rooms with twin beds.
  • Yurik and Zamira Hayrapetian, +374 97 270047. 2 rooms with 4 beds all together.

KarintakEdit

  Note: Avoid the Arushanyan family, they ripped of a hiker before.

ShushaEdit

See Shusha

StepanakertEdit

See Stepanakert

Aygestan (Baluja)Edit

  • Alvart Dadayan. 3-4 people
  • Gago, +374 97 201-204. Not for large groups, but couples.
  • Nver Dadayan.

Patara (Ptretsik, Badara)Edit

KolatakEdit

  • Artur and Anahit Babayan, +374 97 240217. 5 beds in separate bedrooms
  • Onnik and Amalia Balassanian, +374 97 240858.
  • Sergey and Nadia Harutyunian, +374 97 209120. 5 beds.

KhachenEdit

  • Narimon House. 4-5 beds.

GarnakarEdit

  • Artush Mangasaryan. 10 beds and more.
  • Gagik Zakharyan. 10 beds and more.

VankEdit

  • Fedya Ohanyan, +374 97 233939. 3 beds, plus another 10 at their neighbour's.
  • Valo and Mareta Ohanyan. 4 beds.
  • Vano (Vanya) and Nurvard.
  • Vazgen and Dzovinar Baghdasarian. 4 beds.

VaghuhasEdit

DadivankEdit

There are a few empty houses where you might set up sleeping bags and spend the night.

  • Gegham Badalyan, +374 93574801 (his relative in Yerevan).
  • Hayk and Mrs. Alvart Danielian. 3 bedrooms.
  • Lova and Mrs. Maret. 3 beds.
  • Movses and Shoghik. 2 beds.
  • Rafik Sayan. Not so comfortable, but in the village.

ZuarEdit

  • Sasha Hovhanessyan. 5 beds.

Stay safeEdit

Follow all of the safety information and warnings off on the Janapar Trial website. Stay far from the front lines, which won't be a problem if you stick to the trail.

There are reports of ammunition and mines in the forest between Gandzasar and Vaghuhas (Section 11). Always stay on the track and align with locals before crossing this part.

CopeEdit

Preparation is like that of any extended trip/hike. You want to pack light, but be prepared to walk all day through different terrain, to navigate, and to protect yourself from the elements. You have either the option of bringing camping gear, or staying in villagers homes each night, as the trail is designed to bring you into a village each night at the end of your days hike.

In addition to the website mentioned above and Wikivoyage, the Viewranger app provides a specific Janapar Trail guide. This might be quite helpful on the trail, since you will likely not have a data connection.

Go nextEdit

There is only Armenia which you can safely travel to after having visited Artsakh.


This itinerary to Janapar Trail is a usable article. It explains how to get there and touches on all the major points along the way. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.