Armenia photo tour
Guide — Anton Agarkov
Group: 6–8 pers.
Sunrise over Lake Sevan, the views of Mount Ararat against the backdrop of the starry sky, the warm glow of sunset on the carved facades of Armenian churches—on this tour you’ll see the best of what Armenia has to offer photographers, and have the chance to take photos that are sure to elicit admiration and provoke envy among friends. Respected travel photographer Anton Agarkov will be your guide for this trip. He’ll show you the best vista points, help to set up your camera, share the ins and outs of successful shooting, and talk about different photo retouching methods. Early summer is the ideal season to travel around Armenia with a camera: the bright green of the new leaves contrasts with the multicolored rocks of the region, the air is fresh after May thunderstorms, and wild poppies decorate vast landscapes and foothills.
We’ll spend the first and last days of this tour in Yerevan, and spend the rest of our time traveling around the country. The photo tour is scheduled so as to get you to the most interesting places and locations at the best time for shooting. We’ll travel by a comfortable minibus and stay at hotels and guesthouses.
Day 1. Arrival to Yerevan
We’ll meet at Zvartnots Airport then drive to Yerevan and check in to the hotel. Following check-in, we’ll go for a walk around the city, visiting its festive center and the narrow streets of the old Kond neighborhood. This will be followed by a tour of the Noy Brandy Factory where we will taste local spirits. Next we’ll return to the hotel, and then head to Cascade for a sunset photography session. If the weather permits, the lunar phase is right, and we have enough energy, we’ll end the day with a nighttime photography session at Khor Virap Monastery, at the foot of Mount Ararat, a half an hour’s drive from the city. The photo guide will show you how to setup your camera to film the starry skies and how to find focus in the pitch dark, and then assist you in taking spectacular pictures of the Milky Way.
Day 2. Ancient Geghard Monastery and the Basalt Pillars at Garni
In the morning, we will drive to the upper reaches of the Azat River Gorge. Our destination is the medieval Geghard Monastery and its temples, which are cut straight from the surrounding rocks. We will take pictures of the monastery’s interiors and learn to take photos of busy places without capturing people. Here our photo guide will show you how to shoot for subsequent retouching using brightness masks that can enhance the picture’s dynamic range. After that, we’ll go to Garni, where an ancient pagan temple stands at the edge of a cliff. We’ll walk down the footpath into the ravine, where giant basalt pillars hang from the slopes—these are the traces of ancient volcanic eruptions, similar to the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland and Cape Stolbchaty in the Kuril Islands. After a walk through the canyon, we’ll stop for lunch at a trout farm. After lunch, we’ll drive back to the city, stopping at the Arch of Charents to take a group photo against the backdrop of the biblical Mount Ararat. If we had trouble with weather on Day 1, we’ll go for a sunset photoshoot at Cascade, followed by dinner.
Day 3. Trip to Mount Aragats
Following an unhurried breakfast, we’ll drive to the west of Yerevan, to the region of Aragotsotn, located on the slopes of the Mount Aragats volcano. This is the time of year when Yezidi Kurds come here with their flocks of sheep. We’ll stop by their modest camping ground to take pictures of the simple but picturesque life of the shepherds, and feast on some fresh cheese. Afterwards, we’ll hike to Lake Kari, the highest point of Mount Aragats accessible at this time of the year. Most likely, we’ll find snow on its shores. We’ll have a photo session with reflections in the water, and you’ll see that landscape photography is more than just sunrise and sunset. We’ll stop for lunch at a local restaurant, to warm ourselves up with some traditional khash soup. The climax of the day will be sunset photography at the medieval Amberd Fortress. We’ll learn to shoot panoramas and to use neutral gray filters to create the effect of blurry clouds. We’ll stay the night at the research station, where we can spend time after dinner sorting through the day’s photos, sharing stories and studying examples of image retouching.
Day 4. From the Slopes of Aragats to Lake Sevan
We’ll get up extra early to do a sunrise shoot at Amberd Fortress, followed by a highland breakfast within the castle’s walls. After the meal, we’ll drive to Lake Sevan, stopping for lunch at a countryside farm. Armenians call Sevan a sea, and it really is a great body of water. The lake is located at 1,900 m above sea level, which is why its waters are always clean and clear, and there’s always a fresh breeze. Our first stop will be at the Sevanavank Monastery, which stands on a high peninsula. After that we’ll drive to the Airivank Monastery, surrounded by whimsical rocks, and have our evening photoshoot there. We’ll have dinner and spend the night in the town of Gavar. In the evening, our photo guide, Anton, will go through the day’s photos with you and teach a workshop on retouching landscape photographs.
Day 5. Across a Mountain Crossing to Mysterious Megaliths
We begin the day with shooting sunrise at Airivank Monastery and Lake Sevan. Next, we’ll drive to the village of Noratus with its medieval cemetery and hundreds of carved stone crosses, called khachkar. After the village, we will cross the Selim Mountain Pass, making an obligatory stop at the 16th century caravan-serai, a guesthouse for merchants of the Silk Road. After descending down a mountain spiral road, we’ll have lunch and sample wines from Areni. In the afternoon, we will drive to the highland province of Syunik, where we will first take pictures of the Shaki Waterfall, then of the Zorats-Karer megaliths, which have been a fixture of the desolate Karaundzh Plateau for over 4,000 years. The night will be spent at a guesthouse in Sisian. If the weather permits, we can return to Karaundzh to take pictures of the starry sky over the “Armenian Stonehenge” (some scientific theories have proposed that the megaliths were an ancient observatory).
Day 6. Caves and Rocks at Goris
At sunrise we will once again go to shoot at Karaundzh. Afterwards, we will drive to the town of Goris, where we’ll check in to a local boutique hotel and have lunch there. In the afternoon, we’ll stroll around the whimsical rocks on the outskirts of the town, and then go for a sunset photography session at the cave village of Khndzoresk, where people used to live in houses carved out of the rocks up until the 1950s.
Day 7. Rest Day at Goris
After several days on the road, it’s time to slow down a bit. We’ll spend this day resting and walking around the town, sorting through the photographs we’ve already taken, and attending another retouching workshop with Anton. In the evening, we’ll shoot the rocks around the town’s old neighborhoods.
Day 8. Monastery and Canyon at Tatev
From Goris we’ll drive to the village of Alidzor, to take a ride on the world’s longest two-way cable railroad. We’ll soar above the canyon of the Vorotan River, and then stroll around the Tatev Monastery, which hangs on the precipice. We’ll dine at a village restaurant, and if the weather and moon phase permit, go back to Tatev for nighttime shooting. This will be accompanied by Anton’s master class on nocturnal photography.
Day 9. Return to Yerevan
After a morning shoot at the monastery, we’ll get on the road back to Yerevan, but there will be some truly picturesque spots on the way. We’ll stop for lunch at a grotto restaurant and visit Norovank Monastery, one of Armenia’s most beautiful landmarks. We’ll also stop by the Areni-1 cave, where remains of the world’s oldest winery were found. We’ll end with sunset photography of Khor Virap Monastery and Mount Ararat, and complete the day with a farewell dinner at a haute cuisine restaurant in Yerevan.
Day 10. Last day in Yerevan
A walk around the city. Visit to the Vernissage flea market. A cup of tangy coffee at the Mirzoyan photo library. Then we’ll head back to the airport and fly home.
Photo-tour of Armenia map
- Full services of a Caucasus Explorer Tour Leader with local guides and drivers
- All transportation (Mercedes Sprinter)
- Meals and tastings as specified (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
- Accommodation throughout (Twin)
- All entrance fees, sightseeing, excursions and activities as per the itinerary
- Meals / services other than specified
- Armenian Visa(s)
- Medical insurance
Booking and Payment
- Single person supplement – $300
- For booking or any questions please contact Dmitry Egorov [email protected]
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