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Tsakhadzor and Lake Sevan

Esther 0

Last updated on 29th June 2019

Tsakhadzor

Little Mexico City

According to reports, Tsakhadzor within Soviet Armenia was chosen as a “Little Mexico City” to provide altitude training to the Soviet athletes in preparation for the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. Since then, the mountainous terrain of Tsakhadzor (2000 meters above sea-level and about 25km from Lake Sevan) hosts the Olympic Complex. It was entirely renovated in 2007. Hence Tsakhadzor has always been and still is in the centre of attention of CIS and European athletes.

Gorge of Flowers

Today the village is popular destination for winter sports, in particular skiing. There are several ski lifts and many slopes of different difficulties and lengths winding down the mountains. The village offers some luxurious accommodation, despite numerous hotel buildings never were finished, are abandoned and some already ruined.

Tsakhadzor translates to “Gorge of flowers” which is true and hence makes the place also a very tempting destination in summer. From the monastery the road leads straight up to the ski base. One of the ski-lifts operates all year. It took me up the mountain onto 2300m (2000 Dram return). The next level ski lift was not working but as weather is warm and sunny hiking further up is not a problem. The view is spectacular onto the village, lake Sevan in the distance and the Aragat mountains on the other side. Sitting in the flower-speckled grass, relaxing peacefully, enjoying the view and breathing fresh air was so beautiful that I did not have much time for the village itself. For more excitement there are offers for horseback riding and quad tours.

Getting there

Tsakhadzor is located less than 50km northeast of Yerevan and can be reached by public transport, taxi or car, it takes only 40 min.

Chair lift in Tsakhadzor
The chair lift takes me up to 2300m above sea level
Tsakhadzor
Looking back as far as lake Sevan and Mount Aragat
Tsakhadzor
The lift inTsakhadzor goes through a dense forrest of mainly oak trees
Tsakhadzor
Further up you can hike or take either horse or quad
Tsakhadzor
Some Japanese tourists chose to hike uphill – I followed
Aragat from Tsakhadzor
Again Mount Aragat in the distance – the highest peak in Armenia
Tsakhadzor mountain view
Looking back towards Tsakhadzor and lake Sevan in the distance
Tsakhadzor green fields
The green fields of Armenia
Tsakhadzor Olympic achievments
Those stars on the tree represent achievments during the Olympic games of several years
Tsakhadzor Monastery
Monastary of Tsakhadzor : Kescharis
Tsakhadzor Monastery: Kecharis
The new generation of monks priests posing for a photo @ Kescharis

Lake Sevan

Getting there

From Yerevan it is only a 60km drive northeast along M4 highway. I went there twice, one time with private taxi, which is certainly the most convenient way, and another time I tried public transport. For  the latter I took Marshrutka 46 to the Northern Bus Station (Hyusisayin Avtokayan), already at the M4, and then Marshrutka 317 to Sevan village. From there the bus driver offered to continue to Sevanavank peninsula which was happily accepted by most passengers, price was 1000 Dram. For the way back I was not lucky enough to get a Marshrutka, they all went empty. I found out that after 18:00 the service has finished and I had to take taxi for 7000 Dram.

Favourable Destination

Being the biggest freshwater lake in the Caucasus region and among the biggest lakes worldwide Lake Sevan offers exceptional natural scenery and the healthy climatic conditions of Trans Caucasus on an altitude of 2000m, twice as much as Yerevan. The lake has numerous beaches, many of them newly-created during last years, providing a one-off experience to anyone. Also, on its north shores, there is a restaurtant that offers freshly baked bread, fish and meat BBQ, sweets and coffee. The bread comes fresh from the oven and can be watched while baking. It will be still warm when purchased. I recommend the baguette-like type with cheese in it. Very tasty! Also the BBQ fish is extremely good and worth a try! Don’t miss this place!

Sevanavank

As most tourists and day visitors, I have visited peninsula Senanavank with its monastery on top of the hill providing great views onto the vast lake which extends beyond the horizon in the southeast. The monastery is still in service for weddings which I could witness twice during the short time I was there. The peninsula is also host to a religious “Academy” which produces new monks I believe, and a little beach at which all sorts of water sport activities can be enjoyed: swimming, jet skiing, boat trips, only I did not see surfers or kites. I dipped my feet in the sparkling clear blue waters and it was freezing! No wonder that, despite the hot weather, only very few people, mainly kids, were in the water.

Mount Aragat
On the way an amazing view at Mount Aragat
Lake Sevan
Lake Sevan
Lake Sevan
“Venice Beach” of Sevanavank
Lake Sevan Beach
A little beach to enjoy at Sevanavank, with the monastery in the background on the hill
Lake Sevan
Lake Sevan has 50 shades of blue
Lake Sevan
Sevanavank hotel and beach from the monastery hill
Lake Sevan and Monastery Sevanavank
Sevanavank monastery
Lake Sevan
In the southeastern distance sky and water merge seemlessly
Lake Sevan
View towards southwest: Geghama mountains
Lake Sevan
Hiking back to Sevan village
Lake Sevan
The Peninsula Sevanavank
Lake Sevan
Lake Sevan with its hotels and Geghama mountains in the distance
Lake Sevan
The abandoned hotel in a prime location with spectacular view at Lake Sevan
Lake Sevan
Around Lake Sevan is a good area for hiking
Lake Sevan
Need to test the ancient motorbike at the restaurant
Lake Sevan
Whatever your heart is longing for – sweets at the bakery
Lake Sevan - Bakery
Baking bread: in front the flat bread called “Lavash”, in the back the traditional Armenian oven

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