Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh by bike – my place on earth

by Ewcyna

What did you do in Azerbaijan? The border guard in Sadakhlo carefully leafed through my passport. Armenia does not welcome people with open arms, which were in Azerbaijan - I knew that, but here it genuinely chilled. The guard was very serious, he kept me at the window for quite a long time and only the number of stamps in his passport convinced him, that it just happened - Azerbaijan was on the way during my trip from China to Europe and I am probably not a spy. Entry in reverse order - to Azerbaijan with an Armenian stamp is reportedly not possible at all. Entering Azerbaijan with a trace of a stay in Nagorno-Karabakh can mean big trouble. Thanks, that my trip to the Caucasus was in this, and not a different order (Azerbaijan - Georgia - Armenia - Georgia) I was able to visit all three main countries of the region.

khachkars – roadside crosses. Everyone else

You think Armenia and what comes to your mind? - a tiny country in the central Caucasus, magnificent mountain views and old monasteries lost somewhere on their slopes. One of the oldest in the world – some date from the 10th-13th centuries. Armenians emphasize at every turn, that they are the world's first Christian country. Fact, the state was baptized in 301 year CE

The main road from Tbilisi to Armenia goes through the Debed gorge. Almost several hundred meters high, almost vertical walls and a river of the same name meandering below. For two days I cycle through it, and then on the advice of the Englishman encountered Toma, who knows Armenia like his own pocket and is here to do a Bradt guide update (the best and my favorite!) I climb serpentine over 400 meters up. This is definitely a much better option - unlike the one going along the river, the road is empty here and the accompanying view from the top to the ravine edges is incredibly beautiful.  I have to say, that John's tips would prove invaluable in laying the itinerary in the days and weeks to come.  

wąwóz Debed

I stay in Alaverdi for two nights - this is the first major city on the way, quite dilapidated in itself, industrial, but in its vicinity there is one of the most beautiful Armenian monasteries, entered on the UNESCO list – Haghpat i Sanahin.

The sad legacy of the Soviet Union

After a few days and two mountain passes, it continues towards Lake Sevan, the largest lake in the Caucasus, situated at an altitude of 1,800 meters above sea level, duma Armenii. There is a steep and busy road leading to the pass above 2000 meters. However, I choose a different variant of the route, which the Englishman also recommended to me, longer but with a gentler entry "only" 50 km uphill. And then from on high 2200 m above sea level, exit to the lake. A long-awaited meeting.

Meeting with Lake Sevan

Błękitna tafla, around a chain of snow-capped peaks on the horizon. Peaceful area, although if I will be here again in less than a month it will not be so quiet. One hundred thousand places to pitch a tent. And of course there is a storm on the horizon because a day without a storm is a day wasted (one to four every day).

At the campsite, which is still closed, where I look to ask for water, I get a free bungalow at my own disposal. I can calmly listen to the thunder and lightning outside the window. The owner urges me to visit Nagorno-Karabakh, because it's basically a stone's throw away… Territory, which officially lies within the borders of Azerbaijan, but it has been an Armenian land for hundreds of years. The war for Gorse-Karabakh broke out 30 years ago, The Armenians took the territory and the capital Stepanakert, The Azeris fled, they were banished edit. the problem is more complex, but this is not the place, to write about it. Nagorno-Karabakh is an unrecognized state. War, though it faded a bit, it's still going on and it makes me concerned. . Do not know, I do not know how to plan a further route yet, I did not plan Nagorno-Karabakh, but the appetite grows as you drive. But in the meantime, I decided to take a different direction - to the capital, Yerevan.


I came to the capital of Armenia for several reasons, let's call them organizational and health. Both the first and the second were handled positively. King, tourist from Poland turned off on the forum, she delivered me a package with new things and the doctor said, that I will live - fortunately everything is taken care of again under travel insurance. Somehow in the Caucasus I used the limit from a few yearst.

Yerevan is not that nightmarish, as they sometimes describe him – it is a city full of life and the show of singing fountains on Revolution Square is no less successful than the one in Warsaw. When the rain chases away the haze and smog, walking down the street until I stopped with the impression. HE appeared. Snow-capped peak Ararat. Mountain – volcano, at whose feet the ark of Noah sat according to the Bible. Ararat is very important to the Armenians, it still even appears in the country's coat of arms though … it is currently located in Turkey, around 30 km kilometers from the border. Border, which cannot be exceeded.     

view of Ararat from Yerevan
Ararat is out there somewhere..

I knew from the beginning, that I want to return to Lake Sevan, I didn't smile too much, however, going back the same way and climbing 1000 meters vertically, but but! After all, the train runs once a day during the season. I am going there with the first course in the season. I'm buying a ticket, a delegation of officials in white shirts and ties, visiting a pimped clean train, bows to the waist, wishing me a good trip. Distance over 100 km will cost you 2 dollars and not the minimum 30 as taxi drivers want.

I still have a bicycle, how much is the ticket?

– Od was, We don't take from Russians

– But I am Polish!

– And that's even more so!

While still in Yerevan, I decided, that I will go to Nagorno-Karabakh, although the Polish ambassador to Armenia, with whom I had the pleasure to meet, warned me, that if something happened there, then they won't be able to help me. It is clear, it's still part of Azerbaijan, officially annexed by the Armenians. Two weeks earlier, a German friend of mine was driving there, which convinced me. And because all roads (that is, one from the south) lead to Yerevan, I also left some luggage there at the hostel, because I was going to go back there anyway.

– How beautiful you are here! I show a met man a wonderful view of Lake Sevan.

– It was beautiful there, where I was born.

– And where were you born??

– in Ganja..

I'm not saying anything. Nothing can be said here. Ganja is one of the largest cities in Azerbaijan. We are in Armenia. It is clear, that my interlocutor will not come back to Ganja.

June is probably the most beautiful in Armenia

Ashot invited me to his son's house. The next storm is raging and although I was ready to spend the night by the lake, it is probably worth taking advantage of. Hail starts to fall on the way, so we quickly jump into the neighbors' yard.

– We are from Baku I hear over a glass of warming tea. The hostess does 55 years. The house is barely keeping up. Often there will not be 1988 when the persecution of Armenians in Azerbaijan began, we caught what was at hand and 5 in the morning we left our hometown. And we've been sitting here in the village since 30 years. My, city ​​people She waves her hand resignedly and stirs the sugar in the glass for a long time.

Sounds like an excerpt from a book “The boundaries of dreams. About unrecognized countries” Tomasz Grzywaczewski. Here, nad jeziorem Sewan, there were also Azeris. They had to get out, run from day to day, as well as thousands of Armenians from Azerbaijan. And both there, where they currently live do not feel at home.

Caravanserai on the Selim Pass

I took the road to the Selim Pass- 2440 meters because I know, that the descent by hairpin bends over 1000 meters down is one of the most beautiful in Armenia. By Murphe's law a storm has come, some 1-2 km before the summit. I got a decent hail, but luckily not lightning. I know, that somewhere near the top is an old caravanserai, which served merchants wandering along the Silk Road from over 700 years. Thunder overhead, hail on the cheeks but in the end – yes! I hide in an ancient building and immediately put water on for tea. After half an hour, the rainbow announces the end of the storm. I spend the night on the mountain pass. In the morning I feel very anxious to move so beautiful the view. And then a loooong deserved ride.

overnight at the Selim Pass

They say hurry up slowly, but everyone knows, I'm not in a rush at all! I do my last shopping in Goris town, laughter and chatting with taxi drivers, when my foot slips away, slide that step and I only feel great pain. I know, that I won't go today. In the hospital it turns out, that there is no break, but the foot is swollen and well. Twist, swelling, pain… it is impossible to drive. Broken down, I roll to the city center in the valley and fall on the bed in the hostel. When I finally leave the next day I can see, as beautiful here. The surrounding karst rocks look amazing, especially during sunset. People have lived in the caves there since the Middle Ages. And the town itself is more like Tuscany than Armenia – famous for its stable basalt stone houses, which were supposed to protect against frequent earthquakes. And fortunately, post-Soviet factories do not threaten here. If it wasn't for this leg, I would not see this gem!

The road from Goris is straight - actually winding to Nagorno-Karabakh. The border is there, but for a visa, which you get on a small piece of paper, which they do not stick to their passports gets in the capital of Arcach - that's what Armenians call Nagorno-Karabakh - Stepanakert.  

road to Nagorno-Karabakh
on the border
Nagorno-Karabakh – endless streamers

The decision to enter Nagorno-Karabakh is not easy. I hesitate to the end. Still overnight in a tent a few kilometers from the border of the self-proclaimed republic, I think what to do. I hear shots at night.. no, it is not game hunting, are bursts from a rifle. But she doesn't want to get back on the road, which I came. Only mountains around. A crazy landscape, excellent recently completed road and long, long driveway. My injured foot is not in the best shape. After 30 km of climb, time for the exit and the village of Shushi.. In the past it was inhabited by the Azerbaijani people, haunts empty apartment blocks and two mosques that, surprisingly, have survived - what's more, are being renewed.

A shopkeeper at a roadside shop hastily drew me a map of the Caucasus, to introduce, how are territorial matters?. And I only went there for bread. He spares no curses on Azerbaijan, hate even spills out. I love Armenia and I wish both countries, Armenia and Azerbaijan the best, first of all, they would come to an agreement and not want to kill each other.

Papik i Tatik, symbol Arcachu

In Nagorno-Karabakh I pass the village of Khojali (Chodżały). It was here that the largest massacre of civilians took place, several hundred Azeris, mostly civilians, died at the hands of the Armenians, as they fled the village. In Azerbaijan, monuments to those killed in Khojala are everywhere.

Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh is something else- the center has many new buildings, playgrounds, carousels.. life goes on like everywhere else. And only the presence of the army shows that the place is unique. Self-proclaimed Armenian republic in the territory of Azerbaijan.

The main square in Stepanakert – the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh

I go down from the pass straight to Sevan. This journey is about discovering my places on earth and this crazy lake is one of them. I put the tent up above the waterline and let myself stop. I am staying for two nights and I would really like to live here. The leg needs to rest.

Sewan. My place on earth

Then I return to Yerevan for a while and head back to Georgia. Over a month in Armenia, like a lot but still not enough, but I still have so much to see.

One more stop in Gyumri, which suffered greatly during the earthquake in 1988 year, and now it is being carefully rebuilt. A city similar to Goris in the south of Armenia deserves more interest from visitors –  The nineteenth century architecture is characterized by Russian influences, dark stone interspersed with rusty, it is strange, that so few tourists come here.

On the way to Gyumri you are right on the border with Turkey, and on the other side the ruins of Ani, one of the oldest cities in Armenia
Gyumri Street

From Gyumri it's just climbing to the border crossing 2100 meters, fighting the gale, the last glance at the flowery meadows, which are turning yellow more and more often, color and sun fumes.. again, after 5 weeks. Georgia is on my mind.

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michal 26 November 2020 - 02:22

The war for Gorse-Karabakh broke out 30 years ago, The Armenians took the territory and the capital Stepanakert, The Azeris fled. War, though it faded a bit, still in progress.

Rectification: The Azeris did not flee. You really don't know what it looked like? What she looked like “escape” Azerbaijani? Before writing a post, it is worth reading or talking to someone, who “escaped” if you want to write about the history of a place. You can not do this.

Ewcyna 5 December 2020 - 21:16

You're right, can not. The problem is that, I don't really know, what's wrong with this info. I read the info on the internet and also before entering “About unrecognized countries” Grzywaczewski. Such information was repeated – e.g. quotation. for the Center for Eastern Studies “Several hundred thousand Azeris fled from the territory conquered by the Armenians”
I realize, that I made the topic shallow in one sentence – this is also why, that my blog is not the place, in which I will engage in historical digressions. I wanted to outline the situation and described it as I understand it. Maybe instead “they ran away”, I should write, that they were driven out, maybe, that several hundred of them were killed in Chojała. But now I have consulted these words with a specialist from the Center for Armenian Studies, with whom I met in Yerevan (Pawel Nieczuja-Ostrowski) and he was ok with it.

And that's not always the case, that you can talk to someone about it – I did not have such an opportunity, despite my month-long stay in Azerbaijan. Fact, what a pity.

It would be easier, for you to explain what exactly is going on, because what you wrote is not constructive criticism.

Embarrassed 16 June 2023 - 22:52

If you don't know what's wrong, read more than one book and “info from the net”. You even use the wrong form (If you read more I think, you would use the correct one, because it is pejorative). Citing a specialist (from the Center for Armenian Studies, not generally from the Caucasus, from Armenian) it would be worth giving his name and publications. I'm curious, whether he has been to Armenia and Azerbaijan and talked to them, those who told them to run and those who ran away. It's not about that, that you just blew it, że widać, which side are you on and you can see, this is due to your ignorance. Better focus on your writing, that a hard climb and what sandals do you recommend, because you know very little about the world. Ps. I'm not taking sides. This is a very difficult conflict, and you admit it, that you were shallow. It's about someone's life. You must not shallow for the purposes of the blog, likes. If you haven't had a chance to talk, then don't write about something you've read about in one book and on the net. Something you have no idea about.

Ewcyna 16 June 2023 - 23:19

Valuable observations on many issues.
However, as with the previous comment, it would be advisable, to present this version, which I do not include, possible sources – because, to, that I didn't talk to the other side, we already know.
And sign. It's worth it too.
And I will add the specialist's name, no problem.
in which he also made a mess in the middle of the bed, that judging my knowledge of the world by a small part of it is abusive.

Embarrassed - bez signature 17 June 2023 - 02:12

I think, you have little knowledge of the text, that you post publicly. I do not think, that it's abuse. You can write, that the flowers smelled nice and it was hard to drive in, but you can see, you haven't read much, You're talking about something you don't know much about, to explore the topic. This popped up on my Facebook wall. I saw too, that when there was a war and people were dying, you shared this post exactly by writing, że “on time”. It looked like you were doing it for the likes, interest and you had no sensitivity to human harm. After all, you know best how much you've read about it (I don't want confirmation, not much because I don't need it; anyway you can see, you don't read much, because you write “that”; cardinal error; to Ganja not to Ganja). I don't want to sign, because I don't want to go beyond the discussion here. But I want, for you to think it over. The worst is that, that people, those who know less will read and acknowledge, that it was, yes Sir. This text is marked. Paweł Nieczuja-Ostrowski published only about Armenia, you met him in Yerevan, it's from Armenian Studies. It does not surprise me, że “is the one with approx”. Question, those who ran away “they are ok with it”. Sources are empirical. And many years of research (from the historical side, political, geographical; from both sides) theme, which causes death.

It amazes me how easily you write: “on time”, “he was ok with it”, “I did not talk, what a pity”. As if you didn't know what you were talking about. Territorial matters are probably Greater Armenia. You know, that this is not just a Karabakh issue? You share it over and over again, and the question is are you interested in what it looks like now? You follow the approach of Pashinyan and Alyiev? It's how society reacts? You are interested in it at all?

I'm not signing, because I don't want to talk to you anymore (for reasons, which I wrote above; I don't even want notifications on email). Maybe it will motivate you to actually explore the topic. Furthermore, maybe you'll think about it “it's ok with it”, “on time” or you will enjoy, that my comments increase views by highlighting even, że “you get hit”. It is a matter of sensitivity and genuine interest in the world.

Embarrassed 18 June 2023 - 23:49

I see, that comment, which was a response to yours has not been published (for example,. why i think, you know little about the world, or why someone who writes only about Armenians is not an authority on the matter, how the other side responds, additional victims). Too bad. Someone might think this and provoke to look for other sources. It only shows, that you're hoping for interest and you're afraid of it, that you don't know something. You don't follow Pashinyan or Alyiev, truth? So you're not interested in the topic. However, I see in a new post, that you started negotiating endings (“these” instead “that” what was common in your posts). Even after living more than half a century, you can learn something. You will admit, that it was? I think, that it's because of me. This one will not be published either, because you obviously have a problem with it, that you don't know something, even though it answers the questions posed (it's a bit not right, so don't sign up here, because you choose what you publish). Perhaps it will provoke you to take a deeper look at the world. I wonder why people like this post publicly. Error after that, to even, when there is a war and people die, you can force to share posts “on time” and write about things you know nothing about.

Ewcyna 20 June 2023 - 09:34

First this, what do you want to hear – yes, Your post made me think about several things, exploration and improvement “a” on “ę”. And I sware, I am grateful to you for that.

I explain, I also have other activities and interests, than approving comments on the fly. I can either do it or not, just like writing anyway, because this is my plot. I'm really surprised, that you spend so much energy getting back on topic – you weren't supposed to come here.

And I don't care that much, which never ceases to amaze me, that people like you, those who feed on hate waste their time and energy in projecting it onto others. I am interested in the opinion of others, I appreciate the constructive pointing out of errors, but I don't agree with being insulted with impunity. Treat all comments with respect, which you lack – and you accuse me of not having one.

It wouldn't even occur to me to continue this discussion in private e-mails, and yet you are afraid to reveal your identity. How do we know this scheme?.
I think, everything has already been said here.

Comments are closed.