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Botany tour- 8 nights

Armenia, being situated in the one of the world’s hotspots for biodiversity is notable for an incredibly rich and diverse world of plants. Here, on the area, that forms only 16% of the territory of Caucasus, grow more than a half of the representatives of Caucasian flora – about 3600 vascular plant species!

Almost all the habitat types typical for the region may be found in Armenia. Semi deserts, juniper and arid open forests, steppes, forests, meadows, sub alpine high herbaceous communities and alpine carpets, also miniature deserts, wetlands and various wide-spread plant communities of rocks and screens change each other on a distance of just about a few tens km.

Variety of climatic conditions and soil types in Armenia, complex relief, geological past of the region as well as the history of flora and a number of other factors together created such an exceptional richness of flora and diversity of habitats. Armenia is situated on a junction of sharply different temperate humid Caucasian and arid Armeno-Iranian floristic provinces accordingly of two big botanical regions of northern hemisphere: Holarctic and Old Mediterranean.
The territory of Armenia is the one of the most ancient areas of origin and development of agriculture. This is a place, where donors and progenitors of many cultivated plants, that are represented with great number of forms, have survived till now. Big number of species is used in various areas of industry; local population uses many plants for medicinal proposes, as a food and other.
There are many endemic plants in Armenia including local endemics, that are known only from one location in the country. Certain species and unique plant communities of regional and global conservation concern are the subjects of special interest in Armenia.

The recommended period: 15 May – 20 July

Day1 – Departure from.

Day2 – Arrival early in the morning. Yerevan.City tour.-40 km

An easy start, with a short drive to Mnt. Arailer (2577m above sea level) – 80 km ,the one of the largest extinct volcanoes in Armenia, on a distance about 20km to the north of Yerevan. More than 650 species have been recorded for its flora – nearly one fifth of the entire Armenian flora. A few stops on the way to the picnic place will introduce rich flora of steppe and meadow zones. Flower carpets with bright spots of oriental poppies (Papaver orientale), gladioluses (Gladiolus caucasicus), different forms of violet scenery with Vicia variegata, Lathyrus species and many other representatives typical for this region may be seen here. A very relaxing lunch stop at summer cottages on the northern slope of the mountain will give a chance to explore the lower zone of the oak forest (Quercus macranthera).
Visit to Amberd fortress and castle (10-13th cc) was the familial estate of the Pahlavouni princes. It is one of the few feudal castles of Armenia that has been more or less preserved to our days. The location for its has been selected quite skillfully, the builders took advantage of the mountainous terrain and put the fortress on a cape surrounded on three sides by ravines.

Overnight in Yerevan.

Day3 – Dendropark “Sochut” near Stepanavan – Dilijan , Haghartsin Monastery-240 km

Driving to the north through Aparan towards Spitak Pass. A half of an hour stop to see irises (Iris pumila) and a number of other bright meadow species in bloom. Our main destination for the day is a beautiful dendropark “Sochut”. The place for its establishment was chosen not only for the location and climate suitable for introduction of many representatives of global flora, but also to protect the largest natural pine forest in Armenia formed with Pinus kochiana.
The day program will include also some walk in mixed deciduous woodland and beach forest near Haghartsin Monastery. See, too, from the road in Dilijan town a “drunken forest” of pine, the result of a seismogenic landslide.

Overnight in Dilijan.

Day4 – Sevan Peninsula, Sevan Botanical Garden -(Noratus Khachkars)- Selim Pass, Sisian – 250 km

Visit to Monastery of Sevan and Noraduz khachkars(cross-stones).
Sevan Botanical Garden founded in 1946 as a part of the Institute of Botany of the National Academy of Sciences. This small dendropark (5,5 hectares) is a subject of particular interest because of being located high up on the altitude about 2000m above sea level, in very rough climatic conditions, where survival of some of the representatives of the living collection seems to be unbelievable.
A couple of stops for botanizing will be done further on a Selim Pass to see some meadow plants and very interesting shrub communities formed with Spiraea creanata, Viburnum lantana, Berberis orientalis and other species…
A very pretty Iris lineolata (Red Data listed) population may be seen near Sisian.

Day5 – Sisian-Tatev-Kapan – “Plane Grove”, “Shikahokh” State Reserve – 245 km

A few stops on the serpentine road leading to Tatev Monastery will give a chance to discover the diversity of the dendroflora, including a number of wild forms for well known fruit and berry plants such as plum (Prunus divaricata), cornel–tree (Cornus mas), blackberry (Rubus armeniaca) and other. Here is the one of only two locations in Armenia for rare fern Adiantum capillus-veneris.
A very picturesque oak forests formed with Quercus iberica, and also Carpinus orientale, C. betulus, Pirus caucasica, Acer sp. and other trees and shrubs, meadows and rock plant communities change each other alongside the way from Tatev to Kapan.
Fantastic beauty of the Southern Armenia will be continued with Shikahogh Reserve and our the most southern spot – the relict Plane Grove – unique ecosystem which is formed with oriental plane-tree Platanus orientalis, listed in the Red Data books of Armenia and former USSR.

Overnight in Kapan.

Day6 – Return to Yerevan including Noravank Monastery visit-270 km

An hour of walking and botanising in the Noravank canyon will give an impression on the diverse dendroflora with a number of Red Data listed plants, such as both almond species that grow in Armenia: Amygdalus fenzliana and A.nairica, pistaceo tree Pistacia mutica, Celtis glabrata and some others. Herbaceous flora here is also rather diverse and interesting.

Overnight in Sisian.

Day7 – Garni-Geghard, city tour-80 km

Investigation of tree and shrub communities in Geghard gorge formed with a number of fruit and berry forms, including almond (Amygdalus fenzliana), plum (Prunus divaricata), wild apple (Malus orientalis) tree and other.
Huge walnut trees (Juglans regia) can be seen at Garni temple and everywhere in the village. There are a few hundred forms of the walnut tree in Armenia.

Overnight in Yerevan.

Day8 – Departure transfer to the airport.