Join Connie and Chuck Holton for a spectacular introduction to the Culture, History, People, and FOOD of Armenia.
We're taking a week-long whirlwind exploration of this hidden gem of Asia in the shadow of Mount Ararat! Armenia is the cultural and historical masterpiece that Europe used to be, a safe, beautiful, untrammeled country of 2.5 million people nestled between Turkey and Azerbaijan. It became the world's first country to embrace Christianity as a nation in 301 AD and is full of ancient sites that are fascinating and relevant to Christians and students of History. Armenians are warm and welcoming people who have a long history of standing in the face of adversity. Warning: Armenia will get into your heart and you'll want to return!
This trip will be great for couples, history buffs, photographers, and drone enthusiasts. The trip will be full of fun but also have some purpose, too. After the devastating 2020 war in the area, Armenians call Artsakh, in which the country lost almost 5,000 young men in only 44 days of fighting, there are still tens of thousands displaced, and many still mourning their lost husbands, sons, and brothers. We plan to meet with a few of these affected families during our stay, to listen to their stories, pray with them and if possible, show the love of God in a tangible, life-changing way. On previous trips, we've paid off mortgages, paid for medical procedures, and made some lifelong friends.
Our ten days together will be life-changing, and not just for those we help! There will be a few excursions that will require moderate walking/hiking (up to 20 minutes walking) but if you aren't up to that, don't worry. We'll accommodate you as best we can.
Trip: $2500 per person (double occupancy) in a three-star hotel or luxury Airbnb, depending on how many people are in our group. Also includes ground transportation, lodging, a translator/guide, entry fees, and ALL MEALS except for a few lunches where you will be on your own. If you'd prefer to have your own room (single occupancy) it's only $400 more for the trip.
Deposit $500 to hold your space, 100% refundable if you have to cancel within 15 days of departure. GET TRAVEL INSURANCE to cover airfare and trip costs if you have to cancel closer to D-day. It doesn't cost much but can save you a bundle if you God forbid, pop positive for COVID the day before we fly.
COVID CONSIDERATIONS: passengers are NO LONGER REQUIRED to present a COVID-19 PCR test or a Certificate of complete vaccination against COVID-19 to enter the Republic of Armenia.
As for requirements while IN Armenia, everything is open.
Requirements are always evolving, so keep up with the most current status on Armenia's rules at this link. ON RETURN to your home country, you may be required to test or be vaccinated, depending on where you are going. We can arrange testing if necessary.
Airfare: Get yourself to Armenia however you can - costs run about $800-$1100 from Washington DC, $900 from JFK. If you need help with routing and getting your tickets, contact Chuck and he can help you get the best routing. BE AWARE some transit countries (like Spain) still have COVID requirements. Flights out of Washington DC are about $1100 on Austrian/United, with a 14-hour layover in Vienna (arrive 8 am depart 10 pm) so you can see the sights in Austria for a day. Shorter flights are available on Qatar Airways through Doha, but the price is about the same. There is a good routing direct from DC to Athens, but you'll have to stay the night there, and you'll have enough time to see the sights and enjoy the beach for an hour or two before hopping the 3-hour flight from Athens to Yerevan. The absolute cheapest flights sometimes go through Istanbul.
Baggage: Try to be reasonable with what you pack, but definitely bring enough cargo space to take home some souvenirs! Armenia has some of the best handicrafts you'll find anywhere in the world, and its wines and apricot brandy are world-famous.
RESERVE YOUR SPOT by paying your $500 deposit now.
Here's the proposed schedule for the week: (subject to change)
20 June Travel day to Yerevan. Lose about 9 hours in the time change, so arrive the 21st, usually very early in the morning.
21 June rest, explore Yerevan, the capital city. A surprisingly quaint, walkable place, it feels more like a small town rather than a city of a million people. Explore the Vernissage outdoor craft market, the Cascades, and Republic square. And if you're feeling jetlagged, there will be time for a nap!
22 June Leave early and visit the Geghard Monastery, one of the oldest in Armenia from the 3rd Century, and then visit an even older site - the mysterious millennia-old pagan temple on a clifftop at Garni. From there an hour's drive brings us to Lake Sevan, the great lake of Armenia, and the hilltop monastery known as Sevanavank. After lunch, we'll drive to Ijevan, where we'll relax at a nature resort in one of the country's most scenic areas.
23 June: Today we'll visit Dilijan, and the fabulous Haghartsin monastery, tucked away on a lush forested mountainside. From there we'll drive north, through some spectacular scenery, then a short hike to the Kobayr monastery, which looks like something straight out of Lord of the Rings. From there we'll see another fabulous historical site, the monastery complex at Sanahin. We'll then check into a hotel with a great view of Lori province and rest up for tomorrow!
24 June We've got three sites left to see in Lori province, the Soviet Mig fighter museum, Haghpats monastery, and the Zarni-Parni cave complex. After lunch, we'll drive back to Yerevan, passing Mount Aragats, the highest point in Armenia. Evening free.
26 June First thing after a farm-fresh breakfast we'll visit the Tatev monastery - possibly the most amazing historical sight of the entire trip. Then back to Yerevan with an interesting side trip in the afternoon for anyone who still has energy.
27 June: We'll visit the genocide museum and the Yerablur cemetery where nearly an entire generation of young patriots rests.
28 June - Along with a few more sights close to Yerevan, we'll spend some time with local families in need, and see what we can do to help!
29 June - Last minute shopping and rest up for the trip home that night.
30 June - Head home, most flights leave very early (around 4 am) and arrive back in the US the same day.