Thursday, June 16, 2016

In the Mountains of Armenia

Today we worked our way east through southern Armenia toward Nagoro-Karabakh, which we will enter tomorrow. We began with a very rough ride up Mount Nazeli in search of petroglyphs. We found a few, but the main collection was inaccessible because of snow blocking a pass. However, the mountain scenery was beautiful.

Our valiant steeds were two Soviet vehicles made for rough terrain:
a jeep and a UAZ van. The drivers did an amazing job.

One of the most visible of the petroglyphs we found.

This area was formed by volcanic action, followed by glaciers that moved the volcanic rocks into giant moraines. Add the low-lying clouds, and the scene was dramatically beautiful.

The mountain, and indeed the whole area, was covered with beautiful wildflowers.

On our way back to our hotel in Sisian, we encountered a sheep drive on the main highway.

After lunch we left Sisian and drove to an important old (10th-13th C) monastery complex in Tatev.

The Tatev monastery is perched above a deep canyon.

We reached the monastery by the "Wings of Tatev Aerial Tramway", at 5.7 km the longest reversible tramway in the world. Looking down from the gondola, we saw the road we would have had to drive had the tramway not been completed in 2010.

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