Hiking Trail Description
This hike is located 4.5 km west of Bjni village, in the Kotayk province. The route ascends the mountain slopes – amidst spruces and the smell of fresh grass and catmint, awarding breathtaking views of the Geghama Mountain Range and Mt. Ararat – until the ancient Mayravank Church.
Nearby is the town of Tsaghkadzor, a popular ski resort and tourist destination.
The route returns via the same path, and can be carried on through to Bjni village, which is famous for its mineral waters and historical-cultural monuments.
Mayravank was founded by Hovnan Mayravanetsi (Mayragometsi) in the 7th century. While the St. Astvatsatsin Church of Mayravank was built in 12th century.
The church is listed in protection and restoration documents approved by the government, but now lies in disrepair, with many of its original stones and ornaments strewn around the church and its grounds.
The Kotayk province, which ranges in altitudes between 900-3,600 meters above sea level, is flanked by the Tsaghkunyats Mountain Range to the north and the Geghama Mountain Range to the east. The flora of the province is rich and varied, with many flowers, bushes, and forests. Some of these flowers are used for their medicinal properties, and others are used by bees to produce delicious honey.
The flora is especially splendid in the summer months. Some flowers that grow here include cichorium, salvia, valeriana, nettle, plantago, white bryonia, and achillea. Thyme and mint also grow here, and are used to make tea – thyme is known to lower blood pressure. Other plants include achillea ordinary (Achillea millefolium L.), greater burdock Paladini (Arctium palladinii Grossh), Artemisia Armenian (Arteisia armeniaca Lam.), Artemisa absinthium (Arteisia absinthium L.), Falcaria vulgaris (Falcaria vulgaris Bernh.), (Eryngium billardieri Delar.), (Inuia auriculata Boiss. Et Bal.), Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale Wigg.), salsify (Tragopogon reticulatus Boiss. ET Huet), (Anchusa azurea Mill.), (Leontodon crispus Vill.), (Cichorium intybus L.), and dwarf everlasting (Helichrysum plicatum DC.).
There are many species of animals in the Kotayk province, especially in the area of Tsaghkadzor and on the lower slopes. Mammals that can be encountered include grey bears, wolves, foxes, badgers, and a variety of mice and rabbits. In hot summer months many types of reptiles can be seen, including vipera (gurza), (Malpolon monspesscullanus), many species of whip snakes, golden mabuya (Mabuya aurata), and Schneider's skink. Common amphibians include the marsh frog (Rana ridibunda), green toad (Bufo viridis), tree frog of Asia Minor (Hyla savigna) and the common birds of the area are quail (Coturnix coturnix), grey partridge (Perdix perdix), turtledove (Streptopelia turtur), common falco (Falco tinunnculus), Pallid harrier, (Circus macrourus), Little owl (Athene noctua), and European roller (Coracias careulus).
Best period: April -November
Distance: 50 km from Yerevan
Duration: 1 hour
Hiking trail length: 6.4 km
Walk duration: 2 hours 30 minutes
Altitude from Sea Level: 1,531 -2,000m
How to Get There
In order to reach this hike, the most convenient option is to take a taxi from Yerevan to Bjni village. This will cost around 5,000 AMD. It is advisable to take a taxi with a working meter (be sure the driver uses it), or agree on a price beforehand.
Safety and Security
Mobile telephone coverage is available at all times throughout the hike, and the 911 emergency service operates throughout Armenia in case of any accidents.
Be aware of rapid changes in weather, especially in spring, as lightning storms are common. Hiking on the mountain in gloomy and rainy weather is not recommended.
Be sure to bring bottled water!