Notes From Hairenik

On Sunday with a group of friends I finally made it to one of the most elusive parts of Armenia, due to its remote location and the collapsed roads leading to it. The destination was Lake Arpi, located in the northwestern corner of Armenia in the Shirak region, within a 10 km distance from the Turkish border to the west and the Georgian border on the north and east.

There are two roads you can take to get there, one through Amasia or another via Ashotsk. Either way, you have to travel down roads where the crumbling, choppy asphalt that from a distance can be mistaken for violent rapids is a vague remembrance of what things were like when government actually gave a damn about infrastructure. There's a reason why makeshift roads were carved out in the fields running parallel, which were like driving on butter by comparison. Even though it irks me that the roads are not properly maintained in more remote parts of Armenia, perhaps its best that few people visit Lake Arpi National Park because the nature is simply pristine.

Like Sevan and many parts fenced in by mountain ranges in Armenia, we found that the weather conditions at Lake Arpi change on a dime. Although for the most part the wind gusts were fairly robust, it wasn't as cold as I thought it would be perched 6,637 feet above sea level. But as these photos demonstrate, because of the mostly overcast sky conditions the light would change dramatically.

I was told by a policeman stationed nearby that various species of fish live in the lake and we saw several gulls and even hawks flying, one of which I tried to track with my camera.

A Wikipedia article claims that the reserve is protected by the Ramsar Convention, and only recently in June US Ambassador John A. Heffern went on a excursion there with his wife to go bird watching. Incidentally, Heffern has to be the most active US Ambassador to Armenia that I can remember. He seems to be everywhere at once--he's the only ambassador I have personally seen several times walking around in Yerevan, so it's impressive, although not surprising that he has been there. It takes a good 2.5 to 3 hours to make the trip from the capital.

I can now say that after all these years I have finally been from one corner up north to the southernmost of Armenia. It took a while but the wait to see Lake Arpi was certainly worth it.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
We have a gem of a gift called Armenia. I wonder, though, how many appreciate and nurture this precious gift?

Sometimes gems are lost—forever . . .

Knarik Meneshian