What is Ecotourism
Most of us heard the term ecotourism but not all of us understand what exactly it is. Let’s dig for a definition. According to TIES (The International Ecotourism Society) “Ecotourism is now defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education”.
Ecotourism allows you to find out new travel experiences and make a great opportunity to understand the people and places you visit better, experience the culture, wildlife and diversity that may be kept in a secret from other tourists. We shouldn’t also forget that ecotourists must minimize their negative impact on nature and surroundings.
What are the first names that come to your mind when you think about ecotourism? Forget them all, ecotourism is all about discoveries.
Come with us to discover Armenia, the small country of high mountains, untouched forests, ancient monasteries, unique culture, delicious cuisine… well, I’ll stop here to let you make your own discoveries.
The Variations of Ecotourism
Before I tell you more about what Armenia can offer as a tourist attraction, let me tell you more about ecotourism in general, this time, to understand its variations.
Eco lodging involves accommodations that have been built with environmental awareness and responsibility or that are simply in natural settings. There is a wide range of eco lodging options, starting from hotels or hostels built with eco-materials to "eco-resorts". Some of them may offer you activities like bird-watching, sea kayaking and tours of local attractions.
Here Armenia has a lot of options. Hyelandz Ecovillage Resort, for example, has solar powered systems in the resort area to create and maintain an ecologically clean environment and contribute to having a greener Armenia.
Photo Credit #mashadrone
Most people who turn to ecotourism are just tired of the pace of big cities and want to know how it feels to live in a village. If this is the case with you, then agrotourism is your best choice. Focusing on rural farm communities as tourist attractions, you will have the option to live the life of a farmer or villagers, volunteer in cultivating animals and plants typical to the region. This is a great opportunity to learn and gain new skills you may have not even heard about before.
This type of ecotourism is like agrotourism, but it focuses on the communities that are threatened by industry, deforestation and other consequences of modernization. You may be involved in planting trees, building homes, and learning local trades.
This type of ecotourism involves tours to exotic, threatened or appealing places. This is one of the most popular types of ecotourism, especially among people who like active rest. You can enjoy rafting, rock climbing, swimming, caving, hiking, sailing or bird-watching.
I know you may have this question on your mind and it’s quite natural. So let’s see what Armenia can offer to ecotourists.
Here, ecotourism is based on impeccable nature, ancient culture and welcoming locals. All you need for ecotourism, right? While Yerevan, the capital of the country is a modern city with a crazy pace, you don’t need to take a plane to find out the cozy sights of Armenia where peace, beauty, and unspoiled nature govern.
You may think that all of these can be found in other spots of the planet, so let me make clear why Armenia is unique.
Armenia is situated at the crossroad of Europe and Asia between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. Despite its relatively small area of 29,743 square kilometers, Armenia can show you a wide diversity of nature from mountainous lakes and fast rivers to dense forests and stony rocks.
Have you ever heard about biodiversity hotspots? There are 35 places in the world that have a really huge biodiversity, and, guess what? Armenia is one of them. 11% of the fish, 17% of the amphibians, 24% of the reptiles, 23% of the birds and 24% of the mammals in Armenia have are rare and endangered types. I know it’s fascinating, let’s go on to see what Armenia can offer you as an ecotourism destination.
Before I tell you more about Armenia, let me help you get ready for the visit. Ecotourism, as you already understand, is quite different from mass tourism. The latter requires airplane tickets, a ready suitcase, and you not being late from the flight. Things are different with ecotourism. Here are some points to think about before you head to Armenia or anywhere else to discover the true beauty of nature and culture.
- Read and learn as much as possible about the country, its history, and culture. This will make your visit much more valuable.
- Get ready to meet the locals. In some places, especially not major tourist destinations, local people may not be open to getting acquainted with tourists or may not even speak English. I know this may sound a bit challenging, but you may want to learn a few words and take an offline dictionary with you.
- Make sure not to pollute the environment. This includes having reusable bottles, bags and other facilities, as you may not always find a supermarket to buy the needed.
Armenia: One of the Most Wonderous Places in the World
You may think that the sentence above is not objective, and you have the right, but I have good reasons to tell so. Read on and see what Armenia can offer to ecotourists.
Agrotourism, as I have stated above is one of the major branches of ecotourism and in this case, believe me, Armenia is heaven. You may have heard, that Armenians are one of the most hospitable nations in the world. Last time I visited a village, I was welcomed so warmly, I didn’t want to come back.
Some villages like Lusadzor near town Ijevan or Atan and Tsakhashat near town Alaverdi are where you can enjoy agrotourism to the most.
Are you fond of hiking? Than Armenia is the place to come. You can’t even imagine what it means to hike in the country of highlands. In a single day of the walk, you can see a huge diversity of natural sights, ancient churches, and monasteries in almost unreachable places, beautiful villages, and much more.
Climbing and Mountaineering
The words Armenia and mountain almost always stand together. Here the highest mountain is Aragats, 4,095 meters. Other high peaks are Kaputjugh (3906m), Azhdahak (3598m), Spitakasar (3560m). If you are a climbing fan, you know the feeling of standing on a high peak and looking around. Well, Armenia is breathtakingly beautiful when you look from above.
Armenia is the country of adventures and what can be more adventurous than a biking tour across the country? Armenia can be a great place for city biking, and it’s definitely the best choice for an off-road tour. Let your bike take you somewhere awesome!
Do you like rafting? Than Armenia is the place to come! Being a whole new direction of sports and extreme tourism, rafting keeps developing in the country. Be you a professional or just an amateur, Armenia has something exciting to offer to all rafting fans. Some popular destinations are Dzoraget, Kasagh, Debed, and Tartar, the fastest rivers Armenia.
This is my favorite part, I bet yours too! Armenian national cuisine is ambrosial. Dolma, barbecue, harissa, khash, zhingyalov hats, lavash, sweets…. You can wash all of them with the world-known Armenian wine. Each meal is connected to a tradition. Kash, for example, is traditionally eaten on the hillside of Aragats in cold weather and the process is something you should see and enjoy.
The best part is all of our meals and sweets are made of bioproducts and much love. Maybe that’s the secret their exceptional taste.
No wonder Armenia is called an open museum under the sky, there is something valuable to see in every corner of the country. If you are up for ecotourism, each village of the country is worth visiting, each peak has a unique view, and each forest has its own sounds for you to catch. However, we have a list of must-visit sights that will make your Armenian memories unforgettable.
At first sight, this village is no different from other villages of the country but it has become a favorite place for archaeology and adventure lovers. The archaeological monument Kalavan 1 dates back to the 14th millennium, and Kalavan 2 is more than 34 thousand years old. The village now has about 10 guesthouses and a forest-kitchen where you can enjoy about 100 meals cooked from the herbs found in the forests surrounding the village.
If you are fond of eco lodging than Urtsadzor Eco Lodge is the place for you. It’s not far from the village Urstadzor, another picturesque view every ecotourist will enjoy. Horse riding, hiking, and cycling can be enjoyed on-site or in the surroundings.
As I have already told you, Armenia is a great place for climbing and mountaineering and Aragats is one of the most popular spots. The mountain has four peaks the highest of which is 4,090 m (13,420 ft) above sea level.
I keep speaking about the villages of Armenia and I have my reasons for it. Now, it’s Yenokavan’s turn. Why? Because it’s one of the most exciting sports in the region for adventurers due to Yell Extreme Park. Situated in the picturesque mountains the park offers crazy activities like Zip-line (5 different lines), Rope Park, Horseback riding, Via Ferrata, Zorbing, Off-road Tours, Rock Climbing, Paragliding, and Paintball. Unusual, surprising and superb experiences are waiting for you!
After a crazy day at Yell Extreme Park, you can enjoy some peaceful days at Lastiver, a paradise on earth where you can escape from the noise of big cities. Breathtakingly beautiful nature will ease your mind and give you enough energy for a whole year. Lastiver can become your inspiration as it is for me as a writer.
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