Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh

Mountains and Monasteries

For an otherworldly experience in one of the planet's oldest civilizations, head to Armenia, where economic recovery and political stabilization have nudged open tourism doors. This 14-day cultural journey mixes sacred spots (stone-carved monasteries dating from a.d. 300) with spectacular mountain scenery. Begin in the ancient city of Yerevan, with its sidewalk cafés and open-air markets. From there you'll head to the pilgrimage site of Khor Virap, a fourth-century monastery facing snowy Mount Ararat; wine-taste in Areni; soak in the healing waters of Jermuk; and visit Karahunj (Armenia's Stonehenge). In neighboring Nagorno Karabakh (independent since 1991), where the eastern edge of the Armenian Plateau meets the high mountains, walk along the cliffs of Shushi, an ancient walled village, and bed down in mountain hamlets. OUTFITTER: Wilderness Travel; wildernesstravel.com PRICE: $4,500–$5,200 DIFFICULTY: Easy WHEN TO GO: May, September

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