Often overlooked for its better-known neighbours, Armenia is a land of warm welcomes and wild landscapes. Our Caucasus expert tells us how it captured her heart.
What were your impressions of Armenia when you first arrived?
Before travelling to the Caucasus, I had only really heard about Georgia. So I entered Armenia with no expectations and excited to see what it would be like. We crossed the land border from Georgia and headed straight into Debed Canyon – a beautiful, dramatic landscape that caught the entire group by surprise. I remember thinking that it was wild and peaceful; this turned out to be a pretty good description for the whole country!
How have those opinions changed over the years?
I still feel it is one of the most serene countries I have travelled to (history and current tensions aside). The Armenian people are warm, welcoming and very smiley! They are not as loud as their neighbours when talking about their country, but those who remain in Armenia (there is a large global diaspora) are extremely proud and passionate about ensuring guests have the best time. The more I’ve learnt, the more fascinated I have become. We have even had a number of Armenians born abroad take their first trip to Armenia with us. This has led to some quite specific and niche requests, which have allowed us to establish new, exciting excursions.
How does it differ from other countries in the Caucasus?
It is definitely the most overlooked part of the Caucasus, as it has fewer stand-out highlights, but I would say it is the overall Armenian experience that captivates you. In three words, I’d describe it as a resilient, charming and orthodox country.
How does the food in Armenia compare to Georgian cuisine?
I’d say it’s equally delicious. A lot of the same ingredients and similar dishes: tasty bread (lavash is traditionally Armenian), organic fruits and vegetables, barbecued meat, a lot of fish, meze dishes – there’s plenty to choose from!