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Janapar Trail Report by Tsovinar Hakobyan

After our 12-day trip to Artsakh we came back with so many positive feelings, memories and emotions… Memories of the smell of the bread made by Arega Grandma’s in Togh Village, emotions about “the only motobiker boy”, Azat (By the way, Azat means “free” in Armenian), Azat has so many initiatives and is so motivated about many things.

There is the fog in Stepanakert, which makes the city look different every day, about Aliona’s diverse, endless and great ideas of developing the Villages, emotions about the taste of the Potato slices made on the oven in every Village.

The trips mission was to find homestays in 16 villages along the Janapar Trail which can host Tourists. The mission is complete and the results we will share with you very soon. Now I would like to tell you about the emotional part of the trip.

The memorable trip started from Zuar Village. This is where we met Esayi for the second time. When we were working on the Janapar Trail in September we had camped in his yard. After living for 25 years in the USA Esayi moved back to his hometown of Yerevan. Soon he grew tired of the noisy life in the city and moved to Zuar Village. He is a beekeeper. He makes wine out of the honey and will be so happy if you visit and give it a try. He often cleans trash from the streets though this seems very strange for the other locals.

In Zuar is very common to see bee-houses in every yard.

The next village was Tsar, where we were greeted with so much hospitality! In this village in every garden you see Armenian Gampr Dogs. While passing next to them we had the feeling we are passing by lions. We knocked on a random door and fell into Sahaks hospitable family. He organised a nice off-road tour with his own car, and promised nice trips and hiking tours for tourists. We met Armen, who has Armenian roots, but hardly speaks Armenian. He moved to Tsar Village from Russia with his Russian

Wife and now 5 years old cute Daughter Anna. Guitar night, Armenian/Russian national food, nice hiking, very interesting conversations are waiting for you if you visit Armen. By the way, the conversations can be in Russian, Armenian, English or French.

In Bradjur a surprise was waiting for us. Tsovinar Hakobyan: No no, another Tsovinar Hakobyan. A tsunami is taking place when two Tsovinar Hakobyan’s are meeting. Tourists have the opportunity to have their homestay in Tsovinar’s House. In Nor Bradjur Village and all the neighborhood Villages all the people were speaking about Araqs, who is teaching Armenian national dances in many Villages. She has made a little dance floor in her yard and hosts all the children of the Village.

In Dadivank Village Ms Sona hosted us, whose dialect I did not understand that well, but from the kind smile could guess all the nice things she was talking about. As she says, She is not living alone, she lives with her dog and a cat. The dog and the cat always sleep together. We slept just next to the wood stove.

We passed through Vaghuhas Village, Vank Village where we met the Donkey who had won the competition of Donkeys, enjoyed the gorgeous sunset from Gandzasar Monastery, from where you can see all the Village below.

Suddenly in front of us appeared a long bearded young man on a Donkey.

He was making the atmosphere of the old, narrow streets more significant. I almost fell in love and the nexts 30 minutes was speaking only about him, making Andranik

get nervous.

We passed through Kolatak, where we met the smiley Ofelya Grandma. On that morning, like every morning she goes to bring fresh eggs for her little Grandson. We “collected” smiles from her and went on our way to Badara.

There we had a big surprise waiting for us,

the hungry hikers we were! It was Jingalov Hats (Greens Bread), barbeque meat, pickles and Badara's famous bean soup...We were invited to the Birthday party of the Village Mayor’s Son. For a moment everyone forgot the party and were helping us with our mission. We drank for Tigran the birthday boy and left the party thinking about the dried fruit we did not manage to eat. :D

Then we reached Shushi, which is not only the Hunot Canyon or Djrduz, Shushi is a destroyed white city, where lives Abo, who every morning goes to Stepanakert and collects trash on the road, Avo is part of Shushi. Shushi is Artak, who after participating in the war of Artsakh came back and started to create dolls for performances, Shushi in the fog that everyday covers the city and leaves above

only the sun, the mosque towers and Qirs mountains. Besides Saint Ghazanchetsots Church also are the children who always run by the church’s yard. Shushi is the perfect scanned laundry with kids and other clothes with stunning symmetry, and the stunning “Realakan” academys ruins.

Stepanakert is not only the statue of “Dedo

Babo” (Grandma Grandpa). It is a clean city, where with every visit you notice changes. This time for example a new unique “cafe”-art center was opened, it’s called “roots”. They are organising a lot of useful, important, interesting events for the youth.

We also passed by historical Karintak Village, Avetaranots,Karmir Shuka,Azokh, and Togh. where we met the kindest grandma ever, her name is Arega, which means “sun” in Armenian. The name suits her so well. She meet us with freshly made bread, her hands were still covered by flour. We felt like we were her hungry grandchildren, coming home from a hard job or abroad.

When we finally reached Hadrut, which is totally green with its tall green grass and green uniform soldiers everywhere. Our Last stop was Dizapayt/Cataro mountain. Thanks to ArmLand Hiking group members who helped us to climb it. I can't describe how beautiful Dizapayt met us. The same day we saw rain, snow, fog, sunset, sunrise, moonrise….On the top of the Dizapayt mountain you feel as the god of thunderstorms, Vahagn. Above everything, above the fog and the clouds. It was hard to restrain my childhood dream to jump on the clouds.

We say Thank you to all who added color to our trip. Thanks to Manuk, who is famous from one side to the other as a teacher of Armenian National dances. Thanks to Grigori, who is allways worring about the youth of Shushi, and trying to make their daily life more interesting. Thanks to all the staff of Narekatsi Art Center, for the greatful talks, ideas, hospitality and dinner around the kind dolls made by Artak.

Thanks to sunshine Ani who is happy to be volunteer in every program which can somehow develop Artsakh...Thank all the

people who met and smiled at us in the markets, streets, Gas-filling places…

Atsakh is not only the war or memories about the war, it is not only a country of the 18 years old youth standing with guns on the border, nor only the country of Jingyalov Hats. Artsakh is the Mrav Mountains, which is seen from every part of Artsakh. It is a rocky and very mountainous country that people are leaving.

They live with the problem of water and

gas shortages, lack of good jobs, rain water leaking from the roof, they often live 10 people in the same room, almost daily toasts to the soldiers guarding the border and they drink for peace.

On the bright side there is always plenty of food! Nuts, herbs, Pomegranates, Apricots and many other fruits are plentiful! Also beautiful mountainous views and clean air!

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