Trekkers Guide to the Transcaucasian Trail

Taking a break on the Transcaucasian Trail, Georgia | Gesine Cheung
Taking a break on the Transcaucasian Trail, Georgia | Gesine Cheung

The freshly mapped Transcaucasian Trail is still relatively unknown in mainstream trekking, which is a great thing if you prefer some privacy on your hike. It also means that you can contribute to establishing the Transcaucasian Trail simply by walking it.

Due to its newness, there is limited information about the Transcaucasian Trail for those considering hiking it - until now, that is. 

What is the Transcaucasian Trail?

The Transcaucasian Trail aims to be a world-class hiking trail, which has been in active development since 2015.

The trail, which is being built with the help of local and international volunteers, will connect the villages, valleys and more in the South Caucasus mountain range, which spans three countries on the edge of Asia and Europe: Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. 

Upon completion, the Transcaucasian Trail will be more than 3000km in length, connecting roughly two dozen national parks and protected areas in this rarely travelled to region.

Hike through picturesque villages in Georgia on the Transcaucasian Trail |  <i>Gesine Cheung</i>

Why should you hike the Transcaucasian Trail?

The obvious reason is the dramatic landscapes of the Caucasus Mountains. If you love trekking, and are always on the lookout for new ideas before everyone else does, the combination of the spectacular landscapes and quiet trails (it remains relatively unvisited right now due to a lack of transport infrastructure) is hard to resist for avid walkers.

The Transcaucasian Trail is also a transcendental experience for history lovers. Relics of the Persian, Ottoman and Russian Empires are abundant due to a long history of invasion and occupation by successive imperial powers, as well as the region’s position as a major junction on the Silk Road trading routes of old. The region was also the first to adopt Christianity as a state religion - so be prepared to be surprised by the sheer amount of ancient temples, churches and monasteries - each stunningly unique.

Discover the diverse cultural heritage and distinct identity of the region, as well as countless ethnic groups and more than 40 indigenous languages – a density surpassed only by Papua New Guinea and the Amazon Rainforest.

How hard is the Transcaucasian Trail?

For experienced walkers, the trail should not present any difficulties. Even first time trekkers with reasonable fitness should be able to undertake sections of the Transcaucasian Trail with good preparation before the trek.

There is no altitude to contend with; however, there are some days that will seem tough as you could gain as much as 500m in ascent before coming back down again.

We offer two hikes along the Transcaucasian Trail in Armenia and Georgia, and they are both graded level 4, introductory to moderate.

Feeling alive on the Transcaucasian Trail, Georgia |  <i>Gesine Cheung</i>

What are the facilities like along the trail?

The trail is new, and the region has not been developed for tourism - yet. This means there are limited facilities, and in some places, accommodation and dining options could be quite basic. 

This rawness is an attraction for those that like to experience off-the-beaten-track destinations, but if you like your creature comforts, then perhaps this isn't the trail for you.

Should I hike the Transcaucasian Trail in Georgia or Armenia?

If you have the luxury of time, we suggest you do both to enjoy the complete Transcaucasian Trail experience. 

Most travellers may not have three weeks available to complete both, so which one you decide upon really depends on your personal interests and time frame. So, which section is right for you? Let's look at some of the highlights and key features of both.

Spectacular alpine scenery on the Transcaucasian Trail, Georgia |  <i>Gesine Cheung</i>

Georgia Transcaucasian Trail Hike:

  • Traverse between 82km - 87km (depending on your group's fitness) over 10 days.
  • Larger in landmass, better transport infrastructure.
  • Fewer, but more popular, trails. 
  • Explore the highest permanently inhabited village in Europe.
  • Hiking in the stunningly rugged and remote Svaneti region.
  • Architecturally focuses more on Christian churches and cathedrals.
Hikers in front of Garni Temple, Armenia |  <i>Gesine Cheung</i>

Armenia Transcausasian Trail Hike:

  • Trek just under 70km over 8 days.
  • Wilder and more rugged trails due to minimal trekkers.
  • Less infrastructure, including fewer airports, major cities and railways. 
  • Crosses the border into Georgia at the end of the trek.
  • Architecturally focuses more on monasteries and temples.  
Wildflowers, sunshine & fantastic hiking on the Transcaucasian Trail Traditional Armenian cuisine |  <i>Gesine Cheung</i> Enjoying lunch at the end of the Armenian section of the Transcaucasian Trail |  <i>Gesine Cheung</i> Haghartsin Monastery |  <i>Gesine Cheung</i> A refreshing waterfall on the Transcaucasian Trail Hikers walk on a patch of snow on the Transcaucasian Trail

Ready to trek the Transcaucasian Trail? Why a small group trip is best

As we mentioned, the infrastructure to support walkers along the Transcaucasian Trail is still being developed. You would need to be a very experienced traveller to organise an independent journey along the trail. 

The only option for many of us is to join a small group walk where you can benefit from local knowledge. Travelling with a group and an expert guide means you are supported every step of the way. 

On our small group walks along the Transcaucasian Trail you will:

  • Get a deeper understanding of the country & its people
  • Benefit from an English speaking mountain guide during hiking
  • Focus on your surroundings instead of route finding
  • Enjoy handpicked accommodation in cities & along the trail
  • Have all meals included
  • Receive private vehicle transfers
Transcaucasian Trail, Hiking in Georgia, Trekking in Armenia, Transcaucasus Trekking, Long Distance Hiking

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