group of alpinists are lending help for adventure
Visitors to Armenia now have more active options
to seeing the country. Extreme tourism, geared
for more active vacationers that prefer to hike,
bike, climb, and more, are contributing to tourism's
development in Armenia.
Hayk Tonoyan, President of the Armenian National
Alpinism Federation, says, "Today this type
of tourism, characterized by physical activity,
is being developed throughout the world. The number
of people trying to spend their time close to
nature increases every year."
Armenia is a good place for extreme tourism,
and for mountain tourism in particular. In addition
to its mountainous landscape, Armenia is developing
an infrastructure for alpinist rescuers to ensure
"Tourists arriving to Armenia try to have
active rest. They prefer to walk, to climb mountains,
but not to take buses to Garni and Geghard,"
The idea of introducing extreme tourism was the
federation's. A search and rescue plan was in
place, but the organization lacked the funds to
implement it. Tonoyan's group got a $100,000 grant,
to be shared with other specialists of the sort
in Georgia and Azerbaijan.
The Alpinist's Federation is armed with modern
technology. They work using a GPS satellite system,
making it possible to find a person's exact location
within one meter. Alpinists are being trained
and informed about the latest technologies, and
maps are being digitalized as part of the project,
according to Tonoyan.
Explorers can take one of four tracking devices
and have their movement monitored by Tonoyan's
group in Yerevan. Should an emergency arise, the
rescuers would know where to find the group in
trouble. This summer the service is being offered
free and has already been used by groups of Czech
and French tourists.
rugged Armenia terrain welcomes exploration.
Tonoyan thinks this service is very important
and improves Armenia's reputation. This is the
only region of the CIS where this kind of system
Eleven tourist routes over the entire territory
of Armenia were included in the framework of the
program. Aragatsotn, Znagezur and the Ghegama
Chain of Mountains are focused on more than others.
And one route can take from two days to one week.
Tonoyan assures that routes were worked out in
detail, including the map digitalization. All
dangerous and difficult to traverse places were
taken into account. Interesting sites for appreciating
Armenian nature were also included in the routes.
Phase Two of the project, which will focus on
virtual tourism, will next be put into practice.
"A tourist will see the computers video
clip of the route he chooses. He will get to know
where he is going and what he will see. He will
be able to make right decision after he sees the
real route," Tonoyan admits.
Implementation of the second phase of the program
requires the use of satellite phone connections,
enabling tourists to place calls from anywhere.
"Cultural tourism is good, of course, but
extreme tourism is more interesting. People got
tired of civilization and prefer to have active
rest close to nature," Tonoyan says.