Responsible tourism: Armenia holiday, Ancient Armenia
Most of the time on this tour is spent in towns and cities, but we do spend a significant proportion of the trip exploring the countryside and wilder areas of Armenia. When exploring these areas on foot we take care to stick to the trails and not to damage any of the flora, as some parts of the region are quite a fragile environment. We operate a strict no litter policy on our tours, and work to educate our drivers and other service providers so as to avoid contributing to this problem.
Similarly, in conjunction with our local team we work with hotels and guesthouses to implement best practices when it comes to environmental matters – in some places this is far behind what we might be used to in other parts of the world. This includes basic things like not replacing towels each day, as well as saving electricity and turning lights off – small things but Armenia, especially outside of Yerevan is not as used to tourism as countries in western Europe.
On all of tours we strive to include a strong focus on local communities and we are firm believers that tourism should have a positive impact on the places visited. On this tour we try to allow our travellers to gain a real insight into the traditional customs of the country; a good example of this is when we stop in a small village near Garni, where we have lunch in a village house and can help to prepare the food. Not only is this a great experience for travellers but it means that small scale community based tourism projects, often ignored by mainstream tourism, are able to benefit from our visit.
We also stop to visit communities of Armenia’s ethnic minorities including the Molokans, Kurds and Yazidis. We only visit villages that are pleased to receive us – it is important that we do not treat such communities just as ‘exhibits’, and we recognise that some traditional groups prefer to be left alone.
These are very traditional areas with certain codes of behaviour, and the people here are not that accustomed to outsiders. We ensure that our travellers are appropriately briefed in order so as not to offend local sensibilities. This also applies to the numerous churches and monasteries that we visit on this trip; Armenia is a deeply religious country and it is important that we respect these traditions.
We visit a number of sites and monuments on this tour that do not necessarily receive much funding from other sources; the entrance fees that we include help to maintain the heritage of this country for future generations – not just western travellers but more importantly to local people to whom they have far more cultural and historical significance. We use locally owned suppliers and our partners here are deeply involved with the preservation of the culture and heritage of the country. Many of Armenia’s sites have been poorly maintained in the past and entrance fees play an important part in their restoration and conservation.
Reviews of Armenia holiday, Ancient Armenia
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I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
It was OK
A bit disappointing really
Reviewed on 07 Sep 2016 by Wayne Smith
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
Lots of ancient history, culture and impressive monasteries. The Matenadaran Library in Yerevan is fascinating with a wealth of exhibits and information. Tatev is worth a visit, great views from the cable car. The Genocide Memorial in Yerevan is very imposing and dignified.
2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?
Try the local home made produce you can get from vendors outside the monasteries. The bread filled with herbs we bought at Tatev was delicious and the walnuts wrapped in fruit was also very good. Fruit brought from roadside sellers also recommended. The other tip is not to expect good service or even smiles at some hotels - many places very much stuck in Soviet Union mentality.
3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
Yes but would have liked to have done more homestays.
4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?