Transcaucasian Trail Nears Completion

Photo: transcaucasiantrail.org

Since 2015, the Transcaucasian Trail Association (TCTA) has been developing a 3,000km hiking trail across the Caucasus Mountains. The finished Transcaucasian Trail (TCT) will consist of two 1,500km sections spanning Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.

The northern route follows the Greater Caucasus Mountains and connects the Black and Caspian Seas. The southern route spans the Lesser Caucasus Mountains from the Black Sea to the Aras River.

While the trail is still being developed in Azerbaijan, there are currently hundreds of kilometres of trail open to the public. The TCTA hope that a 1,200km route from northwest Georgia to southern Armenia will be fully open by 2022.

Through Armenia

Likewise, an 832km traverse across the entire country of Armenia will be available by next year. This will will be the first section that spans an entire country. Recently, a three-person team just finished thru-hiking the route, adding waypoints and making small adjustments. One of them, Tom Allen, tweeted details of their successful trek.

Meagan Neal, a director of the TCTA told BBC Travel that she wants hikers to experience the “richness of the Caucasus, culturally, geographically, linguistically”. The region includes over 40 indigenous languages.

Photo: transcaucasiantrail.org

The rich number of species along the trail has made it one of the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots. The TCT passes near Elbrus (5,642m), dense forests, alpine meadows, and volcanic plateaus, as well as a 1,500-year-old church and other ancient architecture.

Snow covers the trail for six months a year, so volunteers did their work exclusively in summer. Initially, many trails in the Caucasus were unmarked and difficult to follow, so they added signage and linked different hiking trails across the three countries. Regional politics added to the weather difficulties: Sections of the route had to be diverted because of conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The COVID-19 pandemic added further delays. Work has resumed at last.

Photo: transcaucasiantrail.org

Some sections now open

Currently, trails are open to the public in Upper Svaneti–Racha in Georgia, and in Dilijan National Park, the Gegham Mountains, and Vayots Dzor province in Armenia. These sections take between 5 to 10 days to complete.

The full route needs about three months to hike. It will pass through more than 20 national parks, several UNESCO sites, and many protected areas in the three countries.

Photo: transcaucasiantrail.org

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About the Author

Rebecca McPhee

Rebecca is a freelance writer and science teacher based in the UK.

She is a keen traveler and has been lucky enough to backpack her way around Africa, South America, and Asia. With a background in marine biology, she is interested in everything to do with the oceans and aims to dive and open-water swim in as many seas as possible.

Her areas of expertise include open water sports, marine wildlife and adventure travel.

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Pawel
Pawel
2 months ago

The biggest problem of the Transcaucasian Trail are Abkhazia and South Ossetian – two self-proclaimed republics supported and controlled by Russia but by most of the world recognized as part of Georgia. To walk all the Grater Caucasian Range in Georgia you must walk by the territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetian but it is not possible to cross borders between Georgia with Abkhazia and South Ossetian, and it is not safe as well for foreigners to be in Abkhazia and South Ossetian.So this is the reason why this trail have to be diverted to Lesser Caucasus Mountains – to bypass… Read more »

Karen
Karen
2 months ago
Reply to  Pawel

I was wondering also how hikers would cross between Azerbaijan and Armenia, or vice-versa. When I crossed the border into Azerbaijan from Georgia by train a few years ago, anyone who had been to Armenia was not allowed entry.

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Pawel
Pawel
2 months ago
Reply to  Karen

yes, everything is so complicated there, not as easy as we wish :/
I hope someday it will be possible to walk all the Grater Caucasian Range from sea to sea without any problems.
Good that for now traveling to Georgia is so easy and safe, the Svaneti region is amazing 🙂

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