An unknown world in the cradle of nature: Debed Canyon

26 November 2020

By Nane Vardanyan

5 min read

From ancient fortresses to impregnable heights, from dense forests to winding trails, from corners calling from the past to peaceful waters flowing to the future, COAF is here to show you an unknown world that you will discover in the Debed Canyon of the Lori region.

If you know COAF, you have probably felt our affection for Lori.

If you know us quite well, you can tell we express our love through actions.

As our COAF SMART Center is in Lori’s Debet village, most of our team members have become experts in the region. We work in, travel through, and invest in this region, seeing it as a gem with huge growth potential.

We dreamed of making the Lori region a top travel destination in Armenia, and started with its most rustic areas. This year we came up with the Debed Canyon Project to unlock the hidden jewels of Lori’s adventure tourism and take the hospitality industry of the area to a new level. Thanks to our partners at the European Association for Local Democracy (ALDA) and the support of the European Union in Armenia, the project came to life, and we have been hard at work traveling, exploring, and coming up with tourism-fostering initiatives since summer 2020.

Hospitality Consultancy for B&Bs operation

We believe in the power of capacity-building and put the knowledge of skills of our beneficiaries first. COAF has been working closely with the hospitality businesses of Dsegh, Debet, Tumanyan, and Dzoragyugh communities, providing consultancy for B&Bs operation and presenting the role of the small businesses in the community development and improvement of the tourist experience in the region.

Hiking trails 

To walk in nature is to witness thousands of miracles. For those who prefer a real one-on-one encounter with nature, we have developed two hiking trails in the heart of Lori.

  • COAF SMART Center – Debet

We have had our share in the enlargement of the Lori hiking trails network and the improvement of the local tourism potential. Our partners at Trails For Change NGO built a 1.6 km stretch connecting the COAF SMART Center with Debet village and a 5.3 km trail connecting Debet and Yeghegnut villages.

  • Debet – Yeghegnut

Our second 5.3km trail connecting Debet and Yeghegnut villages starts from the center of Debet village, follows an old Jeep track, then goes up the hill and continues through the forest to the center of Yeghegnut village. The route is diverse and impressive: sunlit meadows, views of Debet village, and the COAF SMART Center. Depending on the season, you may encounter adorable pig families and pick some wild blackthorn.

“When hiking with a local guide, an old, faded, almost forgotten wisdom starts to awaken, and you learn again to read through the clouds and the direction of the wind, hearing and feeling the vibrating air at sunrise and sunset. It is something special that is always there but rarely noticed,” describes Carine Aroyan, the Project Manager of Debed Canyon Project.

All you need for adventure tourism

Adventure tourism starts with tourist equipment, so we have been busy purchasing mountain bikes, tents, sleeping bags, and hiking sticks. Giving importance to transparency in every detail of the project, we announced tenders for obtaining these items from local businesses.

“Within these four months, we gave a start to lasting development processes. This project allowed us to do research, get to know the specificities and struggles of local businesses, and identify gaps and challenges in the hospitality field. COAF has been working on the development of Lori since 2015, and this project helped strengthen areas where we have already worked on,” explains Aroyan.

As a result of this project, the COAF Visitor Center (located on the junction of M6 and H22 roads) will be able to provide informative and promotional materials and also camping equipment and bicycles to the travelers. Overall the Debed Canyon area will be put on the adventure tourism map and properly communicated and promoted through the website, print, and video materials highlighting the best of the region.

Feel. Dream. Discover

Before you come and discover the wonders of the Debed Canyon yourself, here is a sneak peek at a few of the incredible places that will be a treat to the eye for those who wanderlust.

The giant rock called Tsis Kar is one of the most magnificent discoveries of our Debed Canyon Project. Located in the area of Lori region of Armenia called Dzoragyugh gardens or Arevatsag gorge, this place offers a beautiful harmony of tranquil nature.

Akhtala Monastery Complex is located in the town of Akhtala, Lori region, and carries traces of Armenian, Georgian, and Greek Christian cultures․ Built in the 10th century, it stands on the edge of a high ravine protected by natural barriers. Akhtala is a culturally-enriched experience full of the history of millenniums.

Stay tuned. Stay close to nature. 

Where to start from? We have been preparing marketing materials for various travel destinations and an information platform offering comprehensive info on existing hospitality businesses, active tourism destinations, and activities.

Visit www.visitdebedcanyon.com and follow Debed Canyon on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. The content is coming soon!

Debed Canyon is diverse and intricately layered. There is a lot to discover and experience here.⁣⁣ “Making this project is like learning a new language. At some point you think to yourself, ok, now I know it all, and then someone tells you about a secret waterfall in the mountains, or a beautiful abandoned Greek village near Alaverdi, or about a community of people worshiping trees. Lori is endless, just make peace with it,” says Aroyan.

Stay tuned, the mountains are calling.

Fig heaven: Vazashen village

Four countries, one motherland. Welcome home!