High in the mountains, far from the eyes, there is a place, where you can meet with the past.
To reach this place you have to make a difficult journey, but it’s worth it, as you’ll have one of the most interesting trips in Armenia. On the central plateau of Syunik region, in Ishkhanasar range, there is a huge valley surrounded with mountains, glacier lakes and dozens of rocks with ancient carvings. It’s on 3300m above sea level and you have to go up about 1400m from the main highway. There is a mountain road starting from the village Ishkhanasar. You can hike up for some hours (~17.5km) or better to have a really good car and make an extreme off-road tour to the top that may take about 1-1.5h drive. But make sure your car is good enough and the road is rough, sometimes with strict ups and downs and all the time full of small and big stones that might damage your vehicle.
Mountain is called Ughtasar in resemblance to a camel toe (tr. “ught” meaning “camel”, “sar” meaning “mountain”). Weather can be surprisingly changed, so better to check the forecast before starting the trip. During 9 months it’s covered with snow and the best season to travel is July-August. However, even in August you’ll see some blocks of ice, that never melt.
On the top of mt. Ughtasar you’ll have a view of a large petroglyph field, where more than 2000 decorated rocks were discovered during archaeological works. There are thousands of black and grey stones of volcanic origin and almost on each of them you can see carvings of different animals, hunting, dancing scenes, geometrical (rivers, lakes) and even astronomical figures such as sun and moon.
Petroglyphs of Ughtasar
Carvings include depictions of animals (bulls, goats, muflons, etc,), hunters with bows, but what is interesting, no any bird figure was found there. The most found animal figure carved was the goat as on that times, which is 12.000 BCE (Paleolithic Era) in rock illustrations goats played the role of God symbol and divine spirit.
The natural beauty of the mountaintop valley is completed with a small glacier lake surrounded with carved rocks. Imagine how cold can be water of this lake on the altitude of 3300m. But the color of Ughtasar lake was inspiring with its perfect blue shades. Even small waves made by mountain winds couldn’t hide the stones on the bottom of the lake, covered by crystal clear water.
The way to the top was mainly dry, all in stones, but still time to time you could see a bunch of small alpine flowers, even on the top. During all the drive/hiking there were many different kind of birds seen, such as quails with “families” hidden in the wheat fields, hoopoes, hawks and eagles hunting on small mice everywhere. And when you’ll be there, watch your steps, as you may step on snakes as well.
Whenever you look for some extreme in your life or need a memorable adventure, different from the others, then you should definitely come here, win all the difficulties, climb on the top, feel the breeze, breath deep and continue your life journey.