Yenokavan Canyon – Ijevan, Armenia, Middle East

view of yenokavan canyon

View of Yenokavan Canyon

I saw the stunning photos in an article in a local magazine I picked up at a diner I was eating at in Yerevan – the lush tropical looking forests, the sheer cliffs, the beautiful river cascades and waterfalls. These carvings in a cave looked distinctly Mayan or Aztec, nothing like what existed in Armenia. I would have dismissed the entire thing as a distant wonderland, except I could make out the letters of one name, Ijevan, a region in Armenia. Strange I thought. I asked the people working at the diner what the article said about the location. Was it in Armenia? They said it sounded like it, but they couldn’t really tell where. I grabbed the article, took it to the tourist information office because if it was in Armenia, I was going to see this place!

Where "is" this place

The story caused a bit of a stir and confusion at the tourist information office. People there had never seen or heard of any such canyon. 

Eventually, I was sent to an adventure tour company, whose owner had hiked all over the country in his youth. With a gleam in his eye, he recognized the place, and explained how to find it. That was all I needed. I rented a car and drove up to the town of Ijevan, not knowing what to expect, or how exactly to get to this canyon. I went to the local tourist information office, but it was closed. To city hall. Closed also. Calls were made and the tourist information office was quickly opened. After showing them information about the canyon and caves, another call was made, this one to Yenokavan Village. Twenty minutes later a young Armenian guy arrived, he would be our guide. All of this had taken some time, so we rushed up past his village, well above it, where we parked and started our hike into the canyon. 

Cave carvings in Yenokavan Canyon, Armenia

Cave Carvings in Yenokavan Canyon, Armenia

The cliffs, the lush forests, the river – all was a complete
transformation in scenery. We felt like we’d been transported to
another world.
Descending towards the river we saw beautiful flora and wildlife, before we came to a few stairs, and then, the entrance to the cave. I couldn’t wait to see these odd carvings. I was not disappointed! The style was totally out of character for this part of the world, looked like it had been carved by Central Americans centuries ago. The wall was covered with many faces, often with face on top of face, some looking mysteriously cat-like. It was crazy that nobody knew about this place. I wanted to explore the area more. We set off for the nearby river, which had gorgeous rock formations, cascades and waterfalls along the way. A bit further in the canyon was another cave, one that required effort to get up inside to see the small pool it was supposed to contain. That would have to wait for another day. We did not have the right equipment which our guide said he could bring, plus we were starting to run out of time.

If we’d known, we would have come prepared to camp. Our guide had all the gear for a few nights which meant we would not have rented a car. Just take a Marshrutni to Ijevan and a cab to Yenokavan from there.

Traveler Article

Leave a Comment

Older comments on Yenokavan Canyon – Ijevan, Armenia, Middle East

13 March 2011

We have always heard about Armenia from our Armenian neigbors. We have been always thinking of making a trip to discover that land.
In Spring 2010 we decided together with the family visiting Yerevan, and to our surprise it was really a totally new discovery.
Armenia didnt look like any of the other countries we have ever been to. It was a mixture of old and modern, Soviet and Independent !
In Yerevan we had many tours around, Erebuni, the republic square museum, the churches, night walks in Yerevan steets and open markets in the early morning.
Our trip to Dilijan was impressing too, we have been to the monastries and the two museums available, stayed for one night in “Dili villa B&B”, where
it was all such an extream, we didnt like it that we are going to stay with the owner in the same house he didnt seam friendly and the place was not clean, old furniture, small rooms
and toilets where not in a good order, no hot water and the most disturbing part there was no keys or security locks for the rooms, non speaking English staff is also iritating.
They promissed us trips in Dilijan, but in general they are not so well organised so we didnt trust.
In Garni I was impressed with the temple and in Geghard with the churches. In Etchmiadzin city, I was very happy to find an Armenian couple in a wedding ceremony.
In general I can say we found a new land, a new discovery, a great exploration, and we wish Armenians the best.