Update on Travel to Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) September 2023
We are extremely sad to announce that as of now we are no linger able to arrange travel to Nagorno Karabakh, a state of affairs that has essentially been in place since the blockade of the country, but has now been made permanent by it being taken over by Azerbaijan.
YPT had initially been running tours here for almost 10 years until the Covid-19 pandemic closed the country. In 2020 Azerbaijan launched an offensive in the country that essentially left it landlocked and blockaded.
During this period YPT actually received an e-mail from the government of Azerbaijan stating it was “illegal” for us to run tours here and asking us to remove any reference from our website. We politely refused and will thus still keep this page as is for the over 30 years that Nagorno Karabakh enjoyed being independent.
This sadly ended last month leaving over 100,000 Armenian refugees, although you are unlikely to hear much about them.
Independent Travel to Nagorno Karabakh
With separatist tension bubbling under the surface since the early 1990s, the region of Nagorno Karabakh, with a split population between Armenians and Azerbaijanis, exploded into a bloodthirsty civil war between both ethnicities during the collapse of the USSR. The Armenians, outnumbering the Azerbaijanis, came out triumphant and today, Nagorno Karabakh, also known as Artsakh, remains an unrecognised country supported by Armenia and currently in a military standoff with Azerbaijan. As a result, the border with Azerbaijan is sealed and the only way to enter is through Armenia.
Young Pioneer Tours have been running expeditions into the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh, also known as the republic of Artsakh, for a number of years, building up a solid expertise and a string of contacts in the republic. At a size of 4,400 square kilometres (1,699 sq mi), half of the terrain in this mountainous republic is over 950 metres (3,120 ft) above sea level. From dense forests and alpine meadows to awe inspiring peaks, Nagorno-Karabakh is a paradise for nature lovers. For those interested in Soviet and military history, the winding roads are packed with Soviet relics, burnt out tanks and sometimes discarded weaponry. Incredible Armenian wine and brandy, national creations held with great pride in the hearts of many Armenians is produced and readily available here.
Tour guides in Nagorno Karabakh
Our team in Nagorno Karabakh are hospitable and highly connected through the republic and can arrange anything you desire with ease. Our team knows all of the hidden sights from war ravaged ghost towns such as the forbidden city of Agdam to ancient monasteries and fortresses and battle sites with destroyed tanks and weapons nestled deep in the mountains.
Hotels in Nagorno Karabakh
In the capital city of Nagorno Karabakh, Stephanakert, there is a selection of comfortable hotels from the classic Soviet experience to the luxurious. Outside of the capital the selection is limited, but we offer the chance to stay in the famous vanity project of the tacky boat hotel in the village of Vank? Built by an Armenian millionaire, it features an outdoor theatre, pool and restaurant and is always open but almost always empty of guests.
Specialist Private Tours to Nagorno Karabakh
For those with a specialist interest in Nagorno Karabakh, we can arrange private tours for whichever period or length of time you wish. Reachable from the cities of Yerevan and Tbilisi with international airports, we can get you inside the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh from any route. You will be joined by a YPT representative and accompanied by our local contact in Nagorno Karabakh focusing on specific areas of your interest. We can arrange trips across the entire country.
Join a Group Tour to Nagorno Karabakh
Each year, Young Pioneer Tours operate a group tour to Nagorno Karabakh as part of our unrecognised countries tour at a bargain price. Beginning in Yerevan and taking in all the main sights of the republic including many hidden spots, meeting locals and getting an in-depth view of this fascinating breakaway state.
What are you waiting for?
Get in contact with us today to begin planning your dream trip to Nagorno Karabakh.
For film projects inside the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh, check out Pioneer Media, who can assist you with a variety of on-set services.
Sample Nagorno Karabakh Itinerary:
- Arrival at your convenience in Yerevan
- We’ll then start a Soviet Yerevan tour, we’ll see one of the other mother motherland monuments this time overlooking Yerevan and surrounded by military equipment such as tanks, APC’s and missiles. Inside is a museum to the Nagorno-Karabakh war which we’ll visit.
- Armenian dinner and overnight in Yerevan
- After breakfast we will depart for the city of Goris on
- Morning departure to the capital of Nagorno Karabakh, Stephanakert, by private transport which will be taking a scenic route crossing the stunning mountains of Armenia.
- After crossing the Nagorno Karabakh border, we’ll pull over to check out a burnt out tank from the civil war now discarded on a mountain road.
- On the way we’ll stop at the wacky village of Vank to see Titanic and Seastone hotels, strange places built by a local eccentric billionaire, and a real weird treat of the trip. Nearby is also a Soviet monument surrounded by discarded weapons and a mortar from the recent civil war.
- Visit to the Gandzasar monastery, one of the oldest monasteries in the world, tracing its roots to 600 AD, it survived multiple bombing attempts by Azerbaijan during the conflict.
- Explore ancient cemetery around the monastery.
- Evening arrival in Stepanakert where we will check into our hotel before heading out for an evening meal.
- Overnight in Stepanakert
- Breakfast at the hotel
- Visit the foreign affairs department and get our Nagorno-Karabakh visas. It is optional to have it in your passport, as this stamp means you cannot enter Azerbaijan on the passport in use.
- We will then do a walking tour of the quirky town of Stepanakert, taking in the parliament, the museum of the republic, Soviet relics and a local weapons shop where, if we’re lucky, we can take photos holding Kalashnikovs and other weapons.
- Visit the extremely disturbing museum to fallen soldiers in battles during war with Azerbaijan. Museum contains a variety of objects and photographs and tells of horror stories about the war.
- A stop at the brand new but never properly used Stepanakert airport
- We’ll then drive to the small town of Sushi, decimated in the civil war and ethnically cleansed of Azeris, it’s now an eerie shell of its former self. There are still many Azeri mosques here which are of course abandoned, we can explore these and even climb to the top of the minarets.
- We’ll stop at another destroyed Soviet era tank on the way as well as checking out a bullet riddled Soviet WW2 monument.
- We’ll return to Stephanakert to have dinner at Yureni – a traditional Karabakh restaurant, then visit the local nightclub for some evening drinks in one of the only nightclubs in Nagorno Karabakh.
- Overnight in Stepanakert
- After breakfast we check out and begin our departure to Yerevan
- On the way we’ll visit the famous Papik and Tatik monument also known as ‘we are the mountains’, a Soviet era monument reminiscent of something from Easter Island which is dedicated to the mountains and the people of this region.
- Stop at the Armenian Stonehenge, twice as old as the English one.
- Roadside lunch on way to Yerevan.
- Evening arrival in Yerevan and check into a hotel before dinner in a traditional Armenian Restaurant.
- Night on the town in Yerevan. Yerevan is a very young party town and will provide for a great night out!
- Overnight at the hotel.