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Climbing Mount Improbable: 

The People’s Revolution in Armenia

Climbing Mount Improbable: The People`s Revolution in Armenia 

The 2018 ‘revolution of love and solidarity’ led to the country’s most dramatic political changes since its independence from the Soviet Union. Have the hopes and aspirations of the revolution been realised? What does the future hold for this truly fascinating country?

The 2018 revolution led to Armenia’s most dramatic political changes since independence from the Soviet Union. Have the hopes and aspirations of the revolution been realised? What does the future hold for this truly fascinating country?

Departure Dates

7 – 13 April 2019
12 – 18 May 2019

Length

7 days/ 6 nights

Tour Route

Yerevan – Gyumri –  Yerevan

Language

English

Included

All in-country costs*

Climbing Mount Improbable: 

The People’s Revolution in Armenia

Armenia, the world’s first Christian State, sits at the cross-roads of some of history’s biggest empires and has been relentlessly buffered by external forces throughout its long, turbulent past. Yet, remarkably, numerous invasions later, it remains one of the most ethnically homogenous societies in the world. Symbolising both Armenia’s long, rich and proud cultural heritage as well as its geo-political vulnerability and isolation is Mount Ararat, the biblical resting place of Noah’s Ark.

Ararat brandy. Ararat Bank. Ararat cigarettes. Hovering over Yerevan, Mount Ararat is everywhere. And yet Mount Ararat is in present-day Turkey, which continues to deny that the 1915 genocide of its Armenian population occurred. While landlocked Armenia enjoys good relations with neighbouring Iran and Georgia, an increasingly assertive Turkey and oil rich Azerbaijan (with whom it fought the Nagorno-Karabakh War) both maintain an embargo. Although deep economic and political ties with Russia underpin foreign relations, there are also periodic moves to become closer to the European Union and NATO.

To be able to navigate such a multitude of foreign relations challenges, domestic unity and consensus are critical. Yet, as the April/ May 2018 ‘People’s Revolution’ showed, Armenians are anything but united in their vision for the country. Sparked by allegations of widespread corruption and the undermining of democracy, protests ended up forcing the most dramatic political changes since Armenian independence. While the revolution leader Nikol Pashinyan was elected the new Prime Minister in May 2018 and a new government installed, the political situation remains in flux.

Join us on this fascinating tour to Armenia – a beautiful and hospitable country – to look at the current situation and the extent to which the hopes and aspirations of the revolution have been fulfilled and whether the ‘old-guard’ have been successful in re-establishing their power. We will visit places of political, historical and cultural significance and meet with civil society activists, politicians, journalists and academics to get a first hand insight into what is going on. Given the key role that corruption played in the revolution, we are delighted to have Transparency International Armenia (the local Chapter of the world’s leading civil society anti-corruption organisation) as our guide.

Daily Itinerary


Day 1

We will start our tour by meeting for lunch, where we will have an introduction to the week ahead. It is impossible to understand present day Armenia without going back a long way back into its history to explore what shapes it identity and this will be the focus of our first afternoon together. Accompanied by an historian and cultural expert, we will travel just outside Yerevan to visit the pagan Garni temple and the Geghard Monastry, which play important roles in the country’s history and identity.

We will have dinner on the way back to Yerevan, where we will look at the importance of cuisine in national identity and culture (and Armenian food is very, very good!).

Overnight in Yerevan.

Day 2

We start the day by visiting the Armenian Genocide Memorial and Museum, which commemorates the estimated 1.5 million people who were exterminated under the Ottoman government (Turkey denies this happened). On our walk back into the city we will visit some buildings and places which have been controversial in Yerevan’s recent history, with allegations of corruption and environmental damage.

After lunch, we will turn our attention to the Soviet Period and explore its present-day legacy. We will have the opportunity to discuss with eminent historians of the period, which will be followed by a visit to the fascinating the Sergey Paradjanov Museum (a Soviet dissident film maker).

Over dinner we will continue to explore the Soviet legacy on the present day.

Overnight in Yerevan.

Day 3

We spend the morning in the company of politicians and independent experts to discuss the politics and economy of the 3rd Republic (the time since the Soviet period), continuing the conversations over lunch.

In the afternoon we will set off for Gyumri, Armenia’s second largest city and home to a large Russian military base. We will follow the road along the Turkish border, where we will have the opportunity to explore the evolution of the relationship with Turkey.

Dinner at a speciality fish restaurant.

Overnight in Gyumri.

Day 4

Gyumri and the surrounding areas is one of the poorest parts of the country and stands in stark contrast to Yerevan. We will spend the morning exploring Gyumri, including its impressive 19th century Russian-influenced architecture, the continuing legacy of the 1988 earthquake (and controversial reconstruction efforts) and meetings with local politicians and civic activists.

After lunch we will visit surrounding rural areas, where we will have the opportunity to meet with a range of people to explore the lack of economic development and resulting large scale depopulation which has occurred in recent years.

We will return to Yerevan, stopping for a dinner on the way.

Overnight in Yerevan.

Day 5

Understanding the Nagorno-Karabakh issue is key to understanding the more general current geopolitical situation of Armenia as a whole. We will spend the morning looking at this through discussions with both a prominent Yerevan-based think tank, and members of the international diplomatic community.

After lunch, we will have a corruption walking tour through the city center to look at a number of buildings and developments where there have been serious allegations of malpractice. The tour will be led by an activist architect who has worked on the issues for a number of years.

Dinner at a jazz club.

Overnight in Yerevan.

Day 6

We will spend the morning looking at the key issues of democracy, public participation in political discourse and media freedom in the country. Helping us understand these complex issues will be a number of civil society actors and government officials, including those who have taken part in or been affected by the recent protests.

After lunch, we will turn to some of the key human rights and social issues facing the country as it seeks to build its democratic institutions. Through meetings with a range of actors, we will look at issues of youth (political participation, employment and emigration), women (low level of public participation) and LGBT (what it means to be LGBT in a socially conservative society).

We will be joined for dinner by a prominent Armenian commentator, who will provide their perspective on what the future holds for the country.

Overnight in Yerevan.

Day 7

We will say our farewells and reflect on our experiences together over a long, leisurely breakfast.

Departures for onward destinations of continuing to explore Armenia on your own – lots of suggestions available!

All of our tours are dynamic and seek to take advantage of current political events. Thus, final itineraries can be subject to modification. Also, some people we plan to meet might no longer be available or still be in their positions. This is simply the nature of the types of tours we offer and the reality of some of the countries we visit. In all cases, we will seek replacement meetings of a similiar level. 

If you think there are relevant topics missing from the itinerary which you are interested in, please do suggest them and we might be able to include them, as our tour experts have wide-ranging and diverse networks. 

Tour Expert

We are delighted to partner with Transparency International Armenia, who have designed and will accompany this tour. Transparency International Armenia is a civil society organization which focuses on the fight against corruption and the promotion of accountable governance within the country.
Read more…

Travel Details

Price:

 €3,720 per person based on sharing double/ twin room

 Single person supplement €350

*Includes:

 All  meetings, experts, specialised tours, entry fees, translation, venues, cultural events/ entertainment (see itinerary)

  Upper middle class and middle class hotels

 Private busses and rented taxis

 All Meals except on free evenings (see itinerary), non-alcoholic drinks

Please note:

Tour language is English

Price does not include flights to and from destination

Valid passport required, no visa required for EU citizens (see information for travel/health requirements German Foreign Office)

Tour is partially suitable for people with disabilities (please contact us)

If the minimum number of tour participants (6 people) is not reached, New Perspectives Travel reserves the right to cancel the tour up to 20 days before departure (see Terms and Conditions).

Please inform us of any special requirements you might have

Further Information

Please visit our About Us and Frequently Asked Questions for further information on our tours or simply contact us!

Armenia, the world’s first Christian State, sits at the cross-roads of some of history’s biggest empires and has been relentlessly buffered by external forces throughout its long, turbulent past. Yet, remarkably, numerous invasions later, it remains one of the most ethnically homogenous societies in the world. Symbolising both Armenia’s long, rich and proud cultural heritage as well as its geo-political vulnerability and isolation is Mount Ararat, the biblical resting place of Noah’s Ark.

Ararat brandy. Ararat Bank. Ararat cigarettes. Hovering over Yerevan, Mount Ararat is everywhere. And yet Mount Ararat is in present-day Turkey, which continues to deny that the 1915 genocide of its Armenian population occurred. While landlocked Armenia enjoys good relations with neighbouring Iran and Georgia, an increasingly assertive Turkey and oil rich Azerbaijan (with whom it fought the Nagorno-Karabakh War) both maintain an embargo. Although deep economic and political ties with Russia underpin foreign relations, there are also periodic moves to become closer to the European Union and NATO.

To be able to navigate such a multitude of foreign relations challenges, domestic unity and consensus are critical. Yet, as the April/ May 2018 ‘People’s Revolution’ showed, Armenians are anything but united in their vision for the country. Sparked by allegations of widespread corruption and the undermining of democracy, protests ended up forcing the most dramatic political changes since Armenian independence. While the revolution leader Nikol Pashinyan was elected the new Prime Minister in May 2018 and a new government installed, the political situation remains in flux.

Join us on this fascinating tour to Armenia – a beautiful and hospitable country – to look at the current situation and the extent to which the hopes and aspirations of the revolution have been fulfilled and whether the ‘old-guard’ have been successful in re-establishing their power. We will visit places of political, historical and cultural significance and meet with civil society activists, politicians, journalists and academics to get a first hand insight into what is going on. Given the key role that corruption played in the revolution, we are delighted to have Transparency International Armenia (the local Chapter of the world’s leading civil society anti-corruption organisation) as our guide.

Daily Itinerary


Day 1

We will start our tour by meeting for lunch, where we will have an introduction to the week ahead. It is impossible to understand present day Armenia without going back a long way back into its history to explore what shapes it identity and this will be the focus of our first afternoon together. Accompanied by an historian and cultural expert, we will travel just outside Yerevan to visit the pagan Garni temple and the Geghard Monastry, which play important roles in the country’s history and identity.

We will have dinner on the way back to Yerevan, where we will look at the importance of cuisine in national identity and culture (and Armenian food is very, very good!).

Overnight in Yerevan.

Day 2

We start the day by visiting the Armenian Genocide Memorial and Museum, which commemorates the estimated 1.5 million people who were exterminated under the Ottoman government (Turkey denies this happened). On our walk back into the city we will visit some buildings and places which have been controversial in Yerevan’s recent history, with allegations of corruption and environmental damage.

After lunch, we will turn our attention to the Soviet Period and explore its present-day legacy. We will have the opportunity to discuss with eminent historians of the period, which will be followed by a visit to the fascinating the Sergey Paradjanov Museum (a Soviet dissident film maker).

Over dinner we will continue to explore the Soviet legacy on the present day.

Overnight in Yerevan.

Day 3

We spend the morning in the company of politicians and independent experts to discuss the politics and economy of the 3rd Republic (the time since the Soviet period), continuing the conversations over lunch.

In the afternoon we will set off for Gyumri, Armenia’s second largest city and home to a large Russian military base. We will follow the road along the Turkish border, where we will have the opportunity to explore the evolution of the relationship with Turkey.

Dinner at a speciality fish restaurant.

Overnight in Gyumri.

Day 4

Gyumri and the surrounding areas is one of the poorest parts of the country and stands in stark contrast to Yerevan. We will spend the morning exploring Gyumri, including its impressive 19th century Russian-influenced architecture, the continuing legacy of the 1988 earthquake (and controversial reconstruction efforts) and meetings with local politicians and civic activists.

After lunch we will visit surrounding rural areas, where we will have the opportunity to meet with a range of people to explore the lack of economic development and resulting large scale depopulation which has occurred in recent years.

We will return to Yerevan, stopping for a dinner on the way.

Overnight in Yerevan.

Day 5

Understanding the Nagorno-Karabakh issue is key to understanding the more general current geopolitical situation of Armenia as a whole. We will spend the morning looking at this through discussions with both a prominent Yerevan-based think tank, and members of the international diplomatic community.

After lunch, we will have a corruption walking tour through the city center to look at a number of buildings and developments where there have been serious allegations of malpractice. The tour will be led by an activist architect who has worked on the issues for a number of years.

Dinner at a jazz club.

Overnight in Yerevan.

Day 6

We will spend the morning looking at the key issues of democracy, public participation in political discourse and media freedom in the country. Helping us understand these complex issues will be a number of civil society actors and government officials, including those who have taken part in or been affected by the recent protests.

After lunch, we will turn to some of the key human rights and social issues facing the country as it seeks to build its democratic institutions. Through meetings with a range of actors, we will look at issues of youth (political participation, employment and emigration), women (low level of public participation) and LGBT (what it means to be LGBT in a socially conservative society).

We will be joined for dinner by a prominent Armenian commentator, who will provide their perspective on what the future holds for the country.

Overnight in Yerevan.

Day 7

We will say our farewells and reflect on our experiences together over a long, leisurely breakfast.

Departures for onward destinations of continuing to explore Armenia on your own – lots of suggestions available!

All of our tours are dynamic and seek to take advantage of current political events. Thus, final itineraries can be subject to modification. Also, some people we plan to meet might no longer be available or still be in their positions. This is simply the nature of the types of tours we offer and the reality of some of the countries we visit. In all cases, we will seek replacement meetings of a similiar level. 

If you think there are relevant topics missing from the itinerary which you are interested in, please do suggest them and we might be able to include them, as our tour experts have wide-ranging and diverse networks. 

Tour Expert

We are delighted to partner with Transparency International Armenia, who have designed and will accompany this tour. Transparency International Armenia is a civil society organization which focuses on the fight against corruption and the promotion of accountable governance within the country.
Read more…

Travel Details

Departure Dates:

7 – 13 April 2019
12 – 18 May 2019

Length:

7 days/ 6 nights

Tour Route:

Yerevan – Gyumri – Yerevan

Price:

  €3,720 per person based on sharing double/ twin room

 Single person supplement €350

Includes:

 All  meetings, experts, specialised tours, entry fees, translation, venues, cultural events/ entertainment (see itinerary)

  Upper middle class and middle class hotels

 Private busses and rented taxis

 All Meals except on free evenings (see itinerary), non-alcoholic drinks

Please note:

Tour language is English

Price does not include flights to and from destination

Valid passport required, no visa required for EU citizens (see information for travel/health requirements German Foreign Office)

Tour is partially suitable for people with disabilities (please contact us)

If the minimum number of tour participants (6 people) is not reached, New Perspectives Travel reserves the right to cancel the tour up to 20 days before departure (see Terms and Conditions).

Please inform us of any special requirements you might have

Further Information

Please visit our About Us and Frequently Asked Questions for further information on our tours or simply contact us!