Arpa Protected Landscapes
Located in south-central Armenia, Arpa Protected Landscapes (formerly Gnishik PL) is the country’s first community-managed protected area and is managed by a foundation representing the villages of Khachik, Gnishik and Areni. The arid and rocky Gnishik gorge is home to an incredible variety of plant and animal life, including the bezoar goat, the population of which has increased markedly over the last few years. Early in the morning or just before sunset, groups of bezoars can be seen descending into the gorge to drink from the river, displaying their distinctive acrobatic climbing skills. Visitors to the 13th century Noravank Monastery, also located in Gnishik, have even recently spotted the bezoars exploring the roofs of the monastery! The area around Gnishik abounds in sites of cultural and historical interest, including the Areni cave, where the world’s oldest shoe was discovered in 2011. Areni is also home to some of Armenia’s finest wines, which can be sampled at a number of local vineyards.