• Gayane Tonoyan
A big fan of traveling and a champion of getting lost, I love exploring off-the-beaten-track places in Armenia and around the world, and sharing stories about those adventures, too!
Hiking to Lake Kaputan in the South of Armenia

Lake Kaputan, Armenia / Photo: Gayane Tonoyan

Hiking to Lake Kaputan in the South of Armenia

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I can never get enough of traveling in the Syunik Province of Armenia. Located in the south of the country, this province is so rich in natural wonders that no matter how many times you travel there, you will always find some new places to explore. Syunik is famous for its rocky mountains, lush forests, proud and a bit “crazy” people and crystal-clear lakes hidden high in the mountains. During one of the previous trips to Syunik, we had explored the Ughtasar Mountain and its petroglyphs. This time, we wanted to visit the Lake Kaputan (sometimes also referred to as Gogi Lake), a beautiful mountain lake located at the elevation of 3,202 meters above sea level.

Mountainous landscapes around the town of Kajaran in Syunik Province of Armenia

Landscapes around Kajaran in the south of Armenia / Photo: Gayane Tonoyan

After an overnight stay in Goris, we drove to the town of Kajaran, where we met Mkhitar, a guide from the Zangezur Sanctuary who accompanied us for this adventure. Together, we hit the jeep road, which started from Kajaran and took us slowly up the mountain for some 10km. The lower slopes of the mountains around were all blooming, creating a nice contrast with the rocky edges of the mountain tops, some of which were still covered with snow.

Hiking in Zangezur mountains, Armenia

In the mountains of Zangezur, Armenia / Photo: Gayane Tonoyan

On our way up, our guide told us about the wildlife he had spotted on the territory of the sanctuary through hidden cameras – it turned out bears, mountain goats and leopards were frequent visitors of the picturesque areas we were passing through. The mountain slopes were covered with various plants and flowers, many of which were edible or had medicinal value. Fascinated by the beauty of the surrounding landscapes and the interesting stories of our guide, we finally reached the end of the car road from where we could spot the peaks of the Zangezur mountain range behind the Lake Kaputan.

From here we started our hike through waist-high grass and flowers along the ice-cold stream running from the mountains. As we got closer, the view of the snow-covered mountains against the blue sky opened in front of us, and we still had no idea that the lake was so close.

Along the ice-cold stream. The lake is near. / Photo: Gayane Tonoyan

And just as we crossed over a small hill of volcanic rocks, one of the most stunning views I have seen in the mountains of Armenia opened in front of our eyes. The turquoise-blue lake, the green hills and the snow-spotted mountains were so beautiful that for a moment our group just stood there without moving or speaking. Our guide had promised us on the way up that all our tiredness would go away in a blink of an eye as soon as we saw the lake, and it was so true!

Lake Kaputan (Gogi) in the Syunik province of Armenia

Lake Kaputan, Armenia / Photo: Gayane Tonoyan

After a delicious picnic with this amazing view, we spent a couple of hours exploring the area around the lake. I spotted at least 10 different flowers growing around it and collected some of the ones I knew could be used for herbal tea – a habit you get in the mountains trying to preserve the taste of summer for the long winter months… When we started descending, it started raining and the clouds and fog made the lake even more beautiful and mystical. Lake Kaputan is one of my most favorite places in Armenia and I am already looking forward to the next opportunity to visit it!

How to get to Lake Kaputan:

To get to Lake Kaputan, you will first need to reach the town of Kajaran in Syunik province, 320 km to the south of Yerevan. From the bus station on Sevan Street in Yerevan (behind the Yerevan Train Station), get on a minibus to Kapan. Minibuses leave from 7:00 AM, ticket costs AMD 3500. Once in Kapan, take a local bus (other options are to take a taxi or hitchhike) to Kajaran. From Kajaran, you can either drive part of the road on a 4WD car and then walk for about 1-1.5 hours to reach the lake, or walk all the way from Kajaran, but in this case, you'll have to leave very early in the morning to have enough time for a 13km walk (one way). The walking trek is mostly not well visible and the trail is not marked – just keep on walking up the stream which will take you to the lake.

Important note: It is highly recommended to hire a guide from the Zangezur Sanctuary – the lake is very close to the border with Azerbaijan and it is always safer to have a guide who knows the area and the trails. The guide’s services cost AMD 3500 per person. You can contact them at their Facebook profile.