I’ve been fascinated by unrecognized countries since I learnt about their existence. One of them is located just at my doorstep. Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
Eight hour-long drive from my house in Yerevan. The whole different world.
People who live there are Armenian but I find them oh so different from my Yerevan neighbors or Diaspora friends. They are like their mountains. Tough and beautiful. Settled in a limbo, breathing in twenty years of ceasefire that is being broken once in a while. They never look afraid or scared. They would talk about the last clashes or a newly found landmine as it would be something ordinary, something one can get used to.
They could forget what a normalcy is but they remember what their land means to them. Not only that. If you head to Stepanakert or Shushi, you will be taught about the beauty of the place. You will be guided, pampered and provided with unreasonable amounts of mulberry vodka.
There is no way you won’t drink on this trip. There is no way you will make it there without hearing personal war stories. And that’s okay. This is what you are going there for. To feel it, to touch it. But there is one thing you must promise me.
Whatever happens, you should never forget to hike it, too. To inhale the landscape. To be alone with the rocks. Seeking harmony in a place where people can’t tell what peace means anymore might seem a bit strange to many, I know. In my defense, it worked for me. I’ve been there twice and I will keep returning and blogging about it.
Today I’m here to share photos from a beautiful and pleasantly easy hike to the Umbrella Waterfall. I’m not a big hiker so when I say easy, I totally mean it. The photographs were taken in July when I visited Shushi with my younger brother, who came over to the Caucasus to check what the heck I’m doing with my life and why would one ever make a leap of faith and settle down in Yerevan. Obviously, the first thing I did was taking him to an unrecognized republic.
Yeah, I still think this makes a lot of sense.
The road starts right behind the guesthouse where we stayed. Blue dots painted on the rocks lead you through a beautiful canyon down to one of the most unique waterfalls I’ve ever seen. I’ve already told you it’s called Umbrella. Well, there certainly is a reason why.
Hike it. Go under it. Spread the word about it.
Ah, I’ve almost forgotten to answer the question you haven’t asked yet but I know you would. Yes. It is safe to travel to Karabakh. If you get a chance to go, take it.