I don’t know if you’ve been watching Levison Wood’s latest adventure travel documentary ‘From Russia to Iran: Crossing Wild Frontiers’ on Channel 4. It’s a fascinating journey through the Caucasus Mountains by him and his local guides, largely on foot, sometimes in cars or ambulances, and occasionally on horses and carts.
Levison Wood, an ex-paratrooper, takes you through the wildly beautiful region of former Soviet republics of Chechnya, Dagestan and Azerbaijan, meeting some fascinating and friendly local people.
He shows the stunning Caucasus in detail which you rarely see. Ancient buildings and settlements, landscapes which, in his words, “Put the Grand Canyon to shame”, and people who have adapted to the brutal realities of the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Despite what the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises about travelling in the region (which is, mostly, ‘Don’t’), Levison Wood calmy journeys through, taking potential threats (armed, aggressive police at checkpoints, gun toting wedding guests, secret police (although they look about as secret as a sore thumb)) in a relaxed and humourous way. Nothing seems to faze him, despite the potential trouble.
His programme has sparked my wanderlust again. Seeing those views, people and places in the Caucasus got me thinking about how I would love to visit them and walk or cycle through the area.
But, how could you visit and walk through parts of the region when it is still so wild and not geared up for walkers?
It seems someone was listening to my thoughts. Tom Allen, an adventurer who has cycled and hiked to and through countless places sent me an email today. In it he asked if anyone would like to hike through Armenia with him in September (2017) along part of the Transcaucasian Trail.
I’d never heard of the Transcaucasian Trail or TCT. That’s probably because they are still putting the trail together. The TCT runs for 3,000 kms across the Greater and Lesser Caucasus Mountains.
Tom Allen is a co-founder of the TCT and won the Land Rover Bursary to map it with the help of his team. Not only are they mapping it, volunteers are helping build the trail and to mark it out. To complete the trail so hikers can walk its entire length will, according to Tom Allen, take years.
In the meantime, you can join Tom and help contribute to developing the Transcaucasian Trail by hiking through Armenia with him. It’s six days of hiking from Khachardzan to Dilijan. It’s ideal for people fit enough to walk 25kms a day. They supply the food and cooking gear. You need to bring your own hiking gear and spirit of adventure.
Find out more about the Transcaucasian Trail fundraising hike here.
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