- Encounters with locals
- Hiking / Trekking
- Off the beaten track
Chiva lies a little off the main road that links Yerevan to the south of the country, specifically to the town of Yeghegnadzor in the province of Vayots Dzor and, further south, the province of Syunik. The geographical shape of southern Armenia is strange, looking almost as if it has been cut and shaped by the blade of a knife. The country is actually hemmed in by Azerbaidjan, its exclave Nakhchivan, Turkey and Iran, which is all the result of cynical Stalinien territorial changes and other vicissitudes of history.
I was permanently affected by this sense of the strangeness of the borders throughout my trip here. Therefore, on the way to Chiva, a journey which sees you taking the main route from the north to the south of the country, you end up blocked in by the Azerbaijani republic of Nakhchivan. These considerations aside, however, Vayots Dzor and the Chiva region contain much of what Armenia generally has to offer: very beautiful, medium-altitude mountain scenery, dry, bright and southern in character, with landscapes scattered with green villages and planted with fruit trees and vines.
Out of curiosity, I left the main road for a day and headed up to Chiva, which lies in a small valley between two secondary mountain ranges. Though devoid of any particularly notable features, the village, which contains a reputed guesthouse, is very pleasant and traditional: the kind of place in which it is really worth taking the time to meet the local people, who are very warm and hospitable.