I had been pondering on the idea of renting a car in Armenia for over a year while living here and at one point I was debating on purchasing my own car. Countless times by multiple people trying to steer me away from doing so because “Armenian drivers are crazy” and “you don’t know the roads or how people drive here.” I decided to do what I often do and do the opposite of what others kept telling me and put that to the test. After renting a car for 3 days, driving in chaotic city traffic, getting lost in the middle of nowhere in remote mountain villages, and risking my life driving down steep mountain roads covered in ice on the edge of a cliff I can ultimately say the experience only reinforced my love for driving and my love for Armenia.
Relying only on public transportation to travel outside of Yerevan is slow, inconsistent, and more often than not unreliable depending on the region and time of the year. Not all public transport reaches certain locations and you will spend more time changing buses and routes than anything else. I had been dreaming of traveling to certain locations and having the ability to spend as much time as I would like without feeling rushed. Tours are a viable option and there are many agencies to choose from, but I always felt rushed and never got the full experience of a particular location and in most cases you end up spending more time eating on the tour rather than actually enjoying the actual destinations. I personally like to go at my own pace, take my time and enjoy a location to its fullest. One thing to keep in mind from my personal experience is to not rely too much on google maps or maps.me and it’s best to plan a route before leaving. Sometimes these apps will take you in the wrong direction but if you have a lot of time and don’t mind getting lost and are the adventurous type, then go all out and explore as much as possible because you might stumble across some interesting people and locations along the way.
After three days driving in the provinces of Gegharkunik, Tavush, Aragatsotn, Armavir, and Kotayk, it made me begin to question the common phrase I always hear that Armenians are crazy drivers and made me want to explore more of Armenia’s beautiful countryside. I would say the majority of Armenians are very good drivers, just impatient ones at times, however who is not an impatient driver while in traffic especially in a large city? I would like to ask those people have they ever driven in New York City, Los Angeles, or any other major city in the United States or abroad because in most cases you will encounter a similar style of driving. Once you get the feel for the roads and how things function in Armenia it eventually does not feel so foreign and overwhelming. The freedom of having a car to go wherever you want, whenever you want rules out all the chaos experienced while driving in Yerevan.
Below are some photos taken with my iPhone of the driving experience during the beginning of February. Stay tuned for some new photos and video taken with my Fuji camera and DJI Mavic Pro.