Adventurer sparks Eurasian rebirth of hiking tourism

The international group of young adventurers who set up operations in a disused building on the outskirts of Dilijan National Park, a two hours’ drive north of the Armenian capital, do not quite look like game-changers.

Indeed, they live communally, don simple outdoor gear and bunk down in tents at night, but that is all it has taken to kick off the ambitious Trans-Caucasian Trail (TCT) project, a long-term scheme set to change the face of adventure tourism in the westernmost fringes of Eurasia.

Officially launched in early 2017, the TCT’s final goal is to build 2,000km of world-class, long-distance hiking and mountain-biking trails from the Iranian-Armenian border to the Georgian-Turkish frontier in northwestern Caucasus. When completed, visitors will need about three months to complete the full circuit.

The TCT is still in its inception: While Tom Allen, 34, a respected British bicycle-touring blogger and adventurer, and his team just started trail-building in Armenia’s Dilijan National Park, another team led by fellow Briton Paul Stephens has already worked in northwestern Georgia’s Svaneti region for the past couple of years. “It could take more than a decade to see the two trunks ultimately connect into an organic Trans-Caucasian Trail,” Allen said.

In the wild, Allen acts as the trail development coordinator, deciding on where the trail should take people. He is helped by a trail-building crew leader who oversees the daily progress, and a camp manager, who looks after the work camp’s maintenance operations.

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