Skip to content

You’ll soon be able to hike a new trail connecting Europe with Asia

July 23 2021
4 min read
You’ll soon be able to hike a new trail connecting Europe with Asia
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

In recent years, thru-hiking (long-distance hiking from one point to the next) has become increasingly popular.

Books and films such as Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild” and Emilio Estevez’s “The Way” have brought thru-hikes like the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail and the Camino into popular culture.

And now, the construction of a new trail system called the Transcaucasian Trail (TCT) is well underway.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

The TCT, which links Europe and Asia through the Caucasus, has been in development for more than five years. Now, a section of the trail that spans the entirety of Armenia is nearly complete, with a public version of the 517-mile segment expected to be unveiled later this year.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

When it's complete, the TCT will actually comprise two separate routes totaling nearly 1,900 miles: one running from north to south from the border of Iran to Georgia’s high peaks through Georgia and Armenia, and another from east to west through Georgia and Azerbaijan, connecting the Black and Caspian Seas.

Armenia can now be explored via the Transcaucasian Trail expansion. (Photo by traumlichtfabrik/Getty Images)

The Transcaucasian Trail Association hopes to release a 750-mile preliminary version of the North-South route by the summer of 2022.

By pulling together sections of revived, forgotten trails, Soviet Jeep tracks and newly constructed trails, the TCT will link nearly two dozen existing and proposed national parks, negotiating some of the region’s most iconic peaks and remote wilderness. But, more importantly, the volunteer-built trail network will provide an intersection between pristine wilderness and culture.

Meagan Neal, the co-executive director of the Transcaucasian Trail Association, has been hiking the Armenian stretch of trail to get a first-hand experience of the hike.

“What has really struck me is not only how quickly transitions are between wildly diverse landscapes, but also the warm hospitality we’ve received from people along the way,” Neal told TPG in an email. “We are frequently being invited in for coffee and to join people’s barbecues, which has resulted in great conversation.”

In the Caucasus, the communities and cultures are nearly as diverse as its ecosystems.

Consisting of a mountainous piece of land spanning parts of Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Iran, Turkey and Georgia, the Caucasus region is home to countless ethnic groups and dozens of indigenous languages — comparable only to the Amazon Rainforest and Papua New Guinea. Rich in cultural diversity and history, the Caucasus boasts evidence of a number of firsts, including winemaking practices that date back 8,000 years.

When complete, hikers of the TCT will walk from community to community, experiencing these vibrant cultures and learning about thousands of years of history. Between towns, hikers will traverse terrain through the Greater and Lesser Caucasus Mountains, which is known as some of the most rugged in the world. The region is also home to diverse flora and fauna, a number of which exist only in the Caucasus.

Despite its many draws, the Caucasus has remained overlooked by tourists, largely due to its inaccessibility and out-of-date maps. But the development of the TCT by the Transcaucasian Trail Association hopes to bridge that gap.

You can find beautiful places like Iprari village in the Caucasus mountains of Georgia on the TCT. (Photo by Maya Karkalicheva/Getty Images)

Neal is hopeful that the trail will bring awareness to, and appreciation of, the region’s biological, cultural and geographical diversity.

“We are working to create public infrastructure that can be used by locals and [visitors], and we hope it will encourage the preservation of this heritage,” Neal said.

She expressed optimism about the future of the trail and the potential for sustainable and culturally sensitive rural tourism development. In a sense, the TCT is an experiment in whether or not self-guided tourism can boost the area's economy while preserving its culture and biodiversity.

While experienced hikers will be able to complete one of the trails, unguided, in two or three months, there are many local guide services in the region.

HIKEArmenia, a Transcaucasian Trail Association partner, has a section of their site dedicated to local trail guides for hire. And for people interested in supporting the trail development effort, the association runs annual TCT group fundraising treks on completed sections of the trail.

When complete, this new trail network could open up a new world of hiker-based tourism — and create an incredible opportunity for travelers in search of a new adventure.

Featured photo by Getty Images/EyeEm Premium
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

TPG featured card

Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 6X points
6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.

Intro offer

Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 points75,000 points
Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

Annual Fee

$125

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 points
    75,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees