Yell Extreme Park attracts not only tourists but also provides an income for locals and a stimulus to develop local infrastructure " />

An Armenian village beckons tourism with zip lining

Yell Extreme Park attracts not only tourists but also provides an income for locals and a stimulus to develop local infrastructure

A hundred and fourty kilometres north of Yerevan lies a village which, at first glance, doesn’t seem any different from the hundreds of other Armenian villages: one and two-story homes made of tuff, next to garages and cowsheds.

Yell Extreme Park. Photo: Armen Karajyan, JAMnews

However, Enokavan is nevertheless a unique Armenian village. People aren’t fleeing from the village at all. The village has actually increased in size in recent years from 480 to 554.

All of this thanks to the fact that the village has become a favorite spot for lovers of extreme and adventure tourism.

Yell Extreme Park. Photo: Armen Karajyan, JAMnews

Yell Extreme Park, which is about a kilometre away from Enokavan, was founded by a village local. The mountains and valleys between them provided an excellent opportunity to set up a zip line.

Four years ago, the project existed only on paper, but in 2015 the park began to take in its first guests.

Yell Extreme Park. Photo: Armen Karajyan, JAMnews

On entering the park, visitors first enter a dressing room where their instructors help them put on special equipment for the ride. The base is located a little further from the zip lines themselves, and guests still aren’t quite sure what to expect.
But on reaching the start point, some hesitate, but, as local instructors say, very few have completely refused the possibility of gliding down from the mountain tops with a bird’s eye view.

Yell Extreme Park. Photo: Armen Karajyan, JAMnews

The lines tightly spanning over the valley, and the possibility of losing contact with them, is definitely terrifying. However, several seconds after the start of the ride, one understands that the panoramas in front of you and the birds flying below you are more beautiful and interesting than your fear.

Yell Extreme Park. Photo: Arman Karajyan, JAMnews

There are five lines in Yell Extreme Park: at 135, 200, 268, 375 and 750 metres in length. During the ride, the highest one can get from the ground is some 300 metres.

The project has grown with time and now there are paraplanes, mountain-biking, a rope park, paintballing, as well as a 100 metre ride down a hill in a transparent ball.

And the most recent addition to the park: ‘Via Ferrata’.

Yell Extreme Park. Photo: Arman Karajyan, JAMnews

Via Ferrata is a trail built on a steep rise which allows you to walk its entire length – just one look down may stop you in your tracks.

 

Yell Extreme Park. Photo: Arman Karajyan, JAMnews

“There are people who don’t want to try it at first. As they say, it’s only hard the first time. After the first round, they change their minds and become different people.”

Hovsep talks about his work while standing on the tallest point of the trail. He says that he feels free here. Despite the fact that he does the same route every day, the activity never leaves him dissatisfied:

“For me, it’s not boring, and I can’t say that I’ve gotten used to it either. Every time there’s something new, because new people come along with new ideas and feelings. We try to find something to talk about with our clients. There were some that have cried and went with small steps over the obstacles. We encourage them, help them. We have not had many people who haven’t been able to make it to the end.”

Hovsep’s life-story is, perhaps, classic for Yell Extreme Park. He is from Ijevan, a neighbouring town. After finishing school, he could not find work and thought about leaving. However, the opportunity to work in the park appeared and he decided to give it a shot.

“It’s difficult to find work now, and many young people are leaving. I found something that I like, and stayed here. I like my work a lot. Even when I have weekends off, I sometimes come here because I miss it all.”

Tbere are 30 people working in the park. The majority of them are residents of villages that aren’t far off or from Ijevan. For the most part, this means young people who can speak English and Russian. The owners of the park plan to expand it to 50 employees.

Yell Extreme Park. Photo: Arman Karajyan, JAMnews

David was also born in Ijevan. For some time he lived in Moscow and worked as a barber:

“I returned to Armenia for this job. I like it a lot, and even if I go back to Moscow I know that I want to work in this field. I like extreme sports, and even if I hadn’t worked here, I would have come several times a year.”

However, David probably will not have to leave. The project is only gaining in momentum. When the park just opened in 2015, it was visited by 1 200 people. A year later – six thousand. In 2017, 14 thousand people had visited the park. This year, 21 thousand visitors are expected.

Owners expect that in 2022 their park will be used by upwards of 100 thousand people. To this end, the project received 2.5 million dollars in investment: some of this money will go towards building a cable car.

“In comparison with former years, the level of life in the village has definitely increased: they always have some job to get involved in. Moreover, the Development Foundation of Enokavan regularly organises foreign language courses and service training for village residents. Moreover, the roads between villages are periodically repaired, especially roads which lead to tourist centres,” says co-founder of the park Tigran Chibukhchyan.

Enokavan has become one of the centres of adventure tourism not only in Armenia but in the region. In addition to the park, there are now hotels and guest houses. The flow of guests has a multiplicative effect: stores are opened, and infrastructure issues are being solved.

Lidia Georgievna Mobilevskaya is from Moscow. She is a professional teacher like her son with whom she came.

“For us, height is important. Height and mountains all around. It’s unusual for us – we don’t have it. There are many mountains here, and they inspire bravery and greatnesss in people. Internal greatness. The sensation that you are an individual!”

The unusual sights attract tourists from many countries. In addition to Russian, people from the Phillipines, Malaysia, China and Western Europe also come to Enokavan.
***
With the support of ‘Mediaset’

 

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