Credit to www.janapar.com
Day 6: Karintak -> Shushi
Marked section (high use from Shushi side), 7km, moderate to difficult
Overview: Head down the river from Karintak village, make your way through the breathtaking Karkar Canyon (on Google Maps as Ջդրդուզ Cıdır Düzü), check out the surreal Zontik Waterfall, the ruins of Hunot Village, and then head up the cliff to Shushi, a fortified town with a lot to explore.
Please note: directions for this section of the trail are the REVERSE DIRECTION from the rest of this section. In other words, they're written from the perspective of someone heading from Shushi to Karintak, rather than the opposite, because this popular section is usually hiked beginning from Shushi as a day hike ... you can of course hike it from Karintak to Shushi if you prefer.
This hike can be challenging, due to narrow and steep sections of trail, two narrow bridges consisting of pieces of trees laid across the river, and potentially muddy tracks after a rain. LOTS OF WATER CROSSINGS...THROUGH HIKERS TAKE NOTE.
Beginning in Shushi, head to the mosque (mzkit) next to the restored market (shuka). Facing the mosque, look down the road to your left. Head down this road all the way to the end. You'll come to one large somewhat unusual intersection/square after a while, but stay straight (the right-hand road) and continue down. The road will not be as straight from here, but you quickly come to the end of the road, with an old water spring on your left. From here the trail is marked. You take your right at this dead end, take your second small street on your left, and go down through some narrow cobbled streets. The street ends and you're forced to turn left.
Go down this passage/overgrown road and you pretty soon reach some small cliffs with a fence and gate at their foot. Open the gate, pass through, and CLOSE THE GATE again.
Follow the marked trail over a small stream and to the right. As you descend, you follow a rusty sheet metal fence that's mostly fallen over. Continue until this fence ends, and take an immediate left at that spot.
Go through the forest until signs lead you out into the grass. People miss this last "right" turn mark, please look carefully for it!
On your left will be a few old Armenian tombstones. Continue straight across the unmarked grass field as downhill as possible and you'll in no time come across stones. Look for the stones with trail markings and follow those. This section will use a "breadcrumb" trail marking method with smaller, more frequent markers to ensure you don't lose the trail.
After the trail turns right you begin to pass some of the cliff's face on your right, with a sheer drop on your left. You'll pass a cave where shepherds take breaks during the day.
Continue until the first place where you can really descend downwards. Follow the trail downhill, and at the bottom you'll reach the first of the ruins of Hunot village. This old Armenian village was abandoned in Soviet times because no road could ever be built to reach it.
You cross the old stone bridge, and at the end of it make a sharp right to head upriver, and you pass some more ruins. You come to a river crossing where you have to balance your way across two (not particularly thick) logs. If it has rained recently, you may have to wade along the river in a foot of water to make your way to the log crossing. Don't be embarassed to get on your hands and knees to cross this log bridge if you think that might help.
Upon crossing, head left as close to the riverbank as possible to the trail around the rocks. From here you continue heading upstream for a short section until you reach the Zontik waterfall. If the water level is high from a recent rain, you may need to head directly up upon crossing, go left, and then head back down to the lower trail as soon as you can.
The unusual mossy umbrella of Zontik waterfall has a stikingly beautiful appearance. At the falls you cross the river again on another less challenging bridge, where crossing on hands and knees could be wise.
Head right upon crossing, and the following long section of trail meanders between the river and the cliffs and has a couple of steep and narrow sections which can get slippery after rains.
At one or two points you may pass through the riverbed a spell. Take your time and you'll eventually make your way to a farmer's field on your right. At the end of this field the trail comes out towards the river in an open area, and you'll find a nice, solid bridge on your right. Cross that and head left. The village of Karintak is not far from the bridge.
REVERSE: If you begin this hike in Karintak instead of Shushi, you should ask which way to go to "Zontik". You will be directed onto the one road that goes down river and soon you'll begin to see signs for the Janapar trail.