The Stone Garden Guide: Armenia & Karabagh Book Review

The Stone Garden Guide front cover

The Stone Garden Guide:
Armenia & Karabagh

Matthew Karanian and Robert Kurkjian
Stone Garden Productions, 2004, 304 pages, US$24.95

The Republic of Armenia can trace its history over 3,000 years. Its borders once flowed from the Mediterranean to the Caspian Sea. Karabagh, a tiny Armenian enclave that was once part of the ancient Armenian province of Artsakh, is endeavoring to have its independence from Azerbaijan formally recognized. These neighboring localities boast a wealth of ancient sites and beautiful mountains, valleys, and vistas worth visiting.

Tourism in this part of the world was, until recently, largely restricted to citizens of the former Soviet Union. Now travelers can have a glimpse of what awaits them with The Stone Garden Guide: Armenia and Karabagh (Stone Garden Productions, 2004.) This travel guide to Armenia and Karabagh offers more than your average travel guide.

At 304 pages, the authors, Matthew Karanian and Robert Kurkjian, state that this is the largest guidebook on Armenia and Karabagh. The authors have been living, working, and traveling in Armenia and Karabagh since 1995 and have been to all of the places they describe. Both expert photographers, they took the 75 color photographs of panoramic vistas, ancient monuments, and local characters themselves. Their familiarity with the country, customs and culture is apparent.

What else makes this guidebook different from the rest? Its focus on ecology and conservation. The authors have devoted a whole chapter to ecology and have sprinkled nuggets about nature and conservation throughout. Casual travelers will find this guidebook helpful with detailed information about where to stay, where to go, how to get there, and even what to do before leaving home. The authors’ comments are quite candid and add a humorous touch, especially for those who have had similar experiences. Returning travelers will appreciate the breadth and depth of information presented, especially new opportunities to travel off the beaten path. Armchair travelers will feel that they are “right there” with the myriad of photos and descriptions of the people and locales.

Robert Glenn Ketchum, environmental conservationist and nature photographer, said it best in the forward, “We would all be much better informed as visitors if all guidebooks provided this breadth of information, revealing not only what we need to know with regard to our creature comforts to enjoy being there, but also what we should know about the many wonderful creatures that live in the place we are visiting.”

(c) 2005 Susan Smith Thompson
Originally published in the Spring 2005 edition of Click here to see it.

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