Vardenyats Pass is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 2.410m (7,906ft) above the sea level, located in the Vayots Dzor Province of Armenia. The pass was known as the Selim Mountain Pass or Sulemayi Lernants’k’. The pass climbs through the Vardenis Mountains and provides access to Lake Sevan.
Set high in the Vardenis mountains range, the road to the summit is totally paved. It’s called M10. The road encompasses miles of stunning views through twisty hair pin corners, high elevations and steep grades. The pass was formerly known as Selim Mountain Pass, but the name was recently changed. According to the governor of Vayots Dzor province, Edgar Ghazarian the name changed because ‘Selim’ name is often used in the press, electronic mass media, tourist guides and reference books when the matter concerns a mountain pass, a caravanserai, etc. After consulting with historians, it became clear that Selim is the name of a person, rather than a place. This foreign barbarian was only famous for his evil deeds and destruction he caused.Our picturesque sites and historic monuments should not be linked to his name. I want to inform everyone that changes were officially made in the place names, with Selim mountain pass renamed Vardenyats mountain pass and the Selim caravanserai renamed Orbelian’s caravanserai”. The road is dangerous because the extreme weather: blizzard, strong winds, fog, low visibility, black ice on some road sections and danger of avalanche are common.
The pass road is 55.7 km (34.61 miles) long, running north-south from Martuni (a town in the Gegharkunik Province on the southern shores of Lake Sevan) towards Yeghegnadzor (a town in Vayots Dzor Province, on the southern part of the country). The pass offers beautiful views over the Armenian mountains.
The drive is definitely worth it. There are many excellent photo opportunities here. Don’t forget your camera! The winding mountain road and hairpin turns provide breathtaking views of the surrounding steep rocky hill sides and lead to the highland steppe just beyond the pass. Near the summit there’s an ancient Silk Road guest house called Selim Caravensarai. It was built in 1332 by Prince Chesar Orbelian, according to an inscription in Armenian and Arabic. This caravanserai offered hospitality to travelers along the highway crossing the Selim (Sulema) mountains. This is the best preserved caravanserai in Armenia and a great example of secular Armenian architecture during the Middle Ages.