To promote Time Land, Ghukasyan played off his own background as a published, well traveled archeologist with connections to Armenian and international scientists. Kalavan is located not far from a cave used as a residence during the Stone Age. That inspires some tourists, with guidance from Time Land, to try their own hand at Stone-Age life – build a shelter in the forest, wear animal skins and kindle fire by hand.
As of 2016, visitors to Kalavan numbered in the low thousands, coming from countries ranging from Chile and Peru to Australia and Iran, Ghukasyan says.
Their presence means work for locals.
Fifteen new guesthouses are currently under construction, and villagers spent the past summer revamping an existing 17 to accommodate more tourists. Several plots of land and about ten houses also have been purchased, according to the village administration.
“There is a boom in the village, a lot of construction going on,” says 27-year-old Gayane Badalyan. “My husband is now in Russia as a guest-worker. But he won’t go there once he’s back. There is a job here.”
Badalyan, the mother of two boys, also earns money by selling tourists home-prepared sour cream, cheese, bread and preserves of apricots, berries and nuts.