A jumble of traditions in a magical Slavic hinterland, the Ukraine is one of Europe’s last frontiers. Join us as we embrace off-the-map experiences and tangle ourselves in colourful time old traditions.
From discovering the local and lesser known side of Ukraine’s quaint cities still tying to wriggle free of its former Soviet legacy, to getting active and exploring the Carpathian Mountains, Europe’s Green Pearl, you will encounter unexpected travel experiences with local village clans as you are welcomed warmly into their homes as they share with you their raw history in such a spectacular setting of life under post war communism.
Welcome to the Ukraine! Upon arrival in Kiev, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure. This evening, you will have a tour briefing by your guide.
3 nights Vozdvyzhenskyi Hotel or similar
Today you will visit Mizhrichynsky National Park – one of the largest regional landscape reserves in the country. Part of the Polissya region (one of the largest swamp areas of Europe) the park is full of wildlife and covered by lush forests and swamps.
The park relies heavily on the work of volunteers to help keep it pristine. You will be introduced to some of the team members who work within the park and join them in helping to maintain one of the three eco-trails. Tasks may include helping build bird houses, clearing tree roots and keeping pathways clear. You will then visit a local home for a delicious homemade lunch. Return to Kiev later in the afternoon. (B,L)
This morning after breakfast, you will make your way to the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, Chernobyl.
On 26th April 1986 reactor number 4 at the nuclear power plant exploded. The initial explosion and the massive radioactive fallout (thirty to forty times the amount released at Hiroshima) that spread over a massive geographical area lead to many deaths and harmed thousands more in the following years.
Over three decades later, the levels of radioactivity have dropped to safe levels and we can now explore the site to learn about Europe’s largest technological disaster and discover the impact it has had on the local population and wildlife. (B,L)
Enjoy a day tour of Kiev. You will visit the UNESCO listed St Sophia’s Cathedral, St Michael’s golden-dome monastery and taking in the views of the Dnipro river as you learn about the recent history of Maidan revolution, your expert local guide will lead you to discover the lesser known sights of this fascinating city known only by the locals.
Take a late afternoon train to Lviv (approx 5 hrs). On arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Lviv today is a hidden gem of European elegance. With origins as the capitol of the Kingdom of Galicia in 1272 and surviving Soviet and German occupation in WW2, this is a truly fascinating city with a unique combination of eastern and western culture, architecture and food. (B)
2 nights Lions Castle or similar
This morning after breakfast, you will set out to explore the UNESCO listed old town. Walk its cobblestone streets dotted with beautiful cathedrals, enjoy street music and sit back and relax with a coffee in a quaint courtyard. (B)
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and some free time this morning to discover Lviv on your own.
Late morning you will take scenic back country roads to the historic city of Ivano-Frankivsk, stopping for lunch at Urban 100 Cafe, a community owned cafe where profits are used for social projects such as city parks and cycle-ways as part of a ‘warm city’ initiative.
Continue on towards the Carpathian Mountains. Considered to be the Green Pearl of Ukraine, it is rural Ukraine at its best, with tiered wooden churches dotting the hills and horse-drawn carts clip-clop along potholed roads. Arrive at the village of Kosmach. Spend the afternoon walking around the village. (B,D)
2 nights in family run hotel, Villa Maria or similar
Today you will immerse yourself into the daily life of a typical Hutsul village. Hutsuls are an ethnic group of highlanders in the Carpathians, who largely maintain their traditions and customs. Venture into the highlands via 4WD – this is an exciting off-road journey not for the faint hearted! Visit the shepherds who spend their summers tending to their flock. Venture into the forest where you will forage for mushrooms, along with some of the freshest and sweetest tasting berries you will have ever eaten. Spend your afternoon participating in your host family’s daily routine – working in the field, feeding the animals or stacking the hay (depends on the season, and weather, time of the day and household needs). After you return to the hotel, the mushrooms you’ve picked will be served to you for dinner. (B,L,D)
Today you will learn about traditional Hutsul crafts, and visit some of the artisans who earn their living continuing their family traditions. Join a Hutsul elder as she teaches you how to make your own Easter egg with intricate local designs. Travel to Yavoriv, where you will meet a local woman who makes beautiful woollen rugs. On your way stop by 16th century wooden church in a town of Kolomyya and also view a unique exhibition at the Easter Egg Museum there. Transfer to Chernivtsi, one of the most incredible cities in Central Europe, a true multicultural gem with stunning architecture. (B,L,D)
Overnight Allure Inn Hotel or similar
Spend your day exploring the charming town of Chernivtsi, considered one of Ukraine’s most important educational and architectural sites. Discover beautiful parks and squares and enjoy its cultural heritage as you are surrounded by Habsburg empire architecture, there is no guessing why this city is known as ‘Little Vienna’.
Visit the UNESCO listed Residence of Bukovinian and Dalmatian Metropolitans, which is currently occupied as the Chernivtsi National University. The beautiful complex boasts exquisite architecture with intricate ornamentation and a lovely park. Visit and explore two stunning medieval castles in Khotyn and Kamyanets-Podilskyi.
This evening, take the overnight train back to Kiev. (B)
Overnight First Class Sleeper (2 berth)
Upon arrival back into Kiev, you will be met and have time at leisure to explore the city or relax in one of the many parks. You will then be transferred to the airport for your onward flight. (B)
Download this tour’s PDF brochure and start your planning offline!
**Please note that this tour can be organised on request for private departures.
* Pricing is subject to change at anytime until full payment has been received.
* A minimum of 2 adults is required to guarantee this departure.
A non-refundable deposit of $1000 AUD per person is required to secure your place. Final payment is due no later than 60 days prior to departure. Travel insurance is mandatory for travelling with Crooked Compass. For full terms and conditions, please click here.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.