Ukraine cultural tour

“Our only two week tour of Ukraine, travelling with a small group in a wonderful circuit of this fascinating country. Staying in small, locally owned accommodation. Plus two overnight train journeys. ”

Highlights

Kieve | Lavra cave monastery complex | Lviv | Two sleeper train journeys | Zhovkva | Krekhiv | Kamyanets-Podilsky | Carpathian Mountains | Ivano-Frankovsk | Odessa | Uman | Sofiyivka Park

Description of Ukraine cultural tour

This Ukraine cultural tour is a two week, small group tour travelling around one of Europe’s least visited countries which was very much hidden from the world during the Soviet era. The cultural wonders of this country are incomparable, with a superb collection of ancient monuments, sacred sites and traditional lifestyles, all with the backdrop of the magnificent Carpathian Mountains.

Starting in Kiev, the capital city, visit historic greats like Saint Sophia Cathedral, Independence Square, wooden windmills and the extraordinary Lavra cave monastery. We then take an overnight train to Lviv, a wonderful town with plenty of UNESCO World Heritage gems, an elegant cobble stoned old town, Renaissance architecture and the High Castle. The other overnight train journey on this trip is to the iconic city of Odessa with its vast revolutionary history and where its local wine may be less famous, but still important to sample!

Staying mostly in small, locally owned accommodation throughout this Ukrainian cultural discovery, with a few larger urban hotel stays as well, we have plenty of time to learn about the local history and contemporary lifestyles. In the Carpathian Mountains, for example, we stay in small village guesthouses where we have a chance to learn about the Hutsuls people who have lived in the mountains here for generations.

Still well off the mass tourism trail, you will feel like a pioneer traveller on your discovering of this captivating country, whether you are strolling along an ancient mountain trail, or sipping coffee in a back street of Odessa.

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700

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Check dates, prices & availability

Date
Price
Basis
26 May 2019
£ 2625
excluding flights
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Click here to enquire about or book the 26 May 2019 departure
25 Aug 2019
£ 2625
excluding flights
Departure Guaranteed
Click here to enquire about or book the 25 Aug 2019 departure
24 May 2020
£ 2625
excluding flights
Departure Guaranteed
Click here to enquire about or book the 24 May 2020 departure
23 Aug 2020
£ 2625
excluding flights
Available
Click here to enquire about or book the 23 Aug 2020 departure
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Accepted

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Ukraine cultural tour

Environment

We spend time walking in pristine environments such as the Carpathian Mountains, and our guides are careful to brief travellers on appropriate behaviour and the importance of taking all rubbish with us.

This trip takes advantage of the good rail network that exists within Ukraine, and instead of using private transport where possible we make use of trains, thus reducing the carbon footprint of our travellers.

The village guesthouses and local homes that we stay in use predominantly local produce in the preparation of meals, avoiding as much as possible bringing food from far away and thus reducing carbon footprints.

Ukraine does not see the same numbers of visitors that many other countries experience and as such some practices which we take for granted in other parts of the world may not be found here. We work closely with our suppliers to introduce concepts of environmental responsibility to the communities that we travel through. This can include asking hotels to implement practices such as asking guests if they need fresh cleaned towels each day, and reminding guests to turn off lights when they leave the room – small things that are standard practice in many places in the western world but not necessarily elsewhere. Most of the places that we stay in on this tour will take advantage of the excellent local produce, not only sustaining traditional communities but ensuring that unnecessary food miles are not made.

Community

One of the highlights of this tour is the two night stay in the Carpathian Mountains, where we stay on a local farm. We believe that staying small village guesthouses and family homes not only gives travellers an authentic and very special insight into the lives of Ukrainian people, but brings tangible benefits to small communities that may otherwise be overlooked by the tourism industry. Spending time with local hosts enables far more cultural interaction than travellers would experience when staying in large hotels.

Our philosophy is to only use small and locally owned suppliers, meaning that the income remains within the country and creates a real economic contribution. We also feel that the passion inherent within such suppliers means that your experience will be enhanced. We also try to engage with our suppliers on an equal basis – getting the lowest possible price usually isn’t the best outcome for local communities and is ultimately unsustainable. We aim to always treat our suppliers fairly and with respect; they are after all part of the key to our success and to us working together is much more than just a business arrangement, but an ongoing relationship that we aim to ensure truly benefits everyone involved.

We believe that tourism is a double edged sword that needs to be wielded very carefully. Our philosophy is to have a limited amount of departures – usually between one and three a year - for each of our itineraries. By limiting our presence in areas where local culture can be quite fragile, we hope to avoid as much as possible the phenomenon whereby an area changes in character due to repeated and prolonged exposure to tourism. We want to visit an area as friends, not intruders and to ensure that what we see will also be there for others to enjoy for many years to come.

We only employ local staff and unlike many operators we believe that to send a foreign Tour Leader along to accompany your trip is an unnecessary burden on your wallet and our carbon footprint. We believe that locals know best. Our local operators only use locally owned accommodation. This means your money stays in the area to benefit the local community. When possible we use local transport, (i.e. rail or bus) and we always use local restaurants, markets and shops and encourage our clients to interact both financially and socially with the communities that they are passing through. In doing this your travels are supporting and encouraging the development of local services.

We only work with operators who are as committed as we are to putting something back into the communities we visit. This may include giving a percentage of the profits from each tour to a foundation to help street children or local conservation projects. Furthermore, in order to allow our clients to make an informed decision on where a greater proportion of their money should be spent, we avoid including pre-paid full board meals where possible. Local restaurants and cafes then benefit.

Our groups average only six clients, and many tours operate on a private basis with just two travellers. This has much less impact when travelling through rural areas, reducing our environmental and social affects. Finally to emphasise our commitment to Responsible Tourism all clients will receive a copy of our Travellers Code of Conduct with their travel documents.

2 Reviews of Ukraine cultural tour

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 16 Sep 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Discovering how Ukraine fits into the area, with it's neighbors and history.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Do it when you are for. I got out of the hospital three days before starting
and was unable to do some of the walking. Igor took good care of me
and made alternative plans when necessary.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Not much. This was not an objective of the tour. Of course, we respected our
environment.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent. I learned a lot, enjoyed good food and walking the little I did, managed to lose a couple of kilos!

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you for your feedback, we are delighted that you enjoyed the tour.

Reviewed on 17 Jun 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The visit to a real ex-intercontinental ballistic site that was in use till early 2002.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


The farm experience should be avoided as there are health and safety issues that should not have been allowed to pass inspection by the people of
Undiscovered Destinations. The overnight on the train has made me strike off from my list of things to do both the Orient Express and the Trans-Siberian
journeys. I got one hours sleep on the first overnight between 22:00 and 23:00 and three hours on the second between 01:00 and 04:00 and that only by
finishing off a whole bottle of wine by myself.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Not by very much. The people on the farm benefited but they were burning wood for cooking and if there had been heating in the rooms, radiators were not
working, then that would have been using wood also. The only conservation project seen was the missile site and at the fortress where they were doing
archaeological work. Most of the historic buildings seen needed renovation and a small part of our entrance fees would have gone towards that work the rest
of the money would have gone in paying wages and the profits would mostly go to the government.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


The rest of the holiday with the exception of the items mentioned was good but the van used for transport was a bit small and none of the hotels had anti-slip
materials in the baths so that made them dicey especially where there was soft water which makes it hard to wash off soap from the soles of the feet or any
part of the body. The sightseeing was mostly OK but the guides were not fully conversant with English and needed our resident tour manager/guide to
translate.

Read the operator's response here:

Dear Baron-Vahl

Thank you for your feedback regarding our tour in Ukraine. There are a number of issues that you have raised that we would like to address.

The farmstead stay is, for the majority of our clients, a highlight of their trip in Ukraine. You get to stay with a local family in their own home and experience a real way of local living. The health and safety of our clients is always our top priority. We had a member of staff staying at the farm only a few weeks before your stay and no issues were raised with regards to health and safety. In your more detailed feedback you provided directly to us, you complained that there was nobody at the farm stay to carry your bags, but it is clearly stated that this service is not provided. We cannot see this as being a health and safety issue. You were also asked to remove your shoes as is polite and hygienic, when entering the farm house and you have suggested that this was dangerous due to the slippery floor. This is something we will look in to and see if any type of slippers or soft footwear can be provided in future.

We are sorry that you couldn’t get much sleep on the overnight sleeper train trips. They are a reasonably comfortable, economic and environmentally friendly way of travelling but they may not be to everyone’s liking.

The tour employs a number of different local guides and we do not send a UK tour leader with you. This is part of the ethos of our company as we want your tourist spend to benefit the local communities as much as possible. Some of these local guides may not have perfect English but we believe it is important for us to support them and encourage their development. The tour leader will be fluent in both languages and so is used to translate where and when required as happened on your trip.

This tour visits some of the most remote and poorest regions of Europe so your expectations when travelling need to be tailored to this. Wood burning is used in almost all of the rural areas that we visit as a means of heating and cooking. Many of the home and homesteads do not have a fixed gas or electric supply. We would prefer to support these communities whose environmental impact is minimal rather than avoid their services.
Travelling in the countries that we do, trying to be as environmentally friendly as possible and supporting local communities who have little contact with mass tourism means that at times we have to forfeit some of our Western privileges.

We understand that parts of this tour have not met your expectations but we are relieved that with the exception of the items mentioned, you say the holiday was good.

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