Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova holidays
Description of Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova holidays
Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova holidays take you to areas of relatively unexplored Europe where breakaway republics, folklore heritage and resurgent cultural traditions are alive, well and free from the shadow of the Soviet-era.
This two week tour kicks off in Minsk where a combination of Soviet architecture and characterful places of worship make the capital of Belarus a real sight to behold. Next stop is the country's 'gateway to the west', Brest, which played a pivotal part in holding back the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in WWII thanks, in no small part, to the impressive 19th century Brest Fortress.
After an overnight homestay with a local family, an excellent day trip from Brest gets you further into the countryside as you spend time exploring in Belovezhskaya National Park, one of Europe's last remaining primeval forests,.
As your journey continues you'll discover one of the region's oldest settlements, Njasvizh, which features numerous examples of 16th century architecture; well worth investigating further prior to heading back to Minsk for an overnight train journey to the capital of Ukraine, Kiev.
Where else but Kiev to start the Ukraine stage of the tour with shining golden domed cathedrals and monasteries creating an unforgettable cityscape to savour before continuing to the incredibly eerie contrasts of Chernobyl. After an unforgettable trip to Chernobyl you'll travel back to Kiev to catch an overnight train to Lviv, a city famed for its elegant baroque architecture and Armenian cultural heritage.
Spend time experiencing the UNESCO sites and sophisticated grandeur of Lviv before taking a walk on the wild in the Carpathian Mountains where the city of Chernivtsi combines with traditional local villages, and precariously placed ancient castles, to unveil Hutsul heritage against a stunning mountain backdrop.
The last stop on this 16 day holiday is Moldova that maybe small but still packs a punch when it comes to vast subterranean wine cellars, fascinating places of worship and Transnistria - the self-proclaimed republic that officially, according to the UN, doesn’t exist.
This Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova holiday is way off the tourist radar and gives travellers every opportunity to discover the history, landscapes and traditional culture of Eastern Europe that few others will ever get to appreciate.
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5 Reviews of Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova holidays
Reviewed on 13 Oct 2019 by Sondra MarkThe caliber of the guides was memorable. They went out of their way to meet special requests. We learned so much about the history and culture of the places we visited. Read full review
Reviewed on 30 Sep 2019 by Nanko DubbelboerEach country we visited was unique. Read full review
Reviewed on 23 Sep 2019 by Ronald ZentekThe most exciting part of the trip was Crackovia wine caves Read full review
Reviewed on 09 Jun 2016 by Hannah JoverIt was tops! Good pace for all ages, all drivers were on time so it was SO smoothly run, I didn't feel like I missed out on anything in the countries we saw at all! Read full review
Reviewed on 31 Jul 2016 by Anil KashyapThe "banya" Russian style sauna was fantastic. Running out of the sauna having vodka and salo and running back into the sauna was a great experience. Read full review
PlanetMuch of the time on this tour is spent in towns and cities, but we do spend time in Ukraine’s Carpathian Mountains, one of the most impressive landscapes in Eastern Europe. When exploring this area on foot we take care to stick to the trails and not to damage any of the flora, as some parts of the region are quite a fragile environment. We operate a strict no litter policy on our tours, which includes the drivers. All three of these countries were part of the Soviet Union, and as such even twenty years later western European norms regarding the environment are not so well entrenched. Therefore it is quite common for local people to dispose of rubbish simply by throwing it out of the window. We work to educate our drivers and other service providers so as to avoid contributing to this problem.
Similarly, in conjunction with our local team we work with hotels and guesthouses to implement best practices when it comes to environmental matters – again in some places this is far behind what we might be used to in other parts of the world. This includes basic things like not replacing towels each day, as well as saving electricity and turning lights off – small things but as Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova are still really in the early stages of dealing with tourism we hope that they can become ingrained into the culture.
Where possible we make use of public transport, notably the overnight train from Minsk to Kiev, which helps in a small way to reduce our carbon footprint. Unfortunately the reliability of public transport in this region prevents us from utilising this more.
In the Carpathian Mountains and in Disna we stay in small guesthouses which makes a point of using local produce for the meals it provides – local in the sense of being from the village, not from elsewhere. Not only is this a great introduction to the culinary culture of the region but it helps in a small way to cut down on food miles.
PeopleOn all of tours we strive to include a strong focus on local communities and we are firm believers that tourism should have a positive impact on the places visited. On this tour we include a number of stays in smaller communities that are outside the mainstream tourist industry. In Disna and in the Carpathian Mountains we stay in a homestay and a farmstay, respectively, rather than just stop to visit and then move on elsewhere – this means that these communities are able to benefit financially from our presence.
In Moldova we visit a local farm to experience typical local hospitality. We pay the owners fairly for our visit and the food they provide, and even though they are currently unable to provide accommodation for our groups they are also able to enjoy financial benefits.
Elsewhere we stay at locally owned guesthouses and hotels and where appropriate employ the services of local people in order not only to gain a greater insight into the complex traditions here but to ensure that they gain financial benefit from our visit, rather than just being ‘exhibits’.
When visiting the smaller communities, in particular in the Carpathian Mountains, we encourage our travellers to spend money locally and perhaps purchase some of the fine handicrafts on sale here.
We visit a number of sites and monuments on this tour that do not necessarily receive much funding from other sources – particularly the case in Moldova; the entrance fees that we include help to maintain the heritage of this country for future generations – not just western travellers but more importantly to local people to whom they have far more cultural and historical significance. We use locally owned suppliers and our partners here are deeply involved with the preservation of the culture and heritage of the countries we travel through.