BARON-VAHL AMOS review 17 Jun 2018
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
Read the operator's response here:
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.