The Carpathians

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Day 1: Arrive in Krakow, Poland

You are met on arrival at Krakow International Airport and transferred to our hotel in Krakow. The remainder of the day is free for you to explore on your own before our orientation meeting and dinner.

Overnight in Krakow.


Day 2: Krakow Sightseeing

Krakow is often nicknamed the New Prague because of the architectural splendor, cultural significance and historical importance. Krakow, seat of the Polish kings for over five centuries, is without a doubt the most picturesque town in the country.

We explore the city starting with the Jewish Quarter, followed by a visit to Royal Wawel Castle, which is also the burial site for most of Poland's kings. We then continue to the city center, which is full of churches built from the eleventh to the eighteenth centuries. The churches constitute an excellent collection of various architectural styles. We visit the oldest university in Poland, and cathedral in the main square, the Church of the Virgin Mary with a remarkable wooden Gothic winged alter. After lunch we visit the famous UNESCO salt mines of Wieliczka with it’s many impressive chambers including a church, hall with chandelier and memorial.

Dinner and overnight in Krakow.


Day 3: Oskar Schindler's Factory, WW1 Cemetery, Rural Hike

Today we make our way to Wysowa. Our first stop is at Oskar Schindler's factory. Schindler, a German industrialist, is credited with saving the lives of over a thousand Jews during the Holocaust. Only the entrance office building is preserved in its original state.

We make our way to Beskid Niski and visit the WW1 cemetery in Malastowska, which serves as the resting place of soldiers from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Later we have an easy walk from Malastowska Seddle to the village of Uscie Gorlickie.

Walk: 1.5 miles/3km (easy)

We return to Wysowa for dinner and overnight.


Day 4: Hucul Horses, Carriage Ride, Forest Hike into Slovakia, Medieval Bardejov (UNESCO), return to Poland

This morning we will drive towards the village of Regetow (Poland). Here we will visit a horse farm which is famous for the small Hucul horses originally from the Carpathian mountains. We will have the opportunity to explore the area during our carriage ride.

Our hike starts in Poland as we enter the forest and through an unguarded Polish-Slovak border where we will cross on foot. Our walk takes us past a graveyard, an abandoned Ruthenian village, through peaceful woods and meadows and ends in the town of Regetovka where we will meet our bus. We take a short drive by to the UNESCO town of Bardejov, with its small and impeccably preserved center. The town square is lined with fine Renaissance and Gothic houses, and a climb up the church tower offers magnificent views of the area. Enjoy dinner in the town to enjoy this medieval gem.

Walk: 5 miles/8km (easy/moderate)

Overnight in Wysowa, Poland.


Day 5: To Uzok, Ukraine via Slovakia’s Dukla Pass

Today we leave Poland to enter Slovakia (unchecked border), then back to Poland and eventually end up in Ukraine where we will stay for the duration of our adventure.

Our first stop is in Slovakia at Dukla Pass at war monument located in the town. We will also see 11 Soviet tanks scattered throughout the area on farms, representing a most bizarre yet quite realistic way that one would have seen tanks traveling through Europe during this epic and tragic period of war.

Just a few kilometers past Dukla, we re-enter Poland (unguarded border within the EU) where we will have lunch. We continue our drive through Poland to the border crossing of Ukraine. Our border crossing may be quick or slow, depending on the line up and efficiency at the border.
This region also has a most unusual and varied history as it was once part of Poland, Romania, Hungary, Austro-Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Soviet Union, and now Ukraine. For a very brief 1 day in its history, Carpathian Ukraine was once an independent state.

Please Note: The Ukraine Carpathians are not accustomed to Western visitors so understanding this is important. It is what gives this untouched region a charm and authenticity that sadly has almost disappeared from Europe. This region is extremely beautiful, rural and economically under-developed but will likely not maintain this for long, as the outside world will eventually leave it’s mark.

Dinner and overnight in Uzhok, Ukraine.


Day 6: Uzhok Pass Hike, Scenic Soviet Train Ride

We start our morning from the picturesque village of Sianki for a short hike and end up at the train station where we board an old Soviet style electric train with wooden seats for a 45 minute journey (please note that the order of events may change if train schedule changes). Our local Soviet-style Carpathian train takes us over the Uzhok Pass (2800 ft/850 m) and slowly winds through tunnels and viaducts until arriving at our village station in Volosianki. For those with a desire for cold beer or shot of vodka, we can stop at the local (and we mean local!) pub.

If we are lucky, we can contact the local priest who can meet us at the pub and even drive to his remote 400 year old UNESCO Orthodox Wooden Church. We return to our hotel in Uzhok.

Walk: 2 miles/3km (easy)

Dinner and overnight in Uzhok, Ukraine.


Day 7: Ukrainian Carpathian Scenic Hike & Villages

We start our hike in Scerbin ascending through beautiful beech forest and coming out to pastures with great panoramas before decending to the rural village of Verchovina Bystra. Along our hike today we pass a wooden church which is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In Verchovina Bystra, we will meet a local teacher and possibly visit her house and the school where she teaches.

This evening, we can arrange a traditional hot tub (heated by fire right underneath). You can alternate between plunging into the the cold and hot tub as the local do. This hotel/spa is charming and quite typical for this region.

Walk: 6 miles/10 km (moderate)

Dinner and overnight in Uzhok, Ukraine.


Day 8: Village of Pylipets

We journey towards our next Carpathians base: a small town called Pylipets. Our first stop is the town of Uzghorod which is the capital of Carpathian district of Ukraine. We will have a walk through the historical center and Jewish cemetery, the world’s largest Jewish cemetery with over 50,000 tombs.

Next we will visit the 14th century Palanok Castle, which is situated near the town of Mukatchevo and was once owned by Hungarian nobility.

Dinner and overnight in Pylipets.


Day 9: Main Range Hike - Pylipets

Today, we travel by ski lift, close to the main range. We walk up to Mt. Gemba at 1490m. Those who wish to hike up to Mt. Magura (1530m), can enjoy the incredible panoramic views before returning to the ski lift for our descent. It also also possible to continue hiking down to the village where our hotel is and where we will all enjoy a well-earned dinner.

Walk: Variable as one choses hike as little or as much as one would like (easy/moderate/challenging)

Dinner and overnight in Pylipets.


Day 10: Synevyr Pass Hike, Soviet City of Mizhiria

This morning we start our hike right from our mountain hotel in the Synevyr Pass which has a incredible view of the main range, valley and town below. The views are spectacular with rolling hills and our slow decent will take us to back to Mizhiria. After our hike, we can visit this typically Soviet looking town.

Optional walk: 8km/5 miles (moderate)

Dinner and overnight in Synevyr Pass.


Day 11: Synevyr Polana Hike to Kolochava Village & farm house Visit

This morning, we walk to Synevyr Polana village where we will have lunch and visit with one of the local inhabitants at his home. The picturesque village only has 40 inhabitants and is not accessible by road. We will visit with Fyodor and his family at their home in a most serene and beautiful setting.

In the afternoon, enjoy a visit to an open air museum with houses, schools, bunker hideouts, trains/wagons, monuments and much more.

Walk: 4 miles/7km (easy/moderate)

Dinner and overnight in Synevyr Pass.


Day 12: To Lviv, Opera or Symphony

This morning we will continue with our journey to Lviv, the center of Western Ukraine and according to many, the heart and soul of the country. The old Medieval town with cobble stone streets is nothing short of beautiful and charming with great and varied architecture.
We will have lunch upon arrival and this afternoon, we will see some of the sights, including the main square, Dominican Monastery and the University. Tonight, experience a live performance at either the Opera House or Ballet (depending on the theater program).

Walk: 1.5 miles/2 kms (around the town - easy)

Dinner and overnight in Lviv.


Day 13: Lviv (UNESCO)

We continue our exploration of medieval Lviv today and enjoy the colourful buildings, cozy coffee houses, rattling trams and lively streetscapes. In High Castle Park, the mountaintop ruins of a 14th-century castle provide panoramic views of the city’s green-domed churches and the surrounding hills. The whole of Lviv’s historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site which we will explore in depth today.

Walk: 1 mile/2km (around the town - easy)

Dinner and overnight in Lviv.


Day 14: Train to Kiev

We have a free morning to explore Lviv before we make our way to the train station. We travel to Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, by fast train. The journey will take approximately 6 hours and we will enjoy a picnic lunch on the train enroute before arriving in the late afternoon.

After being picked up at the train station, we drive to one of the most important Kiev sites; Lavra Monastery, the Spiritual Center of Ukraine housing the country's most famous monastery. Founded by monks in 8th century, lying on pictorial Dneper Hills, it became a pilgrimage site for all Orthodox Christians. It combines majestic churches, built in classical, Byzantine and Baroque styles. Next we will check into our centrally located downtown hotel before dinner.

Dinner and overnight in Kiev.


Day 15: Chernobyl (optional but recommended) or Kiev Sites

It is hard to imagine that Chernobyl, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986, could now offer and reveal an insightful, safe and intriguing tour to the very place that saw overwhelming tragedy, deception and bravery. Today, Reactor 4 (site of the nuclear meltdown) has been contained with concrete and a massive monetary contribution from the EU. Thousands risked their lives to secure the surrounding area and rid it of radiation, or at least remove any radiation risk by walking and exploring in designated safe areas. The tour is a full day and gives a very comprehensive overview of the events leading up to and afterwards. Visit towns and cities now overgrown with trees in a unique, bizarre and fascinating tour unlike any other you have ever taken!

Please Note: ElderTreks CEO personally visited this site and found it to be a safe and worthwhile experience. It is an optional tour. Those who do not wish to visit Chernobyl can spend a full day visiting the sites of Kiev as outlined below.

Kiev Sites (alternate tour):
Today, our walk will start near the Dnepr River. We walk up to the memorial of Mother of the Homeland Statue (one of highest statues in the world). We visit Kiev's WWII museum. In the large park around the museum, we can see an excellent collection of WWII weapons. From the museum, we enjoy a 30 minute walk to Lavra monastery (a short visit and convenient place to meet our transport) here to meet our transport). We also visit Kiev's most important square: Majdan Independence Square, made famous by the Orange Revolution in 2004.

Dinner and overnight in Kiev.


Day 16: Explore Kiev

Kiev is more than 1,500 years old. Antiquity and the present amazingly co-exist on its streets. During this tour you will have a chance to see the most interesting sights of the city, which, like the landmarks of time, designated the pages of its history: the Old-Kiev hill, where the old-Russian land descended from; the famous Golden Gate, the deepest subway in the world, St.-Sophia Cathedral with the largest greatest collection of frescoes in the world, St.-Vladimir Cathedral, St.-Andrew Church and St.-Michael Church.

After lunch, you will have a few hours of free time before we meet for our farewell dinner. We can reminisce over our the beauty and warm hospitality that we have encountered in Europe's untouched wilderness.

Overnight in Kiev.


Day 17: Depart Kiev

After breakfast, we say goodbye to Kiev, Ukraine and our new found friends and journey back home.

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