When you travel to Kiev, once you have had a few days to see the sites of the Ukrainian capital, be sure to take some trips out of the city to see the countryside. The staff at your accommodations in Kiev can help you make arrangements for trips of a day or more. One attraction that you must visit is Carpathian National Park.
Carpathian National Park is the largest park in Ukraine; 55 kilometers long, and 20 kilometers wide. It is one of the most beautiful parts of the country. About 30,000 people actually live in the park. They include the Hutsuls, who are famous for their woodwork, handmade textiles, and other folk art. You pick up some great souvenirs to take back to your Kiev hotel. If you go to the park on your own, you’ll be required to pay an entrance fee. However, if you book a trip by bus or train from your accommodations in Kiev, you’ll get in without having to pay admission.
Carpathian National Park is divided into four zones for control of tourist traffic. This allows the administration to protect the environment from excessive tourist activity. But you’ll have a chance to see the green valleys, caves, mineral springs, and mountain slopes. Hikers can usually get access to even the most restricted areas. The two towns in the park, Vorokhta and Yaremche, have tourist accommodations, in case you’re planning on being away from your accommodations in Kiev for a night or two. Camping is available, with the best campgrounds being on the banks of the River Prut. Campfires are illegal throughout the park, and campers are required to leave no trash behind.
The gentle mountain slopes and magnificent views make the Carpathians a hiker’s paradise. The main trails are well marked and easy to follow. The most popular hiker destination is Mount Hoveria, to the west of Vorokhta. From there you must take a taxi or hire a guide to take you to the mountain.
If you love winter sports, Carpathian National Park has excellent skiing. Bukovel, 30 kilometers west of Yaremche, is the most popular European-style ski resort in Ukraine. Slavske is also very popular, and is the easiest to reach. If you want a true wilderness ski adventure, go to Drahobrat. The mountain has a base elevation of 1300 meters, with plenty of challenges for advanced skiers. This resort also has the longest ski season in Ukraine, and its relative isolation keeps it free of crowds. Tysorets was once the training base for Soviet Olympic skiers. It appears run down now, but everything here is dirt cheap.
If you come here anytime from spring to autumn, and the rainfall has been adequate, you can arrange to go mushroom picking. This local tradition is a lot of fun. However, don’t do this without expert guides who know the difference between edible mushrooms and poisonous toadstools. When booking your Ukrainian vacation, don’t forget that you can stay in fine Kiev hotels, or check with agencies for affordable Kiev apartments.