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Discover Ukraine and Moldova - Private Tour

Moldova, Ukraine - Trip code PTUAM Discovery
Days 16
Deposit From US$357
Price from US$3570
Flights not included
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Why book this trip?

Travel through much of Ukraine and also get a taster of the sights in Moldova on this journey of discovery into a region, which has successfully emerged from behind the Iron Curtain, but is still off of the main tourist trail.

  • Chernobyl - Explore the Exclusion Zone including the ghost town of Pripyat, the Duga Radar and the New Safe Confinement structure around Reactor 4
  • Tiraspol - Discover the capital of the breakaway territory of Trans-Dniester, which is like a USSR time capsule
  • Odesa - Spend time on the Black Sea coast and see the Monument to the Orange Tree, Mother-in-Law Bridge and Devil's House
  • Included meals

    Breakfast: 15

    Lunch: 2

    Dinner: 1

  • Trip staff

    Driver(s)

    Local Guide(s)

  • Transport

    Bus

    Train

  • i

    Accommodation

    14 nights comfortable hotel

    1 nights simple hotel

  • i

    Trip pace:

    Full on

Itinerary

Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.

Day 1 - Trip starts in Ukraine's capital Kyiv

This adventure through two fascinating countries begins in Ukraine's capital city, Kyiv, on the banks of the Dnieper River. The city has been inhabited for almost 2,000 years and was once the capital of the Kyivan Rus State, from which all later Russian states descended. Although Ukrainian nationalism is stronger than ever, you will still hear Russian spoken widely here today.

You will be met on arrival at Kyiv's International Airport (KBP) by a local guide, and driven to your centrally-located hotel. There are no activities planned today, so feel free to arrive in Kyiv at any time. For those booking their own flights, you will just need to let us know your flight details no later than two weeks prior to departure, in order to be met on arrival.

You'll have the rest of the day free to relax and take in the city. There is a wide selection of good restaurants and bars to choose from in the evening. Ukraine is well known for its dumplings, called varenyky, that come with a range of different fillings such as mutton, cabbage or sweeter varieties like cherry. You should also try nastoyanka, which is a Ukrainian liqueur made from honey and herbs and comes in a selection of fruit flavours and even horseradish! Potential dining spots include Spotykach Restaurant, which is a retro Soviet style canteen cellar or for something quicker, you could try the local fast food at Kyivska Perepichka, which specialises in fried dough encased sausages.

Please note that many of Kyiv's museums close on a Monday or Tuesday, so if you wish to visit a particular attraction then please check that it is open on the day you want to visit.

Accommodation:

Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: None

Day 2 - Kyiv guided tour and explore the Museum of the Great Patriotic War

It's a busy day today, with the aim of exploring a selection of Kyiv's many historic sights and to get a feel for this great city. Start with a guided walking tour of the highlights, including the Golden Gate which was once the main entrance to the city, Saint Andrews Baroque church and the onion domed exterior of Santa Sophia Cathedral. The cathedral is the city's oldest remaining religious building and inside we'll have the chance to see mosaics and frescoes that date back to 1017.

This afternoon, take the metro to Arsenalna, which is the deepest station in the world, and continue by metro to the Museum of the Great Patriotic War, which is one of the largest museums in Ukraine and tells the story of the German-Soviet War in iconic and Brutalist style. It has over 300,000 items on display and the memorials are spread over 25 acres. From here, the imposing Mother Motherland statue takes over the eyeline - at 100 metres high it was built to honour the heroes of the Soviet Union.

Accommodation:

Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 3 - Free time in Kyiv; take the afternoon train to Odesa

This morning is free for you to further explore Kyiv, or there are several popular excursions located just outside the city. You might like to visit the Mezhyhirya Residence Museum, which is the lavish property where Ukraine's controversial former president Yanukovych resided before the 2014 uprising. Or perhaps you'd prefer to visit the Pyrohiv Open Air Museum, which exhibits a range of historic wooden buildings that demonstrate traditional Ukrainian architecture and what life would have been like in bygone times.

Alternatively, visit the Lavra Historical and Cultural Reserve to see the remarkable 'Monastery of the Caves' founded in AD 1051, where the labyrinths provide all the natural conditions needed for mummification. When the monks first dug into the ground they discovered the soil was rich in silver and so this helped the monastic complex to grow in size and today we can see the huge number of ornately decorated buildings that were created.

There is also plenty to do in Kyiv, and with limited time in the city on this trip it is well worth some free time spent here. Perhaps explore the leafy parks in the Holosiivskyi District on the banks of the Dnieper River.

In the afternoon, you'll be taken to the train station for the seven hour train journey to Odesa, arriving around midnight.

Accommodation:

Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 4 - Odesa walking tour; chance to see the world's largest catacombs

Set off this morning with a local guide on a walking tour of Odesa. Wandering down the tree-lined Primorsky Boulevard, see the many steps of the Potemkin Stairs leading down to the seafront, the beautiful Opera House and Palace of Count Vorontsov, and a few of the more unusual highlights like the Mother-in-Law Bridge, Devil's House and Monument to the Orange Tree. The Devil's House is an especially interesting building; when times were hard the owners of the land didn't have enough money to build a house with four walls, so they built it with three. When looking at the house it creates the optical illusion that the house only has a front wall and like it shouldn't be able to remain standing, which has given it the nickname Devil's House.

This afternoon is free for you to continue your own explorations. You may choose to take a trip with a local guide down to the world's largest network of underground catacombs and learn of their fascinating history through the ages.

Accommodation:

Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 5 - Free day in Odesa with the chance to visit Dniester National Park

Today is free for you to enjoy the city and to relax on one of its popular sandy beaches. Alternatively there are a number of different excursions for you to get a feel of Odesa's military or Soviet heritage.

You could visit Coastal Defence Number 411, which is now an open air museum and a Memorial for the Heroic Defence of Odesa during World War II. Here you can see an armoured train, artillery guns, an Odesa tank (armoured tractor) and a post-war submarine.

You may like to join a day trip to Dniester National Park, which is around 50 kilometres drive from the city. During the days of the Soviet Union the Dnieper River was in a poor state. It was over fished, used for irrigation and hydropower, dredged for sand and in 1983 it suffered one of the worst environmental disasters in recent history when a liquid-waste reservoir collapsed and over 4.5 million cubic meters of toxic brine was released into the river - killing wildlife and polluted drinking water. It took years to recover, but now the river estuary is protected. You can enjoy a bird watching boat trip across the wetlands to see some of the 1,500 species of flora and fauna found in the delta. The national park is best known for its birdlife with 254 species found here, including 11 on the endangered list. You may spot pelicans, spoonbills, egrets and glossy ibises amongst others.

For food lovers and bargain hunters you could enjoy a trip to three of Odesa's most famous markets. The Flea Market selling many old Soviet items; Privoz the bustling food market best known for its fresh fish and the Seventh Kilometre Market, which is Europe's largest outdoor market and built out of a maze of shipping containers, which sell everything you could possibly imagine from wedding dresses to leather goods and from ceramics to telescopes.

Accommodation:

Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 6 - Visit a breakaway state and Chisinau, the capital of Moldova

Today is a long driving day, as you travel to Chisinau, the capital of neighbouring Moldova. It's well worth it, as you'll experience en route one of the most unique places in Europe - Tiraspol, the capital of the breakaway state of Trans-Dniester. It will be quite a long drive and the border crossing can take time. In total the journey will take about seven to eight hours and you'll reach the hotel at dinner time this evening. It's worth thinking about getting some snacks for the drive on your free day in Odesa.

Unlike the rest of Moldova, Trans-Dniester hadn't wanted to separate from the Soviet Union, so back in 1992 after a short conflict they declared their independence. However, it's not recognised by any of the United Nations as an independent state even though it has its own government, military, postal service, currency, flag and national anthem. On arrival, take some time for lunch before going to the Kvint Brandy Factory for a tour - it's also possible to do a brandy tasting here, and well worth it! Kvint is considered by the locals to be a national symbol of Trans-Dniester and even appears on one of their banknotes. You'll have a local guide in the city who will take you to explore on foot, viewing the numerous war memorials that the city is so proud of and learning a little of the city's fascinating political background.

From here to Chisinau is another two hours, approximately. Located in the very heart of Moldova, the city has a chequered history, dating back to 1420. However, most of it was destroyed during World War II and an earthquake in 1940, so the architecture is mainly in the striking 1950s Soviet style, but there are also two large parks, which give the city a much greener feel. You will find the Moldovans to be some of the friendliest people in Europe and nowhere is that more obvious than in Chisinau.

This evening is free for you at your leisure - dinner at the Propaganda Restaurant is recommended, if there is availability. Designed to resemble a Soviet era apartment, the food consists of traditional Moldovan dishes with a modern twist.

Accommodation:

Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 7 - Chisinau walking tour; visit the ancient churches at Orheiul Vechi

Explore Chisinau on foot with a local guide, including the Orthodox Cathedral of Christ's Nativity and the Holy Gates, which are known as Moldova's 'Arc de Triomphe', as well as the local bazaar and Stephen the Great Park and Monument. Stephen the Great was the Prince of Moldavia who reigned in the 15th century and gained popularity for successfully defending the country from the Hungarians, Polish and Ottoman Empire. Join the locals promenading down the Avenue of the Classics of Moldavian Literature, lined with statues and busts of Romanian and Moldovan authors and social figures.

You'll have the opportunity (optional) to visit the emotive Army Museum in the Centre of Culture and Military History. The exhibits here document Soviet-era repression and the crimes perpetrated by Lenin and Stalin. They tell the story of mass deportation, gulag labour camps, manmade famines and other harrowing tales.

This afternoon, leave the city and discover the site of Orheiul Vechi, in rural Moldova. Of great historical and archaeological importance, the site is home to one of the most unusual church complexes in Eastern Europe. Set in a ruggedly beautiful valley gorge, shaped by the Raut River, there are several ancient monuments amongst and carved into the huge limestone outcrops that date from 10 century BC up to 14 century AD. The Cave Monastery was dug into the cliff by Orthodox monks. Take the opportunity to have a traditional Moldovan meal here before returning to the city - traditional dishes include zeama - a tasty chicken soup - and mamaliga - a type of polenta with fried meat and fresh seasonal vegetables washed down with homemade wine.

Accommodation:

Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 8 - Drive back into Ukraine; walking tour and castle visit in Kamianets-Podilskyi

Leave early this morning and bid farewell to Moldova. The drive back into Ukraine takes around seven hours, but stops will be made along the way and this includes the time taken to cross the border.

Arrive into Kamianets-Podilskyi in the early afternoon. This UNESCO-listed city has an impressive diversity of architectural styles, from medieval fortifications, an Armenian cathedral, Turkish minerets and classical architecture found at the Catholic church of Saint Peter and Paul. Walk with a guide through the centre, up to the stunning Old Castle that dominates the skyline. Ukrainian poet Lesya Ukrainka described the medieval fort as 'a flower on stone' due to its graceful appearance. Set on river loop this powerful defensive complex has protected the city for centuries before becoming military quarters and then later a prison. Today much of the fortress remains intact and is part of the National Historic and Architectural Reserve and exhibits explain its history through the ages.

After a guided tour of the castle, take the rest of the afternoon and evening free to discover the architectural gems of this compact city, and have dinner.

Accommodation:

Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 9 - Visit to Khotyn Fortress and explore Chernivtsi on foot

Driving out of Kamienets this morning, stop at Khotyn Fortress for a guided tour. This compact 10th century fort is very well preserved due to its excellent defensive position beside the Dniester River along with its eight-metre thick walls and five lookout towers.

Continue from here for around one hour, arriving into the characterful and often overlooked city of Chernivtsi at lunchtime. This lively and ramshackle city has a mix of renovated and partially ruined buildings and different architectural styles including grand old Austro-Hungarian houses, which reflect the decadence of days gone by. The city is six centuries old and used to be part of old Moldavia (now Moldova) and was known then as Bukovyna (Beech Tree Land), it was later in the Habsburg Empire and for a brief time after World War I it belonged to Romania.

Explore the city on foot with a local guide, visiting the main sights including the Ringplatz Square, the Palace of Culture, the Square of a Turkish Well and probably the city's most impressive attraction - Chernivtsi National University. The UNESCO-Listed red-bricked buildings are a wonderful mix of Byzantine, Moorish and Hanseatic wings. Constructed in 1882 for the Orthodox Church leaders as their official residence, it became a university in Soviet times.

It's important to mention that the university is closed on Saturday and Sunday, so you may not wish to begin this holiday on a Friday or Saturday.

Accommodation:

Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 10 - Free day in Chernivtsi; option to visit Verkhovyna in the mountains

Today is a free day to explore at your leisure. The scenic, cobble-stoned streets of Chernivtsi are a lively place to drink coffee, people watch and explore at a leisurely pace. Alternatively, there are several excursions on offer outside the city.

You might like to take a full day trip to the small town of Verkhovyna in the Carpathian Mountains. This is your chance to discover rural Ukrainian life, meeting a local farming family who will show you how they make the traditional Carpathian cheeses such as brynza, vurda and budz and of course to sample some of them. Take a short hike in the area with a local guide, and visit a privately owned museum dedicated to the Hutsul life. Hutsul's are a local indigenous people who have their own unique culture and customs, which can be seen in their colourful and intricate craftsmanship including clothing, metal work and wooden furniture, and traditional songs and dances. You will get to hear a song played with a Ukrainian national instrument - the trembita, which is a type of long wooden horn. Lastly, you will go to a local kolyba, a Hutsul restaurant before returning to Chernivtsi later this evening.

Alternatively, you might like to take a full day trip to visit three of the Caves of Ternopil - Crystal Cave, Verteba Cave and Monastyrok Cave. The labyrinth of over 100 caves and tunnels found in Ternopil stretch for over 600 kilometres underground and are known as 'the kingdom of eternal darkness'. Each of the caves has its own characteristics and the three we visit are very different to one another. At Crystal Cave you can see uncut gems covering the walls, in Verteba Cave there is a museum with sculptures and ceramics on display, and lastly in Monastyrok - Monastery Rock Cave you'll see an Orthodox church built into this natural grotto.

Accommodation:

Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 11 - Drive to the elegant city of Lviv with a walking tour on arrival

Leave Chernivtsi this morning and head towards the beautiful city of Lviv, yet another of Ukraine's stunningly preserved cities, packed full of architectural diversity and historical interest. Discover all of this with a guided walking tour. We will see the old market square of Ploshcha Rynok, the ornately carved exterior of Boyim Chapel, the Dominican Church and Monastery and the Citadel Inn. The inn was built in 1850 as a circular red fort that during World War II became a Nazi concentration camp and was known as the 'Tower of Death', but today it has remarkably been turned into a five star hotel! Lviv is home to not just one, but three different cathedrals; there's the Latin Cathedral, Armenian Cathedral and Saint George's Cathedral and they all vary greatly in style.

This evening is free for you to have dinner and Lviv is the perfect spot for relaxing. In amongst the cobbled streets with their pretty red-roofed buildings and tucked away courtyards you will find a variety of good cafes, bars and restaurants. One dining option is the Dim Legend Restaurant that is spread over seven small floors and a roof terrace and each floor is decorated with a different theme telling the city's history through the ages.

Accommodation:

Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 12 - Free day in Lviv; evening train to Kyiv

Today is free in Lviv for you to further discover the city. Lviv is well known for both its beer and chocolate, so you may choose to visit the Brewery Museum, of course with the chance to try an assortment of locally brewed beers, or join a chocolate making masterclass. Here you can learn all about how chocolate is made and try your hand at making your own chocolate master pieces with advice from a professional chocolatier. Apparently chocolate has been produced in the city since the Middle Ages and in the 19th century it was exported to aristocracy throughout Europe. Today there is a huge variety of different flavoured chocolates, ice cream, milkshakes, cakes and more to tempt you.

Alternatively you might like to visit Lychakiv Cemetery. This burial ground is a protected historical monument and believe it or not is one of the most popular attractions in the city. Established in 1786 by the Austro-Hungarians, there are grave markers here written in Ukrainian, Russian, German, Polish, Armenian and Latin, which show how the city's rulers have changed throughout its history. In amongst the elaborately carved tombs there are also communal graves for soldiers and freedom fighters and simple communist graves. Sadly during the Soviet era the graveyard was used as a dumping ground and only reopened in 2005 after being restored.

At around 4.30pm you'll be taken to the train station, to board the train to Kyiv. The journey takes around five hours, and you'll arrive into Kyiv at approximately 10.30pm.

Accommodation:

Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 13 - Visit the Chernobyl Museum; free afternoon in Kyiv

Visit the Chernobyl Museum this morning, with exhibits that are designed to teach the scope of the nuclear disaster and to ensure that the lessons learnt from this terrible accident aren't forgotten. It'll help to provide you with some of the background information ahead of visiting the Exclusion Zone tomorrow.

The rest of the day is free for you to explore. The Chernobyl Museum is located in the hip district of Podil, so you might wish to stay here and visit one of the many excellent coffee shops or lunch spots, before discovering the area on foot.

Accommodation:

Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 14 - Excursion into the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

Set off this morning to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, about two hours' drive from the city and close to the Belarusian border. Back on the 26th April 1986 the Number 4 nuclear reactor at Chernobyl exploded with catastrophic consequences. Since then an Exclusion Zone has been in place around the plant and nature has reclaimed the towns and vehicles left within this. The accident was the result of a flawed Soviet reactor, operated by inadequately trained staff that had been ordered to carry out a poorly planned test.

There were four reactors and a further two being constructed when Reactor 4 exploded twice, killing two workers and releasing at least 5% of its radioactive core into the atmosphere. A further 28 fire fighters died of radiation poisoning following the accident. At the time this was the largest uncontrolled radioactive release recorded.

The city of Pripyat was built three kilometres from the site to house the plant's workers and their families and, at the time, it had 49,000 inhabitants. Within a 30 kilometre radius of the power plant, there was a population of up to 135,000 people. All were evacuated after the accident and most of these towns and villages including Pripyat are now ghost towns.

Surprisingly after the accident the other reactors at Chernobyl were restarted. Their safety was improved but due to energy shortages the last reactor wasn't turned off until December 2000. In 2011 Chernobyl was declared safe enough to be recognised as a tourist attraction.

Reactor 4 was enclosed in a large concrete shelter which was erected quickly after the incident and contained around 200 tonnes of highly radioactive material. The old shelter only had a shelf life of 30 years and at the end of 2016 a huge 'New Safe Confinement' structure was built on the site and moved into place over the old shelter. It is the world's largest movable structure and inside a team of robotic cranes is taking the old shelter and radioactive core apart in an effort to make the area safe again.

Today, explore Pripyat with a local guide, visiting the key sites of the town including an elementary school, fire station, hospital and even an overground fairground. Your guide will also take you to see the Red Forest and the structure around Reactor 4. The sites seen in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone may vary depending on local conditions and restrictions, but you'll see the most possible during your two days spent here.

This evening stay within the Exclusion Zone in a small hotel within the town of Chernobyl. The bedrooms are simply decorated and there are two bathrooms shared between every five bedrooms. There is a restaurant and bar where you will enjoy a traditional Ukrainian meal this evening.

Please note that it is essential that you provide us with the correct passport information at the time of booking and that you check this is accurate on your booking confirmation/the online customer information gateway, as this will be required in order to request the permissions needed to enter the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Corrections and amendments may incur additional charges at your own expense or result in you being denied entrance to the Exclusion Zone. If you intend to renew your passport please let us know at the point of booking and ensure that you have your new passport no later than 10 weeks prior to travel. In order to be permitted to enter the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and to travel on this holiday you must be at least 18 years old.

Accommodation:

Grade: Simple Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 15 - Further explorations of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

Today we will most likely see Pripyat's swimming pool, grammar school and music school and visit the secret Soviet Duga Radar Facility. The radar military base was named Chernobyl 2 and didn't appear on any civilian maps and the trees were strategically planted to block the view from the neighbouring towns. There are two radars here that were constructed as part of a Soviet early missile detection system. The bigger of the two is almost 500 metres long and around 150 metres high. Also on the site are an abandoned fire station, small power plant, hospital and apartment buildings where the military personnel stationed here and their families would have lived.

We will also hopefully get the chance today to speak with people still living within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, who are known as self-settlers. A year after the accident over one thousand people returned to their homes and despite efforts from the authorities they kept returning until eventually being allowed to stay and they have been living off grid ever since. Many of the people who choose to return were retired at the time and since it has been over 30 years since the disaster many of these people have sadly now passed away, so many of the towns and villages in the Exclusion Zone now only have one or two people living there. We should be able to meet with a couple of the self-settlers to hear their stories of what their lives were like before, during and after the explosion.

Late this afternoon we drive back to Kyiv for our final free evening in the city.

Accommodation:

Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast & Lunch

Day 16 - Trip ends in Kyiv

Your trip ends today, and you will be taken to the airport to meet your international flight. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Kyiv at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel.

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Trip information

Climate and country information

Moldova

Climate

Moldova has a temperate continental climate. Summers are generally hot, sunny and less humid than in Central Europe, with temperatures normally between 20 to 23°C. Winters are cold and snowy with temperatures averaging between 0 to -6°C. Short thunderstorms can occur in June and July, but rainfall in Moldova isn't abundant.

Time difference to GMT

+2

Plugs

2 Pin Round

Religion

Orthodox Christians

Language

Moldovan and Romanian

Ukraine

Climate

Ukraine has a temperate continental climate. Summers in are generally hot, sunny and less humid than in Central Europe, with temperatures normally between 18 to 25°C. In fact, the early autumn period is often compared with an Indian summer, dry and sunny. Winters are cold and snowy with temperatures averaging between -8 to -12°C. The wettest area in Ukraine is the Carpathian Mountains where it can rain at any time of year.

Time difference to GMT

+2

Plugs

2 Pin Round

Religion

Orthodox Christian

Language

Ukrainian

Budgeting and packing

Optional activities

The following excursions and/or activities are usually available and may be arranged locally. Estimated costs are provided below for guidance only, are on a per person basis unless shown otherwise, and may depend on the number of participants. Prices quoted are correct as of the date these tour notes were originally issued but may change at any time due to currency fluctuations. Please note: These activities are booked and paid for direct with the supplier and do not form part of your Explore holiday contract.



A selection of optional activities are listed below to help you budget for your holiday. Whilst the trip price you pay before you travel includes a great selection of highlights, we have also built in free time to allow you the flexibility to choose from a carefully selected range of additional excursions and activities or take time to relax, the choice is yours. At certain destinations along the way there may be several options to choose from and it may not be possible to fit all the activities in.

Kyiv:
Tour to Mezhygiria - four hours including transport, local guide and entrance fee, 3200 UAH per person (based on 2 people).

Tour to Pyrohiv Open Air Museum - three hours including transport, local guide and entrance fee, 1600 UAH per person (based on 2 people).

Lavra Monastery Complex visit - includes the caves, Museum of Miniatures, Museum of Historical Treasures and Holy Trinity Church, 1500 UAH per person (based on 2 people).

Odesa:
Odesa Catacombs - 2.5 hours including local guide, 1100 UAH per person (based on 2 people).

Number 411 Coastal Defence - three hours, 1100 UAH per person (based on 2 people).

Day trip to the Dniester National Park - includes three- to four-hour bird watching boat trip, local guide, transport and entrance fee, 2,625 UAH per person (based on 2 people).

Chisinau:
Entrance to the Army Museum in the Centre of Culture and Military History, 40 Moldovan Leu (MDL) per person.

Chernivtsi:
Full day excursion to Verkhovyna, includes transport (the drive is around two and a half hours each way), a short hike with a local guide, Hutsul Museum entrance and seeing cheese made by a local family. 3100 UAH per group plus 300 UAH per person for lunch.

Full day excursion to the Caves of Ternopil, includes transport (the drive is around three hours each way), local guide, lunch and visiting three caves - Crystal, Verteba and Monastyrok. 2650 UAH per group plus 200-250 UAH per person. The caves are lit and there's no need for special equipment for this visit. The temperature in the caves year round is about 11 Celsius, so you should dress accordingly.

Lviv:
Brewery visit, 100 UAH per person.

Lytschkiv Cemetery - about two hours, including a local guide, 950 UAH per person (based on 2 people).

Please note that all optional excursions listed above are subject to change and availability.

Clothing

July and August are the hottest months and lightweight cotton clothing is best. During spring and autumn temperatures can be lower or drop during the evenings and there is also a stronger possibility of rain, so pack layers. Rainwear may be needed at any time of year. A warm fleece/jacket is recommended for cooler evenings. During winter you should be prepared for snow and very cold temperatures, so it's advisable to dress in warm layers of breathable fabrics. You'll need waterproofs and plenty of warm clothing including a warm waterproof jacket (such as a ski jacket), jumper, fleece, gaiters or ski trousers, thick socks (including spare pairs in case your feet get wet) and thermal underwear.

All visitors to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone must wear full length trousers (not shorts or skirts) and long-sleeve shirts/jackets and please avoid clothing with lots of zips or metal poppers. It's advisable to wash your clothes and to shower after your visit. We also recommend that you take old clothes that can be easily washed or even thrown away if necessary and a plastic bag to keep them separate from the rest of your clothing following the visit. Upon leaving the Exclusion Zone you will go through a monitor to check the radiation level on you, occasionally this reading may come back too high, and in which case, you may have to leave an item of clothing behind, as you won't be able to take anything that gives too higher reading outside of the zone.

Women should bring a headscarf for religious site visits.

Footwear

We recommend taking comfortable walking shoes for exploring and trainers or sandals for relaxing.

In the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone you must wear closed toed shoes (not sandals or flip flops). We recommend using older shoes that can be easily washed or thrown away if necessary. In the Exclusion Zone there is often broken glass on the floor, so it is important to have shoes with sturdy tread. In winter in both Chernobyl and Kiev, snow and ice are both likely, so you should factor this in to your packing.

You may also want to bring a pair of slippers for your stay at the Chernobyl Hotel for going to and from the bathroom at night.

Luggage

20kg

Luggage: On tour

One main piece of baggage and a day pack. Remember you are expected to carry your own luggage so don't overload yourself.

This trip is at a full on pace, including a train journey with shorts walks and/or stairs between platforms, stations and accommodation, so for this reason please take care to make sure you can comfortably carry your own luggage throughout the trip.

Equipment

We advise taking a water bottle, and in sping or summer, sun glasses, sunscreen and a sun hat are all essential. An umbrella may also be useful at anytime of year and gloves, a woolly hat and scarf if you are travelling in autumn or winter.

Whilst in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone we recommend carrying hand sanitiser, toilet roll and mosquito spray. We would also recommend buying any bottled water required before entering the Exclusion Zone or carrying a Water to Go filter bottle with you. Please remember that you must keep your passport with you at all times, so you may find keeping it in a sealed dry bag useful. For the overnight stay in Chernobyl it is best to take a small overnight bag with you and to leave your main bag padlocked in the luggage storage facility at our hotel in Kyiv.

During autumn and winter especially, the evenings can be cold and the heating at the hotel in Chernobyl is limited, so we'd recommend bringing warm nightwear and perhaps a blanket and hot water bottle.

In case of emergency we also recommend that you carry a torch with spare batteries and sufficient medical supplies including a first aid kit and several days extra supply of any specific prescription medications that you require.

Tipping

Local crew
Although voluntary, tipping is a recognised part of life in this region of the world. We recommend an amount of approximately 8-10% for restaurant staff and taxi drivers, 5 - 15 Euros for local guides (depending on whether they give a half-day or a full-day tour), and in Chernobyl guides usually receive approximately 20-50 Euros for their two-day service, depending on the number of people they are guiding.

Moldova

Food and drink

The costs for meals may vary depending upon location, type of restaurant and number of courses eaten and so the prices given are an average guide. Local restaurants located off the beaten track may be less expensive, whereas an upmarket restaurant located in the centre of a major city may charge more.


Lunch price
£11
Dinner price
£15
Beer price
£3
Water price
£0.8
Foreign Exchange
Local currency
Moldovan Leu. The de facto currency in Trans-Dniester is the Trans-Dniestrian Ruble. Moldovan Leu can only be exchanged for Trans-Dniestrian Ruble whilst in Trans-Dniester. Attempting to pay for purchases in Trans-Dniester in any other currency is considered an illegal act.
Recommended Currency For Exchange
The most widely accepted currencies for exchange are US Dollars (USD) and Euro. Notes should be in perfect condition or may not be accepted. It's not always easy to change Pound Sterling.
Where To Exchange
Most major towns and cities - your Explore Leader will advise you on arrival. Only exchange money at reputable places like banks, ATM's and official Forex Offices.
ATM Availability
Major towns and cities have ATM's for cash withdrawal; although cash machines often do not work so please do not rely on them. ATM's in Trans-Dniester don't accept foreign bank or credit cards.
Credit Card Acceptance
In major restaurants and hotels in Chisinau. Outside the capital it won't always be possible to pay by card.
Travellers Cheques
Travellers cheques are very difficult to change in and Moldova.

Ukraine

Food and drink

The costs for meals may vary depending upon location, type of restaurant and number of courses eaten and so the prices given are an average guide. Local restaurants located off the beaten track may be less expensive, whereas an upmarket restaurant located in the centre of a major city may charge more.


Lunch price
£5.5
Dinner price
£10-15
Beer price
£1.3
Water price
£0.8
Foreign Exchange
Local currency
Hryvnia
Recommended Currency For Exchange
Pound Sterling, US Dollars (USD) and Euro cash can all be exchanged for the local currency. You can only leave Ukraine with a maximum of USD 10,000. Anything over this amount will be confiscated. If you are taking Pound Sterling, please note that currency exchange offices in Ukraine will only accept the new plastic notes. Banks will still accept the paper notes but typically provide a lower exchange rate.
Where To Exchange
Most major towns and cities - your Explore Leader will advise you on arrival. Only exchange money at reputable places like banks, ATM's and official Forex Offices.
ATM Availability
Major towns and cities have ATM's for cash withdrawal.
Credit Card Acceptance
In the main towns and cities credit cards are accepted in most restaurants, hotels and larger shops.
Travellers Cheques
Travellers cheques are very difficult to change in the Ukraine.
Transport, Accommodation & Meals

Transport Information

Bus, Train

Accommodation notes

Throughout this trip, we use comfortable hotels, with excellent central locations for you to step out and discover the treasures of Moldova and Ukraine.

In the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, you will spend one night at a simple hotel with two bathrooms shared between every five bedrooms. Bathrooms are equipped with a sink, shower and toilet. Bedrooms are simply decorated. The food served here will be traditional Ukrainian cuisine and there is a bar within the restaurant. In the evening the doors of the hotel will be locked at around 22.30 and you are not permitted to venture out into the Exclusion Zone without the guide. The television service here includes no English speaking channels, so you might like to bring a tablet computer, electronic reading device, MP3 player or pack of playing cards with you for evening entertainment.

Essential Information

Government Travel Safety Advice

We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.

Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.

 

Under 18 immigration guidance

Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.

Price Guarantee

Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions

Visa and Passport Information

Ukraine and Moldova: UK, Canadian and US citizens do not require a visa. Australian and New Zealand citizens do need a visa to enter Ukraine. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office. In addition you will be required to carry a photocopy of your passport with you at all times in Ukraine for ID purposes.

It is essential that you provide Explore with the correct passport information at the time of booking, as this will be required in order to pre-book any applicable train tickets and Chernobyl Exclusion Zone permissions. Corrections and amendments will incur additional charges, so please double check that the information we have for you is up to date and correct, this includes your passport number, full name as per passport (including middle names), date of birth and place of birth; if customers renew or reissue their passports from the details initially given to Explore, train tickets must be cancelled and purchased again, which involves extra costs. If you intend to renew your passport please let Explore know at the point of booking and please ensure that you have the new passport no later than 10 weeks prior to travel.


If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
 

Booking conditions

Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.

Transfers

Find out more about Trip Transfer Terms and Conditions before you book.

Booking a land only package with Explore

Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information. 

You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.


Joining Tour Abroad

Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.

The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.  

Free transfers are not available for Self-Guided, Polar, Tailormade or Tours for Churches customers.

If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.  

For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here

Insurance

It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.

Flight information

Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.


Flight Information

You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.

  

Booking a flight inclusive package with Explore

We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.

On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.

Included activities


This trip is designed to show you the highlights of two countries, so the pace is full on. You'll be using public transport as well as charter vehicles to get around and you will do most of your exploring on foot in each place visited. Please pack light to ensure you can lift and store your bag on the train journeys (soft sided bags with wheels work best).

There are a few long journeys which will mean early starts, but of course there's always the option to catch-up on some sleep whilst in the car. The exact timings for these days will depend on the road and weather conditions. On these days it's best to bring snacks and drinks with you.

Whilst in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone there are a number of rules in place to ensure your safety and it's very important that you follow all instructions given to you by your local guide. Every visitor must have a valid passport with them at all times and in order to be permitted entry to the Exclusion Zone you must be at least 18 years old. This restriction is due to the fact that the human body is still growing below this age and it's therefore more vulnerable to the effects of radiation.

During the two days spent in the Exclusion Zone you'll receive a dose of radiation comparable to a small dose from an X-ray scan or to several hours spent in an airplane at altitude. In numbers, you will receive 5-7 micro Sieverts of gamma radiation, which is a non-harmful dose of radiation. To put this into context most nuclear power plants around the world set a safety limit for their employees of 50-100 micro Sieverts per day.

Whilst in the Exclusion Zone all meals will be included to ensure they're from a safe source. You are not allowed to smoke, eat or drink in open spaces whilst here. You are not allowed to eat any berries or drink water from open sources such as wells (tap water or bottled water is fine).

In the Exclusion Zone you are allowed to take photographs and videos of everything and can take tripods with you. The only exceptions are restrictions at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and the guarded checkpoints. You are allowed to take pictures and video in front of Reactor Number 4 from a safe distance. Your guide will advise you of any places where photos aren't permitted.

In the Exclusion Zone there may be rubble underfoot and not all stairs will have banisters, so you need to be steady on your feet. Please wear shoes with good grip and that support your ankles.

We've been notified that the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is occasionally being closed to tourists in order to be used as a training area by the Ukrainian military. Whilst this has only occurred three times in the past three months and hasn't yet affected any of our departures, we felt it was important to notify you of the small possibility that this could happen on your trip.

In the majority of cases we will be notified two months in advance by the military of their intent to close off the Exclusion Zone. If we know this far in advance then we will inform you, in order to change the date of your trip or to alter the itinerary, so that we are still able to visit the site. Should you decide that you're no longer be able to travel on an alternative date, then you'll be entitled to cancel your trip and receive a full refund of the monies paid to Explore, though we hope that you will not find this necessary.

Should the military not notify us of their intent to close the area within a reasonable time frame for us to amend your itinerary as per above - then we'll stay in Kyiv for an additional night rather than overnighting in the hotel in Chernobyl. During the two days that you'd normally be in the Exclusion Zone, as an alternative we'll go to visit the Strategic Missile Force Museum at Pervomaysk. Here you'll take a guided tour of this decommissioned nuclear weapon launch site where you can see the R-36M2 'Governor' bomb and have the opportunity to descend down to the original control room - the Unified Command Post. You'll also visit the Mezhyhirya Residence Museum - the lavish property where Ukraine's controversial former president, Yanukovych resided before the 2014 uprising. It now houses the Museum of Corruption.

Ability to swim

No

Moldova

Vaccinations

Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against hepatitis A and diphtheria. Check that your polio and tetanus vaccinations are up-to-date before travel. The UK Foreign Office currently recommends that you should consider whether to immunise against tickborne encephalitis and rabies. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.

Ukraine

Vaccinations

Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against hepatitis A and diphtheria. Check that your polio and tetanus vaccinations are up-to-date before travel. The UK Foreign Office currently recommends that you should consider whether to immunise against tickborne encephalitis and rabies. Consult your travel clinic for further advice. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at http://www.explore.co.uk/Travelhealth/ and from your local healthcare provider.

Additional Information

Tour Staff

Unlike our group tours our private journeys do not have a Tour Leader. However, you are still in safe hands as we work closely with our expert local suppliers on the planning and organisation of your holiday to ensure that you have a fantastic time. You'll be met on arrival in Kyiv by one of our english-speaking local guides, who will go through your holiday details and answer any questions you may have. The guides throughout the trip are excellent, and will help to bring the destination to life. At times you may travel unaccompanied, or with just a driver (rather than a guide), but you will have all the information that you need to explore and there is always the reassurance that you have someone on hand with our 24/7 emergency contact number.

Dates, prices and booking

All trips are subject to availability and prices are subject to change
Mon 17 May 2021 - Fri 31 Dec 2021 Your trip can depart anytime between the above dates. A solo traveller supplement applies, contact us for prices.
PTUAM_2021
US$3640
was Save
Single room (optional)
i
+US$720
PTUAM_2021

Add a flight with Explore

  • Full Explore refunds in the event of FCDO cancellations or major disruption at your UK departure airport
  • Carbon neutral flights – Gold Standard offsetting included
  • Rearranged flights and transfers in the event of delays, missed connections, or cancellations (including accommodation overseas)
  • ATOL protected
  • No surcharge guarantee
 
Sat 1 Jan 2022 - Sat 31 Dec 2022 Your trip can depart anytime between the above dates. A solo traveller supplement applies, contact us for prices.
PTUAM_2022
US$3570
was Save
Single room (optional)
i
+US$690
PTUAM_2022

Add a flight with Explore

  • Full Explore refunds in the event of FCDO cancellations or major disruption at your UK departure airport
  • Carbon neutral flights – Gold Standard offsetting included
  • Rearranged flights and transfers in the event of delays, missed connections, or cancellations (including accommodation overseas)
  • ATOL protected
  • No surcharge guarantee
 
Sun 1 Jan 2023 - Tue 31 Jan 2023 Your trip can depart anytime between the above dates. A solo traveller supplement applies, contact us for prices.
PTUAM_2023
US$3640
was Save
Single room (optional)
i
+US$710
PTUAM_2023

Add a flight with Explore

  • Full Explore refunds in the event of FCDO cancellations or major disruption at your UK departure airport
  • Carbon neutral flights – Gold Standard offsetting included
  • Rearranged flights and transfers in the event of delays, missed connections, or cancellations (including accommodation overseas)
  • ATOL protected
  • No surcharge guarantee
 

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