Pop-Up Tour: Ukraine on Ice

Kiev / Chernobyl
7 Days & 6 Nights
€1390 €1290 Launch Price
 
14-20 JANUARY 2018

 

Pop-Up Tour is a proud collaboration between The Bohemian Blog and Yomadic… and in this fifth and final event in our limited series of innovative, curated tours, we invite you to:

★ Spend three days exploring the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in the snow;
★ Take an exclusive private tour of Mezhyhirya – the mansion of Ukraine’s exiled former president;
★ Climb through networks of tunnels and drains deep beneath the centre of Kiev;
Swim in a frozen river as part of Ukraine’s traditional Epiphany celebrations.

There’s plenty more included too, on a tour that promises to be our most adventurous outing so far. All activities are entirely optional (don’t worry – we’re not going to push you into the river if you don’t want to go) but if you share our sense of adventure, this could very well be the trip of a lifetime.

 
BANNER-KIEV

 
Kiev.

Join us for a total of four nights in Kiev: lodging in Soviet-era comfort as we head out for a curated tour of this mad and wonderful capital. We’ll take a trip to Mezhyhirya, to marvel at the ridiculous wealth and poor taste of Ukraine’s deposed former president, Viktor Yanukovych… and you’ll have the option to head underground too, for some guided urban exploration through hidden tunnels beneath the capital.

 
BANNER-CHERNOBYL2

 
Chernobyl.

Our extended stay in Chernobyl – three days and two nights – allows us to visit all the famous attractions as well as many less visited sites… including some that were, until recently, strictly off-limits. We will sleep in cabins in the forest, previously occupied by the scientists employed in the Chernobyl clean-up operation. With a sauna and BBQ grill at our disposal (not to mention plenty of cognac) we will be very well equipped to tackle the cold.

 

 
Epiphany.

Returning to Kiev, we’ve timed the tour to coincide with Epiphany. Watch as the locals chainsaw holes through the ice, then jump into the frozen Dnieper River. If you’ve ever wanted to swim in icy waters, this is your chance… but the spectacle is just as enjoyable seen from the sidelines, with a camera and a hot mug of mulled wine.

 
Join Us.

Places are strictly limited – so get in touch now to reserve your seat on this exclusive winter tour of Kiev and Chernobyl. Bookings will close on Friday 5th January, at 4pm London time.

For more information, you can read through a detailed itinerary and FAQs below.

You can also check out the photo gallery from our last winter tour in Ukraine.

 
POP-UP TOUR: UKRAINE ON ICE / 14-20 JANUARY 2018 / €1390 €1290 / Book Now

 

 

YOUR ITINERARY IN MORE DETAIL

SUNDAY 14: Welcome to Kiev

Kiev is pre-tourist-boom. Home to 3.5 million people on the banks of the Dnieper River, this historic Eastern European capital combines the legacy of post-Soviet Eastern Europe, centuries of important regional history, rich cultural heritage, and now, an urbane cosmopolitan modernity. There is no city quite like Kiev.

Once you arrive we’ll get you checked into Hotel Salyut, an icon of mid-century Soviet Modernism. As we await arrivals, our central location will allow easily exploration of the local sites and sounds of Kiev, followed by our first group dinner.

 
Kiev-4MONDAY 15: Hidden Histories

Up until his exile in 2014, former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych lived a life of unimaginable luxury. Today we’ll visit his old hang-out, the palace at Mezhyhirya. Prepare to be amazed by an extraordinary display of tasteless wealth.

In the afternoon, you have options – a guided tour of Soviet heritage sites in Kiev (including the colossal Motherland Monument and Great Patriotic War Museum), or a trip underground to explore a network tunnels and drains beneath the city. We’ll regroup for a dinner later, before returning to your mid-century Sov-Mod pad.

 

Kiev-7TUESDAY 16: Chernobyl, Day 1

We’ll travel early from Kiev to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, and the abandoned city of Pripyat. Needing little in the way of introduction, Pripyat was once a thriving city of workers and families until being rapidly evacuated in the wake of the 1986 nuclear accident.

Accompanied by an experienced guide, our overnight stay will ensure we have the ability to really immerse ourselves in our surroundings – perfect for photographers, and for anyone else hoping to explore the place at a more leisurely pace. Overnight accommodation in the Chernobyl Zone.

 

Chernobyl Tourism 27WEDNESDAY 17: Chernobyl, Day 2

Waking up in Chernobyl, we’ll head straight out to see some of the lesser-known sites of this area – including Reactors 5 and 6, some abandoned villages and the massive radar installation known as the Russian Woodpecker.

Most of the day will be dedicated to Pripyat, though. We’ll have time to walk the empty streets of the city, exploring apartments, schools, and leisure complexes, as well as stopping to check out some rooftop views along the way. Then it’s back to your cabin in the woods – to get warm, eat BBQ, and perhaps jump in the sauna.

 

Chernobyl Tourism 15THURSDAY 18: Chernobyl, Day 3

Our third and final day in Chernobyl. Few tour groups stay in the ‘Zone this long, and we’ll make the most of every minute – exploring all the obscure corners of Chernobyl that most visitors miss. In winter, this place is ridiculously photogenic.

When the sun goes down we’ll finally head back to Kiev… stopping en route at our favourite Ukrainian roadside restaurant. Tonight you’ll be back in the familiar surroundings of Hotel Salyut, where you’ll want to get a good night’s rest before our last full day.

 

FRIDAY 19: Epiphany

Epiphany is one of the most important dates in the Orthodox calendar. Here in Ukraine, they celebrate it by taking a dunk in a frozen river. We’ll head out early to the suburbs, to see one of the better ceremonies in the city. You can join in, if you’re brave enough – or else you’re welcome to hang back, watch, take photos, and laugh.

At the end of the day we’ll be together for one last group dinner – this time it’s a traditional Ukrainian banquet, served at a replica Cossack village tucked away in the middle of Kiev.

 

SATURDAY 20: Departures

Final Ukrainian breakfast. Tears. Laughter. If you’re staying longer in Kiev, we’ll buy you a drink… and for those heading home, we will be happy to help you arrange any airport transfers.

 

Welcome to Pripyat.
Welcome to Pripyat.

One of the tunnels we’ll be exploring beneath Kiev.

 

The Small Print

So what’s a “Pop-up tour” then?

We’re really not fans of typical organised group tours. However, we appreciate the benefits of local knowledge and planning – especially when time is limited. Our curated Pop-up tour is a contemporary approach to resolve an enormous problem with tourism. Modern travellers are seeking to maintain the spirit of independent travel, but would prefer a like-minded “expert” to sift through and select only those sights and experiences worth seeing, while taking care of all the logistics.

Many people really don’t enjoy the concept of typical package tours – neither do we. We won’t be ticking off UNESCO heritage lists, or seeing “must sees” for the sake of completion. Surrounded by a small group of new friends, we’ll forge our own path – well paced, but never rushed. This is the “Pop-up tour,” and there is nothing quite like it.

 

Climbing the Russian Woodpecker. Pop-up Tour, January 2017.

About the collaboration: Yomadic & The Bohemian Blog

Darmon here. If you’re reading this, then chances are you already have an idea of what my site, The Bohemian Blog, is all about: unexpected beauty in unlikely places. The wonder of magnificent might-have-beens. Travel measured in experiences, and not according to Lonely Planet checklists.

Well, Yomadic is on the same page. I can honestly say that in an industry of top-ten lists and click-bait titles, Yomadic is one of the few travel sites that I still make time to read. We’ve travelled together a whole load of times now, and we’ve already co-run four highly successful tours in Ukraine.

 

Why trust us?

We’re experienced tour operators, with a history of successful and consistently sold-out tours. Since 2014, we have personally organised and run small groups through Ukraine, Iran, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Montenegro. These are not “easy” destinations – however, our tour success is confirmed by the number of previous guests who have already booked in for another.

Although we’re small and independent, we act with utmost professionalism and only collaborate with organisations and individuals that have a verifiable history of travel professionalism. Our reputation is of critical importance – and our track record stands as evidence of our commitment to unique, high value, quality, “Untour” experiences.

In fact, we’ll be happy to put you in touch with some of our previous guests, if you’d like to have an unsolicited opinion on our tours.

 

Why is there a closing date?

On Friday 5th January, at 4pm London time, bookings will close. This date cannot be extended under any circumstance. Our unique Chernobyl experience requires the early submission of paperwork to local authorities in advance, with your full name. Therefore, as much as we would like to accommodate last-minute bookings, this time around we simply can’t.

 

The Ferris wheel in Luna Park, Pripyat.

Is Chernobyl safe?

A wealth of information exists about the current safety of the Chernobyl area. You may easily search for information – and independently verify the safety of this region. When sticking with the instructions of our professional and experienced guide (we will have a full induction), the radiation levels are many times smaller than what you would receive on a trans-Atlantic flight (for example). However, there are other dangers – including collapsing urban infrastructure – and so we will ensure your safety is our priority at all times. All official guidelines with regards to safety, will be strictly adhered to.

 

Is Kiev safe?

Kiev is a safe city by any global standard. It’s a major European metropolis, and the people are some of the most welcoming you’ll meet. Sure, the country still has some issues to work out – but the chance of any of it affecting our tour is extremely low.

 

Ukraine in January… Won’t it be cold?

Yes, absolutely. It’ll be freezing – likely down to -10°C (that’s about 14°F). But seeing Kiev’s golden spires topped in snow, or walking the snow-crusted streets of the abandoned city of Pripyat… we believe that such a unique experience justifies packing a few extra layers. Don’t worry, we’ll be taking regular pit stops for food and hot drinks along the way, while you’ll also find the local vodka works wonders against a chill.

 

Epiphany celebrations in Kiev. January 2017.

How do I pay, and what is the refund policy?

Payment is via any major credit card, giving you all the protections and benefits you would normally receive. Outside of an unexpected force-majeure event, this tour is 100% guaranteed to go ahead. We incur real costs from the moment you book, and due to the timing of this tour, we cannot offer an automatic refund should you decide to cancel. However, if you do cancel prior to January 5th, and we find a replacement for you, we promise to refund 90% of your full ticket price.

 

When should I arrive in Kiev?

Aim to arrive in Kiev during the day on January 14th. We can arrange a transfer from Kiev airport directly to your hotel, or you can organise your own taxi/public transportation: we can give you information on these options. If you wish to arrive early, or depart late, we can organise additional accommodation for you as well as sharing a long list of extra things to see and do. Hotel check-in time is after 1pm.

 

Is there a ‘single-supplement’ option or charge?

Unless you prefer your own room, we won’t charge you a single supplement. Shared twin-rooms have a maximum of two guests in total. If you would like to ensure your own room, this option is available on the checkout page for an additional cost of 390 Euro. Please note, although we will try to offer your own cabin for the nights at Chernobyl, we cannot guarantee this – you would share with a maximum of one other guest.

 

The abandoned Polissya Hotel in downtown Pripyat.

What if I get bored of hanging out with you guys?

Outside of Chernobyl, you will have 100% freedom to do as you wish. Each night, the group dinner is completely optional… and if ever you don’t fancy our planned activities, you’ll always be welcome to do your own thing instead. Just please – keep a close eye on the itinerary on those days when we’re taking long-distance buses or trains.

 

What’s included?

★ All accommodation in Kiev at an iconic, well-reputed and architecturally significant Soviet-era hotel.
★ Accommodation at the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in historical cabins.
★ All transportation necessary for the duration of the trip, including throughout Kiev and comfortable transportation to and from Pripyat / Chernobyl.
★ All breakfasts are included, including on the departure day.
★ Guides from Yomadic, The Bohemian Blog, and local guides from Ukraine.
★ All meals at the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone for the duration of three days will be included.
★ Plus much more…

 

What’s not included?

★ Airfares or transport costs to and from Kiev (although we are happy to assist you with planning this).
★ Transportation costs from Kiev Airport to your hotel, on arrival and departure (however, we can arrange private airport-pickup, or provide you with taxi/public transportation information).
★ Alcohol, mostly, is not included, but we reserve the right to buy you a drink or two.
★ Most dinners and lunches are not included – except when specified as inclusions in the itinerary.
★ Ukraine Visa costs, if applicable (although we will provide advice if required).

 

Looking up at the Duga radar, last January.

Other things worth knowing

★ Many nationalities can easily obtain a visa-on-arrival at Kiev Airport – including most European nations, USA, Canada, UK, most South American nations, Australia, and New Zealand.
★ Internet speeds in Ukraine are fast, WiFi is commonplace.
★ Travel insurance is a requirement of this tour (we don’t recommended any specific provider).
★ All major credit cards are accepted at most ATM machines in Kiev, currency exchange is commonplace.
★ Though unlikely, we reserve the right to change the itinerary should weather conditions or other factors affect our access to any destinations. If we do make changes, we’ll always be sure to replace unavailable attractions with something just as impressive.
To contact us: You can send us a message using this form. We will be happy to speak to you via telephone/Skype, or reply to your inquiries via email or social media.

 

And now, it’s over to you…

This is the type of invitation that doesn’t come around too often. We promise, based upon our history of previous tours, to deliver you a profoundly enjoyable experience and one of the most memorable trips you could ever imagine.

We really hope you can join us. Please don’t delay – group size is limited, and the closing date is fixed.

 
POP-UP TOUR: UKRAINE ON ICE / 14-20 JANUARY 2018 / €1390 €1290 / Book Now

 

Icicles hang inside the Duga control room. Chernobyl, Ukraine.

In Pripyat, a tame fox comes sniffing round the bus for snacks.

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