This is the one you’ve been waiting for. The Bohemian Blog and Yomadic are partnering up on our biggest tour yet:
Featuring glorious Kiev, an overnight trip to Chernobyl, a tour of the Odessa Catacombs, Independence Day parades in the unrecognised republic of Transnistria, and finishing with some extraordinary Moldovan architecture.
Kiev / Chernobyl / Odessa / Tiraspol / Chisinau
€2190 €1790 / 11 Days & 10 Nights
26 AUG–5 SEPT 2017
Kiev is one of the oldest and most important cities in Europe. It has been the capital of both Russia and Ukraine, a city stronghold on the eastern edge of Europe where the domes of monasteries and orthodox cathedrals stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the masterpieces of mid-century architecture. Brutalist towers and socialist-modernist blocks overlook cobbled streets and markets. The 102-metre Motherland Monument – once a towering symbol of Soviet might – gazes out across a metropolis filled with parks and rivers, medieval fortifications and quirky modern bars.
For two days and a night, you’ll get to witness firsthand the aftermath of the world’s most devastating nuclear accident. Accompanied by local experts, we’ll walk the streets of the abandoned city, Pripyat, and marvel at this would-be socialist utopia gone to ruin. You’ll see the schools, hospitals and kindergartens evacuated at speed back in 1986; see the ill-fated Reactor 4 with your own eyes, and get up close and personal with the Russian Woodpecker: a colossal Soviet radar installation, once a tightly guarded military secret but now abandoned to decay.
This small slither of land between Moldova and Ukraine is often referred to as a ‘frozen conflict zone.’ It is a self-declared – yet still unrecognised – republic, a place where vodka is cheap and Soviet nostalgia runs deep. Transnistria celebrates its Independence Day on 2nd September. We’ll be there for the party, in the capital, Tiraspol… but after that we’ll head out into the smaller towns of the region. There you’ll see a completely different side of Transnistria, and learn that there’s more to this place than Soviet tanks and Lenin statues.
This tour blends Soviet history with contemporary politics; beautiful decay with breathtaking monuments. Along the way, we’ll also find plenty of time to enjoy fantastic food, good company, mischief, mystery, and massive military parades. You will have experienced travel writers, photographers and tour guides at your disposal, as you delve into some of Europe’s most fascinatingly off-beat destinations. Our 11 days in Kiev and Bessarabia – the historical name for these regions of southern Ukraine, Transnistria and Moldova – will be breathtaking, bizarre, and truly unforgettable.
Places are limited – so get in touch now to reserve your seat on this exclusive tour from the people behind Yomadic and The Bohemian Blog. For more information, you can read through a detailed itinerary and FAQs below.
Bookings will close on Wednesday 16th August, at 4pm London time.
POP-UP TOUR: UKRAINE / TRANSNISTRIA // 26 AUG–5 SEPT 2017 // Book Now
Your Itinerary in More Detail…
Saturday 26th August: 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 Salut, 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.
Sunday 27th: A Brief History
We begin our exploration of the city, taking in the historic ‘Pechersk Lavra’ monastery and visiting the catacombs beneath. We’ll marvel at the colossal Motherland Monument nearby, and visit the Great Patriotic War Museum to learn about Ukraine’s role in WWII.
After lunch on the scenic Andriivsky Uzviz, you’ll hear about Kiev’s 2014 Maidan Revolution – on a guided tour of conflict sites, led by Ukrainians who took part in their country’s recent struggle for independence. Later, join us for dinner before returning to your mid-century Sov-mod pad.
Monday 28th: Chernobyl
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, we’ll explore the ‘Zone and its landmarks at a leisurely pace. Overnight accommodation in the Chernobyl Zone.
Tuesday 29th: Pripyat
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.
Finally we’ll return to Kiev, this time staying at Hotel Ukraine: a grand, Soviet-era hotel overlooking Maidan Square.
Wednesday 30th: The Presidential Palace
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.
We’re back in Kiev by afternoon, to check out the Chernobyl Museum. Focussing on the human stories connected to the tragedy, it’s a fitting epilogue after any visit to the ‘Zone.
Dinner tonight is a traditional Ukrainian banquet, served at an ethnographic village tucked away in a city suburb.
Thursday 31st: Odessa
Today we take the train – travelling almost 300 miles to Odessa, on the Black Sea coast. Ukrainian trains are an experience in themselves, and a great way to take in the scenery. We’ll pack a picnic lunch, some beers, and make a day of it.
On arrival we’ll get checked into our local hotel, and then hit the streets for an evening walking tour. From the legendary Potemkin Stairs to the beautiful Cathedral Square, we’ll explore the highlights of Odessa by dusk and then settle in for a good evening meal.
Friday 1st September: The Catacombs
The Odessa Catacombs are the longest network of tunnels in the world: reaching an estimated total length of 2,500km. This morning, we’ll dive straight into the labyrinth… accompanied by an experienced local guide, of course.
Exploring the catacombs is hungry work, so we’ll come back topside in time for lunch in the city. Then we’re on the train again – heading across the border into the unrecognised republic of Transnistria. After finding our lodgings at Hotel Russia, we’ll get settled and prepare for the big day ahead.
Saturday 2nd: Independence Day
2nd September is Transnistrian Independence Day… expect Soviet-style military parades, marching bands and pompous speeches from a podium decked in flags. The streets fill with crowds of spectators, while bands perform late into the night. Along the riverfront meanwhile, we’ll find food stalls selling nothing but shashlik – huge, grilled kebabs – and plastic glasses of vodka.
We’re going in deep today: mingling with the locals, getting lost in the noise and chaos of the parades. It’s going to be one hell of a party.
Sunday 3rd: Transnistrian Day Trips
Most Western visitors to Transnistria get no further than the capital, Tiraspol. They come in, photograph some Soviet monuments, then leave. We want to show you more, though.
Today we’ll head into rural Transnistria, to check out the local attractions. We’ll see the stunning Orthodox monastery at Chițcani… and at Bendery, we’ll visit a bizarre military museum inside a Soviet-era steam train.
Later, we’ll return to Tiraspol to enjoy one last group meal in this wonderfully peculiar little region.
Monday 4th: Moldovan Socialist Modernism
Chisinau, the Moldovan capital, is an underrated gem. You’ll get to know it well today – from the Socialist Modernist state circus, to the Neoclassical cathedral and beyond. We’ll admire Brutalist housing blocks and visit the striking Victory Monument.
You’ll also learn about Chisinau’s Jewish heritage, as we walk through the city’s former ghettos and visit the overgrown Jewish cemetery on its outskirts.
We finish with dinner and an overnight stay in Chisinau.
The tour comes to an end. We’ll share one last breakfast at the hotel and after that, we’ll be on hand to help you arrange your onward travel. You can fly out from Chisinau airport, or join us on a cheap flight back to the larger transport terminals in 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.
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 two 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 Wednesday 16th August, 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.
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.
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. We offer this money-back guarantee – outside of an unexpected force-majeure event, this tour is 100% guaranteed to go ahead. However, we incur real costs from the moment you book, and due to the timing of this tour, we cannot offer standard refunds – but – if you do cancel prior to August the 20th, 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 August 26th. 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. Hotel check-in time on day one 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 500 Euro. Please note, although we will try to offer your own room for the night at Chernobyl, we cannot guarantee this.
What if I get bored of hanging out with you guys?
Of course, 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.
★ All accommodation in Kiev, Odessa, Tiraspol and Chisinau, at iconic, well-reputed, architecturally significant hotels.
★ Accommodation at the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.
★ All transportation for the duration of the trip, including comfortable private transportation to and from Pripyat/Chernobyl, as well as train journeys.
★ All ten breakfasts are covered, including the departure day.
★ Guides from Yomadic, The Bohemian Blog, and local guides from Kiev and Transnistria.
★ Meals at the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone will be included (dinner, lunch, breakfast).
What’s not included?
★ Airfares or transportation costs into Kiev and out of Chisinau (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.
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.
★ Visas are not required for Transnistria, though there will be some bureaucratic hurdles to jump. You’ll see. It’s all part of the experience.
★ Many nationalities can travel to Moldova visa-free. Others can apply for an e-visa online. It’s easy either way, and you’ll find all the information here.
★ Internet speeds in this part of Europe 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 Ukraine, currency exchange is commonplace.
★ We reserve the right to change the itinerary (although it’s highly unlikely).
★ 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 / TRANSNISTRIA // 26 AUG–5 SEPT 2017 // Book Now