The back country life is one that hasn’t quite caught on just yet here in Ukraine; at least not in the marketing sense. And so while there is unprecedented beauty to be found around numerous spots in the country, they do take a little extra time to find. Nevertheless, it’s worth your time to go out exploring because you never know what you might find.
If you want to enjoy the beauty that is Ukrainian nature then this is the direction for you. Following this route, you’ll witness some of the most beautiful landscapes Kyiv’s surrounding areas have to offer; uncovering lots of nice spots to pitch a tent and just camp out in the process.
Start your trek just outside of Kyiv in Prolisok, where a retreat complex offers spacious camping areas in and around a forested area. Featuring outdoor showers, bathrooms and electricity, the cost to overnight it is 55hrv/person which includes all of these amenities as well as a place to park. This is a great spot for a little family time: Take a stroll through the forest and enjoy the fresh air and scenic views, leaving all of your problems in the city.
After spending some time in Prolisok, head north-east, along Kyiv’s city line in the direction of Pushcha Vodytsa. If you’ve not been here before, be prepared for a wonderfully cosy little town wrapped in woodland. From Obolon or Nyvky metro stations, it will take you anywhere from 30 – 50 minutes on local transport and with buses and marshrutkas constantly coming in and going out, you’ll never be at a loss for transportation. Not only chock-a-block full of meadows, lakes and forest, there are a number of retreats located here as well. Camping is, however, a pretty big pastime for those coming out here, so don’t be surprised to see any number of tents set up. It gets especially cramped in the summer as lake water is clean and fairly shallow making this a great spot to swim with little ones.
Having spent some time in Pushcha, you’ll want to head a little more north-west now, where Gorenka is a fabulous spot for those looking for a little more action. Campers will find a large range of services for a comfortable stay. And sites here can’t be beat, as tents can be pitched in sheltered areas or right on the beach. During the day, take a boat ride or do some fishing with friends. Or for those looking for a little relaxation, rent one of their sun-loungers and hang out by the water – which is marvellously clean by the way. Over the course of the summer, you’ll find variations in the level of activity, but all in all, the trip is worth it, especially since the ride out takes only an hour.
Getting to one of the most beautiful parts in the Kyiv region, the Kyiv Sea is a very popular place for picnics, and conceals a number of different sites to tent out for a couple of days. Artificially created in 1960, this reservoir is a popular place for those with a little extra cash in their pockets, where private motor homes and boats are plentiful. Fishing here is also good and for those who are looking at coming out for the day to do just that, take a bus or marshrutka from Taras Shevchenko Square, which will take you a little over a half an hour.
Once you’ve enjoyed a beautiful sunset on the aptly named Kyiv Sea, take your boat/yacht/dingy on over to the Desna River where true beauty reveals itself. Stopping somewhere between Vyshhorod and Chernihiv, this area is bursting with vivid landscapes and has an atmosphere of comfort. Finding that you’ve had enough packing and unpacking of your tent, check out any number of retreats they’ve got located along the river, or easily rent a dacha with all of the amenities. Cleaner than the Dnipro and out of the loud city to boot, enjoy a few days vacation where swimming and many other water sports abound.
For those who enjoy Ukraine’s historical heritage, this is the direction for you. Where not only will you find naturally beautiful parks and playgrounds, but ancient towns, marvellous castles and many other historical places of note. This is a trek for the experienced hiker, however, so those a little less skilled – beware!
Beginning our travels on the south-west end of Kyiv, Mamaeva Slobodka is what you will find. Here, history of the Cossacks come to life as their XVI century village has been done up in style. The complex here includes traditional Ukrainian houses and churches of the era, where staff walk around in traditional Ukrainian costuming, riding horses, sword fighting and preparing national Ukrainian cuisine. Great for family gatherings and learning more about history, the Cossack way of life is revitalised here where everyday is a holiday!
Continuing our journeys through times long ago, we head south to Pirohovo Village. Similar in place and time to Mamaeva Slobodka, Pirohovo is situated on a much bigger territory (150ha), allowing visitors to spend the whole day absorbed in culture without getting bored. After which, there are many spots around this day-time park/museum to set up camp and spend the night. Want a little catering to your needs? Try one of the several mini-hotels also within the vicinity.
Having spent some time in this last little neighbourhood of Kyiv, head east from the Pirohovo turnoff past Brovary and Pruluky, where eventually, you’ll find yourself in Sokolyniy Khutir. A small city and outdoor historical museum in one, here you can treat yourself and lodge in a real Ukrainian village house decorated in XVI century style. Forget about TV and the rest of our modern conveniences and just enjoy the fresh air only nature affords. Take some time to go horseback-riding, try your hand at archery or take a shot with a Cossack rifle. Or take in some of the entertainment, as there are always performances from life 500 years ago.
One of the last points on your trek outside of Kyiv has to be Sophiivskiy Park in Uman: A bright green spot on any Ukrainian map. And with more than 2000 types of trees and bushes, Sophiivskiy Park (172ha) is considered one of the greatest landmarks of Ukraine and is a definite for any outdoor lover. While this, we will admit, is a massive walk for even the most seasoned trekker, unlike life, both the journey as well as the destination are worth the time. Finding, however, that your feet are simply done in, you can cheat just a little and take the train from Sokolyniy Khutir heading south-west.