SUMMER, DRIVE AND THE CARPATHIANS, or HOW TO SPEND YOUR VACATION USEFULLY
If you are fans of active time and are afraid of a perspective to lie on your back on the beach, you should pay attention to our Ukrainian mountains. The Carpathians are not only very beautiful but also well-developed in terms of mountain tourism. It is interesting to spend time there not only for those who are fond of nature, but also for people who are interested in something more extreme.
What to do in the Carpathian Mountains in the summer?
The mountains are usually associated with winter sports, snow and frost. And yet a large number of people decide to reserve an overnight stay in the mountains in summer. Although the changeable mountain weather can give you hell in summer, it should be admitted that at this time of year the mountains are striking in their beauty, and also considerably safer than in winter. There is no threat of avalanches, and it is much harder to freeze if you’re lost. However, you need to remember that even in summer, the mountains are not completely safe. Different things can happen, so you should always take a mobile phone with you, informing somebody about where you are. Mountain roads are extremely entertaining in summer, but also very slippery – caution is never enough.
If you have reserved an overnight stay in the mountains in summer, you will probably take part in any of the numerous events organized in this time of year. Everyone will find something here for himself or herself; music events, concerts, artistic action and other activities are being held here during the season almost every day. You can also ride along the mountain ridge, or have a ride on a cart pulled by horses. Almost every village has a villa, a small manor, or an old church that are worth a visit.
Great views from the tops of the mountains attract many tourists every year. But to experience that, first of all, you need to get there. Not everyone is ready. A vacation in the mountains is a beautiful and difficult thing at the same time. After all, everyone who has ever chosen to have a walk in the mountains knows that it’s not as easy as it seems.
A lot of people go to the mountains to ride bicycles there. In the Carpathian bike parks special downhill tracks with steep slopes, sharp turns and long spans are created. Modern Carpathian resorts offer slopes for professionals with a challenging obstacle course, as well as for lovers of moderate riding.
In addition, paragliding in the mountains are becoming increasingly popular. Despite the fact that this is one of the most expensive hobbies, more and more willing enroll in paragliding schools. An interesting option is also a canoe, which offers very challenging trails for fans of extreme sports in the rash mountainous flows.
Mountain climbing is also a good way of active rest that ensures frequent adrenaline buzzes. Light trails are designed for less experienced lovers of climbing on the rocks, and for more experienced ones there are difficult routes with access to individual peaks.
Fishing has many facets, and if a trip on the river makes you excited, you should get acquainted with its various forms. One of the most popular fishing techniques is fly fishing. Catching fish on a fly is truly an art and, at the same time, an opportunity to bond with nature. In fact, this method of fishing involves privacy mainly in the middle of mountain streams and rivers with quite an intense current, in short, in places remote from civilization.
Walking in the mountain terrains of Transcarpathia
It is better to plan the route before heading out on the road, not forgetting about your physical abilities. Also you’ll need appropriate shoes, extra clothes in case of a quick weather change, a bottle of water. While walking through mountain paths we observe very different atmospheric conditions compared with those at the bottom. Low pressure and rarefied air cause quick fatigue for all people who are not used to such conditions. But everything is not lost. If necessary, we can apply exercises that will prepare the body to a march in such severe conditions. This can be done even at home!
What to train? If you want to walk in the mountains, you will apply a training of endurance – short exercises with frequent repetitions. During the exercises focus on the legs, especially on the knee and hip joints. They will be most exposed to load. Daily cycling, stair climbing, running or crouching would be a shot in the bull’s eye. It is worth to use the gym at least a few times before the expedition. While you’re going on an hours-long march with a heavy backpack, the shoulder and spine muscles begin to ache. Exactly this pain, not the pain in the muscles of the legs, leads to a rapid exhaustion and puts off the desire to continue the journey. To breathe normally in the mountains, you should also take care of even breathing. To adjust the functioning of the lungs, a visit to the pool can be added to your schedule.
Parks and reserves of the Carpathians
In the Ukrainian Carpathians a large environmental fund of various wilderness protection levels is focused (almost 1500 items). The biggest of them is the Carpathian National Nature Park, where a large area is covered with forests, meadows and pastures. It is located in the upper reaches of Prut and Cheremosh. Here the medium Gorgany, Putylske lowlands and the highest mountain group in the Ukrainian Carpathians, Chornogora, are concentrated.
The second largest national natural park is Synevyr, located in the upper reaches of the rivers Tereblya and Rik. There you can admire the famous lake Synevyr, other name of which is the Sea Eye. This lake has its own legend, and you will hear it for sure during the tour.
There is also the Carpathian biosphere reserve in the Carpathians. Almost all of its territory is covered with forest. The composition of the reserve consists of five separate mountain groups and one flat array of Khust. This is the exact place where the Valley of daffodils stretches. Here unique natural thickets of white-flowered daffodil which is very rare in nature and is enlisted in the Red Book of Ukraine, are under protection. Every year the territory on which the daffodils are blooming, becomes smaller. That’s why you should look at this beauty at least once.
In Vyzhnytsky National Natural Park (Chernivtsi region) among the numerous cultural-historical and architectural landmarks stand out Dmitrievska and Mykolayivska churches, Catholic church, former synagogue – one of the Hasidic shrines in Ukraine, the building of Vyzhnytsky College of applied arts (former carving school) in Vyzhnytsya town, Michailivska church, Yuriivska church and bell tower in Berehomet. The Park is also rich in mineral waters.
In Nadvirnyansky district of Ivano-Frankivsk region there is a natural reserve Gorgany. It is rich in rivers, but fishing in the reserve is prohibited, as well as hunting. Despite the fact that this is a reserve, you can spend your time walking around and looking at nature. You may even be lucky to see someone from the forest inhabitants, as there are more thousands of species of invertebrates alone.
In the North-Western part of the Carpathians lies the «Skolivski Beskydy» National Nature Park, which directly adjoins the state border of Ukraine with Poland. In the Park there is a reserve «Tustan» and Shidnytsky mineral water spring. Also there are two waterfalls, Gurkalo and Kamenskiy.
Cycling in the Carpathians
The opportunity to test yourselves on difficult tracks, heavy physical activity, changeable conditions and beautiful scenery all contribute to the popularity of cycling in the Carpathians. You can ride on a bike everywhere, but in the beginning it is better to focus on shorter tracks. A lot depends on preferences, physical shape and your desires. Radial cycling tours, camping, one-day trips or even ones taking a week – you can choose a journey for yourselves. It may seem that a cycling expedition in the mountains requires appropriate preparation and training, therefore this type of recreation is not for everyone. But that’s wrong. Carpathian Mountains are exactly the mountains where you can try cycling for the first time. You can admire the beauty of the Carpathians alone, but it would be better to go on a bike tour in the company of other fans of cycling adventures. Today, you don’t even need to have a bike. All can be rented right at the place, and an experienced instructor will help you to navigate. Tour operators and high quality tourist centers offer travelers a variety of tours. Usually the cost of these trips includes not only the bike and all the accessories to it, but also accommodation, food and even accident insurance.
Experienced cyclists choose Carpathians for their travels not accidentally. It’s a real training ground for those who love the novelty of technical tracks, unpredictable weather and the test of their own strength.
Rafting on the Carpathian rivers
Rafting is a good option in order to spend time with family or friends. Depending on the number of people in your company, you can choose a canoe, catamaran, kayak or inflatable boat, in which can ride two to eight people. During the first campaign, you don’t have to follow the falls and the rapids; it is important to choose such a part of river where you’ll be able to finish your water trip earlier if necessary. Proper planning of the route, skills of the crew members, as well as good coordination between them, are playing not the last role in rafting. In the Ukrainian Carpathians rafting is often carried out on the Cheremosh, the Prut, the Black and White Tisza. In other rivers the water level is constantly fluctuating, which has an influence on carrying out high-quality rafting. However, more and more often the lovers of water adrenaline begin to raft on the rivers of Lviv region, Stryi and Opir.
The space of the river Cheremosh is thousands of streams flowing down mountain slopes, high banks on the rocks, the unique nature. A charming impression make also the inhabitants of this region – Hutsuls, very hospitable and open-hearted people. There are numerous rapids on this river, and in its valley there are mineral springs. The river is used for timber rafting. There are more rapids on the White Cheremosh than on the Black, so it is more attractive for rafting. But getting to the White Cheremosh is more problematic.
When going on a trip to Stryi, get ready for extreme adventures, numerous rapids, fast currents and, of course, unforgettable mountain scenery. The area along the Stryi is also interesting because of its historical places. We recommend to visit the cave monastery in Rozgirche village, Parashka mount, the Tustan rock and Kamyanka waterfall.
In Opir, like in Stryi, the water level is unstable. In spring it is better to start rafting from Slavske, and in summer, when there’s not so much water – from the town of Skole. This river is good for beginners in rafting because it has first and second category of difficulty.
On Prut there are the most difficult rapids in Ukraine, and it’s easier to get to it. But the water level there is changeable, so before you plan trips to Prut, you need to watch the weather.
White and Black Tisza flow in the Transcarpathian region. Shallow riverbed with small obstacles is alternated with fast currents at low coast. The water level of Black Tisza and other rivers in the Ukrainian Carpathians varies depending on the time of year. The riverbed is shallow, with small, sometimes even artificial rapids and low bridges. Lower is the Black Tisza, which is in turn a full-fledged mountain river with high waves, treacherous rocks, whirlpools, rocky shores, some of which are strengthened with concrete walls. If your rafting on the Tisza is going to be finished near Rakhiv, you should try to find Malyi Potik slow there. There the center of Europe is located, marked with a stone pyramid.
Rafting clubs often offer exciting tours for all the willing that include rent of equipment, instructor services, insurance and other bonuses. Often organizers send a car with dry clothes, hot food and drinks for the participants of the rafting along the river. The rafting trip can last a few hours or a few days. The program may include sleeping in a tent, pedestrian crossings, an entertainment program on the riverbank. It all depends on the difficulty level of the river and your preferences. You only need to choose what suits your taste.
The charm and beauty of the Carpathians surprises not only Ukrainians, but also foreigners who visit them more and more often. These mountains perfect for all sorts of mountain tourism. The Carpathians are also popular mountains for climbing. Why? First of all, they are formed in such a way that it is very easy to move around, although you can also find difficult climbing tracks that require good physical shape. The youngest and most inexperienced fans of climbing should cope with obstacles on the gentler slopes, so many clubs that train people in this discipline develop tracks exactly in these mountains. In addition, Carpathian Mountains are relatively low, so achieving the goal won’t take much time. Ukrainian mountains also have a very reasonable pricing policy in comparison with foreign resorts. To do mountaineering, you don’t need to pay extra. The network of tourist facilities and hotels which provide tourists with accommodation and food, is well-developed, which is also an advantage. You don’t need any special permission or membership in the climbing club to explore the Ukrainian mountains. However, in such clubs you can find like-minded people and share your experience with other climbers. The disadvantages of the Carpathians include variable weather and frequent rockfalls. In addition, a peculiar feature of the Carpathians is the herbs growing on the slopes. They are also very unstable and can constitute a danger.
When it comes to mountaineering in the Carpathians, these are, first of all, Dovbush Rocks, Yamelnytsia, Tsapovi rocks in Tserkovnya and Hawkeye (Sokolyne Oko) in Pratyaty rocks near Nimchych mountain pass. In each of these places you will have all the equipment and an opportunity to learn how to climb rocks. Experienced instructors will help you learn the basics of climbing in a couple of hours. Often you can enjoy climbing as a part of different tours. There are combined, one-day tours and even weekend tours. A good option for mountain climbing is also White Stone in Yaremcha district. But getting there is a bit problematic because there are no touristic trails.
Paragliding in the Carpathians
Paragliding sport in the mountains is a brother of aircraft. The flight in the mountains starts from the slopes or ski tracks. Flying over the Carpathian Mountains is simply unforgettable, but organization of the logistics of this process is not easy and can be managed only by experienced flyers.
A very important factor in the mountains is the direction and force of the wind. The start always takes place together with the wind, so it is necessary to monitor weather forecasts. Since in most cases the start is taking place from narrow ski tracks or forest trails, you can afford a slight deviation of the wind. But all this shouldn’t make you worried, because the flight is usually carried out in tandem with an instructor. You can fly in several places in the Carpathians. Most often it is the place where there is a yoke or a cable car nearby: for exampleб in Borzhava, Rakhiv, or Slavske.
— in Borzhava the flights usually start from the Gymba and Vysokyi Verkh mountains. You can get there from Volovetsky camp sites.
— In Pylypets there is a paragliding school where, everyone can learn how to fly without an instructor within a couple of days.
— in Rakhiv you can fly from slopes or get to Goverla and try to do it there.
— Slavske can offer you the Trostyan mountain to fly. You can get there by the ropeway.
You don’t need any special medical examinations to fly. Even people with dysfunction of locomotor apparatus can fly in tandem with an experienced pilot. Paragliding is contraindicated for those who have problems with heart or respiratory system. There were cases when even 7-year-olds have raised in the sky, but you need a perfect weather for flights with the youngest flyers. You will certainly like paragliding, but it is worth remembering that this type of entertainment is not cheap. But if you still prefer solid ground, you can just watch and support the athletes during the Carpathians paragliding Cup, which takes place in Pylypets every summer.
You can also fly on a hot air balloon. From the height of 300 meters there is a wonderful view. Unlike paragliding, you can fly up in the air on a balloon from any location and at any time of the year. By the way, the hot air balloon flying competitions are also held. They usually take place in Shidnytsia in spring or summer.
Fly fishing in the Carpathians
This type of fishing in Ukraine is only developing. But the Carpathians are the best place for it. Fly fishing is good for those who want to stay alone, away from civilization. The process of fishing takes place deep in the mountains, where the rivers flow very fast. The species that can be caught on an artificial fly include grayling, trout, squalius and some of the Cyprinidae family: ide, dace, madder, nase. The “catch & release” ideology is spread widely among the fishermen. If you find this philosophy to your taste, you should try this type of fishing. Despite the fact that various Championships and Cups are often held in the Carpathians, unfortunately there are no special bases or clubs which would provide the fans of fly fishing with equipment and baits. Therefore, you’ll need to understand all the niceties of fishing on a fly yourself. Some enthusiasts gather in groups and go to the Carpathians together to enjoy fly fishing. You should look for these guys on the Internet: on various blogs (e.g., Two Flyfishers’ Blog) and social networks. They do not refuse in help for fly fishing beginners. They can give a master class and may even give a couple flies to you as a present.
… And 140 more options
Frankly speaking, there is an incredible amount of ideas of how to spend summer in the Carpathian Mountains. You can successfully combine an active holiday with relaxing trips to museums, fairs and historic sites.
— You can take part in a traditional seeing-off of shepherds with a flock of sheep in the mountains. This tradition is almost 300 years old, such seeing-off events are usually organized in Transcarpathia. They are magnificent, with trembitas, campfire and folk songs.
— You can use the Carpathian tram, which departs from Vygoda in Dolynsky area. During the trip you can visit the hydrological attraction, “Shyrkovets” reserve, try healing mineral water from “Naftusya” spring and the purest water in the Carpathian Mountains from “Dziurkach” mountain spring. During the warmer months you can swim in mountain waterfalls of Mizunka river.
— You can visit the «Old village» open air Museum or the Museum of the brown bear in Manyava, the Museum of Paraska Gorytsvit in Kryvorivnya village, or Hutsulska Grazhda.
— You can dare to go on a speleotour, that is, to visit the caves of Rakhiv, Perechyn and Tyachiv districts. These tours are carried out only under supervision of experienced speleontologists.
— You can visit Transcarpathian wineries and cheese factories, there you will be able to see show, listen about and even try special kinds of cheeses and wines.
— You can look at the Manchurian deer at the only farm in Ukraine which deals with breeding of these incredible animals.
— You can visit a basket weaving master class in the village of Iza.
— You can just get out in the mountains in search of berries and mushrooms.
— You can attend various festivals, ride a horse or visit a fair in Kosiv village.
Whatever you choose, your vacation will be unforgettable. After all, the Carpathians, their mountains and forests, are all our beauty.
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