Moldova, Crimea and Kiev with Explore

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I am considering this trip and would appreciate any comments (pro, con or general) from anyone who has taken this trip. I have traveled with Explore previously so I know generally what to expect. The itinerary is great and similar to that offered by three other competitors but Explore's price is considerably lower. All comments and suggestions will be appreciated.

I did this trip in the summer of 2008.

In addition to doing the Explore tour I stayed in Kiev prior to the trip and then spent about a week going overland by train and bus to Lviv, visiting some places that the Explore tour did not include on the way. I also stayed a couple of extra days in Lviv prior to the tour.

I have travelled with Explore a lot and thought the tour was good but I would tweak it a bit. For example, instead of doing the walking tour of Ternopol, I went by public bus to a very famous monastery, Pochayiv Lavra, nearby and then walked around the town after I got back, which I would recommend. The town itself was not so special although there was a pretty lake. Also, there are a number of famous places not so far from Chernvisti, e.g., Kamyanets-Podilsky and Hotyn, I had visited on my own prior to the tour because Explore doesn't include them and I wonder why Explore has not worked them into the tour.

I also correctly anticipated that the tour did not spend enough time in Lviv or Kiev to do them justice and was glad I had arranged the extra time on my own. I was therefore able to do a day tour to Chernobyl.

Therefore, if at all possible, I would recommend that if you take the tour you also add some extra time in the Ukraine to visit places that are not included on it.

One other thing I vividly remember is that everyone who did the optional wine cellar tour in Moldova did not think it was worth it.

I hope the above info is helpful.

Karyn: Thank you very much for your detialed response to my query. I appreciated your advice and will heed all of it if I elect to go. Am also considering a similar trio with Adventures Abroad which offers a little more, but is a lot more expensive. I'll decide this coming week. Thanks again . Ed

Hi Ed,

I am glad you found the information I wrote useful.

I quickly glanced at Adventure Abroad's itinerary and noticed that both it and the Explore tour are including a few places that are not included in the other. As for the day visiting the castles outside Lviv by AA, you could arrange that on your own if you arrive in Lviv earlier. It might be possible to include some other places mentioned in the AA itinerary during your free time with Explore. I remember having time to explore Odessa, Yalta and Chisinau as well as other places on my own. One place that at first glance seems to be visited only by AA, the Orheiul Vechi cave monastery in Moldova, can actually be visited with Explore as an optional excursion combined with a farmhouse meal. I did that on my tour, although I think we left a bit late as it was dark when we finished walking around the monastery. Perhaps the timing was improved on future tours, or you could suggest it.

To be honest, based on my experience with the Explore tour and other travels within the Ukraine, especially if you arranged your flights to stay a little longer in Lviv and Kiev, given that the AA tour is really much more expensive, I would go with Explore. Obviously prices may have changed a bit, but I think you could still add a few extra sites on your own to the set Explore itinerary for much less money than the AA tour. I am sure that two reasons for the price differential are the internal flights and extra hotel accommodations which are replaced by Explore's two overnight train journeys.

In any event I am sure you will enjoy driving in Moldova with its three-lane highways -- I still wonder about the times there are cars travelling in opposite directions using the middle lane.

Happy travels.