Ukraine - Echoes of the Cold War


Ukraine - Echoes of the Cold War

Style: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 10 days
Type: GroupSmall group tours with a maximum of 12 travellers

Dossier

23 years ago, Ukraine signed the Budapest Memorandum and became the first country in the world to give up and destroy its nuclear power. At the time, Ukraine was the holder of the world’s third largest nuclear weapons, which the country received as a heritage of the Red Army after the collapse of the Soviet Union. During the Cold War period Ukraine appeared to be the main place for starting assumed nuclear strikes against NATO sites all over Europe. Thousands of missiles on both open and secret underground positions were targeting European capitals and main cities. Thousands of aircrafts, bombers and fighters were concentrated on a strategic airfield ready to bomb and destroy any place they could reach. After WWII the soviets spent all their time building, arranging and developing huge infrastructure to serve all this power for a war that never started. After the collapse and demilitarization of the Soviet Union, these sites, objects and structures still remain, mostly abandoned and forgotten. Join us on this tour to visit these secret places which were classified and protected during Soviet times, and now stay neglected, serving only as a reminder of this dark period in history when the world was on the verge of destruction.


Tour Rating

Fitness ●●●○○ | Off the Beaten Track ●●●○○ | Culture ●●●●○ | History ●●●●● | Wildlife ●●○○○

Tour Pace

Moderate

Tour Highlights

  • Visit the unique Museum of Strategic Missile Forces with its command centre, similar to those the Russians are using nowadays
  • The abandoned super-secret over-the-horizon radar system, the main part of the Soviet anti-ballistic missile early-warning network called Duga
  • Explore the deserted ghost-city of Prypyat and Chernobyl Exclusion Zone
  • Visit the biggest Soviet plant where missiles and rockets of the Cold War period were produced
  • Explore abandoned missile bases, communication and control bunkers and air defence facilities

Tour Essentials

Accommodation: Mix of comfortable hotels 
Included Meals: Daily breakfast (B), plus lunches (L) and dinners (D) as shown in the itinerary
Group Size: Maximum 12
Start Point: Lviv
End Point: Kiev
Transport: Private minibus
Countries: Ukraine

Tour Itinerary Notes

While our intention is to adhere to the day-by-day itinerary as printed below, a degree of flexibility is built in. Overnight stops may vary from those suggested and on occasions alternative accommodation, of a similar standard to that named below, will be used.

Tour Guide

Our guides are a key strength, chosen for their knowledge of and passion for the areas in which they work. All of our guides are carefully hand-picked, and are not just passing through these countries, but are usually locally born. Unlike some companies it should be noted we do not send a guide or tour leader from Undiscovered Destinations in the UK as we have every confidence in our locally appointed representative who is responsible for operating the tour on our behalf. On this tour for group size of 3 or more you will be accompanied by an English speaking tour leader throughout, assisted where necessary by local English speaking guides.  If the group size is 1 or 2 then there will be no accompanying tour leader but you will still have the services of different local guides in each place.

Day 1 – Lviv

Arrive in Lviv and transfer to your hotel. Depending on when you arrive there may be time to explore the city. This evening enjoy a welcome dinner. Overnight Reikartz Medievale Hotel or similar (D)

Lviv

Lviv is a fantastically eclectic city with a wide variety of architectural styles combining to create a place with a split personality, but which somehow definitely works. Founded in the 13th century, Lviv is almost dripping with history, and walking around its wide boulevards and large squares you will see Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture among many other types. Its medieval atmosphere harks back to days when Lviv was at the forefront of regional events, and it was once a wealthy trading centre. Unlike many other cities in Ukraine, it mainly escaped the terrible destruction wrought by Nazi bombers in World War Two, and its charming streets make it one of the most exciting places in Ukraine to explore. Lviv has been named as the best place in Ukraine to live and wandering around its historic centre it is easy to see why.

Day 2 – Lviv

We start our Cold War tour in the old, medieval city of Lviv. Occupied by the Bolsheviks in WWII, it was turned into an important control centre for Soviet expansion into the West. You will see both sides of the city’s history from pre and post war period,and learn why it was important for Soviets and the KGB to defeat the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) who were fighting against occupants for many years. Visit the museum inside the former KGB prison on Lonckyi str., and the museum ‘Territory of Terror’ where you will see the atrocities of the totalitarian world. We can also walk to the abandoned Radio Centre Bunker hidden in the hills. Return to the hotel. Overnight Reikartz Medievale Hotel or similar (B)

Day 3 – Lviv – Krasne – Brody – Novograd – Korosten – Zytomyr (total travelling – 540km, approx. 8 hours)

Today we move to the East through the woods of the Polissia area, which are stuffed with secret objects, hidden there by cunning Soviet engineers. We will visit abandoned emplacements of missile regiments, which were redeployed to Western Ukraine from Cuba after Caribbean crisis in 1961. You’ll see the neglected technical and administration section and launch sites of “Sandal” and “Satana” missiles. On the way we will also make a short stop to see the former complex of long-range radio suppression. Dozens of antennas of this centre were designed to drown out the radio signals of western radio stations and prevent Soviet people from hearing “enemy voices”. We get down into an old command bunker, which was constructed in a solid granite rock for Josef Stalin, and later served as a Cold War shelter for local Soviet rulers. Throughout the journey we make several short stops to see the dumb witnesses of World War Two – pillboxes of an endless Fortified Stalin line, and listen the story of its glories fight with Germans in a hot summer of 1941. Overnight at Reikartz Zhytomyr or similar (B)

Day 4 – Zhytomyr – Vinnitsa (total travelling – 140km, approx. 3 hours)

Start with a visit to the museum of space exploration, named after the genius rocket engineer and spacecraft designer Serhii Korolev, who was born in Zhytomyr and worked as a leading inventor of Soviet rockets and missiles during the Space Race between USA and USSR. After that we will visit the place near Vinnitsa, where the general headquarters of Hitler during WWII – ‘Werewolf bunker’, was situated. In Vinnitsa city we’ll go first to the heart of all Strategic Missile Troops located in Ukraine – the abandoned command centre of 43d missile army. Continue to visit the Military Aviation museum and optionally – the charming local Museum of Retro Technology Avtomotovelofotoradio. Overnight at Hotel France or similar (B)

Day 5 – Vinnitsa – Pervomaisk – Kropivnitsky (total travelling – 420km, approx. 7 hours)

In the morning we drive to a unique place – the Museum of Strategic Missile Forces, located near Pervomaisk, on the territory of former Missile Base. This is the only such museum in the world, showing all the nuclear forces potential of so-called “Evil Empire”. You will see the main types of strategic missiles, which are still used by Russian Missile Forces. And you will go down to the underground command centre, which looks exactly like Russian combat control centres standing on alert duty till now. On the way enjoy the beauty of Ukrainian Step and granite rocks and canyons on Pivdennyi Bug river. For overnight we will stay in a small town Kropivnitsky. Overnight at Reikartz Kropivnitskiy or similar (B)

Day 6 – Kropivitsky – Dnipro (total travelling – 260km, approx. 5 hours)

After breakfast we’ll drive to Dnipro in order to have a tour to the place, where main types of soviet rockets and missiles were produced and where the most ingenious minds of Soviet rocket engineering worked – the aerospace manufacturer known as UzhMash Rocket Plant. This enterprise still produces spacecraft, launch vehicles, liquid-propellant rockets, landing gears and other industrial products. You will learn its history from the moment of foundation until the present day. After the museum visit the newly created Rocket park and see many rockets and satellites of different types, produced in the space capital of USSR. Optionally you can visit another new museum – the ‘Museum of Anti-Terrorist Operation’, where you can learn about the last ongoing conflict with Russia in the Donbass region. Overnight in Dnipro at Reikartz Dnipro or similar (B)

Day 7 – Dnipro – Poltava – Prylyky – Kyiv (total travelling – 600km, approx. 9 hours)

This day will be dedicated to the third part of the Nuclear triad, bomber aircrafts, capable of delivering nuclear weapons. We will visit a unique Aviation Museum in Poltava and examine the samples of strategic bombers of the same type as those of Russia’s, which are still keeping the world in suspense with their long-range flights over Atlantic. On the way we will stop to see the remains of one of the main strategic airfields in Pryluky, where bombers such as Tu-160 Blackjacks and Tu-95 Bears were deployed. Overnight in Kyiv at Hotel Rus or similar (B)

Day 8 – Kyiv

On our big city tour of the Ukrainian capital you will learn about the history of Kyiv from the moment of its foundation in the Middle ages until the Soviet period and recent revolutionary times. All these historic periods are deeply connected. The architecture of Kyiv in the post-war period was much influenced by communist ideology and with styles of Ukrainian baroque and modern European it shows an astonishing mixture of a cosy green town and a monstrous republic capital. Travel from the old town of Kyiv Rus to Maidan Square, continue to Pecherks and Lavra Monastery and finish with amazing WWII National Museum complex. Overnight Rus Hotel or similar (B)

Kiev 

Kiev is one of the oldest cities in the region, founded back in the 5th century and becoming an important centre of Slavic culture. Falling under the rule of the Varangians sometime later it became the capital of Rus, benefitting from its position on the trade routes between Scandinavia and the Byzantine Empire and becoming infused with a wide variety of cultural influences which remain today. Over its time, Kiev has been sacked by the Mongols, incorporated within the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and then absorbed into Russia and the Soviet Union. Straddling the banks of the Dnepr River, Kiev is Ukraine’s most cosmopolitan city, and a real mix of old and new. With a historic old quarter, the city is packed full of monuments, the most famous being the Lavra cave monastery, a collection of underground chambers and spectacular churches dating back to the 11th century. Kiev is a city with an enormous amount of churches and cathedrals, with a particular style that looks almost Russian but is unique to Ukraine, and in many areas these dominate the skyline, reminding visitors of the intense respect that ordinary Ukrainians have for religion. But perhaps one of Kiev’s greatest delights is simply walking around the city and seeing where you end up, discovering for yourself its corners, streets and cafes and immersing yourself in Ukrainian culture.

Day 9 – Kyiv – Chernobyl – Kyiv (total travelling – 320km, approx. 8 hours)

Early in the morning we go to the largest restricted abandoned area in Europe – the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone. Life here stopped in 1986 after an accident at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Station. All the neglected land looks exactly the same as if the Cold War had become hot, being the best ‘horrible’ example of a real world nuclear war result. During the tour you will see the remains of a ruined nuclear station and visit the ghost city of Prypyat. Here you will be surprised to learn that all these facilities to a great extant were built for the Cold War purposes, and you will see the over-the-horizon radar system, known as Russian Woodpecker or Duga2 object, part of a super-secret Soviet anti-ballistic missile early-warning network. In the evening we invite you to a local Ukrainian restaurant for a farewell dinner to share your impressions and say goodbye to your new friends. Overnight Rus Hotel or similar (BD

Day 10 – Kiev Departure

After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your departure flight from Kiev (B)

Inclusions 
Arrival and departure transfers
All accommodation 
Services of English speaking guides
Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary
All transport 

Excluded
International flights
Any airport taxes
Travel Insurance
Visas
Drinks


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