Ukraine Without Tourists:
10 Places to Visit from the Ukraїner Project
In June 2016, Ukrainian writer, traveler and civic activist Bogdan Logvynenko launched a media project about a long-term expedition around the Ukrainian province called Ukraїner. He teamed up with a photojournalist and a videographer and travels around the historical areas of Ukraine by car, staying away from the traditional tourist routes on purpose, looking for new places and untypical heroes. From the start, the project was supported by Bird In Flight’s publisher, Depositphotos photobank.
Last year, Ukraїner’s team made expeditions to Zakarpattia in the west, the Azov Sea region in the south-east, and the Poltava region in central Ukraine. Bogdan Logvynenko shares the gems he discovered with Bird In Flight.
Ust-Chorna Village (Koenigsfeld)
This settlement is located deep inside the Carpathians — in the Tiachiv district of Zakarpattia oblast, among some fantastic landscapes. For a rather long time it was cut off from civilization, because there was no road there. There are still families in this German settlement that keep German traditions.
We did not have any particularly high expectations when we were going to Askania. It turned out it is a world-level national park, which could be compared to the one in Sri Lanka, Thailand, or Malaysia. It’s a pity though that the infrastructure around it is very poor.
Formerly a Soviet recreation center, the island became the place of an art festival that leaves behind many art objects each year. It is one of the best spots that we visited when we traveled along the Azov Sea coast.
Borzhava Narrow Gauge Railway
For those who love trains and a mix of nature with near-abandoned railroad tracks, which suddenly lead to a lively, colorful, loud marketplace. It is a fantastic place that everybody should see at least once.
This village near Poltava is a home to the largest number of potters in Ukraine, many of them teach master classes. Opishnia also has one of the liveliest and most interesting museums in Ukraine. There is a community of craftspeople in the village called Staryi Khutir [Old Farmstead] that organizes festivals in the summer. The biggest problem here is the lack of cafes and restaurants: you need to either bring your lunch with you, or get food from a local village store.
Kriachkivka and Berezova Rudka
Neighboring villages in the Poltava region where festivals are held in the summer. There are several homes here that work as mini-hotels. Rudka has a very strange pyramid, and also an ancient Zakrevskyi mansion. Kriachkovka is home to a Drevo folk music band that has frequent shows. You can even try to attend their rehearsal. Yurko Fedynskyi, who moved from the US to craft wooden musical instruments, also lives here — he gladly takes in people who would like to learn from him.
Saint Miklosh Castle
A castle in Chynadiyovo is an architectural monument from the 14–19th centuries restored by artist Joseph Bartosh. A dozen people who were born in Zakarpattia have recently confessed to us that they didn’t know anything about the castle — although it already is an established tourist location where people come in large groups. The castle has an interesting history, and Joseph Bartosh himself is a peculiar type.
Pereslip Mountain Valley
An area in Rakhiv district, where a young German Michel Jacobi grazes his buffaloes. Michel moved here from Germany, looking for harmony with nature, having embraced the idea of restoring a traditional local trade — breeding Carpathian buffaloes. He takes people in as volunteers for a couple of weeks — they need to take care of the buffaloes, milk buffalo cows, and survive under harsh conditions. Rakhiv town, which is located nearby, is the highest mountain town in Ukraine, the weather there is always chilly. But it has a cool rooftop bar.
Nyzhne Selysche Village
It is probably the liveliest village in Ukraine. It has a ton of festivals, there is a cool local club with a great concert hall, rehearsal base, and a theater of their own. The village has a creamery, and eco-farm, and a direct extraction juice manufacturer. The villagers are finishing the work on a new hostel — it is planned to welcome volunteers and travelers from all over the world here.
Photos by: Taras Kovalchuk, Serhiy Korovaynyi, Dmytro Bartosh, Trayan Muse, Valentyn Kuzan.