Winter Circle in the Carpathian Mountains. Ski Bukovel.
Winter 20/21 in Ukraine was unusually cold and snowy for fans of winter sports. Of course, in previous, warmer winters, all Ukrainian ski resorts were working with artificially made snow on the slopes. Yes, and there were no problems with foreign alpine resorts for real fans of the sport. My friends and I, for example, in the past few years have been very fond of Andorra – there was free skiing for 70+ veterans from all countries. And in terms of the quality of the more than 200 km of ski slopes, this country has surpassed many alpine resorts.
The year-long Covid disrupted the plans of millions of ski enthusiasts around the world. Nearby European alpine resorts, as well as the distant Indian Gulmarg in the Himalayas, cannot be reached because of strict quarantine controls. For us there are a few small ski centers near Kiev and Carpathian Mountains. The pistes near Kiev are good only for “dummies” and teaching young children. That’s what we did, we put our 5 year old grandson “on skis. The first lessons held with a professional coach and it gave a good result – after a few training sessions he was able to ascend the rope tow elevator and descend (under control) on the trail down himself.
Where should you head for skiing in the Carpathian mountains? There are a few good places that fans of this winter sport love to visit. One of the oldest places is Slavske, which was favored by skiers back in the times of Austrians. In Soviet times this place was the most popular in the Carpathian Mountains. Unfortunately, everything remained at the level of technical service pistes 1965-70, when I first moved from the Urals to Kiev, I went there with my new colleagues from the Institute of Cybernetics.
There were few good skiing places in those days in the Soviet Union. Farther afield from Kiev and Moscow was Chimbulak in Kazakhstan. Closer were several such centers in the Caucasus – Cheget, Tsakhkadzor, Bakuriani, Dombai. But the Caucasian Cheget was considered the best and the most promoted of them. Therefore there were “enough people” there, as they say. But, however, when you went up on the “one-chair” (a single chair, which, incidentally, although rusty, still works to this day) on Cheget or the slopes of Mount Elbrus (there was a cabin for 15-20 people!) in front of you unfolded grandiose beautiful Caucasian landscapes. And there, of course, were huge lines for the elevators. But there were other queues nearby – for “those who are not in line” .
But over the past couple of decades in the Carpathians, the tourism industry has grown tremendously, and in first place is the ski resort Bukovel. So at first we will go to it, and then, as a bonus, we will visit some more ski places in Ukraine, located in the neighborhood. If you set a goal for only one point, you can do without a car, and come to those areas by train and then use cabs. But since we have planned to visit several ski areas, the best mode of transport will be your own car. And best of all a four-wheel drive crossover.
Looking at the weather forecast and choosing the best days for skiing (weekdays), we decided to leave Kiev early on Saturday, February 6, arrive in Lviv by noon, there walk through the ancient streets, drink a cup of the famous Lviv Kava, go to the theater, spend the night and in the morning, having overcome the remaining 240 kilometers during the four hours promised by Google, arrive in Bukovel.
The road to Lviv, 540 kilometers long, passing through Kiev-Chop, was dry and clean, not laden with cars, and we, not straining at all, passed it for the planned Google six hours. We stayed at the Premier Hotel on a hill overlooking the park and the old part of the city, took a break from the road and went for a walk along its streets. For the evening we had tickets to the ballet “The Nutcracker”, after which we again enjoyed walking through the iconic places of the city, remembering its best sights.
Lviv… Even a half a day visit is enough to enjoy the aura of this historically significant place. The ancient center of the city has remained as it is – all new high-rises were not allowed into it. The art of the opera house, as well as other areas of cultural life – museums, art galleries and unique themed cafes and restaurants – remain on top. The best time to visit Lviv, of course, is in the warm season. I, for example, love it in the fall. The turning yellow leaves give a special flavor to its old houses and streets. There are all kinds of cafes and restaurants, decorated according to their own, sometimes original themes. As a rule, they all belong to the creative business group iFest. The first place, in my opinion, is Coffee. Or in Ukrainian (Czech, Polish) – Kava. Very original place – Kav’yarnya, which is called “Lvivska kovyna”. Coming out of it, some visitors begin to sincerely believe that coffee is not grown, and is extracted in mines! After all, walking through the numerous underground passages, we will see that all their walls, floors and ceilings are covered with coffee beans, which were extracted there…
Other cafes and restaurants cover masochism, the history of the Inquisition and the creation of table lamps. The historical page of the struggle for Ukrainian independence by the UPA warriors is not ignored either. The restaurant Kryivka (Skhron, Sanctuary) is dedicated to this topic. It is true, although it is located on the very central square of the city, it is not easy to find. And only after a long queue to it.
In the morning, looking out the window, we saw that the whole city is covered with snow. My God! And then what happens on the roads that lead to the heart of the Carpathians? Yes! Yesterday the sun was shining and the city was shining with all its colors. And today, since early morning the snow falls, and we have to drive to the Carpathian mountains to Bukovel, the length of 240 km. What will it be like?
After a quick breakfast, we take the road leading to Bukovel through Ivano-Frankivsk. Unlike yesterday, it was single-lane, so there were dangerous overtaking on the road, which was not cleaned in many places. Slowly, it was snowing, and, though we drove carefully, in one place, on a sharp turn, we got a little carried away (the speed, damn it, we should respect!) and almost got in an accident. But – carried and after seven hours, instead of the promised Google 3.5 hours, overcome 240 kilometers, arrived in Bukovel cottage complex Zakhid Cottage Complex (10000 UAH/5 nights ($ 357)).
Whew! You can have a rest. Long could not turn off and fall asleep. And only a good glass of Zakarpattya brandy helped to remove the stress of all the twists and turns of the day and the snow-covered mountain road.
Bukovel ski resort
Bukovel is considered to be the best and largest skiing resort in Ukraine. Part of it belongs to the state, and part of it belongs to the patrons led by the famous businessman Kolomoisky. Its history started at the beginning of the 21st century and has been developing ever since. It is located near the village Polyanitsa in Ivano-Frankovsk region, at the foot of Bukovel mountain, 920 meters above sea level. The highest point of the resort is Dovga mountain, which is 1372 meters tall. Skiing season lasts from late November to mid- to late April. In 2012 Bukovel was announced the fastest growing skiing resort in the world. But it is made in such a way that it doesn’t stay idle even in summer! Its infrastructure includes youth camps, a couple of large lakes where you can both swim and actively spend time with different activities. And, of course, you can walk along the numerous trails from the mountain tops, which elevator tourists comfortable chairlifts.
As of winter 2021 there are 75 kilometers of perfectly equipped trails (blue, red and black) with the possibility of artificial snowing them in the absence of natural snowfall. These trails are located on five mountains: Dovga (1372 meters), Bukovel (1127 meters), Bulchineha (1455 meters), Babiy Pogar (1180 meters) and Chornaya Kleva (1241 meters). All trails, as I said, have snow cannons, and several tracks are equipped with stationary lighting for evening skiing.
The tourist village itself has long expanded beyond the former village of Polyanitsa. The most enterprising natives as good builders and wanderers were able to organize small hotels with modern conveniences on their own territories. Well, those who couldn’t, sold their lots cheaply and moved to quieter places. But the most part of the territory was built by Ukrainian businessmen and philanthropists, creating a Carpathian Las Vegas. With its hotels, restaurants, swimming pools and gambling halls.
Where is Bukovel skiing resort?
Bukovel is located on the west side of the map of Ukraine. This resort attracts tourists by its low price, well-developed infrastructure and quality of slopes.
Tourists from all over the world wonder where Bukovel is located, because the resort is known far beyond Ukraine. There are a large number of tourist centers, hotels and SPA complexes.
The resort is located at an altitude of 860-890 meters above sea level and is surrounded by three mountains – Dovga (1372 meters), Cherna Kleva (1246 meters) and Bukovel (1127 meters), which gave its name to the entire resort.
Bukovel is situated on the border of Zakarpattya and Ivano-Frankovsk regions, near the village Polyanitsa. Administratively it is a part of Ivano-Frankovsk region, but you can also get there from Zakarpattya.
When is the season and the best time to go?
Over the past few years the development of tourism in Carpathians has made a huge leap forward. Therefore the resort’s popularity is well-deserved. Even foreign tourists are happy with the perfect slopes and European level of entertainment. The ski resort offers more than 60 excellent ski slopes with lighted systems (the ability to ski at night) and artificial snow. Snow cannons have been placed on the most popular slopes to remove large areas of ice.
Good snow cover is maintained from December to the end of April.
16 elevators are covered with a special coating that repels water or dirt.
The ski resort is considered one of, if not the best in Ukraine. If you don’t have your own equipment, it’s not a problem, because it has 5 fully certified rental stations with specialized equipment for all winter sports and convenient storage facilities.
Rental prices in hotels start at 60 UAH per day, and in specialized rental centers the cost is slightly higher, because the service is better.
Coaches, who are real professionals in their field, are always ready to share their knowledge in skiing school, which offers group and private lessons for all categories of tourists, including children of different ages. After spending a week with a child they will get you on your feet and you will be ready to conquer the highest and steepest slopes. Choose snowboarding, snowmobiles, or skis (alpine or cross-country). At the same time is always happy weather forecast, where winters are particularly mild and plenty of snowfall.
At the ski resort there are medical centers, where professionals will always provide first aid. Also worth noting is well-coordinated work of rescue teams.
Despite the fact that Bukovel is located in Ukraine, it enjoys great demand among travelers from all over the world. The reason for this is beautiful nature and mild winter, the temperature does not fall below -10 degrees and does not rise above +2 °.
Well-developed infrastructure of the complex with a whole arsenal of related services will help enjoy a comfortable stay. There are many of them – guarded parking lots, lots of cozy cafes, restaurants with good cuisine; all kinds of snack bars and bars, offering hot drinks of all kinds. In addition, for vacationers are provided additional services:
- Ordering a dog sled ride
- sightseeing tours
- Buka entertainment center
Ski tracks of the resort
There is a complex of roads for athletes with various levels of training. There are 62 slopes of various complexity levels. Eight of them are for professionals, 41 are of medium complexity, and 12 are intended for beginners.
The longest slope is 2132 meters.
If you prefer evening skiing until 19:30 (Kiev time), then you can enjoy slopes 1A, 7A, and 2A.
Thus, a winter vacation in Bukovel for fans of skiing is considered a budget option. This is just the one when low prices are combined with a decent level of service and a great variety of slopes.