The season of hiking mountain peaks lasts from May to October. If you ask why people are so attracted to the mountains, no one will answer this question. I mean, you will not understand those people until one day you dare to go to the mountains. And then the mountaintop will give you the answer. When you stand on it – proud and silent, when your pulse calms down, you catch your breath, your legs stop trembling and you look around… It is for this greatness, beauty, for this firestorm of emotions, that people go to the mountains.
Our Carpathians are relatively low mountains, they have only 7 peaks with hight above 2000 m: Hoverla (2061 m), Brebeneskul (2032 m), Pip Ivan (2028 m), Petros (2020 m), Gutin Tomnatyk (2017 m), Rebra (2001m), and Menchul (1998 m) – which lacks just 2 meters to the two-thousand mark. Therefore, they can be won not only by experienced climbers but also by schoolchildren.
Not surprisingly, the most popular mountain route for tourists is a hike to the most famous and highest mountain in the Ukrainian Carpathians, which kindly welcomes beginners. This, of course, is Hoverla.
Tour “Yaremche, Bukovel + Hoverla” (2 days / 1 night) and Tour “Hoverla 1 day hiking” (1 day) – are among the most popular tours at “Visit Ukraine” in summer.
At the top of Hoverla, people celebrate birthdays, confess their love, start a new phase of life and simply enjoy the surrounding scenery. And although hiking Hoverla is not technically difficult, not everyone can win the highest mountain of the Ukrainian Carpathians.
For trained people, hiking Hoverla probably won’t be a big deal. However, if you spend much more time in front of the TV or computer than at the gym, do not expect that it will be easy. For the hike, endurance is very important. So you need to prepare a little and hiking will become your favourite pastime.
Start preparing for the climb to Hoverla a couple of days before the scheduled date: exercise – run, go to the gym. If you do not have time for this, then daily morning exercises will be extremely effective. Take alternating shower. This activates the powers of your body, and your body with every its cell will help you endure the physical activity. Just “forget” about the elevator. Start walking up and down the stairs every day. To check how prepared you are, walk up to the 6-8th floor on foot. No shortness of breath – great. You are almost ready.
However, physical training is not the main thing. The main thing is your desire to climb to the top. Since the beginning of tourism, children and the elderly, as well as people with special needs visited the top of Hoverla.
The ascent to Hoverla is a one-day hike that includes 6-8 hours of active walking. It is better to start the climb in the morning, and we offer this hike in our two popular tours:
- 1-day Hoverla hike (1 day) – designed for active people who want to climb to the top in one day
- Yaremche, Bukovel + Hoverla (2 days / 1 night) – ideal for those who want to combine intense activities with recreation.
The choice is yours!
Preparing hiking equipment
So if your soul dreams of the mountains, and your body yearns for hiking – it’s time to move on to preparing the equipment!
And let’s start with the most important thing: hiking shoes.
Shoes are the most important condition of successful hiking. Do you want to run to the top without any problems and remember this day as one of the best in life? Then be sure to choose high-quality half-boots that fix your ankle joint in a stable position. Alternatively, you can use sneakers, if you are sure that they are reliable and will not break at the most unsuitable moment, and their sole is quite stiff. The main things are safety and comfort. Even a small blister or sprain in two hours turn life into torture. Boots or sneakers should not be too tight, your toe should not touch the toe of the shoe, your feet should feel free (which is why hiking shoes are almost always bought one size larger than your everyday shoes). And although new shoes always look perfect, they still need preparation for the hike. They should be worn in a little before the trip so that they do not chafe your feet. If you are choosing between a new and an already worn pair, then you should definitely choose the latter.
Remember that sandals, flip flops, and even gumshoes are not suitable for hiking. Even if it’s terribly hot outside and you don’t want to make your feet sweat in sneakers. Under no circumstances should you take shoes with thin soles to the mountains, as you may not only ruin them but also injure your feet. Shoes for hiking should be sturdy, with a firm toe and a heel, a stiff, thick sole to keep your feet safe when descending. Then during the hike, you will think about the wonderful landscapes, not about problems with shoes.
But if you have neither trekking boots nor reliable sneakers, it is not a problem either. There is a market near the Zaroslyak sports base, where all tourists usually start the ascend, and at that market, you can rent shoes and other equipment for a hike to Hoverla.
Now let’s take care of the clothes.
The weather in the mountains is random, now hot, and in a minute the cold wind is blowing. Temperatures at the foot and at the top of the mountain differ significantly (in the summer months, from May to September, the temperature at the top of Hoverla can sometimes drop to 0 degrees even during the day). Snow and cold in May-June are common for this region.
Therefore, it is necessary to bring a windproof jacket and a warm sweater. A hat is also a must, which in cold weather will warm your head, and in the heat will protect from direct sunlight. There is a saying: “In the mountains, it is easier to take off your clothes than put them on.” And it’s true.
In most cases, it rains in the mountains in summer, so a raincoat (!) should be a must. It can be replaced by a jacket made of the waterproof fabric also. Leave your umbrella at home, it is quite inconvenient and sometimes dangerous accessory for hiking: during strong windflaws, it will fly over the mountains just as good as a bird, and in a thunderstorm, a metal rod can attract lightning. The raincoat is by all means much more reliable and convenient.
The best pants are similar to sports pants, it should be easy to lift the leg and squat in them. Skinny jeans are not the best option. You can take a thermal T-shirt and a scarf or buff, so as not to catch a cold later – you will sweat a lot, take care of yourself in case of sudden temperature changes.
It is desirable to have several outfits: one for ascending and one spare. Leave a spare in the bus to change into a clean one later (you will want to do it – we checked). And don’t take excessive things with you. Remember that you will have to carry all this up on your shoulders.
What to put in a backpack?
A comfortable backpack is a must-have for every conqueror of mountain peaks. No plastic bags, shoulder bags, or purses that you would have to carry in your hands. Firstly: you need a lot of space for the necessary things, and secondly: well, who goes to the mountains with bags? Your hands should be free when hiking.
Here is a list of things that should be in the backpack and will definitely come in handy:
- a bottle of water (about 1.5 litres) – this is enough to quench the thirst of one person;
- chocolate bars with nuts, cookies, light snacks – something high in calories, to replenish energy reserves;
- sunscreen: sunbathing on the beach and climbing a mountain are different things, so it is better to apply the cream several times on the face and exposed skin than to make your skin red;
- first aid kit: hydrogen peroxide or chlorhexidine, elastic bandage, plaster, cotton wool, painkillers. Be sure to put in your first aid kit medication for your individual illnesses or chronic illnesses, which can be exacerbated by physical or emotional exertion, or trauma. Or get more standard medications if you feel the need.
It is worth remembering that people with hypertension feel much better in the mountains than those with hypotension. Therefore, if you have low blood pressure, drink a cup of coffee before departure and take caffeine tablets with you just in case. Do not drink a lot of water before going out – it is an unnecessary burden on the cardiovascular system.
And another important piece of equipment is trekking poles: if you want, you can rent them on the spot. Believe the experience of many tourists, they reduce the load on the knees, so it becomes really easier to walk, regardless of your age.
It seems that you are almost ready to conquer Hoverla. But suddenly you notice that your child is packing your backpack with you. So, naturally, the question arises: “Is it possible to go to the mountains with a small child?”. You can, if you agree in advance to carry it on your arms or shoulders. Or, if your child is 6-7 years and is ready for long walks.
The list of things for a child is no different from the one for an adult, except for what is necessary for your child’s diet.
Studying the route
So you’re ready to go. So let’s get acquainted with the tourist route, which was first laid to the top of Hoverla in 1880.
The most convenient way to start a trip to Hoverla is from Zaroslyak in the Ivano-Frankivsk region. If you arrived in your own car, you need to turn right from Vorokht. There you will find the first point of the ascent is located – the checkpoint of the Hoverla environmental research department in the Zavoyevo tract).
Hoverla mountain is located on the border of Zakarpattia and Ivano-Frankivsk regions, and the trail to it passes within the protected zone of the Carpathian National Nature Park, where it is forbidden to deviate from the route, damage nature, light fire beyond designated areas, smoke and pick flowers and medicinal plants.
The slopes of this mountain are of great importance because they are home to many rare, endemic and relict plants. About 700 species of plants grow here, 43 of which are listed in the Red Book of Endangered Species of Ukraine.
Entrance to the reserve is fee-based, but the price is not high. The collected funds are used to maintain routes, zones and places of rest, production of information stands, printing publications, cleaning, etc.
From the checkpoint to the foot of the mountain where your walking route will actually begin, you will have to walk the first 8 km up the hill. Do not be afraid, travellers participating in tours:
- 1 day Hoverla hike (1 day)
- Yaremche, Bukovel + Hoverla (2 days / 1 night) – pass this part of the route on a bus to save their powers for the most interesting.
From the bus window, you will be able to admire the medieval spruce. Beech and sycamore also grow here. Such mixed forests will accompany us to the altitude of 1100 m above sea level until the increasingly steep road leads us to the training and sports base “Zaroslyak” (1300 m asl). Here you will start ascending to the cherished mountain. There are only 760 meters vertically from here to the top.
Meet a mountain instructor
On tours organized with the tour operator “Visit Ukraine” travellers are always accompanied to the top of Hoverla by a professional mountain instructor. It’s not just a guide that will take you to your destination and back. It is a person who has a remarkable sports and tourism practical experience. It is a psychologist who will support the group and cheer them up in difficult areas, and in case of injuries can provide qualified medical care. The instructor is always equipped with a walkie-talkie, which is the only reliable connection in the mountains. With its help, he can control the whole group, as well as contact rescuers if necessary. Mobile communication on Hoverla is mostly very weak and appears only in some places. The presence of an instructor will make your ascent safer and more informative. So the first thing you need to remember in a group trip is that the person everyone needs to listen to is the instructor. In case of force majeure, his experience is simply irreplaceable. We work only with professionals who have considerable experience in this area and have earned their reputation with their hard work and many positive reviews from our travel groups.
Don’t risk your life and health by choosing the first guide you come across on the Internet or through the advice of an acquaintance of your cousin. If your instructor turns out to be, to put it mildly, not very competent at his job, then you may risk at least a boring climb and losing your way. The function of a skilled leader is not only to lead a group along the route during the hike but also to morally support, help and coordinate tourists. This is exactly what happens in our organized tourist groups. As part of a tour group, you should not be ahead of the group or lag behind it, so you need to have the minimal physical training and be ready to withstand the pace of walking, that mountain instructor sets. If this pace is too fast for you – do not hesitate to ask to slow down. Climbing to the top with an instructor is lasts about 3–3.5 hours. Descent – 2 hours.
All roads lead to Hoverla
It is better to start a hike to Hoverla in the morning because in the afternoon, as a rule, it is more cloudy and it may rain.
Usually, tourist groups climb Hoverla by one of two routes: the first – “Blue” – shorter and steeper (3 km), the second – “Green” – more flat and longer (4.5 km). It is almost impossible to get lost there, because the whole road is equipped with special marks: white horizontal stripes, with a blue or green stripe in the middle. And the path itself is so well-trodden by tourists that it will be difficult to get lost.
On the long tourist route, part of your way will pass through the dense high forest. The roots of the trees protrude to the surface of the soil and form a bizarre labyrinth, which instructors in jest call “asphalt.” The second part of the path is rocky and steep – the so-called “pavement”. It will be harder to walk, but even children easily do it. It is in this area that the trekking stick ceases to be just a stick and begins to work as intended. Incredible landscapes will open up around you… You will want to stop more and more often and not to catch your breath, but to admire the beauty and grandeur of nature.
Coming out of the forest, you will see a high hill. Most tourists take it for Hoverla, but in reality, this hill just covers Hoverla. This is the shoulder (Hoverliana) on which Hoverla itself rests. On the eastern side of the mountain, you will see a beautiful waterfall up to 80 m high. From it begins its source river Prut. In the second half of summer (July-August) the mountain slopes are simply strewn with blueberries. This significantly slows down the tourist climb to the top, because it is impossible to leave alone the juicy, tasty berries. Leaving behind the juniper bushes you will climb to the alpine meadows – the realm of delicate flowers. If you have not seen crocuses or red rue, dream-grass or yarrow, then here, depending on the season, you can admire these wonderful plants and take unique photos. And then you can expect a surprise in the form of snow (depending on the month).
After 4 km of the road, which takes 1.5 to 3 hours, you are at the top. There are so many things here to look at and admire, enjoying the feeling of conquering the highest mountain of the Ukrainian Carpathians. The top of the mountain is flat and rocky. It seems that you landed on Mars. From the top of Hoverla, there is a view of the Montenegrin and Svydovets ridges, the Gorgan massif. This is a fantastic landscape of the Carpathians, stretching for many kilometres around. If you are lucky with the weather, you can see the neighbouring peaks with a height above two thousand – Petros, Gutin Tomnatyk, Pip Ivan Chornohirsky. And the clouds hang just above your head, just reach out and touch something unearthly. The grandeur is impressive. Really impressive. You see mountains, mountains, and mountains again. They are infinite and so different. You can spend hours exploring every hill and every bush on it. In such moments you understand what a beautiful world you live in. And from the thought that you are able to visit such great places and to see them with your own eyes, you feel somehow especially warm and joyful. No photo will be able to transmit this feeling…
At the top of the mountain were installed several symbols: a cross, a sculptural monument with the Ukrainian coat of arms, the flag of Ukraine and other countries whose representatives have visited the place, and a plate containing capsules with earth from all regions of Ukraine. Apparently, all the conquerors of Hoverla have a photo with this background.
Here you want to stay and admire the scenery again and again. But sooner or later we must go down. You can follow either the same path or a different route. But there is a third path, which is not marked on the map, passing by a waterfall, which is quite impressive during the rainy season. To reach it, you need to descend to the right of the short route. There are no special marks, but the trodden path will not let you lose direction. Remember that the choice of route is always up to the instructor. After all, he is a professional who soberly and adequately assesses the route, the current situation, the weather, the condition of the group. Of course, the waterfall attracts everyone. Some even bathe in it, but the maximum water temperature in it is +9, so before you dive into the natural jacuzzi, you need to assess your powers.
Mountains are a place of quick decisions, determination and willingness
In the summer there are a lot of people going to Hoverla because it is one of the most popular tourist routes in the Carpathians. And on Independence Day, it seems like half of the population of Ukraine goes to Hoverla. The trails at this time are like two escalators moving up and down. Then you will definitely not get lost, and there is a great opportunity to meet acquaintances or make friends with interesting people.
It is said that the mountains do not tolerate the weak. This is true. And it’s not just about physical training, but also about the strength of the human spirit. Once in the mountains, people are often amazed at the abilities and qualities they display. People experience the revival of their spirit. In fact, we are capable of much more than we think. Mountains are a real addiction that is impossible to get rid of. They deplete physical strength, exchanging them for crazy emotions. They open the mind and expose the most sincere feelings.
Hiking in the Carpathian Mountains is a great opportunity to unite the team. Recently, more and more companies are practising team building in the mountains.
If you want to test the strength of a friendly or any other relationship – the mountains are the best place to do so. There are situations after which it is simply impossible to remain ordinary acquaintances. You open up to each other, showing the real you doing things for which there was not enough impulse before. New emotional connections are made, which unite the team perfectly.
However, it is not necessary to take all your friends, relatives or the whole team to the mountains if they are not fond of hiking. In our tour:
- Yaremche Waterfalls, Bukovel Resort + Mount Hoverla (2 days / 1 night) – your friends can choose another way to spend time.
While you are conquering Hoverla, your friends have the opportunity to join:
- Cheremosh Rafting (2 days/ 1 night)
Or learn about the secrets and life of Hutsuls in the interactive museums of Verkhovyna on tour:
- Hutsul Carpathian Mountains + Bukovel Ski Resort (2 days/ 1 night)
This is a unique tour in which everyone admires the landscapes of Yaremche and visits its attractive market, rests in Bukovel and have fun at the Hutsul party. And the second day travellers can spend doing what they like: in the mountains, on the waves of Cheremosh or in museums.
So, if you are determined enough, get ready, buy tickets and hurry to an unforgettable journey that changes lives.
Test yourself and touch the clouds!