Biju, India

The backpacks were ready for another globe-trotting and this time it was Ukraine. The Carpathian regions of Ukraine were beckoning us and the zeal of submersing with nature put us across ‘Green -Ukraine’ helmed by Andriy in no time. We became cognizant of how attentive Andriy could be in understanding what we sought out in exploring the region from the initial repartees itself. The synergy buoyed further when we met Andriy in person at Lviv and were bowled over by his professionalism, commitment and flexibility. The jovial guy he is and we were friends of long time apace.

A travel through the picturesque Yaremche and we were at Verkhovyna from where our real quest of the Carpathians began. A horse riding trip was what Andriy had in store for us and couldn’t have asked for more; something which we have longed for quite some time. A bit apprehensive though, we were soon assuaged of our worries by Slavic, the Man Friday for the mountains. The horses Zirka and Sultana showed no signs of tardiness and we were striding through the dicey mountain paths which alluded as a much acclimatized routine for them. Stopped for lunch enroute in a swamp place surrounded by dense grass and pine trees which it’s everywhere in the valley and we soon lurched into the murkiness of forests. The misty mountains and some landloping cows and horses came into light in between and we were finally at a wooden house after 6 hours of trudging.

The homemade cheese, warm hospitality and the serene milieu we experienced at the wooden house hosted by veteran Ivan reflected the resonance of the whole region. Not much of communication barriers hindered our lengthy chats with all as Andriy was quite enjoying donning the role of a well versed Interpreter. The farm, the surroundings and the stories had almost exalted us to being the next Cowboys there but eventually we had to bid adieu to one of the abundant dwellings we ever had been to.

The journey from the highlands downwards was no less of excitement. At times on the horse, at times on the foot, it was another exciting day through the backwoods downwards. The steep descending tested the horses too but nothing affected the alacrity of Slavic, the man who could walk through the mountains hours and hours. Andriy would have also a learnt a trick or two as he showed no signs of lassitude although he was also on his foot for the last two days. Dark woods paved way to lush green outfields and we could see houses distantly nestling on the foothills of the beautiful valley.

Back in Verkhovyl we continued our journey towards Ivano-Frankivsk with Andriy on his wheels. We had to catch hold of the night train to Kiev and Andriy made sure that we were comfortable in all aspects. A big thanks from us for making this trip a worthwhile experience which will be in our minds forever.