Ridge of Svidovec or locally called Polonina Svidovec is one of the most beautiful and longest ridges in Ukrainian Carpathians. It stretches for 60 km between the cities of Rachiv and Ust-Corna with the highest peak Blyznycja, 1881m. Aside of ski-resort Dragobrat and localy well known lake Dogyaska, you will rarely meet any living soul there. And if you come during summer months of July or August you can feast on neverending bushes of blueberries.

 

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Short part of the ridge at sunset

 

Short part of the ridge at sunset

Our trail – polonina Svidovec

We planned our hike as 3 days / 2 nights with starting point of Yasinia train station and ending point of Ust-Corna village. The length of this hike is 49km and after initial big ascent (about 900m of elevation) the ridge is keeping it’s altitude so the hike is not really demanding. Most of the peaks have alternative path around it, so you don’t have to climb them all up with heavy backpack. Towards the end of the hike, path starts to descend down to the Ust-Corna village and last kilometers are quite painful.

You can check the profile of trail here.

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Just you and the nature

Day 1

We are waking up around 8am in the sleeping train Kyiv – Rachiv and have only few minutes to pack. Soon we are standing in chilli and fog-covered village of Yasinia, where we buy some food and water for the hike. Just after we cross the river in the village, the path starts to raise up through the surrounding meadows and in company of roaming sheep and cows we sit down for a short breakfast. Raising sun slowly dissolves the fog and shortly after we start to feel the power of mountain sun.
The ascent is unrelenting and with heavy backpacks we are bathing in our own sweat. Fortunately the forest canopy cover our heads soon, so we get at least some relief. Few kilometers and lunch later, we reach the Dragobrat resort. The main season is in the winter, so there are only few tourists around now. Locals are maintaining their guesthouses and building new ones. Dragobrat has a big ski potential and demand is still bigger than offer there.
We pass Dragobrat slopes and right after we finally stand on the ridge of Svidovec (polonina Svidovec). Views are breathtaking and nearby spring together with camping spot makes it great place to build a tent.

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View back from our first night sleeping place

Day 2

We are woken up by the sound of hunderds of bells which belong to the sheep going for their morning graze. After quick breakfast (us, not sheep) we fill all bottles and start our longest and hopefuly most beautiful part of the hike. Following 20km on the polonina Svidovec are really magnificent. First half of the day we are ocassionally interrupted by jeep or group of hikers, but as soon as we pass Dogyaska lake there is just us and the mountains.

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Lake Dogyaska is the place which atracts most of the visitors

There is no visible spring along the way, so better bring enough of water. There probably would be some in case we really needed it if we dropped down from the ridge, but that is not our plan.
It is very pleasant day so we continue to walk all the way to the peak of Tempa. But the sun prepares to call it a day and temperature quickly drops, so we build a tent at a perfect spot, fly Mavic and cook the dinner. Once the stars becomes visible we decide to sleep outside, because of this amazing projection above our heads.

Day 3

The alarm clock wakes us up for sunrise, but the sun is hidden behind the mountains, so we make some pictures and continue to sleep for few hours more.

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Sunrise picture made, we can continue sleeping

After quick coffee and breakfast with fresh blueberries we start our last day. We have only 1.5 litre of water left and the sun is again scorching.

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There is no better breakfast than this. And coffee.

Fortunately there should be spring after few kilometers. Once we reach the spring place marked on the map we find only muddy swamp. Combination of dry summer and the fact that nobody takes care of the spring makes it impossible to fill our bottles. We have last few drops left, so we continue descend without any longer stops. We even have to skip the lunch.
As with almost every hike, last kilometers are hard and this one is no different. We finally reach our final destination, Ust-Corna. We drop in what look like local eatery and indulge ourselves with local beer and food.

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Orthodox church at Ust-Corna

After that we start to gather information about transport to Kolochava and further on to Uzghorod. One local guy offers us a ride to Kolochava where we plan to spend a night. But first he needs to arrange something around, so we wait.
Few hours later just before the sunset he finally appears again, but his offer has changed. He won’t go to Kolochava, but brings us only half way (for free) where we can build a tent and spend the night. We are a bit upset, because we are dirty, tired and already saw ourselves in the shower and comfy bed. Also the chances to find some other transport so late are close to zero, so we accept his offer – not that we have much choice.
Shower in the river and we collapse into our sleeping bags after long day. Whole night it is raining.

Day 4

Morning is the same as night – heavy rain. During the breakfast in the tent we curse the local who brought us here. We pack our wet things and start to walk, hoping there will be some car going the same direction as us.

We meet 2 cars during the whole 10 kilometers, both going in other direction. At least it stops raining in the middle of the journey. Only after we reach Kolochava by foot, there appears a van which goes to Mizhirja – direction of Uzghorod. We can finally sit down and enjoy our ride.

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Green hills around Kolochava

 

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…and loong Kolochava village itself

Tips

  • The source of water on the ridge is limited. Either study the spring locations well or bring plenty of water with you.
  • Avoid sleeping at Dogyaska lake. During the summer it is full of locals who listen to loud music and drink whole night.
  • Despite the summer is usually hot, the weather can change very quickly. Bring rainjacket and some extra warm clothes. The temperature at night is about 7°C even during the summer.
  • Hiking shoes are advantage, but the terrain is not very difficult, so even sneakers will do. Just be careful on slippery parts.
  • There is no public transport between Ust-Corna and Kolochava. Public transport goes from Ust-Corna only to Tyachiv and from there to Uzhorod. But this situation can change anytime in future, better be prepared for some improvisation.

 

We captured the beauty of polonina Svidovec in following short video by Mavic and iPhone 7.