Hiking in the Crimea

Trip Start Apr 24, 2007
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Trip End Jul 09, 2007


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Where I stayed

Flag of Ukraine  , Crimean Peninsula,
Thursday, May 10, 2007

Today was a long but wonderful day. Stared with the free breakfast at the hotel which was an awesome buffet! Yesterday I had bought tickets for a guided hike through the Grand Canyon from an older woman who was along the street with a sandwich board. It cost 70 Hryvnia (about $10) for the full day tour. A great deal, but I was slightly nervous that no one would be there this morning. I headed out into the sunshine with my fingers crossed. The lady, another guy and a few other equally relieved tourists were all in the meeting spot.
The guy walked us out to a van waiting in the main street and started getting everyone loaded. I thought I was doing pretty good when a girl pointed for me to get in the front seat, until she put another guy in the front seat with me! With everyone loaded we headed out of town. We went up a long tree lined road, with hairpin turns every 100 meters, to the top where we stopped for some impressive photos of Yalta below us. Along the top we also stopped for some photos of what look like some giant golf balls. The guide's speech was all in Russian, but judging but the hand gestures I think it was some kind of astronomy observatory or weather station.
Then we headed down the other side of the hills. At the end of each of the steep, hairpin turns were little ladies giving out cups of tea in hopes of selling some tea or honey. We stopped at one of the turns and the ladies made me try about 6 kinds of honey, it was all in little mason jars and they kept handing out (quite persistently) little spoons of the different types of honey. Knowing that a glass mason jar of honey would not last long in a backpack, but feeling bad for the tea and honey they had gave out, I bought a little paper cup of delicious honey covered nuts.
We headed into the woods and after a short walk we could see the top of the canyon and down to the river below. Then the hike started down to the river below. We had one lady and her daughter (maybe 8 years old or so) to guide our way. The guide seemed to really know her stuff and kept stopping to point out different things. Too bad it was all in Russian and I didn't understand a word. I was the only one who didn't speak Russian and the guide seemed to pick up on this fairly quickly and made an extremely appreciated effort to explain (mostly sign language with the odd English word) some of the more interesting stuff to me.
The hike wasn't along a trail for the most part and involved jumping rocks to crisscross the river, swinging under/over trees blocking the way and half scaling rocks along the river bank at some points. First we went up the river (via the rocks in it) to a little swimming area. Then we headed back down along the edge of the river. The guide would test a spot and if didn't seem right, we would all turn around and try another way. The scenery was breathtaking! I think I took about a hundred photos since none of them seemed to do the area any justice. Even looking at them now, they don't even begin to show have amazing the place was. The walk/hike/frog leap took about 6 hours. At the end there was even a guy with 2 horses walking across the river. It was an unbelievable trip! So glad I trusted the group to be there and handed over the $10 yesterday!!
After we were finished in the woods, they took us to a Tatar (a Turkish ethnic group in the Crimea) restaurant for a bit of food. I had a bit of a chat with the guide, her daughter and the driver. They helped me with the menu and I ended up with some tasty lamb skewers. The guide's daughter even gave me demo of the traditional dances.
After that it was back up and down the winding road to Yalta. It was a bit scary, the road wasn't very big and in some places there was no kind of barrier to stop us from rolling over the cliff.
Made it back safe and sound and decided to give the cable car a go to get another view of town. That was extremely scary! You were basically in a little metal bucket that might hold 2 adults and a small child (if they stood). I could hardly even look down at all the rooftops we were going over! I was very happy to have my feet back on solid ground when I reached the top. Enjoyed the view and then headed back down. That was about it for my day. Grabbed a beer from the street and came back to enjoy having my own, wonderful room. Another day in Yalta, where I couldn't have asked for anything better!!
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