Kayak the Dnieper/Black Sea: Kiev to Odessa

Travel Forums Europe Kayak the Dnieper/Black Sea: Kiev to Odessa

  • 1
  • 2
Last Post
1. Posted by TeflonCDN (Full Member 131 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

I am planning to do this trip in the fall of 2012. As this is not a generic travel question, I am hoping that one of the Travel Helpers for Ukraine can get me in contact with locals who would have some knowledge that would help with this trip.

I am planning to paddle from Kiev to Odessa in about 30 days in September, 2012. I have scouted the entire route using google maps. My impression from the aerial photographs is that there will be lots of islands to camp on in the upper part of the river but such campsites will be rarer once I pass Dnipropetrovsk.

Camping along the river

Is it legal to camp on un-inhabitted islands on the river? In Canada, most of these islands would be Crown Land, belonging to the Government, and camping would be legal and free.

The river below Dnipropetrovsk seems to very developed with lots of farmland or the shores have lots of houses by the rivers edge. Are there likely to be public camp grounds in the small villages/towns? Will farmers allow me to camp at the rivers edge? Is it best to set-up camp and ask for forgiveness later or will that get me arrested?

Black Sea

Given the shape of this body of water, I expect that there will be circular currents... What is the direction of the surface currents between the opening of the Dnieper and Odessa? Will I be fighting a major current? Is a current only present when the wind is blowing? It seems that tides are not a problem in the Black Sea, only 10 cm. Can someone confirm this?

All help appreciated!

Posts 2 & 3 were removed by moderators
4. Posted by TeflonCDN (Full Member 131 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

LOL... Only 1 response after 2 weeks and it was probably spam.....

5. Posted by InterprUA (First Time Poster 1 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

Camping is legal in Ukraine unless its national park or something. It should be displayed by some sort of signs "Палити заборонено" "Не розводити вогонь" "Кемпiнг заборонено" "Запрещено разводить костер". Only the Khortitsa island is the one famous island in Dniper where you can not camp.
Nothing is gonna heppen to you even if you trespass someone's property, we are polite nation, especially to the foreigners. But i strongly recommend to have someone with you who is a native Ukrainian.
I can not say a thing of water currents, but the only thing i know is there are NO TIDES in Black Sea, its situated not in the part of Moon's influence.
I could help you with getting on with this issue, send me a PM, i check it sometimes or better visit my website -snip- and send me an email (i'm not advertising my website, i just dont want to post my email as many spammers will start sending me adverts)
Best Regards, Konstantin.

P.S.: I wonder how all those people posting offers of assistance in Ukraine simply advertising their websites do not bother even to give a simple advice. How poor we become when money takeover the brain. Shame on you, colleagues!

[ Edit: Edited on 23-Feb-2012, at 11:20 by InterprUA (Sorry, no promos please.) ]

6. Posted by dnewton (First Time Poster 1 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

Hi. Was wondering if you ever did this trip. I have been thinking about the same idea for summer 2014. I've been in Ukraine for a few years, love it here and also love kayaking. Would be nice to hear from you or anyone else that can add. Thanks.

7. Posted by TeflonCDN (Full Member 131 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

Sadly, this is still on my list. Personal life has interfered with my best laid plans. Hoping for Fall of 2014 now. I have three options in mind... all about 1000km

Dniper / as above
Wisla / Krackow to Gdansk
Danube (any 1000 km section, but prob near the top of river)

8. Posted by xeniv23 (Budding Member 2 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Regarding camping while kayaking the Dnieper River in Ukraine.

I just did the trip from Gremyach, on the Sudost River beginning a few kilometers downstream from the Russia/Ukraine border, along the River Desna to Kyiv and then down the Dnieper River past five dams (dragging it all on a kayak cart), into the Black Sea and on to Vyklove on the Danube River. Romania is just across the river about one kilometer away. There is no way to legally cross the border in that area. 66 days, 2018 kilometers, 1254 miles.

You can camp anywhere. I never saw a sign that prohibited camping. Having said that, I only camped in a few places that were truly nice. It was the tyranny of the numbers. I had a long way to go and had to put in the miles. I passed many very beautiful spots to camp and did not stop because I had not yet met the numbers. Once I had the miles in I just took the first suitable, but perhaps not desirable, spot as I was tired. Often very tired. From Kyiv to Dnipro, around 380 river miles, it was a constant headwind until I turned the corner of the great bend and was heading southwest instead of almost due east. Some of the reservoirs are 100+ miles in length and as wide as 20 miles. Plenty of fetch to create very large and challenging wave action. The two most difficult portages are at Khaniv and Zaporozhiya. You are going to sweat a lot. I tried to be very near the portage point the evening before so that it was a short paddle in the morning. I tried to drag the kayak and all sundries when I was relatively fresh. It was always a hard day.

Take at least 3 or 4 spare filters for your water filtration system. The algae blooms in the reservoirs will quickly plug your filters. Pump all the water you can when you get the chance. Don’t put it off. You can get very thirsty if you do. Choose to pump away from shore and in areas of lower concentrations of algae. Not always possible. It was recommended to me that I not filter water but it was extremely impracticable to find places to buy water every few days. That would have taken much time better spent paddling. I was fine. I started buying water when I hit the Black Sea. There it was not a problem as there are many resorts along the shore with beachfront shops and stands where it is possible to buy water and Ice Cream! I ate very simply so that I could restock in small village shops. I would live in Ukraine just for the bread! I often camped on crowded beaches along the Black Sea and no one cared. Just do what everyone else is doing. It's very relaxed and informal. If you want a night's sleep better not to camp near vehicles on the beach. Loud stereos. Always keep an eye out 360. Thunderstorms are numerous and fast moving. You think you see one in the distance and you are ok for some time. 15 minutes later you fervently wish you were on the beach.

Once I hit the Black Sea I often had to leave my kayak pulled up on the beach and just trust that it would be there a couple of hours later when I returned from my trek to find a shop, food and water. Never once was there a problem. I always took my papers, my phone and the cash, as one should. I gradually relaxed about it and I think it is very eloquent comment concerning the Ukrainian people.

At Ochikiv, the first town of any size after you enter the Black Sea, you will be detained by the State Border Guards. They can see you coming from a long way off. You will need to show GPS tracks to prove that you did not pass the 12 mile limit and then re-enter Ukraine illegally. You will be tracked for the rest of your journey and they are seemingly everywhere. Every time you stop and turn on your phone you will get a message asking for your GPS coordinates. You will have to check in at night and in the morning when you set out. There are many Border Guard watch posts along the Black Sea shore. Wave. Remember: Ukraine is at war. The Guards are actually very nice people and once they figure out what you are up to it's comforting to know you are being tracked. Especially as I was alone. I thought that they were very kind.

On the reservoirs and the Black Sea the wind can go from glassy calm to maelstrom in about two minutes. Don't get far from shore. You will have to make some open water crossings. The longest I had was 14+ miles. Start at 3am to beat the wind. Plan your downwind bailout. I had one to make that the first potential landing was Turkey (200 miles) if I was unlucky. I was cautious with that one. Be not shy about turning back. If it's not already too late.

Bugs. You will come to believe that most of the bio-mass in Ukraine is composed of ants, gnats and mosquitoes. Choose your tent site carefully and do not pitch it on an ant hill. In some places that is impossible. I once filled my kayak with ants overnight. I was expunging ants for three days. Getting out of the tent at night to pee is a suicide mission. I had a titanium pot to pee in. Only the best. Non-absorbent. Did not flavor the coffee.

Snakes. You will see myriad snakes, some fairly large. Watching them fish is amazing. They seem aggressive in that they will swim right toward you in the water and on the beach. They aren't. I'm convinced after numerous encounters that they just don't see very well and you just happen to be on their path. They will veer off at the last moment. Be not alarmed. They are beautiful and watching them stalk and catch fish is very educational. I have seen baby snakes no longer than six inches catch small fish with more mass than themselves. At times it seemed a question of who was eating whom.

Pike and carp. The Northern Pike (Shuka) are numerous and quite large. Their ambushings will keep you awake at night in some spots. You have to wonder about taking a dip, getting in there with whatever is making all that commotion. I once saw three seagulls standing on what I thought was a floating log. As I approached it became clear that they were all perched on an enormous dead carp, I mean a really big carp.

The people I met along the way were very kind, warm and quite generous. It was actually the best part of the experience. Ukraine is an undiscovered (so far) jewel and is a kayaking paradise. Go if you can. Don't be afraid.

Post 9 was removed by a moderator
10. Posted by xeniv23 (Budding Member 2 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!


If you are going just from Kyiv to Dnipro you will only have to portage around three dams, Khaniv, Svitlovodsk and Kamiensky. Khaniv is the toughest, Svitlovodsk is the shortest and easiest and Kamiensky is not bad. Don't worry about passing the dams: worry about getting down the reservoirs against strong headwinds and large waves....Cherkassy Reservoir is probably the toughest section. Stay to the right and close to shore.

If it were me and I just wanted to do a beautiful section of this river system I would start at Dnipro and paddle to Kherson. You will pass through the Ukrainian Crystalline Shield geologic formation which is granitic. There will be many spectacular hills abutting the river, forest lands, meadows all over the place. For quite some distance you will be passing through rich fossil beds and the beaches are almost entirely composed of fossils. Very few people and only natural sounds. The stargazing is really good.

The portage at Zaporozhiya is through town and you will meet many people. Dragging a kayak on a cart through a city of 750K people.....well, it's fun. Aside from the work of it. The portage at Novaya Khovka is pretty easy. Except that I took a wrong turn and doubled the distance. It's all downhill from there.