The Dnieper is the fourth longest river in Europe. Half of the Dnieper (about 700 miles) borders or passes through Ukrainian territory, and the river is for the Ukrainians the same kind of national symbol that the Volga River is for the Russians. Navigable for just 10 months of the year when inot frozen, a river cruise provides a safe and secure way of exploring this fascinating country.
The source of the Dnieper lies in Russia flowing through Dorogobuzh near Smolensk and into Belarus. Below Orsha the Dnieper enters Ukrainian territory and widens considerably due to tributaries. The Biarezina River, the Sozh River, the Prypiat River and the Desna River flow into the Dnieper and this is the most forested and swampy section of the Dnieper. The construction of the Dnieper Cascade of Hydroelectric Stations and reservoirs from the mouth of the Prypiat River to the town of Kakhivka have led to the canalisation of the river in the section down to Kiev.
The middle stretch of the Dnieper lies in the forest-steppe and steppe belts. From Kiev to Dnipropetrovsk the Dnieper flows through a picturesque mountain landscape and from Dnipropetrovsk cuts through the Voronezh Massif into the Dnieper Reservoir above Zaporizhzhya.
Below Zaporizhzhya the Dnieper enters the steppe belt, the dry Black Sea Lowland. Near Kichkas it splits into two branches, which encirled a large, steep, granite island—Khortytsia Island—on which the Zaporozhian Sich once stood. Below that it enters a wide valley that now contains the large Kakhivka Reservoir. The final stretch of the Dnieper flows from Kakhivka, 106 km to the Dnieper Estuary where, near Kherson, it splits into branches and forms a large delta with numerous islands and lakes. the lower Dnieper from Zaporizhzhya, past Kherson to the mouth and nearby Odessa.
WHEN TO CRUISE?
The climate of the Ukraine can be described as dry and continental with warm, dry summers and fairly severe winters.
In summer daytime temperatures reach 25-30°C, sometimes higher, 35°C or more in the inland areas. The summer months tend to be dry with sunny spells most of the time, rain often falls with sometimes heavy thunderstorms, but mostly along the coastal areas of the Black Sea.
Generally, the weather is best in May or September, when days are warm and the nights are cool, although it rains more in Spring than in summer.