Reference: Mark Shepherdson, Australia
updated on 02/09/2011
I would like to express my thanks for providing so much guidance throughout my recent Belarus adventure. This really helped to make it such an enjoyable trip.
While researching the visa procedures for Australians visiting Belarus I happened across a blog on the Lonely Planet website from Andrei Burdenkov and found he was assisting many travellers like me. I emailed Andrei and he explained the visa procedure to me very clearly. Having always been an independent traveller that has avoided group tours. Andrei’s assistance in helping to plan my itinerary was invaluable and ensured I would see all the highlights in my two weeks in the country.
He also put me in touch with a reputable travel company to book an apartment for the first couple of days and provided airport pickup on my arrival. It was a credit to the information Andrei had supplied me prior to my leaving Australia that saw me the only one of 12 foreigners at Minsk 2 airport on the day of arrival that had completed all the necessary paperwork correctly. The drive from the airport was in itself a great briefing on the state of affairs in Belarus to get an idea of the quality of life enjoyed by the local population.
After my first afternoon orientation in Minsk on my own, I engaged Andrei for the Ozertso Village Museum tour just outside Minsk. This tour provided an insight into the traditional farm life of 19th century Belarusians. The meal at the traditional restaurant was probably the most enjoyable of my trip and that is no small claim as Belarus has some truly wonderful cuisine on offer.
After another couple of days in Minsk exploring the city on my own, I mentioned to Andrei that I would head to Brest next. Without me having asked, Andrei helped find out train times and his father Vladimir even travelled to the train station with me to help me buy the ticket. Now that is real service. Even while I was travelling on my own, Andrei remained in touch and would book hotels for me in my next destination. This made life much easier for this English only speaking traveller. Belarus was the one place the old Australian “she’ll be right” attitude to the language barrier did not prove very successful and Andrei’s assistance was invaluable.
Upon arriving back in Minsk, I was fortunate enough to be the guinea pig to road-test the Berezinsky Biosphere Reserve tour and I would say that this was my favourite day in Belarus. After having explored Belavezhskaya Pushcha National Park on my own, I found Berezinsky a far more enjoyable experience. Although the park is smaller and has fewer animals, to me the much smaller visitor numbers made it a far more enjoyable than the maddening crowds at Belavezhskaya Pushcha. The sobering visit to the Dalva Memorial on the way back to Minsk was something I could not have seen on my own and was also well worth the time. The fact that I had an excellent guide explaining facts throughout the day also enriched the total experience.
The following day I engaged Andrei once more for the Nesvizh and Mir tour which was also great value and provided access to areas I would have struggled to reach under my own steam. The time saved utilising Andrei’s services was also important as I wanted to see a much of Belarus as possible during my visit.
In summary, I found Andrei Burdenkov to be extremely knowledgeable, professional and spoke excellent English and would have no hesitation in recommending the use of his services or any of the tours he has on offer. The success of my Belarusian trip has much to thank Andrei so thank you for contributing greatly toward my visit to Belarus, both before and after arrival which made the trip such a memorable one.
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