Admit it, do you dream of Africa, a real safari and red lakes? Of course you dream)) But not everyone will be able to visit the black continent at least once in their life. And not only because it is the most expensive region. And also because many are afraid of the unknown, dangers and difficulties, and this in Africa – at every step.
Would you like to experience real African emotions? Without risks and spending several thousand dollars? Visit the same safari as in Kenya? To swim in the same red-pink lake as in Senegal? And also – to see the desert and waterfalls (although not as big as the Sahara desert or Victoria Falls)? Then to the south of Ukraine, to the boundless Tauriyian steppes!
Personally, I have not had such vivid impressions from traveling in my native Ukraine for a long time. A person who has visited 65 countries on 4 continents and seen such wonders that 99% of people will hardly ever see, there is little to surprise. But Kherson Region surprised. In this material, I will guide you through the most interesting places of this little-known region and give practical advice on how to make the trip there more interesting, rich and comfortable.
African and Ukrainian safari: what is the difference?
Can it be considered that the photo safari in Askania Nova is inferior to popular African entertainment? Yes and no.
Pros of a safari in Askania:
1. Guaranteed to see animals.
Unlike a safari in the African savanna, where no one guarantees you a meeting with wild animals, in the steppes of Tavria you are guaranteed to see several species of animals, including zebras, two species of antelope, bison, buffalo, saiga, Przewalski’s horses. In Africa, you can drive around the savannah for several hours and only see a zebra or a giraffe from afar.
2. See animals up close.
In Africa, animals do not come close to the car. You can see them well only through binoculars, and you can’t even dream of high-quality photos. In Askania, you will be driven to the animals at a distance of several tens of meters (or even several meters)! And some of them (Przewalski’s horses and antelopes) will generally approach you and ask you to feed or pet them.
3. It costs ten times cheaper.
The most modest safaris in Africa start at $100 per person. But, as a rule, they cost several hundred dollars. Add here another minimum of $2,000 for travel and accommodation. The cost of a safari in Askania-Nova is only 150 hryvnias per person (less than $5).
4. You feel safe.
Malaria, yellow fever, unsanitary conditions and lack of comfort are common companions on a trip to Africa. We don’t have all this, but there is a comfortable and inexpensive hotel in Askania itself.
Cons of a safari in Askania:
1. Limited species of animals.
Here you will not see elephants, giraffes, lions, hippos and crocodiles. However, no one in Africa can guarantee that you will see them.
2. Limited territory of the reserve
3. Lack of African atmosphere and exoticism.
But you already understood that the pluses prevail!))
How to get there
The base of the trip will be the town of Askania-Nova. The reserve of the same name is located around it, where the safari begins. In the town itself there is a wonderful arboretum and a simply fantastic zoo.
The car itself
There are two roads to Askania-Nova:
– well repaired – from the side of Chaplynka district center (Kherson-Simferopol highway);
– terrible and completely broken – on the side of Novooleksiivka (Kharkov-Simferopol route).
Both ways have pros and cons. Although the road through Chaplynka and further to Nova Kakhovka and Kherson is relatively good, after Nova Kakhovka in the direction of Nikopol, Kryvyi Rih and the Dnipro, it is dead. Conversely, if the road through Novooleksiivka is terrible, the Kharkiv-Simferopol route is relatively good.
Shuttle buses from Kherson to Askania-Nova leave four times a day. And once a day – a bus from Henichesk. You can see the schedule and buy tickets on the website https://busfor.ua.
Where to stay
Here the choice is small, but worthy. Hotel Kanna is the only hotel in Askania-Nova. A standard room costs UAH 650. per day, improved room with air conditioning – UAH 720. The rooms are spacious and equipped with all amenities. Near the hotel there are several cafes, a grocery store, the entrance to the zoo and the arboretum.
Askania-Nova: what to do?
Askania-Nova is a very compact settlement, which is actually located on the territory of the reserve. All that a tourist needs is within a radius of 200-300 meters: the Kanna hotel, a bus station, shops, cafes, the entrance to the arboretum and the zoo.
I will not tell about the reserve itself and its history. You can easily find it yourself on the Internet. Although its founder, Friedrich Falz-Fein, is an example of a man who lived, created and invested all his wealth in the future of our state (not even suspecting that such a state would exist), in preserving its nature and creating tourism potential.
Instead, I will focus on the main attractions of the biosphere reserve and give advice on how not to miss the most interesting.
Entrance to the dendrological park is free if you want to explore it yourself. If you want an excursion accompanied by a guide, it can be purchased at the ticket office of the reserve near the entrance to the zoo for 70 hryvnias per person (children – 50 hryvnias).
The reserve park in Askania welcomes you with a neo-Gothic gate. Behind it we will see a tower surrounded by vineyards on all sides. The tower resembles defensive castle towers. The tower is part of a neo-Gothic complex of buildings created at the end of the 19th century and stylized as a medieval castle.