Bessarabian Adventure

Three days in the Danubian steppes, forests and wetlands This tour is a sweep through the land of the medieval Wallachian Basarab Princes - hence the region's local name of Bessarabia. It covers a host of outstanding historical, cultural and natural sites including the Dniester National Park, bro...

City: Odessa

Country: Ukraine

Bessarabian Adventure

Day 1

Depart Odessa; traverse Dneister National Park; Aliaga steppe; Lakes Yalpug, Kugurlui and Kartal; Stara Nekrasovka

About 45 minutes after leaving Odessa we will arive at Mayaki, a small town overlooking the vast sweep of the reedbeds in the Dneister National Park. Crossing the bridge across the Dneister River itself, we descend to the floodplain and wend our way through the reeds and meadows. Some of this area actually lies in Moldova - but we won't need passports. Two hours later, we arrive at Aliaga steppe, one of the most authentic steppe landscapes remaining in southern Odessa. At this point Traian's Wall, which marked the northwest boundary of the Byzantine Empire, lies before us. It is a wide open valley in the bottom of which a small stream meanders to Lake Kitai, just visible in the distance. On the surroundings slopes there many ancient earth mounds (kurgans) where chiefs of the nomadic Scythian and Sarmatian tribes are buried dating back to the 5th century BC.

From Aliaga we proceed to Izmail and on Reni raion where we will have a view of the Macin Mountains National Park in Romania. This raion is the smallest administrative unit in Odessa oblast (about 50,000 ha and 45,000 inhabitants). about half of it's area comprises wetlands, much of which are listed as internationally important under the Ramsar Convention. We will then travel along the causeway (an old bank of the Danube) between lakes Yalpug and Kugurlui (the largest natural lakes in Ukraine), which is one of the best birdwhatching areas in the whole country. At the far end of the causeway lies the village of Novosilske, situated at one of the narrowest points of the floodplain in the lower Danube region. We will drive down to the monument which marks the place where various armies (Persians, Romans, Huns and Russians) crossed the Danube to pursue their campaigns. The remains of the old Soviet electrified border fence can be seen, as well as good example of natural riverine forest.

By evening, we will arrive at our accommodation in Stara Nekrasovka - a village founded by Don Cossacks fleeing from the expanding Russian Empire under Catherine the Great. A dinner featuring Bessarabian cusine will be served.

Day 2

Struve monument; Izmail fort; Belgrad; Lake Yalpug; Stara Nekrasovka

After breakfast we will visit the Struve Geodetic Monument which is in the village itself. This is the end point of a World Heritage Site stretching from Norway to Ukraine!

We will make a change of scene and travel the rolling steppe and farmland areas inland from the Danube, around Lake Yalpug up to Bolgrad, where we will visit the Basilica. Our next stop, for a picnic lunch, will be at Vinogradovka nature reserve on the western shore of Lake Yalpug, established for its rich steppe flora.

After lunch and enjoying the reserve, we will continue south through a string of villages with different ethnic communities (Bulgarian, Gagauzian and Moldovan), each with characteristic architectural features.

We will cross the Yalpug/Kugurlui causeway once more on our way back to Izmail to see the fort and monastery. We will have a private dinner in monastery, before returning to Stara Nekrasovka for the night.

Day 3

Kislitsa forest; Kilia; Vilkovo and 0 km; Odessa

Our journey today will cover the Danube floodplain between Izmail and the Black Sea coast to the east. Among the mosaic of floodplain forest, meadows, fish ponds, rice paddies and reedbeds we can expect to find a good range of birds.

We will visit the "sunken church" in Kilia (one of the oldest settlements in Ukraine), and take a walk around the historic and remarkable old town of Vilkovo - known as the "Little Venice" of Ukraine. Then, we shall explore the Kilia part of the Danube Delta in a locally built pirogue. This is one of the most active regions of the delta, where millions of tons of sediment are deposited each year. The shallow waters and send bars provide rich feeding grounds for a huge number and variety of waterbirds, as well as frogs and muskrats. We will have a lunch of traditionally cooked fresh fish, served on an island in the delta.

Later in the afternoon, we will head for Odessa (a Journey of 3 hours).

Price: 309 euro per person

Price includes: accommodation in 2**or 3***hotel - 2 nights, meal, transport service, excursions (according to the programme), english speaking guide.

Price doesn't include: travel insurance, personal expenses.

Further information:

Salix Nature Tours

14 Torgova str., Odessa, Ukraine
Tel. +38(048)7289738, +38(048)7289737
e-mail: ask4more@salix.od.ua
www.salix.od.ua

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