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Askania-Nova

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Article content:

  • Flora and fauna of the reserve
  • Historical facts
  • Askania-Nova on the map
  • How to get to and where to stay
  • The best time to visit
  • Schedule and prices in Askania-Nova

Askania-Nova is a large biosphere reserve covering 33,000 acres of land. It is managed by the National Agrarian Academy as a unique nature conservation complex and one of the largest nature reserves in Ukraine. It includes wild territories with a long list of rare species of plants and animals, a botanical garden (dendrological park) and an open-air zoo.

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Flora and fauna of the reserve

The list of rare and endangered species of flora and fauna is quite extensive. The vegetation of the park alone includes more than 500 species of flora listed in the Red Book of endangered species.

The Grand Chapelskyi Pod is a fenced-in paddock located in a small valley that stretches over 24 km². It is a unique location where the flora varies based on weather conditions.

Tourist in Askania Nova

In high-humidity years, this area fills up with water and hydrophytes grow in its deepest parts. Among them is the rarest species in Ukraine - Damasonium alisma.

The land plot has the highest flower abundance with 368 species, including 53 endemic kinds with limited habitat.

It is here that wild animals including zebras, antelopes and the famed Przevalski horses graze during a majority of the year. The largest population of Przevalski horses in the world live here.

What can be seen in Askania-Nova

Within the majestic virgin steppes, in addition to sod grasses, fescue, caverns, feather grass, and sedge, you can find the rarest species of plants, including:

  • lessing;
  • Scythian tulip;
  • Schrenk's tulip;
  • Regel's bow;
  • Taliev cornflower.

The fauna of the reserve includes more than 5000 animals and is replenished annually with their offspring. There are a few dozen types of mammals and birds in the territory of the reserve and in the zoo.

It is noteworthy that the local fauna coexists peacefully with many species brought from around the world.

The Askania-Nova Biosphere Reserve has become a cozy home for the following:

  • buffalo;
  • donkeys and mouflons;
  • Przevalski horses;
  • deer;
  • antelopes;
  • bison;
  • camels.

The local zoo received purebred tarpans (an extinct subspecies of wild horses) for the first time in the world and began breeding these animals. In the natural habitat of the zoological park, a huge population of antelopes has been collected, including the wild, white-tailed, blue, white-bearded, and canned species.

The local ornithological park is striking; there are more than 60 kinds of birds, including:

  • cranes;
  • swans;
  • ducks;
  • peacocks;
  • steppe eagles and vultures;
  • exotic flamingos and parrots.

The local virgin steppes are inhabited not only by small animals like hamsters, mice, jerboas, but also by predatory varieties including ferrets, weasels, wolves, foxes, and even stoats.

Historical facts about the Askania-Nova Biosphere Reserve

The reserve originally belonged to the German Duke Frederick Ferdinand of Anhalt-Köthen, and was called the New Keton until 1834. The territory was primarily used by the Duke to breed sheep. After the Duke’s death, the estates were sold to the family of Falz-Fein landowners who laid the foundation for establishing the current nature reserve.

The new owners, like the previous ones, bred sheep and horses, but their son Friedrich turned the local lands into a reserve and worked at developing it all his life. At first, animal breeding was just his hobby, and he collected birds in a huge aviary there, but later he began to bring rare species from all over the world to his private reserve.

Later, about 600 acres of the territory were officially declared a nature reserve with the purpose of preserving endangered plants, animals, and birds. Nearby, a dendrological park was also created, which was equipped with a system of artificial irrigation. A zoo was built for the animals, including antelopes, bison, zebras and ostriches. It became the third largest zoo in the world, after the zoos in London and Amsterdam.

In 1919, the territory became a national park.

Today, this wildlife site is an environmental and educational center as well as a popular tourist destination with many grandiose statuses, such as:

  • one of the seven wonders of Ukraine;
  • the only steppe in the country  where the land has never been ploughed or cultivated;
  • included in the World Network of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserves since 1984.

Askania-Nova on the map

This steppe wonder is located in the Kherson region, Chaplinka District, urban type settlement of Askania-Nova, 13 Frunze Str., 140 km from Kherson and 75 km from Nova Kakhovka.

You can get to the reserve from all major cities of Ukraine by car or train. Buses and mini-buses run daily from the nearest cities, including Kherson, Odesa, Zaporizhzhia, and Dnipro.

How to get to Askania-Nova and where to stay

By car

Kherson is located about 100 km away, but the route itself is 146 km.

Road sign

Getting here by car is very convenient - from Kherson, go in the direction of Nova Kahovka, and then to Henichesk. In the village of Chkalovo, it will be necessary to leave the main road on the right and continue straight to the reserve itself. There will be signs leading up to the entrance but to avoid getting lost, you should take a map or a GPS navigator with you and enter the exact location of the park (see above).

If no personal transport is available, you can take a taxi from the nearest bus or train station.

By bus

Regular bus service to the reserve and town of the same name is available from the nearest towns and cities:

  • Kherson;
  • Novooleksiivka;
  • Henichesk;
  • Skadovsk.

The road from the regional center takes about 180 minutes, and from Novolekseevka about 120 minutes. Buses operate according to a schedule all day, which can be checked at the registration/ticket office or online.

If you wish, you can take a bus excursion from the nearest resort towns and the capital to the biosphere sanctuary.

By train

Travel to the reserve by train is also available. It is most convenient to buy tickets to Kherson, but bear in mind that the train does not go to Askania itself, so it is necessary to get off at the nearest station — in Nova Kahovka or Novooleksiivka, and take a bus or a taxi from there.

Accommodation

Those wishing to visit all of the local sites and go on a few excursions should plan to stay overnight and arrange accommodations in advance of their visit.

There is only one hotel in the local village - the Kanna, you can book your room online. Here, you will be offered cosy rooms with all the normal conveniences and meals.

You can also spend the night in Kherson where there are many more hotels for every preference and budget, but then you will have to travel to the park by bus or car, which takes at least 1.5 hours.

If you would like to save money, you can rent a room at a local’s house. You can easily find information about this when you arrive.

When is the best time to visit the Askania-Nova Nature Reserve

На холмі в Асканії-Нова
On the top in Askania-Nova

The high season lasts from mid-spring to late autumn, but it is best to visit during the months when it is not too hot, namely:

  • April;
  • May;
  • early June;
  • middle of September to the end of October.

The park also operates in the summer, but the safari is not available when it’s very hot, so those who wish to see animals in their natural habitat may be disappointed.

There are souvenir shops in the village and near the reserve registration office where you can buy magnets with photos of local beauties or postcards to mail home.

Schedule and prices in Askania-Nova

The official excursion tour season is April 01 - November 10.

During this time, the reserve is open to tourists daily, and the registration office is open from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm without a lunch break.

Guided tours of the protected areas are paid excursions. According to information from the National Agrarian Academy, the prices are as follows:

  • self-guided tour - 65/50 UAH (adult and children’s ticket);
  • guided two-hour walking tour around the zoo and dendrological park — 70/50 UAH;
  • individual guided tours around the zoo and dendrological park — 70/50 UAH and lasts 2.5 hours each;
  • guided 5-hour walking tour to 2 locations (zoo and botanical garden) - 140/100 UAH;
  • retro safari photos (many people come to the park just for this purpose). For this tour, prior registration is required. Tours are for adults and children over 7 years of age in groups of up to 10 people. Price is 150 UAH for 2 hours. For booking, please call (05538) 612-86.

If you need equipment to take beautiful photos, it is necessary to pay an additional fee for each device - 5 UAH for a camera and 20 UAH for a video camera.

Rules for visitors

In order to preserve the flora and fauna, certain rules have been established in the territories.

Park regulations strictly forbid:

  • going outside the established routes;
  • leaving children alone and letting them walk unaccompanied by adults;
  • going over any fences, handrails, and or walls installed on the property;
  • ignoring recommendations and warnings on posted signs;
  • touching, petting or feeding animals in the zoo or while on safari;
  • going behind the edges of the water pond;
  • smoking and drinking alcohol;
  • making loud noises, listening to music loudly;
  • coming to the park with pets;
  • using quadrocopters, drones and the other unmanned vehicles.

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