- Photos of Oleshky Sands
- Ukrainian desert: history of Oleshky Sands
- Where is Oleshky Sands on the map
- How to get to Oleshky Sands
- When is the best time to go
- What to bring with you
- Outdoor activities
Not all Ukrainians are aware that the biggest desert in Europe that can also be seen from space, is situated in the Kherson region. It was named Oleshky Sands after the town Oleshky, located nearby (formerly Tsiurupynsk).
It stretches over 1,620 sq. km. The sandy massif consists of seven parts, each with its own unique natural and climatic features. Taking this into consideration, the total area of the desert is 2085 sq.km. Its length from north to south is 35 - 40 kilometres, and from west to east - up to 150 kilometres.
The territory is covered by sand dunes and barchans 5 meters high, formed as a result of wind effects.
Photos of Oleshky Sands
Each photo reflects the unsurpassed beauty of the area.
Ukrainian desert: history of Oleshky Sands
The history of Oleshky Desert is associated with a special landscape. In ancient times, the Dnipro bed was located on this territory. As a result of movement by huge continental ice massifs during the Ice Age, floodwaters receded and a million tons of sand washed away from the banks of the river. Due to such a process, the sandy landscape we now see was formed. Water flows also carried sludge, so the soil on the site of the ancient channel was fertile, which contributed to the appearance of steppe vegetation.
In the 18th-19th centuries, the local population was engaged in sheep farming. Including the Falts-Fein family, who founded Askania-Nova, the port of Khorly. Cattle ate the vegetation, thereby increasing the space for sand massifs. Wind erosion also contributed to spreading sand over the surface. Oleshky forestry was established in the 20th century to control the sand expansion, leading to active planting of pine forests.
During the Soviet times, a military training ground was located on the territory of Oleshky desert, where special trainings were conducted by countries participating in the Warsaw Pact. In 2010, by decree of President Yushchenko V.A., the Oleshky Sands National Park was established in the Kherson region in order to restore the steppe and water resources. Currently, a portion of the park remains at the disposal of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.
Where is Oleshky Sands on the map
Distance from Kherson can be covered in 40 minutes.
How to get to Oleshky Sands
The Ukrainian Sahara is located 45 km from the city of Kherson, near the regional center of Oleshky.
There are a couple of ways to get to the Oleshky desert:
- Train. You can get to Kherson from Kyiv or other Ukrainian cities. Next, take a bus Kherson - Radensk or Kherson - Velyki Kopani and then go to Oleshky or the Proletarka village. Buses depart from the central market and bus station every hour. After that, you can walk from Proletarka or Oleshky to the reserve, using a compass and/or Google Maps.
- Car. To get into the desert from Odesa and Mykolaiv by car, follow the Kherson - Dzhankoi bypass highway via Tsiurupynsk. Before reaching Radensk, after the “Zolotyi Fazan” café, turn left from the highway and drive about 2 km to the railway crossing until you reach the pine forest, next to which you can park your car. After walking about four km north through the forest, you will arrive at the Oleshky desert.
The nearest settlements are the Kopani village and the Nova Kakhovka town.
When is the best time to go
It is very hot in the Ukrainian desert during the summer season. In the afternoon, the temperature rises to 44 - 45°C, and the sand heats up to 70 - 75°C. Therefore, the best time for a trip is between the end of April and the beginning of June, when it is already warm and dry enough, but the heat isn’t sweltering. At this time, you can take a walk deep into the desert and, with any luck, see fields of blooming poppies among the barchanes sand dunes.
In early autumn, from September to early October, the nature park becomes an ideal place for meditation, solitude and romantic walks. Oleshky Desert is one of the few places in Ukraine that is reported to have a strong energy. Returning home after outdoor recreation, travelers may feel a huge surge of strength and energy from the fantastic time spent there.
What to bring with you
Those who go to the desert for a couple of hours should bring at least one liter of water and wet wipes to clean the hands and face. If you are going for several days, bring water supplies of at least five liters per person per day.
Oleshky Desert has a special climate. For an enjoyable trip, you will need:
- compass and map, so as not to get lost among the sand dunes and barchans;
- head cover, sunglasses and long-sleeve clothing to protect from the scorching sun;
- sunscreen with a high SPF;
- tent and warm jacket or sweatshirt for those who plan a camping trip with an overnight stay, because nights in the desert are chilly;
- comfortable, sturdy shoes: it is better to choose hiking sneakers with high lacing so that hot sand does not seep inside, otherwise, you can get blisters;
- camera, video camera or mobile phone and monopods for selfies to take beautiful photos in wild nature;
- power banks, because phones lose charge very quickly due to the fact that they are constantly searching for the network. There is a bad connection in the desert, which can be "caught" only at the top of the dunes.
For a camping trip, a first-aid kit and prescription drugs for people who take medication should not be forgotten. It’s better to replace perishable foods with a dry lunch that will not spoil or attract animals.
Outdoor activities in the Oleshky Sands National Nature Park
People come to the National Nature Park to meditate, arrange a photoshoot or switch off from their daily routine and everyday problems. Many devote time to outdoor activities. Employees of the reserve advise tourists to go to Oleshky Sands accompanied by an experienced instructor who will show the safest and most interesting places.
The following activities are available in the reserve:
- Ecotourism. Two circular hiking trails are organized in the reserve for lovers of ecotourism. One of them is called “On the Oleshky Desert.” The trail begins east of Radensk and goes for about 2, 2. km. The walk lasts two hours, along the route there are four comfortable places to relax under the trees. Another two paths are called "Birch Grove" and “Marvelous”.The rout lengths is about 2, 5 km. A ticket for adults costs 50 UAH. The group must include 12 people for the tour to take place; with fewer visitors the cost of the tour will be 600 UAH.
- A lot of people who want to test themselves and take an extreme survival course come to the reserve. They get uplifted by hiking in the desert and spending several nights in a tent, testing their skills. The night sky here is incredibly beautiful. Those who want to set up tents in the reserve should arrange in advance with the administration by phone (05542) 457-22 or by mobile phone (050) 013-49-44. The cost of pitching one tent is 42 UAH per day.