Looking for activities to do in Odessa? This natural reserve is a place for authenticity and nature lovers. Ecotourism is yet underdeveloped but if you are an adventurous traveler you will find yourself thrilled in this place.
If you are looking for nature and authenticity, do not hesitate to go to Ukraine – it would definitely be up your alley. Denis is of Ukrainian origin so we have had the opportunity and privilege to have been able to travel to Ukraine regularly and to enjoy places such as the Dniestr Canyon often visited only by locals and tourists from Russian speaking countries. Be aware that English is not particularly practical if you want to visit this national park, be prepared to not find any English of French speaking guide. That said, you can always find a guide in Odessa who will accept to do the translation during your visit to the park.
How to reach the national park Nizhnednistrovsky of Dniester Delta from Odessa in Ukraine?
You have to drive for approximately 40 km from Odessa – you can rent a car there or if you are more the adventurous type you can take a minibus called “malchoutka” that stops next to Mayaki. Once you arrive, you will most certainly have the impression that you are lost in the middle of nowhere. And that will most definitely be the case, especially if you don’t know how to read Russian or Ukrainian! To visit the park by boat you will need to find the tourist center inside the park. It’s probably better to contact them beforehand either via phone or via email. We strongly advise you to do it via email since they don’t speak very good English. Either way, ask for the Park and the Tourist Centre – in Russian these are pronounced ‘’park’’ and ‘’touristki tzenteur”.
The National Park Nizhnednistrovsky is a protected area, a natural national park in Ukraine situated in the lower part of the Dniestr river. It is located within the boundaries of the districts Bilhorod-Dnistrovsky, Bilyaivsky and Ovidiopolsky in the Odessa region. The park was founded on the 13th November 2008 by decree of the Ukrainian president. This national park is one of the 10 most important national parks in Ukraine.
The best way to visit the park is by boat that the guide from the local tourist office will drive. He will guide you and explain everything in detail: the challenges of developing tourism in this region and the fact that the local government receives bottles of wine in order to authorize rich Ukrainians and Russians to build their “Dacia”s which are vacation homes, sometimes in protected areas. Obviously, the guide does not speak English but if you plan your visit in advance you should ask a tourism agency for translation services.
Incredible fauna and flora on the “white” lake or Bile Lake
The visit lasts around 3 to 5 hours. You will notice the numerous picnic areas in the park since it is quite common to fish in the Dniestr, the main river in Ukraine and the most important ecologically since it flows into the Black Sea.
If you happen to go in May, you will have the chance to see the blooming of water lilies whose flowers are white. Therefore, the lake is nicknamed the white lake – it is truly a magical spectacle.
The park gained national status in 2008 due to its significance for the local biodiversity. Its location is truly unique since it is situated between the Dniestr and the Black Sea. The whole area of the Dniestr Park is a swampy area filled with life. You will be able to notice rare bird species such as the ibis, giant pelicans, but also herons and cormorants. The flora is also very rich, with flower species such as white water lilies, calta palustres or aquatic nymphoids.
The Dniestr Delta; endangered because of corruption
However since the park is not protected, its territory is being constantly reduced. And the park authorities, which boil down to Ivan and 2 other volunteers, have a hard time stopping the fishing boats that come to fish illegally, or the wine bribes that lead to the destruction of the protected areas of the park in order to build secondary homes.
The ibis, an extremely rare bird, symbol of the park, has not been seen for some years already. Ivan told us that he is certain that the ibis has disappeared from the area but nobody reacts to such news. This mystical, majestic bird was victim of the destruction of its habitat, of the hunting and the fishing. And this will not stop if ecotourism doesn’t pick up in the region – the park will simply be at risk of completely disappearing.
We alone, as tourists hungry for natural, untouched spots, could enable that this place is restored and protected. What is more who wouldn’t enjoy a 3-4 hour boat ride on the calm waters of the Dniestr with a nice picnic basket (that you need to bring yourselves) while listening to soothing bird songs, all this for under 10 euros? Go for it!
For more information, please visit the official website and use Google Translate!: http://nnpp.org.ua
And the email of the tourist office: firstname.lastname@example.org. An ecotourism accommodation project was launched in 2016 when we visited the park. Today it must be finished, you can stay there at night, enjoying the sunset on the Dniester and wake up to singing birds.