Askaniya Nova Reserve

Southern Ukraine

The 2300-hectare Askaniya Nova Reserve is a vast plain populated by roaming buffalo, playing deer and antelope, as well as sturdy, wild Przewalski horses and other exotic species. It was the brainchild of a 19th-century German settler who acted on his slightly mad idea of importing animals from different continents to this unique natural steppe.

In addition to the above-mentioned animals, there are zebras, camels, gnus, rare Central Asian saiga antelopes and all manner of birds, from pink flamingos to rare steppe eagles.

These animals live in incongruous harmony on what is Europe's largest remaining natural steppe. This is what the Ukraine of the Cossacks looked like – a parched, isolated, sprawling, yellow expanse. It evokes the central plains of Africa, and, as in Africa, the best way to see the animals is on a safari (150uah per person). If you can't get on a safari tour, Askaniya Nova is still of interest for its zoo, its botanic garden, and its austerely beautiful landscape.