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Exploring Odessa
January 8, 2020 Max Burgess

Exploring Odessa - Kuyalnik Estuary

The desolate land by Valentyna Petrushenko

Posted in Rides

Kuyalnik nature reserve is an estuary located on the northwestern shores of the Black Sea, with an average depth of about 1m. The desert lands that surround the estuary, are rich in the unique flora and fauna.

Tourists rarely come here, locals prefer other vacation spots; even the small villages around the estuary are not accessible by public transport. The parched land, small islands in the middle of the salt desert, beautiful ravines and hundreds of perfect trails for gravel bikes.

Located only 20km from the city centre, yet with the feeling that you are on another planet.

The water has so much salt, it makes the Red Sea look like freshwater. In the hottest parts of the year, when the water is receding, the salt grows out of the ground, which looks like a mound of snow in the middle of a hot desert.

Salt was mined here until the end of 20th century. Posts line the deepest parts of the estuary and look like parts of an old pier. They are in fact used to soak up the salty water and as soon as the water layer dries, the salt remains.

“Kuyalnik” translates as “thick” and this is not without meaning. The estuary mud by the water edge is extremely viscous and sticky, there is always a big chance for a fall, but it’s always lots of fun!

Ride across the vastness of the desert, with single-tracks leading through the rough and reeds, climbing the short and sharp hills…

…from where you will be rewarded with fantastic, and sometimes ‘other-worldly’ views.

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Words by Valentyna Petrushenko

Photos by Iurii Makalis, Valentyna Petrushenko & Alex Koretsky

Riders: Valentyna & Alex