This unique town - the gem of the lower Danube River - is located on the border of Ukraine and Romania at the picturesque confluence of the Danube and the Black Sea. At this place, one of the most beautiful rivers in Europe breaks into several branches that form a sort of fork. It is from here that the village gets its name (‘vilka’ means ‘fork’ in Russian) given to the city by Russians and runaway Cossacks, who were the first to settle in these lands.
Due to the many waterways that take up almost half of the town, Vilkovo was nicknamed the ‘Ukrainian Venice.’ Unique boats, Ukrainian versions of gondolas, can be seen here much more often than cars. Vilkovo is a quiet, cozy town, hiding on the banks of the Danube. It is made up of dozens of picturesque man-made islands, formed out of silt and clay, that are surrounded by fabulously beautiful gulfs and backwaters.
Vilkovo is called the town of fishermen and winemakers. The latter grow here a unique grade of grapes – the ‘novak' – from which the delicious eponymous wine is made. The wine makes for a fantastic souvenir to bring home to friends and relatives! The locals also like to treat the town’s guests with amazing herbal tea from wooden samovars.
But Vilkovo’s main attraction is the Danube bioreserve, which takes up almost 50 thousand hectares and is considered to be the biggest swampland reserve in Europe! The Romanian part of the reserve is included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Protected here are hundreds of species of rare plants, exotic animals, and fish, many of which are on Ukraine’s endangered species list. However, birds are as the reserve's main inhabitants, as the primeval nature of the preserve creates a real paradise for them. You may see here fantastically beautiful European white pelicans, geese, and white-tailed sea eagles. The so called ‘zero kilometer,’ where the Danube flows into the Black Sea, is also on the territory of the reserve.
Danube biosphere reserve’s administration is located in Vilkovo (ul. Tatarbunarskogo Vosstania, 132-a; tel:3-11-95; 9 a.m. - 5.30 p.m.; e-mail: email@example.com). There, you may book a tour around the reserve or get information about local tourist agencies that organize trips to Vilkovo.
It is best to book tours to Vilkovo ahead the time, especially if you plan your visit on the weekend. Two tourist agencies specialize on such excursions: «Vilkovo-Tour» (in Vilkovo: ul. Pogranichnaya, 10/11, tel.: 3-21-59, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; in Odesa: pl. Vera Kholodnoi, 1, tel.: 799-89-17, e-mail:email@example.com) and «Vilkovo-Pelican-Tour» (in Vilkovo: ul. Belgorodsky kanal, 56-а, tel.: 3-25-88, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; in Odesa: ul. Gogolya, 8, tel.: 777-12-05, e-mail: email@example.com)
The cost of tours at both agencies is about the same. One-day excursion will cost you from 160 UAH going from Vilkovo and from 300 UAH, if you go from Odesa (per person). The service of the English-speaking guide will cost around 100 UAH per hour, and escort by an ornithologist, who speaks English, will be much more expensive.
Important! Some Odesa tourist agencies raise the price of excursions - the cost may go up to 1200 UAH including transportation, boat tour of the channel and breakfast. If you join a group, you may save 300 UAH. Such trips usually include overnight stay in Vilkovo.