|Oleshky Sands (Олешківські піски)|
Central part of Oleshky Sands in spring
|Name origin: Tsiurupynsk|
|Area||1,612 km2 (622 sq mi)|
|Former designation||Air Force bombing range|
Oleshky Sands (Ukrainian: Олешківські піски) is the largest expanse of sand in Ukraine. It is situated inland from the Ukrainian coast of the Black Sea and consists of sand dunes or kuchuhury (locally), which reach a height of five meters. Some sparse vegetation can be located across the sands.
The Oleshky Desert is located in Tsiurupynsk Raion, Kherson Oblast, 30 km (~20 mi) east of Kherson. The previous name of Tsiurupynsk was Oleshky. Before the Russian annexation of the Crimean Khanate at the end of the 18th century, the territory belonged to the nomad Nogai Hordes, particularly the Djambuilut Horde. No detailed historical information about the region has survived.
The closest populated settlement is seven kilometers away (~4.5 mi). In Soviet times the sands were used as an Air Force bombing range for pilots of the Warsaw Pact alliance. To this day there is a possibility of finding some unexploded ordnance.
Due to its temperature and the amount of precipitation these sands sometimes are qualified as a semi-desert. Oleshky Sands are 15 km in diameter (~10 mi) and they are surrounded by a very dense forest planted to prevent dunes moving. Due to its density, the forest often catches fire. Although a relatively small sandy steppe, the Oleshky Sands have sandstorms. They occur due to the type of the sand in the area as it is very fine and is easily picked up by a wind. The intensity of the sandstorms is rather weak. In the Oleshky sands at the depth of 300–400 m (~1000 ft) there is an underground lake, which forms an essential part of the local environment.
- Overview (Ukrainian), the official website of the Ukrainian Seven Wonders went down in 2010. Several files are missing including the one about the desert.
- Video footage of the desert, a video footage of the desert is provided by a blog-site of the local adventurers to familiarize the world with Ukraine.
- Desert, an excellent blog-site of Anna Stepankova with plenty of pictures and explanations. The problem might be with a language barrier as the site is in Russian, but the amount of pictures presented defeats that issue.
- Odessa Club of the extreme automobile touring, all pictures with vehicles driving across country areas.
- Oleshky Sands (Алешковские пески), more pictures of sand dunes.
- Three days through a forest, two - across fields (Russian) a travel story through the Oleshky Sands with pictures.
- Singing Sands by Vladimir Chivilikhin (Russian), a reflection story about the desert. Interviews with local scientists, historical research, other.
- An informational site about underground waters in the area (Russian)