Friday, August 27, 2010

Dnepr River surprise

The beauty of the Dnepr River was one of the surprises of Ukraine. I had expected the Dnepr would be similar ro large rivers in Western Europe, crowded with freighters and barges and its banks lined with port facilities, factories and other eyesores. Instead, in many places the Dnepr resembled the peaceful river of Wind in the Willows--banks lined with cattails and grasses, a few small fishing boats, nothing visible ashore except trees or the occasional house.

I did spor some factories in the distance in certain spots, especially around Dnepropetrovsk. Ukranian law prohibits building on the river banks, and the economic crisis has reduced commercial river traffic to near zero. During five days on the river, I saw only one or two large barges. Not good for the economy of Ukraine, but a boon for river passengers.

The Dnepr is as wide as the upper reaches of the St. Lawrence in places, with no banks visible on either side. It also boasts a number of locks, including one that measures 100 metres and is, they told us, the second lowest lock in the world, with the lowest being in Khazakhstan. Altogether, a very scenic and interesting river for cruising.


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