The Tunnel of Love

Klevan is a little village of rural Ukraine, 25km northwest of the city of Rivne. Apart from a couple of churches and a tower and several buildings in ruins, the small agricultural settlement has incredibly little to see or visit. The geography in this oblast, which is a word in Ukranian for province, is mostly rolling plains, with forests occupying about 34 percent of the region’s territory. Wisents, a European bison, used to populate these woods. Unlike their American cousins, who live on the open grasslands, the wisent is a woodland animal. There are not many of these magnificent animals left today in Ukraine, though. Political and economical crisis, unpunished poaching, degradation of the environment and improper game management are some of the reasons for the decline of wisent numbers in Western Ukraine, despite being a protected species.

Wildlife here also includes wolf, wild boar, elk, marten, squirrel, muskrat and raccoon dog. Crops grown in the plains surrounded by these forests include winter wheat, rye, legumes, oats, melons and potatoes. There is also lumbering in the area.

To the north of the village, there is a private railway, that serves a fibreboard factory. Trains only pass three times per day to deliver wood. Part of the track -a three-kilometer section of it- has vegetation that has almost completely enclosed it. Were it not for the train passing, plants would have probably already reclaimed the tracks. The result is the most unique of places, one that seems taken from a fairy tale or a Tim Burton film. Young couples come here to make a wish. It is known as the Tunnel of Love, and people believe that if they are sincere their love will come true.