Inside Pripyat – Visiting the exclusion zone of Chernobyl

Most people know about the Chernobyl tragedy which happened in 1986. Reactor 4 exploded and released a radiation cloud that covered most parts of Europe. Today, a lot of people still work to keep the radiation levels down.  The area is still uninhabited except for the workers who stay. Some people don’t know that you can visit the exclusion zone with permission. The only way to get this is by booking a tour. Is it dangerous? No, the radiation level in the exclusion zone is generally lower than in large cities. Worst case you get as much radiation as an X-ray. You get tested before leaving the exclusion zone.

The tour arranges your transport and your permit to the exclusion zone. The cheapest I could find on the web when I visited was go2chernobyl, which was about €70 per person. Keep in mind that you can’t book the tours last-minute, as they need to request the permit for you.

Me and a friend booked a tour in September 2016. We departed early in the morning. Our first stop was… the checkpoint of course.

We then proceeded to a kindergarten on the road.

We passed some offices where people come to work for 2 weeks. Afterwards they return home and stay for 2 week before returning to the exclusion zone again.

Next: A visit to the reactor. A new sarcophagus has been built and placed over the reactor since november 2016. We visited in September 2016 so we could still see the reactor.

Afterwards, we proceeded to Pripyat, the modern town close to the nuclear power plant. Pripyat was one of the most affected areas. The drive between the reactor and Pripyat was a road with forests on both sides. They named it the red forest, because after the accident the trees died and turned red. New trees started to grow and the place is now green again. The radiation was above normal on this road so we didn’t stop. At the statue of Pripyat the radiation dropped again.

There was a big school and a swimming pool in Pripyat.

We came across the famous amusement park of Pripyat.

This is an abandoned classroom in Pripyat.

This is the hall of the school. It looks like a scene from a horror movie…

We also entered a music class.

A random hall with thousands of gas masks in it…

Our last stop was at Duga. This over-the-horizon radar system was built during the Cold War and made a repetitive tapping noise on the radio and television which led to nickname this system the Russian Woodpecker. An Ukrainian guy made a conspiracy documentary about this huge project. He interviewed several people who were involved in the maintenance of the reactor and also workers of the Duga. He claims that the reactor was put in meltdown on purpose to cover up failures of the radar. There is no real evidence whether this is true or not.

We then proceeded back to Kiev. At the checkpoint of the exclusion zone we were tested for radiation.

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