It’s been a little while since I’ve posted a blog, so I thought I’d kick off 2019 with a post about my impromptu visit to the Ukraine.
The trip would include an exhausting full day itinerary around the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, known officially as, “The Chernobyl Power Plant Zone of Alienation”, a 30km radius surrounding the Chernobyl Power Plant, the site of the 1986 disaster.
and would take us to number of interesting sites within the 30km radius which surrounds the Chernobyl Power Plant.
After meeting the tour operators in central Kiev at an unearthly hour in the freezing cold we boarded our coach. We were informed that we wouldn’t be home until late that evening as our Geiger Counters enabling us to measure any potential toxic areas, were handed to us.
I could go on to badly explain how the disaster itself occurred, although I feel it’s best left to the BBC.
After the first checkpoint on the edge of the Exclusion Zone we arrived at the the abandoned village of Zalissya - complete with a hospital, general store and a school, all displaying eerie signs of habitation.
Kopachi Kindergarten School
Our next stop was the village of Kopachi. The local primary school is a favourite spot for photographers on the tour. Many of their children’s former belongings had clearly been repositioned to make more interesting photo opportunities.
Most of our time exploring the Exclusion Zone was spent in Pripyat. We’d be there for two hours or so, walking around and learning about how the now derelict ghost town once operated as a satellite to serve the local power plant. Unfortunately due to safety reasons we weren’t allowed inside any of the buildings, which was a real blow considering how great the images would have been from some of the rooftops.
Pripyat Amusement Park
Remarkably the main of occupation the Pripyat Amusement Park was as a landing pad for helicopters to fly in and out of the area during the evacuation and clean-up operation. Opened in the May of 1986 it was in April when the disaster happened. I found it interesting how the attractions looked very similar to the ones we see in British seaside resorts today.
The Duga Radar is one of two monstrous over-the-horizon radar systems developed by the Soviet Union as an early warning detection against any potential nuclear threat. It works by deflecting radar signals over the horizon.
As the light began to fade and the weather grew much colder, we disembarked the coach for the last time to visit a monument in Chernobyl to all the firemen who assisted in trying to control the fallout after the initial explosion. Our guides provided a chilling but inspirational account of their heroism and how they rushed to provide aid in an environment they didn’t know was highly radioactive. A plaque on the monument read, “To those who saved the world.”