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Forest consumes the abandoned buildings in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Exclusion Zone. As scary as it sounds, every day tour buses arrive with groups of visitors keen to see in the flesh what the HBO TV show, Chernobyl, has portrayed on their screens. This guide to Chernobyl photos displays the aftermath of the explosion of Chernobyl’s reactor number four. On April 26th 1986, the world witnessed the worst nuclear disaster, resulting in an estimated 4000 related deaths.
Going to Kiev? Don’t miss our guide on things to do there
Chernobyl was a city located within the 300 km Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. It wasn’t actually the closest city to the nuclear power plant, Pripyat was.
However, its residents were still affected by the fallout. They were evacuated on the 28th of April, two days after the explosion, along with the other villages and towns.
The image below at Chernobyl’s main square shows all of the areas where people were forced to leave their homes.
To enter the Exclusion Zone you must visit with a tour leaving from Kiev, Ukraine’s capital.
This is the tour that I (Gemma) took with my friend Laura, who is a radiographer. You can read the full review here.
Tour groups go through a police check, with passports and permission forms, and also a checkpoint called Dytiatky.
Soldiers man the checkpoints so photographs are forbidden. Guests are given a dosage counter which is returned at the end of the tour. Bizarrely, there are some bad taste souvenirs on sale at the checkpoint.
Chernobyl Main Square
It is difficult to find a reliable source online regarding the name of the monument that sits at Chernobyl Square next to the signs of all the areas evacuated.
The Monument to Those Who Saved the World
A tribute to the firefighters who died and the Liquidators. These were the thousands of people who helped clean up the accident, risking their lives for others.
During the tour, we’re told that all personal items were either collected by residents two years after the explosion or removed by authorities. Any items you see are most likely photo props.
Chernobyl Power Plant
Chernobyl Power Plant Complex is located approximately 130 km from Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, and around 20 km south of the Belarus border.
It is at this location that the faulty reactor number four exploded during a test.
Today, there is a monument.
Please don’t take selfies. Remember 30 men died after the initial blast and it is estimated that 4000 people will die because of the consequences.
In this area, you can find the Chernobyl Cooling Pond. If you hire a Geiger counter you will see at this location the radiation levels soar.
With this one-day tour from Kiev, you dine alongside the power plant workers. To enter the plant you must go through a radiation check.
Pripyat was the closest city to the power plant. It is where many of its workers lived. Below is its famous sign.
Pripyat was a new city. The average age was 26 and many young families lived here. They enjoyed the best housing, parks and amenities. It was used as a Soviet showcase city.
On May 1st 1986, a massive Soviet celebration, the city planned to open a new fairground which people refer to as the Chernobyl amusement park, even though it is was not technically in Chernobyl.
Pripyat Ferris Wheel
This Ferris wheel is an iconic image of Chernobyl.
Our guide says it is used because it represents the failed dreams of the kids in Chernobyl.
Just over 450, 000 children are registered with the Ukrainian health ministry. None of them born during the disaster but suffer the long-term effects of the nuclear fallout.
The bumper cars at the amusement park, never used.
Derelict buildings surround the city’s main square. Trees take over. A Soviet sign buried, another rusts away.
This is the only original radiation sign in Chernobyl, our guide tells us. The likes of the sign at DUGA Radar System are just set up for photographs.
Pripyat Square Street Art
Street artists have moved into the Exclusion Zone. A handful of murals can be seen at the city’s main square.
Our guide shows us what the supermarket used to look like.
Pripyat Swimming Pool
Azure Swimming Pool (Sportyvna Street) was used in the computer game Call of Duty 4. Today the bottom floor is trashed, office desks lie scattered.
On the first floor, select tours visit the swimming pool and basketball court, discreetly.
At our own risk, we were allowed to enter an apartment block and climb the roof to see the true size of the city.
Due to the direction of the wind, the trees at the Red Forest turned orange. Liquidators cut them down and buried them.
This is said to be one of the most radioactive areas in the world. We were advised not to cross the road to take photos.
Other tour groups were allowed to walk up to the signs.
This image was taken using zoom.
Animals of Chernobyl
You’ll meet lots of dogs at Chernobyl. They are healthy looking as the staff feed them. It is advised not to pat them.
Dogs in the area were killed at Chernobyl after the disaster, just like in the HBO show.
Now there are charities set up to help find the Chernobyl puppies new homes, after radiation checks of course.
There are now over 200 species living here, going against the grain of what was forecasted in the 1980s.
I never saw any of the big animals such as brown bears or bison but I did see a fox.
Bizarrely, we never noticed any birds.
DUGA Radar aka Russian Woodpecker, a throwback from the Cold War. Below, a street artist mocks tourists playing Pokemon at Chernobyl. Pokemon appears again at the famous Ferris wheel.
Chernobyl tours leave daily from Kiev. They start early at around 07:30 and return 10-12 hours later.
If you’d prefer to stay in Chernobyl, there is a two-day tour which allows this.
Personalised tours can also be organised, at a premium rate.
You must take your passport with you to Chernobyl. Only visitors wearing long-sleeved tops, pants/trousers and closed-toe shoes will be permitted.
Do not touch anything in the Exclusion Zone, this includes putting tripods down on the ground.
It is advised to bring snacks as it is a long day. You cannot eat out in the open, only on the tour bus.
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