Exploring Chernobyl's Exclusion Zone

Posted by Crooked Compass

Chernobyl deserves its own blog post. One of the most fascinating places I have visited. Famed for the worlds most tragic nuclear disaster in April 1986, travellers on our Ukraine Untouched small group tour have the opportunity to explore the exclusion zone which I personally describe as bitter sweet.

Chernobyl Exclusion Zone
Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Photo credit: Crooked Compass

Overgrown in a tangle of wild jungle, the mood is eerie. Items of personal belongings randomly catch your eye as you try not to trip on twisted tree roots. Rusty child bikes, the odd shoe or leather couch poke through the wasteland. Walking through abandoned homes, left deserted with no notice, stirs up curiosity and an explainable emotion as to what these people must have felt as they fled in fear of their lives leaving EVERYTHING behind.

Exploring a pre school in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone
Exploring a pre school in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Photo credit: Crooked Compass

Decaying floor boards, oxidised radiators and sagging ceilings. Damp book shelves, leather handbags that have hardened from the elements and milk bottles lay scattered and sometimes posed.

Entering a home in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone still littered with newspapers from days before the accident.
Entering a home in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone still littered with newspapers from days before the accident. Photo credit: Crooked Compass

As you creak through these dwellings, imagining people fleeing for their lives after receiving confusing information as radiation filled the air, this is something I cannot truly process. This is a frozen soviet time capsule.

Childrens toys found in the tangle of wild jungle. Photo credit: Crooked Compass
Children's toys found in the tangle of wild jungle. Photo credit: Crooked Compass

Sadly, most places visited have been heavily looted. There was both an eerie, tragic and fascinating vibe to this ghost region. The building structures still standing in former soviet glory of boxy drab soulless buildings headed with Literaturnaya fonted signage.

Inside the Periyat supermarket
Inside the Periyat supermarket. Photo credit: Crooked Compass

Although this was a disaster, as with any negative experience, it is the learnings and development as a result of such an event that must now be looked at.

Basketball court. Photo credit: Crooked Compass
Basketball court. Photo credit: Crooked Compass

There is a positive side of Chernobyl which is often not shared. The the feat of human engineering surrounding the stainless steel dome that took 30 yrs in the planning and 6 years to build. 'What am I talking about' I hear you ask? Exactly. Hidden from much of the media world, two years ago this stainless steel dome was slid over the reactor number 4 to contain the radiation is an incredible piece of architecture. This impressive silver dome is now airtight with radiation levels too high for human access. Later this year, robots will start to deconstruct the contaminated reactor.

The Dome which now covers the reactor. Photo credit: Crooked Compass
The Dome which now covers the reactor. Photo credit: Crooked Compass

The 30km exclusion zone surrounding Chernobyl is said to be uninhabitable for the next 25,000 years, yet a handful of people have chosen to resettle in this area.

Skyline of the town of Prepiyat. Photo credit: Crooked Compass
Skyline of the abandoned town of Prepiyat. Photo credit: Crooked Compass

The town of Chernobyl itself has had a handful of its original inhabitants who have returned to their 'home' where they now live inside the exclusion zone. There is also a post office which is still in operation 2 days a week - Tues and Thurs. Within the exclusion zone, there are 168 abandoned villages.

A memorial dedicated to all 168 villages which are now abandoned. Photo credit: Crooked Compass
A memorial dedicated to all 168 villages which were abandoned at the time of the accident. Photo credit: Crooked Compass

The eerie photos of the theme park, which most people have seen on social media, have their own story. This theme park was never used. Set to open on 1st May, the incident happened on 26/27th April, only a few days before its official opening.

The theme park that was never used. Photo credit: Crooked Compass
The theme park that was never used. Photo credit: Crooked Compass

These rides have never been used adding further tragedy to a fascinating story. A truly incredible place to explore.

If you wish to explore Chernobyl, you can find more information about joining our Ukraine Untouched small group tour here. Make this experience yours.