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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.