Chernobyl: Remember to check your Geiger counter!
On vacation to Afghanistan. It sounds a bit crazy to many people. But Afghanistan has been a crossroads of different cultures for centuries. It was an important stopping place for travellers along the Silk Road. And that is still reflected in today’s culture and traditions. During a trip through Afghanistan, you will look beyond the hectic contemporary world and experience a beautiful country with a rich cultural history. In addition, you will be hospitably received by a curious people who are open to contact with the rest of the world.
Name: Chernobyl and Pripyat
Part of: Ukraine
Population: approximately 690
Surface area: 2,600 km²
Neighbouring country: Belarus
Chernobyl is the place that gave the name to the nuclear disaster, but actually a visit to the region revolves mainly around the abandoned city of Pripyat. This city was built for employees of the Nuclear plant and was a model city for the Soviet Union. Here you will find the famous ferris wheel, the bumper cars and the Palace of Culture. Most buildings are completely overgrown by nature. This has made it a very photogenic place, despite its tragic history.
Samosely: the laggards
Tourists can only enter the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone with a guide and special permission. The Ukrainian government is keeping the area closed off and people are not allowed to settle there. The few people who still live there are workers who work in and around the plant and the so-called Samosely (self- settlers). They live in the area around Chernobyl and have remained the area despite all warnings. You can visit them on special request and learn more about their life in isolation.
Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant
As you get closer to Pripyat, you will see the nuclear power plant looming on the horizon. Originally there would be six reactors, but reactors 5 and 6 have never been finished after the nuclear disaster at reactor 4. A new sarcophagus has now been placed over the old reactor. Despite that, there is still a lot of activity around the reactors. Namely, nuclear fuel is still active at reactors 1, 2 and 3, which must be constantly monitored. You will encounter many employees in the company canteen of the nuclear power plant.
Near Chernobyl you will find a large radar system installed in the heyday of the Cold War. This radar system was built to monitor the launch of nuclear-powered intercontinental missiles (ICBMs). With this radar system, they were able to forward this information to senior officials in Moscow within minutes. Due to the nuclear disaster, Duga 3 was situated too close to the disaster area, so it was decided not to use the radar system anymore. Nowadays you can walk around here and enter all buildings.
On April 26, 1986, one of the greatest nuclear disasters in history occurred. The core of reactor 4 exploded after a test got out of hand. After the disaster, a 30km shutdown zone was established around the plant and all people had to evacuate from the area. This meant, among other things, that the towns of Chernobyl and Pripyat were completely abandoned.
Model Town Pripyat
Pripyat was a Soviet model city that was to become the centre of the region. It turned out differently. The plant still radiates. In 2016, after more than 20 years, a new sarcophagus was placed around the broken reactor. Officially, certain areas around Chernobyl are habitable again. However, the Ukrainian government does not want to have people living there. The official reason for this has not yet been given, but we suspect it has more to do with the area’s touristic value.