Chernobyl and Pripyat zone trip to Ukraine :: Information, photos

72 hours in Pripyat & Chernobyl zone

I love to visit abandoned places and Urban Exploration, so when I first heard about the possibility to visit Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, I knew one day I will visit it. This is my relation from my 72 hours trip to the city of Pripyat and the surrounding villages.

Chernobyl disaster
Chernobyl disaster: Statue near the nuclear plant.

The Chernobyl Disaster

Early of 26th April 1986, just another routine experiment in the fourth reactor went wrong, leading to the radiation breach equivalent to four hundred Hiroshima explosions.

For the attention of the residents of Pripyat! The City Council informs you that due to the accident at Chernobyl Power Station in the city of Pripyat the radioactive conditions in the vicinity are deteriorating. The Communist Party, its officials, and the armed forces are taking necessary steps to combat this. Nevertheless, with the view to keep people as safe and healthy as possible, the children being the top priority, we need to temporarily evacuate the citizens in the nearest towns of Kiev Oblast...

Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant
Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant: new sarcophagus. Planned completion date was stated as November 2017.

That day there was an experiment which was designed to get the information how long the support system of Chernobyl nuclear power plant would last after main power disable. Unfortunately, lack of people's training and poor system design led to a huge mistake. Automatic shut down mechanisms were disabled (for the test), so when te power surge occurred, there was no way to calm everything down. Reactor core exploded.

Some of the team died instantly, others died soon of acute radiation sickness. Same happened to the firefighter teams that arrived to help, most of them started to complain about the metallic taste in their mouth and died soon. Authorities soon realized the scale of the disaster and they sent automatic-controlled bulldozers without humans inside. Unfortunately, their electronics started to scramble by radiation, so at the end, it had to be people to go there and clear the bulk of the waste.

The core of the reactor was burning until 10th of May when people finally sealed it using more than 5000 metric tons of lead, clay, sand and neutron absorbing boric acid (which was dropped from helicopters). Later the sarcophagus made of iron was built and installed over the core and now the new one is built.  Planned completion date was stated as November 2017.

What to take to Chernobyl and Pripyat
My hand with a Geiger counter in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

Is it safe to visit Chernobyl and Pripyat today?

There are some rules you should follow, but yes, it is safe to have a trip to Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. The rules are easy, and if you will follow them, you should not receive a daily radiation that is bigger that you receive durin1-hour flight or 1/160 of a chest x-ray. So make sure you:

  • Follow group leader - he knows the best routes for you.
  • Try not to walk on the high grass and do not sit on the ground - there still can be some radiation on the grass or in the ground holes.
  • Try to not touch buildings, trees etc. - try to not touch anything if possible.
  • Wear appropriate - wear long trousers and long socks, avoid open footwear.
  • Try to not drink or eat in the open air - to make sure any of the radiation will get to your inside.
  • Do not eat anything that you didn't take with yourself - do not pick any mushrooms, berries etc.
  • Do not take anything with you - even a small rock in the zone can be radiated.
  • Measure radiation - if you will receive a Geiger counter, make sure to measure radiation before you go to the building or before you will leave it.
Pripyat Hospital
Pripyat Hospital

Trip organization

All tours to the Pripyat are organized and guided, you cannot go there on your own. All tours depart from Kiev, and the Chernobyl Zone is about 5 hours drive from there.

What to take with you?

There are some things you should pack for the trip. Make sure to take long trousers, long socks and some kind of trekking shoes. This should be clothes that you should be able to throw away easily. The more you will cover yourself, the more safety you will be.

Duga control center in Chernobyl
Duga control center in Chernobyl

Take also a flashlight, as you will probably get inside some dark buildings. If you have or can afford, you can buy Geiger counter (ask firstly if you won't receive one from your tour guide). You should probably take also a photo camera with you because there will be a lot of awesome places.

Additional information

Some other information you can find useful.

  • The most common trips to Chernobyl lasts 1 to 3 days inside Exclusion Zone. As far as I know longer trips are sometimes also available.
  • You must have 18 years old or more to go to Chernobyl.
  • You can fly your drone in Prypiat, it's also safe to take a tripod.
  • Since 2012 you are not forbidden to go inside the buildings, but you will probably do this with your tour guide despite it.
  • You will probably spend the nights in the newly reconstructed hotel in Chernobyl city where all the workers of the zone live (there is an internet connection there).
Duga 3 Radar, Chernobyl
Me on Duga radar, Chernobyl.

Duga radar

It was the Soviet Union OTH (Over The Horizon) radar system used as a part of the early-warning network. It was used from 1976 and stopped working after Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Located in the forests surrounding Chernobyl, but visible from miles.

Called also The Russian Woodpecker or The Steel Yard, Duga-3 was extremely powerful, over 10 MW in some cases, and broadcast in the shortwave radio bands. The Soviet Union was using Duga system to early inform about any objects (rockets or airplanes) flying towards them.

If you will want to climb Duga (it's not legal, but sometimes tour guides allow you to do this) prepare for a heavy effort - it's a long way up.

Pripyat

Pripyat town is named after the nearby river with the same name and it's an abandoned ghost town in northern Ukraine, near the border with Belarus. It was founded in 1970 as the ninth nuclear city in the Soviet Union and has more than 49 000 population just before Chernobyl disaster.

I decided to mostly show you here my photos from abandoned places across the Pripyat town, as it describes it better than the words.

Pripyat hospital room
Hospital room in Chernobyl
Pripyat cafe in Chernobyl
This is the town's cafe
School gym in Pripyat, Chernobyl
School gym
Pripyat PKS Station
Bus Station
Pripyat music school
The Pripyat's music school
Outside view of a factory in Pripyat
One of the factories in Pripyat
Pripyat factory
Same factory as above, but inside.
Seat of the political party, Pripyat
Seat of the main Soviet Union's political party in Pripyat
Abandoned hotel in Pripyat
Abandoned hotel in Pripyat - there is an awesome view of the city.
Amusement park in Pripyat
Amusement park
Pripyat ferries wheel, Chernobyl
Pripyat ferries wheel, the icon of Chernobyl
Pripyat gas masks in school
Gas masks in school
Kindergarten in Pripyat, Chernobyl
Kindergarten in Pripyat, Chernobyl
Skyscrapers in Pripyat, Chernobyl
View from the one of Pripyat's skyscrapers roofs. You can see Chernobyl Power Plant from here. 
Swimming pool in Pripyat, Chernobyl
Swimming pool in Pripyat, Chernobyl

There are so many different interesting places in the city of Pripyat. I have tons of photos and it was really hard to choose the ones to show you here. Hope you enjoyed it and if you have any questions about Pripyat town itself, you can always ask me in the comments section below.

Villages near Chernobyl

Chernobyl is not only Pripyat but also many different small villages or farms. We had a quick tour through the most interesting ones, and here are some pictures I took.

Chernobyl villages
Chernobyl villages
Chernobyl farms
Chernobyl farms
Abandoned buses in Chernobyl
Abandoned buses
One of the farms near Chernobyl
One of the farms near Chernobyl

Other places

While visiting Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, if you have some more time, it's also good to visit few other interesting places you can find there.

Cooling tower

One of the half-finished cooling towers, which lays 2.5 kilometers away from the Chernobyl Disaster. The plan was to build an even bigger nuclear plant here, but it all fails after the explosion.

Chernobyl cooling tower
Chernobyl half-finished cooling tower
Inside of the cooling tower in Chernobyl
Inside of the cooling tower

Flooded barges

Near the Pripyat river, you can also find some flooded barges, dead fishes all across the coastline and many other interesting things.

Flooded barges, Chernobyl
Flooded barges, Chernobyl
Dead fished in the coast of Pripyat river
Dead fished in the coast of Pripyat river

Military unit with rocket bunker

We also found in the forest an abandoned military unit with an awesome rocket bunker, but I have no idea where that was and ever our tour guide said that he was there a first time.

Chernobyl military unit
Chernobyl military unit
Chernobyl rocket bunker
Rocket bunker

Holiday resort

This is the much more popular place where a lot of tours come. This woodland holiday resort was the place where Chernobyl workers used to come to rest, but also many other people from all Soviet Union, especially from Kiev.

Holiday resort, Chernobyl
Holiday resort, Chernobyl

I have many more pictures (like hundreds), but if I would like to show you all of them, you will probably get tired of watching. I tried to show as much of different places as I could. If you are interested about more abandoned places, feel free to see my other page called Into the Shadows.

Chernobyl gripper
Chernobyl gripper that has been used to bury the reactor after its explosion.

Conclusion

You can say a lot of things about the trip to Chernobyl, but you cannot say it's boring. If you like abandoned places, you are a photographer or just want to feel like inside the catastrophic movie, this place is perfect to visit.

I was there for 72 hours, wandering through this lost world as fast as I could to see as much as possible, but still, I only scratched the surface of Pripyat and its surroundings.

This is undoubtedly an adventure that will keep you in mind for a very long time.


4.78 | 9 votes

Comments: 13

  •   5th April 2017, 08:59

    Wonderful photos mate, the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is a fantastic place to visit! I hope one day I will be able to get there, although its very far from the USA...

    •   5th April 2017, 16:26

      Thank you, glad you like it, I did my best. You are right, theres a big cost of airline tickets to Kiev, but this will be your main expense, as the Ukraine is very cheap :-) Hope you will get there some day, this is an awesome trip, really!

  •   13th April 2017, 10:54

    I always dreamed about the trip to Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, hope one day I will have enough strong will to go there.. :-) Awesome photos!

  •   15th April 2017, 11:37

    Your photos of Chernobyl are awesome, I;ve never seen so good abandoned places. Brave move ;) George.

  •   20th April 2017, 17:15

    Very good text and excellent photos! I hope that you are still going to surprise us these records, as this expedition to Chernobyl :-) Really great! This text was translated automatically. Original text is below: Bardzo dobry tekst i świetne zdjęcia! Mam nadzieję, że jeszcze nas zaskoczysz takimi wpisami jak ta wyprawa do Czarnobyla :-) Naprawdę mega!

  •   13th August 2017, 12:08

    This place for many years causes my delight, as, indeed, and other objects urbexowe. I am impressed by how many managed to capture...as soon as, and can be up to 72 hours, during which a freak would leave :D Not sadziłam that the legitimate tour can lead to so many interesting objects, because Peter, I really liked a lot of Amateur videos on YOUTUBE and study of the buildings is extremely interesting, however, what I've seen here are equally nice. This text was translated automatically. Original text is below: To miejsce od lat budzi mój zachwyt, podobnie zresztą jak inne obiekty urbexowe. Jestem pod wrażeniem jak dużo udało się uchwycić...niby tylko, a może aż 72 godziny, za które niejeden freak oddałby urlop :D Nie sadziłam, że legalna wycieczka może zaprowadzić do tylu ciekawych obiektów, bo naoglądałam się wielu amatorskich filmików na YT i eksploracja budynków jest ogromnie ciekawa, jednak to, co zobaczyłam tutaj jest równie satysfakcjonujące.

  •   8th September 2017, 09:30

    You can find out what is the price of the trip? Was it arranged through any office? This text was translated automatically. Original text is below: Można wiedzieć jaki był koszt wyprawy? Czy była ona organizowana przez jakieś biuro?

    •   8th September 2017, 10:22

      Sylvia, the cost of such an expedition is about 1400zł any there your expenses along the way. Travel Desk which I used is Alina Tour, although I recommend to have a look around, because these companies are more, I just got to share, which probably has not. In General it is very hard to get into Chernobyl without Agency, to my knowledge, it requires a break through mass papierologii and permissions. This text was translated automatically. Original text is below: Sylwio, koszt takiej wyprawy to mniej więcej 1400zł + jakieś tam swoje wydatki po drodze. Biuro podróży z którego ja korzystałem to Aliena Tours, aczkolwiek polecam rozejrzeć się bo tych firm jest kilka, ja akurat trafiłem na promocję, której już pewnie nie ma. Ogólnie bardzo ciężko dostać się do Czarnobyla bez biura podróży, na ile mi wiadomo wymaga to przedarcia się przez masę papierologii i pozwoleń.

  •   20th March 2018, 14:56

    Interesting post. This text was translated automatically. Original text is below: Ciekawy post.

  •   24th March 2018, 03:18

    Having read this I thought it was rather informative. I appreciate you taking the time and effort to put this information together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

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