I gathered my party and ventured forth. The party was me, Sofia and Igor the guide. It took 2 hours of driving before we finally reached Chernobyl prospect and yet some more time until we reached the first checkpoint for the exclusive zone, or just “the zone” as we stalkers call it. Ok, just kidding Maria.
The first checkpoint was a quick stop and then we proceeded into the zone. At first it was nothing special, everything looked normal except for the road which got worse and worse but still nothing out of the ordinary. Until Igor pulled over and pointed to the trees in the side of the road and said: Behind these trees lies a village called “Hidden in the woods” (ironically it was hidden by the woods, although for other reasons than the villagers probably named their village).
Next stop was in Chernobyl town which is NOT abandoned. About 3000 people live and work here and most of them seem to work with the new “cover” for reactor 4 since the sarcofagus is calculated to last only 30 years. After a quick stop in this town for some paperwork (for the guide) and some walking around for us we proceeded to the next checkpoint at the 10km zone. At this point we had had no signs of radioactivity except for the ground under a tree at an kindergarden.
Continuing beyound this checkpoint eventually lead us within just a couple of hundred meters from the collapsed reactor 4. Here the geiger made an awfull lot of sounds and the display showed really high numbers of both beta and gamma radiation. I don’t know if it was just my imagination or if it was the malfunctioned reactor 4 that was beaming it’s deadly radiation at me but I felt warmer in the face despite the cold rain falling from a steel grey sky. Having had enough of the reactor and it’s sarcofagus, the new shelter and some ukranian policemen and workers laughing at us dumb visitors we continued towards what in my eyes was the main attraction: Pripyat.
But first another checkpoint. Then we could enter the town of Pripyat, home of 58000 people and almost more famous than the power plant itself for being the town that was “abandoned over night”. To clear things up, Chernobyl is the area that gave name to the nuclear plant, Pripyat is the town. What we saw and felt in Pripyat I cannot really describe here and you will have to wait for the pictures (which I will upload as soon as I get home). This is a place you will need to experience to fully understand.
One of the perks with a private tour is that the guides will show you the more unaccessible things and places. I’ll let the pictures speak for themself once uploaded.
After Pripyat it was time for “lunch” at 3:45pm. We got ourselfs a steady meal of what I believe is traditional ukranian food in one of the canteens in Chernobyl town. I guess you wonder by now about our radiation levels? Well, we passed the radiation check and the levels of radiations we were exposed to are way below the amount of radiation you recieve in an aircraft for exampel. The guide said that taking 1 x-ray of your torso at an hospital equals 100 days in Chernobyl. Maybe it’s true, maybe not but I doubt the ukrainian government would let visitors get there if everyone would grow an extra limb or die of radiation damages.
After the lunch/dinner we headed back to Kiev and the hotel where I have enjoyed my eleventh toe on my left foot and Sofia has been combing her newly grown chest hair. Over and out for today.