Kiev, Ukraine. Arriving on Friday afternoon we had to make the most of our short day in the capital as our time here was limited due to the tour of Chernobyl we had planned for the following day. First impressions of Kiev were very good, lots of character and impressive churches all over with their distinctive gold domed roofs.
What you notice everywhere is the abundance of street art around the city and just as the sun was setting and on our way back to our hotel we walked through “Landscape Alley” which not only had wonderful views over the buildings and river but exhibits a wide variety of quirky modern art sculptures and installations. A fantastic way to end our first day.
An early start the next morning to meet our tour group and start the hour and a half journey to the first border checkpoint at the 30km exclusion zone of Chernobyl. With passports checked and mandatory dosimeters round our necks we were clear to enter! Everything is completely safe, the radiation level was actually slightly lower than we found in Kiev city centre. The tour was fantastic, we started with short walks around some smaller villages close to the checkpoint and not long after we crossed the second barrier at the 10km point and were soon standing face to face with the reactor building which is now covered in a gigantic steel dome protecting us from the harmful rays!
The tour carried on to Pripyat which was the model soviet union town built specifically for the workers of the plant located 3km away from the reactors. It was the first place to be completely evacuated following the disaster where residents were told they would be allowed to return in 3 days or so. They were never allowed back. We visited supermarkets, leisure centres, apartment buildings and most harrowing of all the unused amusement park with the infamous Ferris wheel slowly turning in the breeze.
The tour concluded with a stop off at Chernobyl 2, the top secret Soviet Union military base which is home to a 250 metre wide and 150 metre tall Duga Radar nicknamed the Russian Woodpecker. It was built in secret to detect any threat of american missiles but didn’t seem to be very effective and after only a few years with better technology becoming available it was turned off and sits here abandoned.
We had a half day back in Kiev before travelling home, check out all of my photos from our trip below.