Kyiv and Chernobyl Tour 03/05/13 - 06/05/13 (Part 2)

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May 10th 2013
Published: May 18th 2013
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Dan's movie trailer he made... worth a few yucks


It was here, finally. A journey over a year in the making. An idea born out of a flippant comment and in less than 12 hours, it would be done and dusted. We hoped it would be worth it.

Breakfast was an early affair and we then regrouped in the hotel lobby. We were being picked up at 08:10 by our tour guide. We found him outside sat in a very clean looking mini-van... almost too clean for Kyiv, where everything was a lada or worse.

The driver jumped out and introduced himself. Igor. One of the few people we'd met in Ukraine who's English was not limited to 3 words and a grunt. He opened the van up and warned us not to sit on the seat next to the door "because seat make too much noise", he then demonstrated. The seat didn't make a noise. "Seat make more noise when we drive!" he then removed the headrest and placed it on the seat, you know that universal symbol for DO NOT SIT HERE.

We handed over the money for our trip, somewhere around 6000 Hryvna (said grivna). Igor then explained as it was the Ukrainian Easter and a bank holiday he was the only person working today and had to go and sort out a public tour. We had opted for the private tour. He drove us to Independence Square and told us he had to wait for the other group so we could walk off for 25 minutes, we sat on the fountain waiting. Nothing was happening other than a few vendors opening up, the sun low in the sky and had bathed the square in a warm orange glow. Unlike the night before, Independence Square was serene... The Fountain burst into life with an astonishingly loud hiss. Dan and Gemma both jumped, I had a delayed reaction of sorts and had spun to look at the fountain before leaping off the wall in surprise. We all burst out laughing in embarrassment at our apparent lack of minerals. Some where in the Square was someone laughing just as hard at us, it would have been a miracle if our collective jump into the air went unnoticed by a local.

We hung about for a bit and Igor approached and asked if we were ready to go, we all replied in the affirmative. "Well, I am not" he said and sauntered off again. Joining an ever increasing group of what looked like Eastern Europeans. He then came back a few minutes later and said we could go sit on the bus and watch his Chernobyl Documentary The Battle For Chernobyl. I have seen this Documentary before and it is, without a doubt, the most comprehensive documentary on the after effects of the reactor explosion.

The Russians

Shortly after starting the documentary two Russians got into our minivan and sat down, neither party spoke to each other as we didn't know if Igor had sent them to the bus to be transported to the Exclusion Zone. The lad, who was covered in love bites and giant red welts. His Buboes made him look like a Plague victim. His scrawny, malnourished frame and deep sunken eyes weren't helping convince us that he was anything other than riddled with pestilence.

The lad climbed back out and lit a fag, Igor stood with the rest of the group sorting them out and after what seemed like forever it looked like we were due to head off. The Russian got back in followed by Igor. We set off, ten minutes later the Russian cracked open a can of beer. When in Rome...

White Knuckle Ride

One of the few things we could find out about Ukraine was that laws on the road are mostly ignored, even after major traffic law reforms recently. The habit of driving like a meth-head lunatic is so ingrained in the national psyche that a poxy law isn't going to change anything, and besides, most rules so far in Ukraine were flouted what would it matter if one more rule was broken?

Igor, while being an awesome Tour Guide, was not an awesome driver. Quite the opposite. On several occasions we came to within 50 metres or so of our maker, blind corners were taken over the centre line of the road and pot holes were swerved away from at the last possible second. That or hit at speed, whichever took Igor's fancy. After nearly two hours of hair raising death defying stunts on the most dilapidated roads this side of the Khyber Pass we pulled up at the 30 KM Exclusion Zone checkpoint.

I'm in a kitchenI'm in a kitchenI'm in a kitchen

I'm all about equality ;)
turned to look at us, "There 4 on tour?". We replied in the affirmative, he then looked at the Russians with some consternation. The guards made us all get out of the bus. We stood and they checked our passports against paperwork. The Russians were held at the checkpoint awaiting their tour bus on the public tour. We were waved through.

The Zone Of Alienation

Igor drove away from the checkpoint at an orderly pace until we were sufficiently far away for the guards to lose interest. "Here speed limit is 40 Kilometre per hour, but everyone drive at 120". He then floored it and we were off. Birch trips flashing by at an incredible speed. Excitement hit fever-pitch. We could finally relax, the stress of our uncertainties had vanished the second that barrier raised.

Igor pulled off the main highway and down a single track dirt lane. "here is village near Chernobyl. 2000 people lived here. Now 1 woman live here, she 87 years old." We couldn't believe someone still lived here. Trees were coming through the floorboards of houses, roofs had caved in, windows were smashed and getting to the rough track would be a
The human side of ChernobylThe human side of ChernobylThe human side of Chernobyl

This really hit hard, everything this abandoned toy represents. It's a difficult pill to swallow
nightmare scrambling through the brush, but for an 87 year old?! It was mind blowing. He checked the Radiation levels. It was low here, lower than the centre of Kyiv.

Igor led us further into the village and to a house set off the track. He led us in through the partially hinged front door, ensured we were all in then said he was off to the car to make some calls. This was unbelievable. We were (mostly) alone in an abandoned house, that had been left 27 years ago following one of the worst disasters in history. We furiously snapped away with our cameras and filmed on two different video cameras. The house was a derelict, clothes were strewn around, along with pots. Windows were broken, the bed was soiled and squalid, but this is exactly what we had come to see.

We made the decision to push on, as we were heading back to the van Dan and I went off the track again toward a collection of buildings. A children's gas mask was lying near the door way of a house, through a smashed window, on the floor, we could see a picture of Lenin and by the door way to the house furthest from the path an ominous sign. A child's cuddly toy had been strung up and hung by the neck in the door way. Was it sick humour? or a warning to not enter? I was attempting a photo of the toy when I noticed Dan had turned back and was already on the path. Now one needs to understand, at all times inside the Zone of Alienation you feel like you are being watched. There is not a moment where you are settled. Every sense is on alert, even though you know there are few people around you become aware of every movement, every snap of a twig, branches swaying in the breeze. Your mind registers it all. All manner of wild animals are known to roam the areas in and around the exclusion zone, some you wouldn't fare well against should they decide to want to try a piece of you (although Igor was adamant that Bears are a myth and do not inhabit the zone, I have seen footage of them though and it never hurts to be aware)

With this in mind I turned and high tailed it back to the path and we headed for the van.

From there Igor drove us to the Chernobyl town sign, the town is some way (9 kms I believe, feel free to correct me) from the actual power plant. The village was evacuated but there were re-settlers, also the military moved in a lot of hardware and personnel to the area. Along every road you'll pass giant pipes running up and over the road. Igor told us these pipes carried the water into the inhabited areas such as Chernobyl town as it is too dangerous to dig the soil and lay pipes underground. We had pulled up as a public tour were just finishing up, the tour our Russian hitch hikers should have been with from the start. There was a giant globule of phlegm in the middle of the road. I presumed the Black Death was really taking it's toll on our weasel-esque, buboe sporting party crasher.


We ventured deeper into the exclusion zone, and began to see signs of civilisation, buildings that weren't falling down, vehicles, people. This was the main hub in the exclusion zone, aside from the power plant itself. Igor
Chernobyl townChernobyl townChernobyl town

ignore Gemma's closed eyes... she does that in photographs
pointed out the canteen where we would be eating later that day, and quickly pointed out all the things to see before driving off while we desperately tried to see the memorials and monuments (have no fear, we saw them all later).

While driving along Igor slowed to point out a building to us, I believe it was the old post office. He enjoyed pointing out post offices to us, we didn't mind. Anyway as I was saying, Igor had slowed and I was still looking up ahead, and there crossing the road was an animal, my instant thought was WOLF, alas, t'was no wolf. It was a cat. But from the distance it looked larger than a domestic cat and too well fed to be a stray, it was also crossing the road right down on the fringe of this little community. I scrambled for a camera and zoomed to it's full distance and managed to snap one shot before the feline crept into the bushes.

I haven't uploaded the picture because it isn't great quality, like the Bigfoot fake or the Loch Ness monster hoax and I don't want to be categorised with those people, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

Igor then drove us on to the church and pulled a quick U-turn before taking us down one of many streets named "Lenin Street". I do not exaggerate whenever we came to a land mark of some form it was on Lenin Street, the USSR were really not creative with names.

To the men (and Robots) who saved the World

We were then driven to the local fire station, the checkpoint was manned by one unhappy looking chap, but lets face it, I doubt there are many emergencies inside the exclusion zone that require a fire crew these days.

Next to the station is a monument for the brave men sent from that station to help with the clean up. Upon returning to England I read an article from 2005 in the Guardian (I think) which described the monument as a monstrosity. I was genuinely saddened and appalled by the author's apparent lack of compassion or even regard for the sacrifice of the firefighters because they couldn't see past their need to be pleased aesthetically. I didn't finish the article, it would have been a disservice to everyone who has been affected by Chernobyl to continue to read after that.

Not far from here was a small exhibition of vehicles and robots used during the cleanup.

Robot's played an important part at the beginning, shifting giant chunks of radiation spewing materials from the roof off the #3 reactor and pushing them back into the gaping hole of the #4 reactor. The problem with the robots was that the massive levels of radiation ruined them. The robots literally died through radiation contamination. One was even reported to have hurtled itself into the #4 reactor, an apparent Robot suicide.

It was then the Red Army turned to their Bio-Robots.

Into hell

There are many things surrounding the history of Chernobyl that I would love to share in this blog, however it would make for an exceptionally long blog, and I doubt you'd all bother finishing it. However, it would be criminal to not acknowledge the Bio-Robots.

Bio-robot sounds like a cool buzz-word, like Terminator, only more Russian. In fact it was nothing like that. Bio-robot was the chilling nickname given to the Liquidators sent on to the roof of Reactor #3 to clear the radioactive material after the robots ceased functioning.

These, the bravest of men, were called upon by their country and indeed the world to perform a task that would for many constitute a death sentence. Using rudimentary, haphazardly sewn together lead lined suits and gas masks these men were sent onto the roof to scoop up as much material as possible, run to the gaping hole on roof #4 and toss the debris back in. They were told by their COs that there was nothing to fear and that it was perfectly safe. The men could only spend between 45 seconds and 3 minutes on the roof before the dose of radiation received was considered "dangerous". In truth, the doses they absorbed in that time would seal the fate of many of them. These Bio-robots are the epitome of expendable. Their government called upon them in it's time of need and did not prepare them for the gravity of their situation. Those who didn't die will suffer to the end of their days with, to me it is the ultimate betrayal of national heroes.

The quietest kindergarten

We drove on, passing the site of a former village.
Radiation levels outside the kindergarten Radiation levels outside the kindergarten Radiation levels outside the kindergarten

This was at the foot of a tree next to the playground
The area was just a large field now. Igor explained:

When reactor exploded, many houses were built from wood. The wood absorbed the radiation. Government decided to bulldoze all the villages down and bury them.

As if predicting a stupid question from us, he continued:

houses cannot be burned as they release contamination into atmosphere, if you look carefully you see mounds. These old houses.

Littering the area was mounds of earth. It's difficult to grasp that an entire families livelihood was buried there. But Igor had more to say:

The government has problem, the houses not buried deep enough. So they have to dig them all back up, then dig deeper

There were 90 villages evacuated inside the zone according to Igor, and the monument to those 90 villages. Many of these were bulldozed such as as this one. That makes for a lot of work that just didn't seem like it would get done.

We arrived at the Kindergarten, there is a War Memorial outside and Igor showed us elevated radiation levels adjacent to the playground. The radiation was much higher than in the first village we visited.

Igor led us into the Kindergarten. Strewn all over are toys, shoes and books. You get a sense that years ago it would have been teeming with life, and you can imagine all the sounds of young children playing. It's a quietly uncomfortable place, especially as the children there at the time would not be much older than half of our group (Dan and Dannie, Gemma and I still have youth on our side).

French engineering

It was time to visit the reactor. We drove along a road next to the Reactor cooling lake. Igor was pointing out buildings on the way, the incomplete cooling towers for the incomplete 5th and 6th reactors, and a large grey building with an interesting tale.

This building built to hold fuel rods, it was designed by Frenchman but it is not used. Frenchman designed it to take west's fuel rods. Not those of USSR

We all burst out laughing. Oh the French, will they never cease to be the butt of the world's joke?! We laughed heartily, as the situation required us to

He commit suicide


Wow, laughter has seldom ever been so inappropriate. We stopped laughing. Igor carried on explaining about the immediate area but I didn't really listen, I was looking at the water, scanning for Catfish. Anyone with even the slightest interest in Chernobyl knows about the Catfish. 6 foot river monsters, mutated by high levels of radioactivity in the water and somewhat aggressive.

I asked Igor if we would be going to feed the Catfish as advertised on Solo East's website.

Igor broke it to us gently, we would not be feeding the Catfish. Someone who now ran the main Power Plant site had decided to build two dams upstream from the bridge the tours usually feed the catfish from. He explained that the catfish migrate around the massive lake and adjacent streams depending on season and to keep the Catfish away they had dammed up the exit of the lake, Igor would not be taking us to the lake. I was somewhat disappointed, for weeks I had been wanting to feed these aggressive mutants, especially after seeing a video on YouTube of a guy having his hand bitten by one.

From here though we could see the Reactor. Igor stopped and we piled out from where we were we could see all of the Reactors; numbers 1 through 4 off to our left, and 5 and 6 off to our right near the half built cooling towers.

We drove around to the compound with Reactors 3 and 4. Igor told us it was forbidden to take photos out the left hand side of the van viewing the compound, due to highly sensitive and high security work going on inside the compound.

We pulled into a car park and jumped out.

It's weird, This area seemed to be very busy. Men in boiler suits were walking by. some going into the compound others coming out. If it wasn't for the knowledge of where we were, we could have been on any industrial site anywhere, devoid of contamination.

Once more Igor told us where we could take photos. The monument, Reactor and Sarcophagus were all allowed. Everything else was strictly off limits.

At the monument Igor pulled out the dosimeter. He stood on the Reactor side of the monument. The dose read over 3 μSv we then stood the other side of the monument and it dropped to less than half that amount. The monument became our shield from the radiation.

Igor then told us about the workers currently building the new sarcophagus. A French company is the main one helping to build the sarcophagus. The French managers who work in a block of offices behind us on the far side of the car park are paid 30,000 Euros a MONTH to work in the relative safety of their buildings. The Ukrainian workers who are out in the open on top of the sarcophagus, exposed to both the elements and the radiation are paid 1,000 Euros a month. We were disgusted by this appalling division between what is essentially administrative staff and labour intensive work.

All roads lead to Pripyat

3 KMs from the Reactor lies the town of Pripyat, beyond the remnants of the Red Forest. Named due to the trees, killed by massive levels of radiation turning red. Sadly few trees remain as the old bulldoze and bury technique had been used here.

We stopped at the famous Припять (Pripyat) sign and Igor explained about the Red Forest to us, he also showed us the massive difference in radiation levels between the road and a metre or so off the road. The road is 'clean' as it was built upon soil that had been bought in from outside the exclusion zone, but not far from the road are areas with high levels of radiation, especially the fields of the former Red Forest.

We pushed into Pripyat. Through another checkpoint we joined Lenin Street. Igor turned to us and laughed;

You will be at home here, I drive on left side now

We did point out to Igor that driving on the left is correct, it is just the rest of the world that is incorrect.

Pripyat was built for the families of those who worked at Chernobyl Power Plant, it housed nearly
Gas Mask CanteenGas Mask CanteenGas Mask Canteen

I never edit photos... check out my awesome grey scaling!
50,000 people and was set to house over 85,000 when at it's prime. All along the side of roads are things that remind you that this was once a massive population centre.

We glimpsed buildings from the road, even some we recognised such as the famous Polissya Hotel. Once again Igor pointed out the local post office, you know just in case we had a Wish You Were Here to send back to our loved ones.

Pulling up at a clearing Igor hopped out followed by us as he jumped a wall and traversed through the bushes. We were outside Technical School #6. If the Soviet's could be praised for one thing, it's knowing how many of each specific building they had.

Igor looked around, "Okay, we go inside, but we must be fast". He shot up through the reception, followed eagerly by us.

We wandered around inside the school, through the toilets and shower rooms, into classrooms and through the main hallway. Dan and I were in the pitch dark changing rooms when we heard Gemma call out to us. We followed the sound of her voice. Igor had led Dannie and Gemma into the
Child's Matryoshka rattleChild's Matryoshka rattleChild's Matryoshka rattle

inside the Kindergarten
old canteen.

There as far as all the walls was an innumerable amount of gas masks. These were children's gas masks, not used in the evacuation they were used for daily drills training the children of the Technical school how to react in case of a CBRN attack (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear) on the USSR by the West.

"It's getting pretty Blair Witch now!"

Igor took us to the outskirts of Pripyat to a building block, once again he looked around, "I bring private tours here, it is away from main tours and quiet". Once more we followed him across a playground between apartment blocks. He took us into another Kindergarten. This one was over several floors and obviously catered to many more users than the first one did. Igor took us upstairs and showed us a pile of pictures. "Lenin, Lenin, this one of Lenin, another of Lenin" he was turning them over to show that all pages had at least one picture of Lenin, then "This one not Lenin, it's little girl". He was right. It was a little girl, he looked at the picture with some consternation then cast it aside. "I go downstairs
'Blair Witch' hall way'Blair Witch' hall way'Blair Witch' hall way

We could hear the girls calling but they couldn't hear us
and wait". We were given the run of the building, we nosed around and again Gemma and Dannie were elsewhere away from Dan and I. "Joe!" we heard in the distance "yeah?!" I called back. No answer. A minute later I was called again, I replied, no answer again. "okay Dan this is getting pretty Blair Witch now" I said. We were lost in the building, none of it looked familiar. We ambled blindly through the building and occasionally Gemma would call me again. Now both of us were calling back. Finally she heard our reply. "We're out here!" both Gemma and Dannie said. We found our way out and Igor was with the girls. Igor held up his phone "This why we shouldn't go in building". The image showed one of the buildings in Pripyat partially collapsed. We headed back to the Van.

3000 times the normal level

"This place not on tour" Igor said cheerily as he parked up next to a copse of pine trees. "I show you something special". We followed him around an abandoned building "What was that building used for?" Dan asked, expecting the typical "Post Office" reply, "I do not know,
Igor and The ClawIgor and The ClawIgor and The Claw

900 Microsieverts and counting
maybe you know?" we followed on, all the while the constant chirping of the dosimeter was getting louder and more frequent.

We left the path and entered the wood. All around us lay pieces of machinery. They were used in various aspects of the clean up. Then looming out of the woods we saw a giant Egg shaped item. We drew closer, it was rusty and yellowing. It was a giant claw, similar to one you'd find in an arcade used on the plush toy games that you can never win. The claw had been used to lift massive pieces of contaminated materials. Igor placed the dosimeter at the base of the claw. We all bent down. I was filming on our camcorder. We watched as the reading shot up to over 900 μSv. Igor asked us how many times over the normal level of radiation this was, this task was delegated to Gemma as she is a marvel of modern mathematics. "erm, 3000 times" she said after a little thought. (she was right, I worked it out on my iPhone calculator 0.3 μSv being the level Igor told us was normal)

Igor then picked the dosimeter up and put his arm through the claw and inside the grabber while explaining that you do not want to spend more then a minute close to this giant hulk of radioactive scrap. Simultaneously we were all backing up away from Igor and his claw. On playing the footage back Igor stood next to it for nearly 3 minutes. Nutter.

May Day

We stopped by at the football stadium briefly on the way back into Pripyat and we passed through the square adjacent to the Hotel Polissya. The path opened up on the other side at the entrance to the may day parade ground. Two Russian lads from a public tour were receiving a stern rollocking from a guy dressed head to foot in camouflage. Igor said they had held up the public tour by walking off on their own.

The parade ground was never used. It was set up 27 years prior for the very day we were there. Orthodox Easter Sunday. The dodgems, Ferris wheel and shooting gallery remain, unused, dilapidated and partially reclaimed by nature. The Ferris Wheel towers up over the parade ground. The views from the top carriage must be phenomenal.

We asked Igor to take a photo of the four of us in front of the Wheel, sadly for you readers it was on Dan's camera and I do not have his pictures yet.

Right that's lunch!

We were driven back to Chernobyl town and to the canteen. Our Russian friends were sat on the wall, drinking. Igor looked at them and said "you go inside, I find out what they are doing!"

We went up to the canteen then Igor appeared. Sadly for Dan and Dannie my request for two vegetarian meals hadn't made it to the canteen. We were led to a room and sat around a table with a veritable feast of Ukrainian food. Reviews have slated the food as basically unfit for all but the lowliest of peasants... Well peasant me up because it was beautiful! Much needed in the 27 degree heat. We had been subsisting on a diet of water and milky way bars (a duo bar is 20 pence in Kyiv. 20 PENCE!!)

Cooked meats, seasoned salads, boiled eggs, potato and testicle soup (actually just meatballs but they looked like testicles) Cheesey baked fish fillet and a pork stew with
Portly Fire DancerPortly Fire DancerPortly Fire Dancer

after setting fire to himself
rice were served. Dan and Dannie were given Rice and baked beans with peas, potato soup sans testicles. Then iced buns for pudding. It was amazing, we engaged in some small talk but mostly we just ate. Sadly the water was carbonated. If I never have fizzy water again it'll be too bloody soon!

Following lunch we looked around the monument garden which is quite striking. It was time to leave.

We had to pass through two checkpoints to leave with "Compulsory Radiation Control". You stand inside an over the top turnstyle and you place your hands and feet on designated pads. If you are low enough radiation wise the gate clicks open. If not, god knows what happens. Dannie's gate didn't open.

She began to look panicked. Igor, ever quick thinking, hopped back over the rail to the other side and explained to Dannie to take her hands off the pads. The gate clicked open. I didn't have too much trust in these gates actually measuring anything. Although Igor related a story to us of a man who until recently toured Chernobyl every year for 7 years.

We come to radiation control and he failed. He strip top off, and fail. Next trousers, he failed. Then shoes. Still failed. Me and guards did not know what to do. He then told us he had cancer and had radiation inside of him.

The man had been undergoing Radiotherapy hence why
Vodka, Vodka, Where for art thou?!Vodka, Vodka, Where for art thou?!Vodka, Vodka, Where for art thou?!

probably drunk, by some German boarder security guards (I'M NOT BITTER!)
the gate would not allow him to pass through; Igor continued

Every year for 7 year he come to us and have tour of Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. He not been for a couple of years, so I do not know. Maybe he died

Igor looked genuinely quite concerned about this while telling us, I guess if he was a regular over such a long period they must have been well acquainted. It was food for thought anyway, a reminder of how terribly the Chernobyl disaster has affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

We made it through the second checkpoint okay now Dannie had learned how to swindle the Compulsory machines. Nikolai, Igor's friend hopped in the van for a ride home and we headed back to Kyiv, exhausted and exhilarated. It was by no means a let down.

The fire dancers

That evening we headed out to the statue of Lenin then up to the pub for another beer we'd been to the night before (See part 1) but got devoured by mosquitoes. We found ourselves in Independence Square watching a troupe of Fire Eaters, quite a crowd had gathered. It was especially entertaining when the portly, camp one set both his leg and chest on fire. However in true showman style, he whipped off his tee shirt, letting his belly swing free and continued his display. It wasn't bad for free.

Safe passage, unless you're from Russia

Vodka, is cheap in Ukraine. Very cheap. Now I like a Vodka every now and then, and finding a litre of Russian Standard at duty free for 7,00 Euros (£6.33 at the time) I thought "hey, why not!" I knew there was a chance I would have problems between Kyiv and Dusseldorf (our layover) but still it didn't do anything to lessen the bitter taste of being defeated by a German!

Unlike Munich airport where he had our outbound layover, to get into the departures lounge from the plane you had to go back through baggage checks. It started amicably enough with my German doppelganger he then saw my bottle of Vodka in a sealed airport bag.

"You cannot bring this into Germany"

"I'm not coming into Germany, I'm leaving"

"where have you been?

"Ukraine, Kiev"

"you cannot bring this in, it's from Russia"

"No, it's not"

"Yep, see here" he pointed to the Russian Standard label "From Russia"

I looked at him cock-eyed. "No, it's from Ukraine, not Russia"

"yes, now you cannot bring it in. You can go back to the check in desk and put it in the hold"

"Joe just give it up" Dan chimed in.

"Fine take it".

His colleague placed the bottle very gingerly into a black box. The guy behind me had his two bottles of London Dry Gin put in the box as well, no doubt because they were from Russia...

I spent the remainder of the flight home sulking, as if I was the first victim of Human Rights abuses at the hands of a German in history.

Parting note

I realise this is a very long blog, even in two parts. However, I like to chronicle my movements as much for my memory later in life as well as for story telling purposes.

If you should wish to know more about the Chernobyl Disaster and the ensuing attempt to stop a secondary explosion please watch: The Battle For Chernobyl it can be found in it's entirety on YouTube. It is a phenomenally powerful documentary and the most comprehensive history of the disaster you can find.

If you wish to visit Chernobyl, I cannot recommend highly enough the company we traveled with. Solo East. Please visit their site at - they offer many different tours as well. Sergei, my point of contact up until we met Igor, answered all queries quickly and professionally, and above all their tourism into the Exclusion Zone is handled with sensitivity, at no point is it lost on you what it cost in terms of it's effect on the people of Chernobyl.

We all agreed we would like to go back in 15 years, to see how the landscape has changed further. I suggest anyone interested to go before they slide the new sarcophagus over the top of the Reactor.


19th May 2013

What a great write-up! I never knew there was so much to see on a tour at Chernobyl. Your photos really make the devastation felt.
19th May 2013

Thanks, to be honest we didn't think there'd be that much as well, it's an incredibly strange place... Just wish I'd seen those elusive wolves
1st September 2013

Which Chernobyl tour company did you use?
10th September 2013

Tour company
Hi, We used solo east, I think their website is Thanks

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