Chernobyl will always hold a place in history because of the nuclear fallout in 1986. Radioactivity destroyed the surrounding region completely resulting in a barren land. The neighbouring city of Pripyat was abandoned and there were no dwellings for multiple miles around. The Ukrainian Government has taken several measures to check the unhealthy radioactivity from the reactors. It has reduced to an almost negligible level, leaving just the skeleton of the city behind. 31 years later, it has become a tourist hub with 30,000 people visiting the area every year with the numbers only increasing. You can see people everywhere, exploring the disaster site, snapping photos of the power plant and generally walking down the streets of Pripyat.
The entire city seems to be suspended in 1986, giving a peek into this piece of history, Russian propaganda slogans still hang on the wall and children’s toys remain as they were 30 years back. It is now populated by teams of scientists and soldiers with radiation detecting instruments to ensure the safety of travellers. With no flashy signs nearby or any McDonalds in sight, walking down the streets of the city is a unique experience. The hustle and bustle of the people in Pripyat ensure that you’re not alone and truly makes for an unforgettable memory.
Another exciting spot is Chernobyl 2, previously a top-secret radar installation. It was called The Russian Woodpecker because of the tapping noise it made while working and was opened to the public recently. The 150-metre tall antenna is awe-inspiring to look at and is so big that it is difficult to capture completely on camera. The locality also features an empty amusement park having a tall and lonely Ferris wheel which captures the essence of the people who lived there.
With time, nature has slowly reclaimed its land with vegetation making a comeback and multiple species of animals making their presence felt. Wolves, bears and the odd lynx have begun to make an appearance on the outskirts. There are hordes of boars which have made this place their home. The region acts as a setting for multiple gaming franchises like Half-life and Half-life 2 and gamers can recognize many places here.
Located 130km north of Kiev, Pripyat remains a hub for travellers with multiple businesses opening up in the area. Shops sell trinkets and establishments provide a boarding facility for an overnight stay here. The city provides an opportunity to observe in close quarters, a place abandoned by man and beast alike. The tepid Ukrainian weather in the backdrop serves only to improve this experience.
The existing infrastructure lies in a state of ruin and is uncertain to stand for another 50 years. By then, this haunting memory would be lost. The travel to this mysterious and humbling place requires a little to no preparation and can be made at a short notice. A sum of 100 euros is sufficient for the travel and is definitely worth it to experience a piece of the world’s history, frozen in time.