I am an American that has been living in Ukraine for just over five years. A year ago two friends of mine that worked for the Kiev Post (local English language newspaper) told me that they were doing a story about tourist trips to Chernobyl and asked if I would like to join them. Of course, I wasnt about to pass up an opportunity like this.
To give you a little more background before I get to the details of this trip, I learned about the Chernobyl disaster from my uncle, a nuclear engineer, who was one of the first US officials to visit Chernobyl after the accident. The stories he told of how the accident actually occurred (testing emergency shut down systems) and how the Soviets extinguished the fire and put the sarcophagus over the reactor were truly amazing. To say that I was interested in Chernobyl when I arrived in Ukraine would be an understatement.
There are a number of travel agencies in Kiev that will book a tour to Chernobyl. The cost, if I remember correctly, is about $60 and includes transportation to the exclusion zone, a guide and a presentation at the visitor's facility adjacent to the reactor. The tour itself was well worth the $60. Our guide took us through small villages that had been evacuated, showed us where some villages had literally been buried due to the large amounts of radioactivity and then took us to the city of Pripyat.
In Pripyat, we climbed to the top of the tallest apartment building in the city and looked out over this abandoned city. Eerie would be the one word that describes the feeling one gets when looking at this city. It was like an episode from the original Star Trek.
Imagine that one day you are told that you were being evacuated from your city and that you would be limited to one suitcase per person and that you would be able to return in a week or so. The busses start showing up and off you go never to return. Anything that was left behind - pets, televisions, radios, etc. - you would never see again.
A lot of the pictures that were posted were from places that I saw on our tour. The trip was truly incredible. In fact, it has to be one of the highlights of my time in Ukraine. I noticed that some of you were interested in making this trip. If you are serious, please send me an email and I can help you arrange the trip and find you cheap accommodations in Kiev.
RE: Photoblogging Chernobyl