Different tourists take into account the various features of their future destination before taking the final decision to go. The Chernobyl complex has gained a reputation of a mysterious and dangerous place. That’s why during the first years after opening for tourists in 2010, it would attract mostly the fans of extreme entertainment, who often challenge themselves, and are always chasing the chance to raise the adrenaline level. Chernobyl was very popular for journalists eager to find out some new sensations to rattle the nerves of their audience. But now the main tendency shows that Chernobyl is getting more interesting for ordinary tourists, representing the mass market. That’s why the question of whether it’s safe to deposit this place is again very crucial. Of course, the Chernobyl complex can hardly be called a place for family entertainment, as far as visitors under 18 are strictly forbidden to travel to the Exclusion Zone. The same is about pregnant women who are also not allowed to take part even in the Chernobyl guided tours. For other visitors, it’s safe to take a tour, as the radiation rate in the majority of places doesn’t exceed the rate in the big cities all over the world, and the danger of the tour may be easily compared to those of staying long hours in the plane during the intercontinental flight.
During some seasons, tourists are instructed to chose a special type of clothes for the tour. They are also given dosimeters to make sure they are always safe and avoid staying in potentially dangerous areas for too long. Only guided tours are permitted in the area. Professional local guides will make the trip well-organized, interesting, and prevent the visitors from getting lost, as they know the local areas very well.
Chernobyl is still far from being thoroughly explored, and this is its main advantage in comparison to other, less exotic destinations. Except for the Chernobyl Power plant, and the ghost city of Pripyat, and the Duga radar, there are many other attractions you mightn’t even have heard about.
1. Abandoned cooling towers
To serve the Chernobyl Power Plant, the giant cooling towers had been built or were under construction when the disaster occurred in 1986. Now they are numb witnesses of what once happened. More than 90 meters high, they are like hungry creatures of industrial fiction, having opened their huge dark mouths towards the sky, aiming to catch something or to yell in despair. Now they also represent an improvised museum of wall painting and graffiti, and tourist will enjoy visiting them to get more information about the technologies of the Cold War era and take a look at the masterpieces of modern street artists.
2. Catfish lake and Red forest
One of the most exciting features of the Chernobyl touristic complex is the diversity of living beings. After the catastrophe, about 10 square kilometers of the forest near the Power Plant was completely covered with radioactive dust, that’s why got its new name of the Red forest. But now, after decades of the humans’ absence, this area has become a kingdom of wild animals, especially vanishing species. It’s interesting that after more than three decades since the disaster, these days we can see animals in the Exclusion Zone, that hasn’t been inhabiting the area since the 1920s. They are trots, raccoon dogs, elks, foxes, and wolves. Besides, the Exclusion Zone is also famous for the large catfish lake, where huge catfish lay on the bottom of the lake. But tourists also can feed them when they come close to the surface of the lake.
3. Kopachi abandoned kindergarten
Kopachi is a small village within the Exclusion Zone in Chernobyl. It was one of the places where people were evacuated from in the first days and hours after the catastrophe. The abandoned kindergarten in Kopachi on cloudy days may remind you of the scenes from some horror movies. Beds, pillows, toys, and wallpapers were left by people who were in the hurry of saving their lives. Nowadays, this place is popular among photographers who love taking pictures of the post-apocalyptic style.
4. The Elephant’s foot
This place is forbidden to visit as it still covers a lot of radiation risks. But while the CHNPP visit you’ll hear a lot of secrets about it. That is a huge mass of cerium, which resembles the form of an elephant’s foot by its form. In this way, the nuclear fuel leaking during the explosion mixed with glass, sand, and other surrounding materials. It’s very tough and nearly impossible to drill. Now it’s under the cover, as it still contains the living process of nuclear decay. There are some pictures of it, but the main interest is the stories about its appearance and further development, only locals can share with you.
5. Cemetery of ships
The abandoned cargo port near Pripyat is also known as the cemetery of barges and ships. All the ships and other vessels, which were subject to massive doses of radiation during the nuclear disaster, were brought together to the cargo port and left there. During the years, they were affected by water, heat, and corrosion. Nor having been buried, they have found their final resting place, and only tourists and photographers can bother their peace.
6. The Death Bridge
This place is not as dangerous, as its name might suggest. In this way, people call a pedestrian bridge connecting the city of Pripyat to the Chernobyl Power Plant. But at the time of the disaster, the radioactive air brought here the tremendous amount of dust and other dangerous elements, so that the average background radiation on the bridge was about 600 roentgen per hour, the incredible rate of radiation pollution. Of course, there were unbelievable stories, quite far from reality, saying the if a person passes the bridge, he/she will die in less than a couple of hours. This was not true, but at least it has given an interesting, and mysterious name to the ordinary abandoned bridge.