6. Pripyat, Ukraine
Type: Nuclear distaster
Location: Pripyat, Ukraine
Closest Airport: Kiev Zhulhany
In the north of Ukraine, you will find the town Pripyat where the Chernobyl nuclear disaster happened in 1986. A horrific disaster turned tourist attraction, Pripyat now attracts over 10,000 visitors a year.
On April 25 1986, during a late night safety test there was simulated station power blackout. The safety systems were intentionally turned off for the test but due to a number of flaws in the reactor design and human error the nuclear reactor exploded.
It was the worst nuclear power plant explosion in history realising huge quantities of radioactive material into the earth’s atmosphere. Two people were killed during the explosion and over the coming weeks and months, the full repercussions of the explosion would be realised.
237 servicemen, firemen and employees were diagnosed with acute radiation sickness of which 31 died within the first 3 months. In the greater population, men, women and children developed cancer, deformities and had symptoms of acute radiation sickness.
To this day, the full human impact of Chernobyl is unknown. The estimates differ significantly with some saying the number of people affected tops a million. After this event and the tragic consequences that are still being felt today, no one ever expected it to become a tourist attraction.
Today, the Ukrainian government allows tourists to take short and regulated visits 30 miles into the exclusion zone and into the abandoned town of Pripyat.
Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from the town during the Chernobyl explosion, homes, schools and even an amusement park were left behind to decay. Untouched by humans since their evacuation, stepping into this town is like stepping into a post-apocalyptic movie.
The ghost town is like a freeze frame form the soviet-era, with communist propaganda hanging from the walls and hammer and sickles stuck to notice boards and streetlamps. As you walk through the town you will get the feeling that you are frozen in time as all the clocks have stopped at 11:55 – the moment that power was cut to the town.
“This was a highlight of four months of travel through Central Asia and Eastern Europe! Seeing the nuclear power plant and the nearby Duga Soviet radar system was really cool. Visiting Pripyat, in particular, was something completely different and will stay with me.”