Chernobyl Exclusion Zone
in October 2013

Entry into the 30-kilometer exclusion zone begins at the well-known checkpoint of Dityatki village.

Next to the checkpoint stands an artificial tree adorned with knots.

After passing through the checkpoint, there is an unremarkable road surrounded by forest. Occasionally, official vehicles can be seen speeding along the road. It is evident that the asphalt here is being replaced, and due to the absence of cars, it remains almost undamaged.

Zalesye village

After a few kilometers, we get off the bus and proceed through an overgrown road into the forest.

Looking around, you realize that it’s not just any forest, but an abandoned village. The houses in the village have become overgrown and decayed to the point where they are nearly indistinguishable from the trees, especially in summer.

The Ukrainian houses appeared quite decent in appearance.

They were just slightly tilted and had become damp.

After the accident, all residents were evacuated and transported to Novoye Zalyssya. The houses, of course, have long been looted. The windows are shattered, and debris is strewn inside.

There is almost nothing left.

The ceilings are completely collapsing, many houses are on the verge of collapsing.

Whether it’s tourists or tour guides, they carefully add elements of desolation to the interior. A doll neatly hung on the wall.

Or simply an apocalyptic still life — feel free to take pictures, everything is already prepared.

It is said that several residents have indeed returned to the village and lead a hermit-like lifestyle here. Although residing in the Zone is only permitted for Chernobyl NPP workers and supporting enterprises, the authorities turn a blind eye to self-settlers.

Izumrudnoye recreation base

History repeats itself: amidst the forest, dilapidated houses rise up intertwined with trees, but this time the forest is pine, and the view is not as dense.

Once, it was a decent children’s camp.

Autumn is probably the best time to visit these places, especially if the weather doesn’t disappoint.

Inside the cottages is a ready-made still life.

About radiation

A few words about radiation. Many different units have been devised for measuring ionizing radiation. After all, radiation can be measured in various ways and for different purposes.

Firstly, it is possible to measure the radioactivity of the source itself by simply counting the number of atomic nucleus decays per second, for which becquerel and curie are used.

Secondly, it is not always possible to reach the radiation source and directly measure it. In such cases, the electric charge created in one cubic centimeter of air is measured. Units such as roentgen and coulomb per kilogram are used for this purpose, and the method of such measurement is referred to as measuring the exposure dose of radiation.

Thirdly, it is necessary to know the impact of radiation on human beings. Units such as gray and sievert are used to measure it, and then it is referred to as measuring the equivalent absorbed dose, which represents the strength of radiation’s impact on biological tissues. Moreover, radiation affects different parts of the body differently, and this is also taken into account in the calculations.

Ionizing radiation, more accurately referred to as ionizing radiation, is divided into alpha, beta, gamma, and X-rays. The first two types are streams of particles that, being particles, penetrate barriers and even regular clothing very weakly, making them relatively safe. The latter two types are high-frequency electromagnetic waves, which are much more active and hazardous.

So, the normal background radiation is considered to be from zero to 30 microrems per hour (which is equivalent to 0.3 microsieverts per hour). Typically, in Moscow and Kiev, a dosimeter shows around 15 μR, and such a background is maintained until entering the Zone, including at the Dityatki checkpoint. Afterward, the level gradually starts to increase.

In Zalesye and Izumrudny, the background radiation is slightly elevated.

However, there are completely unremarkable areas measuring a few dozen centimeters where the background radiation suddenly skyrockets. For instance, on a regular patch of ground, a dosimeter shows 657 μR, which is 20 times higher than the normal levels. Just a few meters away, the background radiation returns to near-normal levels.

As far as the author can judge, these anomalous places were formed due to some “mixing” of radioactive substances in the soil. Perhaps there was a piece of radioactive metal here or the ground became impregnated with something, or on the contrary, contamination dissipated in other areas.


Incredibly cool sign at the entrance.

Soviet posters for children.

It’s scary inside.

Old books are scattered around.

Everything is forgotten.

Some old collective farm facility.

Dump with old equipment.

Metal scraps are sparkling in the sunlight.

Yanov railway station

Graveyard of rusty trains. It is unknown how long these metal scraps have been standing here. Judging by the looks of it, some of them arrived not too long ago.

The inscriptions have been preserved quite well, and a Coca-Cola label stands out.

But others have completely rusted, they have probably been standing here for a couple of decades.

Inside, it’s like a regular train carriage.

A bridge passes over the tracks not far from the station.

From the bridge, you can see the chimney of the fourth power unit of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the distance.

We are heading towards it.