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Personal recent travel review with pictures and tips.
Ukraine’s Chernobyl is famous due to Top Gear, the HBO series and recent events but few people can tell you Belarus has its own version which gets barely any visits. Belarus being an odd place means I have been there! The country itself often scores as having the least visitors per year – 137,000. The number is likely even lower now for two reasons and the FCO used to claim 10,000 Brits go there yearly.

After going to Ukraine’s CEZ in 2015, Belarus was on my list and end of 2019 till January 2020 I flew directly from London to Minsk, hired a car, explored the whole country and post new year did a private government tour of Polesie State Radioecological Reserve. Unlike Ukraine’s CEZ I can firmly say I was the only tourist in the zone that day and likely for weeks.

The park is owned and run by the state, and tours are official with a driver and guide. In December 2019 I contacted the parks authority, received date options, provided them with my passport (scan) and filled out an A4 form. All was confirmed and one early morning I rocked up at the parks HQ out of the zone and signed a tonne of forms in Russian. I left my car, got in a mini bus with a driver and Russian only speaking guide. Formalities were done at the HQ, near the exclusion zone border and once in. Cost was around 150 Euros which is high for the country but is not bad for a single person on a tour.

Compared to Ukraine’s CEZ it was better in many ways. 1. No one else is there. 2. Nothing is setup. 3. Wildlife is everywhere. 4. The guide lets you do anything you want. One downside is I was using a translation app to communicate but it did not spoil the tour. When I went it was cold, icy and a bit snowy. There are even less public facilities compared to Ukraine’s CEZ.

Similar to Ukraine’s CEZ there are a few checkpoints, radiation scans, cleaning stations and you get given a basic dosimeter. The zone has no power stations or similar infrastructure in it, however it is certainly worth a visit as nothing has changed in years unlike its southern rival. Health and safety who cares! I love it!!! Zero rules.

What did the tour cover?
  • Reserve museum
  • Cultural centres
  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Post offices
  • Shops
  • Apartment blocks
  • Houses
  • Collective farms
  • Village councils
  • Lake with old boats
  • Bison station & some bison’s roaming around
  • Random wildlife; a wolf and many eagles
  • Factories
  • Vets
  • Presently used fire station
  • Watch tower with view of CNPP
I think the route was based on:

The guide and driver were perfectly helpful and friendly desperate the language gap. Both refused a tip at the end though I gave them Walkers Shortbread each which they took.

Enough talking now, on to plenty of rare photos! These days it is possible the zone is closed for obvious reasons.

Watchtower Area
Veterinary Clinic


Reserve Museum

Lake and Boat

Apartment Blocks

Fire Station

Collective Farm

Soviet Cultural Centre

Bison Station