Once you enter the zone, the quiet is a shock. It would be eerie were it not so lovely. The abandoned backstreets of Chernobyl are so overgrown, you can hardly see it’s a town. They’ve turned into dark-green tunnels buzzing with bees, filled with an orchestral score of birdsong, the lanes so narrow that the van pushes aside weeds on both sides as it creeps down them, passing house after house enshrined in forest. Red admirals, peacock butterflies, and some velvety brown lepidoptera are fluttering all over the vegetation. It looks like something out of an old Russian fairy tale.
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