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How the Pripyat River floods

Author: S. Plytkevich
Photo: by author

There are fabulous territories in Belarus that are most advantageous at certain times of the year.


The floodplain of the Pripyat River is probably one of the most amazing places in Belarus. The best time to travel here is in spring or early in summer...


This is what the village of Lyaskovichi looked like on April 14, 2005. The administration of the National Park "Pripyatsky" has not yet been transferred from Tourov to here. So, Lyaskovichi had only an old wooden church, but no new buildings yet. The water surrounds the village, but only the vegetable gardens are flooded.

However, villages  Pererov and Snidin have a quite different situation: the water came not only to the foundations of the houses, but also flooded the roads and the bridge over the Svinovod River.


In 2006 the flood was normal, no water in the residential buildings was recorded. This is how the floodplain of the Pripyat River looked like just downstream from the village of Narovlya on April 28…


The Tourov settlement exactly two years later – on April 28, 2008. In the background you can see an island where there is a cemetery with the famous "growing" stone crosses.


The floodplain of Pripyat in the national park "Pripyatsky". A usual picture for the end of April…


In Pererov the situation is absolutely favorable.


Year 2010, April 21, one of the floodgates in the Luninetsky district.


The railway bridge connecting Luninetz and Stolin – water is around, water is everywhere.

And this is the Pinsky district: the village of Ploshevo, fields with winter crops look like huge ships in the sea and a power line on a flooded field…


Real wilds that look very beautiful from a height. But what about the locals who have to live in this big water?!


In 2013, I managed to photograph the residents of the village of Ozerany in the Zhitkovichi district. The water was just beginning to arrive, and the children were enjoying the new entertainment.

Many of the houses were accessible only by boat.


At the same time, employees of the Ministry of Emergency Situations reported that the forecast was very unfavorable, so it was necessary to evacuate livestock…


Watching the process of removing livestock from the ground was not so beautiful and romantic.

But this is real life of the locals of Poliesie (so-called polieshooks). It's always been like this. From generation to generation my ancestors experienced great floods and enjoyed good harvests after them.


Three days later, I had the opportunity to look at the Pripyat flood from a height.

This was the floodplain of the river on the territory of the national park "Pripyatsky" on April 16, 2013.

And this is the administrative center of the national park - the village of Lyaskovichi. You can take another look at what Lyaskovichi was like in 2006…

The Tourov settlement, a cemetery with the church, and the outskirts of town. They make an impressive sight, aren’t they?


But the bridge over the Pripyat River looks even more fantastic. Does it resemble the artificial islands in the United Arab Emirates?

The village of Pogost which is located between Pripyat and Stviga rivers is also impressive.

The swampy areas of the national Park "Pripyatsky" looked not less fabulous in April 2013.

But flooded villages Pererov and Snaden were causing very different feelings…

Two months later, I was back in the national park "Pripyatsky". The water was still very high…


The blooming gardens looked particularly strange against the background of the water…


...and an old polieshook floating on an ancient boat among the oaks.


9, 2013, the village of Lyaskovichi.

Ancient Tourov and the bridge across the Pripyat River. The water is still staying high.

The village of Pogost still looks like the end of the world…

The Pripyat River meanders lazily among floodplain oak forests and fields covered by water.


If you get down a little lower, you can see that life is bubbling inside this wild nature: somewhere a moose is running away scared by the sound of helicopter blades, somewhere roe deer and wild pigs are hiding…


But the overall plan of the Pripyat floodplain looks fantastic!


In 2014, there was no flood on Pripyat. Therefore, I have very few pictures of the river.


11, 2015, crossing the river by a boat near the town of Petrikov. 


In March 2017 a friend of mine and I made a small expedition to a colony of herons and cormorants at the mouth of the Lan River.


As a result of this trip, there was a large photo report, which I will share a little later.


14, 2018, tourist complex "Pripyatsky stan" in Stolinsky district. It's a great place to be alone, isn't it?


An apiary near the tourist complex.


In the Zhitkovichi district at this time a road bridge across the Pripyat was being repaired and a pontoon crossing was organized.

I took a video of a string of cars on a temporary road. In my opinion it shows the greatness of the flooded Poliesie much better than the photos.

At the end of April we organized a photographic trip to the national park "Pripyatsky".


Some participants were photographing waders on the islands, while others were focused on the models against the background of a floodplain filled with water.


In Lyaskovichi the water came to the very gardens, but there was no flooding of houses.


In Tourov the water level was also normal for this season.


The famous cemetery with its “growing crosses” remained unflooded.


But the oaks in some parts of the floodplain were knee-deep in water.

In 2019 I made almost not shots of Pripyat.


I only recorded a couple of sunsets.


Pripyat appeared quite different in May last year.

The Polessky State Radiation and Ecological Reserve. There is no flood at all! There are huge fires on the territory of Ukraine, a part of the Pripyat floodplain was also burned out in Belarus. 


The river is terribly shallow.


And a symbol of disaster: a fallen dry oak.

I really hope that this year the floodplain of the river will recover. There is a lot of snow now and the water should be high.

So, we will be able to see Pripyat in all its glory again!

P.S. If you wish, we can arrange a sightseeing flight over the national Park "Pripyatsky", as well as a boat trip along the Pripyat River and floodplain oak forests. Questions and details by e-mail

Translated by M. Shaturin

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