Covering everything you need to know — from safety and logistics to pricing, and more
When we think of mysterious and unexplainable places around the world, quite a few of them come to our minds. Some of them are inaccessible due to vigilant government monitoring, some due to their remote locations, and some purely due to their worrisome history behind them. However, Chernobyl is one of the few places that have garnered the interests of world tourists and science explorers alike. It is accessible to tourists and explorers who have the necessary permissions to visit the place.
Today we will be looking at some guidelines that you need to follow if you wish to visit Chernobyl.
Chernobyl: The history
Everyone has heard about the Chernobyl disaster that took place at the No. 4 nuclear reactor, situated in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, on the 26th of April, 1986. The disaster took place near the city of Pripyat which lies north of Ukraine (that time part of the Soviet Union). Chernobyl is situated about 100 kilometers north of Kyiv, and it takes approximately 2 hours to reach there from Kyiv.
The said disaster was a result of a test failure which caused large amounts of energy release and thus beginning a chain reaction. The resultant chain reaction ruptured the reactor core resulting in a devastating steam explosion which released a toxic level of airborne radioactive contamination. The contamination was released for nine days before attempts were made to contain it on 4th of May, 1986.
When we generally speak to traveling to Chernobyl, it includes the exclusion zone, which is the area around the nuclear power plant and is about 2,600 square kilometers. The zone has the highest levels of radiation and also includes a few towns and forested areas.
Reasons Chernobyl has become a curiosity nexus for tourists and science enthusiasts
For those who wish to travel to Chernobyl and visit it remains of the nuclear power plant site, they can find a plethora of reasons to do so. Some find are intrigued by the disaster and its after-effects, some are drawn to it for the fact that the place has been devoid of human habitation for more than three decades, for some it is the thrill to visit a place which gives a preview of a post-apocalyptic world. To others, the place stands as a remnant of the Soviet era and is of historical and cultural significance.
Is it safe to visit Chernobyl—understand the safety concerns
For people visiting Chernobyl, safety is a huge point of concern. Since it is a radioactive zone and nuclear disaster site, it is easy to assume that the levels of radiation will be dangerously high.
However, most people would not know that there are checkpoints throughout the site and especially the exclusion zone which monitor the radiation levels in all visitors.
Depending on your duration of visit to the plant and surrounding areas, you will be subjected to the radiation. It is a commonly known fact that radiation lasts for hundreds of years, but we all get small doses of radiation doing normal activities like getting an x-ray scan done, traveling via an airplane, etc. The day tours in Chernobyl only expose you to radiation for only a few hours which is not harmful at all.
One can take extended breaks away from the nuclear site for their bodies to recover. There are several checkpoints on the way out from the exclusion zone which checks for radiation levels of the tourist. It is also advisable to have travel insurance should there be any emergencies. It will help you save a lot of money in a foreign country.
How much does a trip to Chernobyl cost—know the details
The cost for a trip to Chernobyl will depend on the type of trip, duration of the trip and the tour operator that you choose to travel with. The normal cost ranges from $100 to $500 dollars per person, but that is subject to change.
There are various tour options to choose from – one day tour, two-day tour, three-day tour and one seven-day tour. You will also have the option to choose between group tours and private tours. The cost for private tours is a little on the higher side. Starting from $90 for one day tour, $198 for a two-day tour, $292 for a three-day tour.
What is the easiest way to reach Chernobyl—explore the best route
If you are traveling to Chernobyl from any part of the world, getting to Boryspil International Airport will be the easiest way to get to Kyiv. The airport is only 29 kilometers from the city of Kyiv and gets flights from major cities around Europe like Paris, Vienna, London, Zurich, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, and Warsaw.
Should you be based in Ukraine, there are many inter-city trains that you can take to Kyiv.
What types of tours are available at Chernobyl—quench your curiosity
There are various kinds of tours that you can choose from when you are traveling to Chernobyl. These can range from one-day tours, two-day tours, three-day tours or private tours.
These tours have a duration of about 10-12 hours. About 4-5 hours are taken for the commute to and from the nuclear power plant site. The rest of the time includes various site seeing activities.
Two-day or Three-day Tours
For those who wish to see the exclusion zone, this kind of tour will be an ideal choice for them. One of the days will be spent sightseeing nearby areas, whereas the other day will be for visiting the exclusion zone which includes the nuclear power plant site.
Some may want a more relaxed tour with no group of tourists hanging around waiting for you to finish. This would be a good situation to book a private tour. Though a little bit on the higher cost, it will be worth every penny.
A private tour will also provide you with many opportunities to get a good click if you are a photography enthusiast. This kind of tour will give you ample time to get the right kind of shots.
How to choose a tour company—differentiate and find value
When you are looking at which tour companies to choose from for your travel to Chernobyl, you should focus on finding value for your money and not just cheaper rates. It is advisable to do an online search and look for good reviews of the tour operators that organize trips to Chernobyl. You can compare rates and reviews on TripAdvisor in order to get a clear picture.
There a couple of points to look out for when you zero in on a tour operator.
Group size: Make sure you are a part of a small group of 8-10 visitors. This will help you have a peaceful and enjoyable tour.
What all are included: Make it a point to check what all are included in your travel package. These could be meals, Geiger count equipment rentals, taxes, pick and drop facilities, etc.
Essential points to remember when visiting Chernobyl—take down these notes
Tours to Chernobyl take place year-round, so anyone who is interested to visit the place can do so any time of the year. The place gets its maximum number of footfalls during the summer months; however, there are some visitors during the cold winter months as well.
Below are some essentials to remember when you are visiting Chernobyl.
- Items that you can bring with you for a comfortable trip:
- Pair of comfortable shoes
- A rain jacket
- A camera
- A parka and gloves if you are visiting during winter months
- Waterproof shoes for walking on the snow
Now that you have an idea on how to visit Chernobyl and what all to expect, it will be easier for you to plan your trip to the said destination. It is advisable to do good research before finalizing on dates and travel plans.
Make sure to check with your travel operator about the necessary visa and travel permissions that are required. It is advisable to book your tours in advance and make your hotel and car rental bookings in advance so that you do not have to go through any last-minute hassles. Always get travel and health insurance before you travel to any destination.
It is amongst those very few places on Earth where you can witness history in its own element. It is a remnant of man’s potential to do well and cause destruction at the same time. It is a place that is set in time, to remind everyone of how quickly devastation can befall us.
Chernobyl has been a tourist attraction since the last three decades, and rightfully so, it has provided the world with hauntingly beautiful images of the ruins of the city and its nearby places. Visiting this iconic nuclear disaster plant will be a thrilling experience and will be worth all the money that you spend on this trip. Even though it is a travel haven for adventure enthusiasts, be sure to stay safe during your visit to Chernobyl.