Would you like to visit the remains of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant? And take a look at the ghost town of Pripyat? Visiting this strange place can be arranged with an excursion from Kiev. A visit to Chernobyl is bizarre, impressive and certainly a history lesson. I think it’s a sight you must have seen once in your life… Do you like visiting Chernobyl? I’ll explain everything to you about visiting Chernobyl.
Visiting Chernobyl: an excursion from Kiev
The history of Chernobyl
Due to a test error, a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded on 26 April 1986. That night, 31 people died. In the days that followed, all the people in a 30 kilometre radius of the nuclear reactor were evacuated. They suddenly have to leave their homes and all their possessions behind. The radioactive material that has been released is blown into the region by the wind. Because of this high level of radioactivity, the area around Chernobyl must be hermetically sealed.
This disaster is the biggest nuclear disaster the world has ever known.
The old nuclear power plant and the buildings are still standing today. It has now become a ghost area full of deserted streets and buildings where nature has had free rein for years. With 65,000 inhabitants, Pripyat is the largest city in the area. Since a number of years you can visit the area around the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, including the deserted city of Pripyat.
Visiting Chernobyl: How to arrange an excursion?
In Kiev there are several tour operators that offer excursions. There are one-day or two-day excursions and you can choose between a private excursion or a group excursion. Everything is arranged through the tour operators: transport, permission to enter the area, a guide, your insurance and lunch. A two-day tour also includes an overnight stay in the area. The different tour operators all offer a similar program. The differences in the excursions are whether you will be picked up at your hotel or have to come to a central location in Kiev and whether you will be given a dosimeter during the excursion to measure the radiation.
The costs for an excursion to Chernobyl:
- 1 day: € 119,-
- 2 days: € 279,-
- The excursion must be arranged several days in advance.
- I have arranged the excursion online through this company and that was great.
What does an excursion to Chernobyl look like?
From Kiev we leave at half past 8 in a bus with a guide and together with 4 other tourists for Chernobyl. This is a ride of about two hours. In the bus a documentary is played about the Chernobyl disaster and all its consequences. After two hours of driving we arrive at the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Before we drive in here we get a strict check by the police. We all have to get off the bus and our passports are checked. The barrier opens and we drive into the alienation zone. It immediately strikes us that there is nothing and nobody there. The roads are deserted. Bizarre!
We drive about 15 minutes through the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and from the bus we see the deserted villages of Zalisja and Kopachi and the disinfected Red Forest. We then arrive at the city of Pripyat and we get off the bus for a walk of about two hours. The abandoned city of Pripyat was built for the employees of the power station and was a model city for the Soviet Union. Now it is a completely deserted place with clearly a very tragic history. Here we visit the hospital, the town hall, the fire station, the Polissya hotel, the supermarket, the nursery and the famous never-opened amusement park with the Ferris wheel and the bumper cars. All these buildings have been abandoned and weathered over time. The guide brought photos showing what the city looked like in its full bloom. Just before the disaster occurred. It’s crazy to see the pictures and realize that from one moment to the next there was no life left in this city. Walking around in this city is strange and it is special to see that the buildings are overgrown by nature. We have all been given a meter with which we can measure the radiation. That way we are safe and you can see that in some places the radiation is a bit higher than in others.
After the hike we get back in the bus and visit the nuclear power plant. People are still working in this nuclear power plant. Since a couple of years a large sacrophage has been placed around the power plant. It is simply not possible to shut down a nuclear power plant, it takes decades before such a thing is possible. The guide says that people are still working and depending on your job, they work an x number of hours before they have to leave the nuclear power plant again. We have lunch in the only restaurant in this area. Next we go to Duga 3, an impressive large radar system during the heydays of the Cold War. A bizarre system of which much is still unknown, such as who placed it there, who paid for it and what the actual function was. The fact is that demolishing this system is far too expensive and dangerous and that’s why it’s still there. Then we drive out of the zone again and we all have to go through a check to make sure we don’t have any radioactive particles on our clothes. Luckily we all have nothing and get back on the bus and drive back to Kiev. Around 18.00 hours we are back in the city.
Preparation excursion Chernobyl
- To visit Chernobyl and the surrounding areas you need a visa. It takes time to arrange this and therefore it is advisable to arrange your tour on time (at least one week in advance).
- When booking your tour it is necessary to provide your passport details.
- During the tour you will also need your passport, because before you get on the bus they will check if everything is in order with your passport.
- Wearing closed shoes and clothing that completely cover your arms and legs is mandatory.
- The tour is not suitable for pregnant women and children under the age of 18.
Is it dangerous to visit Chernobyl?
The immediate vicinity of the nuclear reactor is still radioactive and that is why the government has cordoned off the area within a radius of 30 kilometres. But it is not dangerous to visit Chernobyl, provided you listen carefully to the guide’s instructions. This means, among other things, that you don’t touch or pick up anything and don’t sit on anything. The guide also makes sure that you take the safest paths. The amount of radioactive radiation is minimal and can be compared to the radiation you get during an x-ray at the dentist. You will be given a Geiger counter, which will tell you if you come close to too much radiation. When you leave the alienation zone, there are two mandatory radiation checks that check whether you are radioactively contaminated.
Combining Kiev with an excursion to Chernobyl
I myself have chosen to combine a city trip Kiev with visiting Chernobyl. Chernobyl is about 2 hours drive from Kiev. Kiev is a nice city to visit and here you can read all about a visit to this city.