One of our main reasons for visiting Ukraine was to head to Chernobyl. It’s always been on my radar and so I was determined to try and visit the site whilst we were travelling around Eastern Europe. We visited Chernobyl with a tour group called Chernobyl Tour, who run various tours within the exclusion zone.
Thinking of heading to Chernobyl?
Here’s what we got up to on our trip, and my review of Chernobyl Tour.
Booking The Tour
So we booked our tour a few months ahead of time. Mainly due to the fact that the Chernobyl TV Series had just been aired and we knew that places were probably going to fill up fast. After a lot of Google searching and review reading, we knew we wanted to book with Chernobyl Tours. They had the best reviews, had been established for a reasonably long time (since 2008), and they also had tours available almost every day.
There are a variety of tours available depending on what you’re wanting to get out of your experience – from one day tours, to scheduled trips over several days, as well as private and the HBO Chernobyl series tours. You can check out those tours and more on their website.
The tour we chose was the one day tour, and honestly, you fit so much in to your day it’s insane.
Our one day tour cost us $99 – and it was totally worth the money.
The price includes entrance to Chernobyl, transport to and from Kyiv (the bus is air conditioned, and there are documentaries shown on route about the explosion), an English speaking guide as well as insurance, a map, and a certificate about your visit to the exclusion zone.
The tour departs from next to Kyiv’s main train station at 8am. However, you need to make sure you arrive for your bus between 7.30 and 7.50 for registration and to pay the rest of your trip money if you have only paid the deposit. At registration, they will check your passport and details, and will also check you are wearing appropriate clothing (more of this in a second). At 8am, the bus will depart on it’s 2 hour trip to the exclusion zone.
I’m not going to go into crazy detail about what you get up to on your tour, mainly because I reckon that would ruin your experience. So here’s a brief run-through of what you can expect once you arrive at Chernobyl.
Upon arrival at the Dytyatky Checkpoint, you will have your radiation levels read and will be given a geiger-counter. This is an important part of your day as it allows the staff to make sure you haven’t absorbed dangerous levels of radiation on your trip around the site.
You’ll then begin your tour which will take you to some of the following locations within the exclusion zone:
- The town of Pripyat (once home to over 50,000 people before the explosion)
- The Red Forest – which absorbed some of the highest levels of radiation
- The hospital which the firefighters and power plant workers injured in the aftermath
- Pripyat Stadium
- The Amusement Park which never opened
- Kopachi Village
- The Sarcophagus – the ‘arch’ built to cover the destroyed reactor
There are many more locations you’ll visit, and each tour is slightly different depending on your guide and the weather!
You get to spend a good chunk of time at each location, hearing stories of locals who lived there, details of what truly happened to the reactor, and thoughts on the future of the site.
On departure from Chernobyl, you will get chance to buy some souvenirs as well as receive a certificate congratulating you on your completion of the day! The radiation levels you’ve absorbed will also be recorded on here, but don’t worry – they’re tiny! Our levels were just 0.002mSv (millisievert) which is lower than a pilot will receive on a long haul flight!
Obviously safety is paramount.
Therefore there are strict clothing requirements you must follow in order to be even allowed on to the bus.
- A jacket/top with long sleeves
- Trousers (with no rips or holes!)
- Boots/trainers with no openings
These are regulations enforced by both the company and the exclusion zone, so they must be followed at all times!
So feel free to take your own snacks and packed lunch on your tour. But if you want to try something a bit different and have a crazy experience, why not opt for lunch in the canteen.
For an extra $8, you can have your lunch in the canteen alongside the workers from the exclusion zone.
Meals are prepared using ingredients from outside the exclusion zone, so there’s little risk of any effects from radiation. The food is tasty, nutritious and hearty. I honestly couldn’t move after I’d finished. So if you’re up for trying something new and like getting the most out of your experiences, this is definitely a great option for you!
Chernobyl Tours Review
Chernobyl Tours were fantastic.
Their knowledge of the site, its history and local facts and legends, is just insane.
Their tour availability and value for money makes them such a great option for booking your tour – I would highly recommend giving them a go if you’re interested in visiting Chernobyl!
If you’re planning on staying a few days in Kyiv before or after your Chernobyl visit, then be sure to check out my top sites to visit in the city!