All what you need to know about getting to Chernobyl from Kiev
Visiting Chernobyl could be one of the most fascinating things you ever do and you will walk away with a much better understanding of humanity, as well as a whole host of interesting facts.
In recent months, there has been a huge surge in interest in the tragic event that occurred at Chernobyl on April 26, 1986. This is largely due to the highly popular HBO mini-series entitled “Chernobyl”.
That being said, the world will never forget this horrific accident and many folks are interested in experiencing first-hand what it’s like to walk around on the site of Chernobyl. This is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is not to be missed!
If this sounds like you, the good news is that it is easier than you think to arrange a tour to Chernobyl and the nearby ghost town of Pripyat!
Can I visit Chernobyl without a guide?
Many people wonder if they can visit Chernobyl without a guide, but I can tell you it will not be possible.
This is due to a very specific reason; the area surrounding Chernobyl (2600 square kilometers or about 1000 square miles) is an exclusion zone with a restricted entrance.
Entrance is only permitted when accompanied by an accredited tour guide and after obtaining special permission. Otherwise, it is practically impossible to gain access to Chernobyl’s ghost town of Pripyat, or the rest of Chernobyl’s exclusion zone.
A guide is therefore an absolute must. Plus, having a guide will give you a lot more insight into Chernobyl and make your visit much more interesting!
What really happened in Chernobyl?
Let’s talk about the most common questions visitors to Chernobyl usually have, starting with what happened there:
On April 26, 1986 at 1:23 am, Chernobyl’s power plant reactor №4 exploded and nothing would ever be the same again in this area.
This explosion occurred during a safety test which had the aim of creating a safety procedure in the event of a power failure. The test was said to have been rushed and this, coupled with an alleged design flaw in the nuclear reactor, resulted in a surge of energy. This then caused the explosion and exposed the reactor’s graphite moderator to the outside air.
After that, a massive plume of radioactive dust entered the surrounding air which negatively affected an untold number of people in the surrounding areas.
How Pripyat became the ghost town of Chernobyl
Pripyat, a town where power plant workers and their families lived, was hit the hardest. The impact of this devastating event can still be seen in the town of Pripyat where abandoned homes still have furniture, beds, household equipment and toys that were left behind in a rush.
Situated north of the power plant, Pripyat’s residents (some 49,000 people) were evacuated 36 hours after the explosion as this was within the 10 km essential evacuation zone. Evacuees had to leave behind all their personal belongings and flee the city as soon as possible.
When it was found that the radioactive fallout from the plume continued to be generated, residents within 30 km of the explosion were also told to evacuate, meaning an additional 60,000 people who lived in the villages and small towns surrounding Chernobyl.
But, is it safe to go to Chernobyl?
Yes, it is!
Over the years, the reactor has been contaminated, topsoil in the area has been removed and many wooden structures have been taken down. Radiation is ghost town is higher than other places, but is within safe limits making it safe for tourists.
If you are worried about radiation, I would recommend using a radiation measurement instrument to check the amount of radiation you are exposed to, just to ease your mind!
When using one of these instruments, you will be pleasantly surprised that radiation you receive will be tiny and roughly the equivalent to a short plane flight!
You can find more about Chernobyl radiation in my post: Kiev is Safe From Radiation and This is Why.
When exploring the old buildings and structures in Chernobyl and Pripyat, I recommend using caution and stepping carefully as these structures haven’t been renovated since 1986.
Can I visit Chernobyl power plant itself?
Your tour guide will get as close as possible, but visiting Chernobyl power plant itself is off-limits. The fact that many areas in zone are restricted. Expect your Chernobyl tour guide to provide you with all the relevant information before you go there, and during your tour.
How much does it cost to tour Chernobyl?
The cost of a tour to Chernobyl will vary from company to company. In general, you can expect to pay anything from $100 to $500 per person, which obviously depends on the kind of Chernobyl tour you wish to take.
Does anyone live in Chernobyl or Pripyat nowadays?
Believe it or not, yes, there are some people who live within the exclusion zone!
They don’t live in Pripyat itself, but in some old villages in the area. These are mainly people of old age who just decided (for their own reasons) to live the rest of their days in the houses where they were born, and regardless of all unfavorable conditions.
That being said, the people who lived in the towns before the explosion will never return there again.
So, are you planning to experience Chernobyl, on your next visit to Kiev?
See you in Kiev 🙂