Have you ever been a medical tourist
TYou can only visit schernobyl with guided tours.
The tours start in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, 100 km from the entrance to the exclusion zone.
I have booked the best-rated tour and I am sharing my experience with it here.
There are also answers to the most frequently asked questions about visiting the exclusion zone.
I will start with the questions and then I will describe the "From Kiev: day trip to the Chernobyl exclusion zone with Pripyat" tour exactly.
You can get to the reactor within a few hundred meters.
5 questions before visiting Chernobyl
1. What are the rules for visiting the Chernobyl exclusion zone?
Entry into the exclusion zone is possible from the age of 18 with a guided tour and a permit applied for in advance.
The application for approval must be submitted a few days before the planned travel date. Therefore, it is essential to reserve the tour in advance. That avoids disappointment in Kiev.
The booking works together with the application for approval with GetYourGuide. You have a form that, together with the booking, sends all important information to the operator in Ukraine.
Your passport number, full name, date of birth and nationality of all travel participants are required for permission to visit the restricted zone. The tour guides in Ukraine apply for your permission to visit the restricted zone.
Police officers check the permit in front of the Chernobyl checkpoint together with the passport. Therefore fill in all the information correctly and remember your ID!
Viator also has a similar function for the application.
I prefer to book tours with GetYourGuide because they have significantly better reviews.
There are dangerous places. The guides only take you to the safe points in the exclusion zone.
2. Is the radiation in Chernobyl dangerous?
That depends on which part of the exclusion zone you are visiting. There are still very dangerous places with radiation of 600 to 800 microsieverts per hour, for example in the Red Forest. For comparison, radiation poisoning begins at 1,000 microsieverts.
The tours only take you to safe places. You can only see places with high levels of radiation from a safe distance.
To be on the safe side, all tour participants receive a personal dosimeter for the entire tour at the entrance to the restricted zone. It measures the radiation collected during the entire tour.
My dosimeter showed 1.5 microsieverts after being in the exclusion zone for around ten hours. A person takes in between 0.7 and 2 microsieverts on a normal day, depending on where they live. A one-hour flight causes a radiation exposure of 10 to 20 microsieverts.
Your return flight to Kiev is therefore likely to cause a multiple of the radiation exposure of your tour to Chernobyl. The Federal Office for Radiation Protection has more comparisons.
Many houses in the exclusion zone have collapsed.
3. Is a tour to Chernobyl safe?
In addition to locations with high levels of radiation exposure, collapsing houses are among the potential dangers in Chernobyl. Since some house facades, floors and stairs collapsed, tour groups are no longer allowed to go into houses for pictures.
Our tour guide said that the police are very careful to ensure that no one goes into buildings. None of us tried it. Allegedly whole tour groups have been thrown out of the exclusion zone because of this.
You can still see the inside of the building through open doors, windows and collapsed house walls.
Important! Pack your passport! He will be checked at the checkpoint in front of the exclusion zone, at a control point in the zone and when leaving the Chernobyl exclusion zone.
With the standard tours you will see the most important sights in Chernobyl.
4. Which sights can I see during a tour?
I booked a classic tour with the highlights in Chernobyl.
- Chernobyl nuclear power plant: you are standing around 400 m from reactor block 4 in the nuclear power plant, which is now surrounded by a "sarcophagus" to protect against radiation. During the tour you will eat in the Chernobyl power plant canteen. The workers who dismantle the nuclear power plant also eat there.
- Pripyat ghost town: the abandoned communist planned town with once 50,000 inhabitants. Most of the Chernobyl workers lived in Pripyat.
- Chernobyl village: the village after the power plant was named with the last statue of Lenin in Ukraine, the post office and the hotels in the exclusion zone.
- Duga radar station: a formerly secret Soviet radar system for the early warning of ICBMs. The residents of the surrounding villages were not allowed to visit them themselves. The guards had an order to shoot.
- Red wood: View from a safe point of the most heavily contaminated part of the exclusion zone. After the explosion, the wind carried the radioactive elements to the small forest near the power station. In some places, the radiation still reaches 600 to 800 microsieverts per hour.
In addition to the day tours, there are guided tours lasting several days with an overnight stay in the exclusion zone. The multi-day tours take more time for the various stations.
Two hotels even accept tour groups in the village of Chernobyl within the exclusion zone.
You can only book the hotels together with guided tours.
Gas masks like those in the souvenir shop in front of the entrance to the exclusion zone are not necessary. But you have to wear sturdy shoes and long trousers.
5. Do I have to know anything else?
- Solid shoes: Open-toed shoes are prohibited in the exclusion zone.
- No drones: I still saw drones next to the Ferris wheel in Pripyat. Maybe flights are allowed with a special permit?
- Long trousers: No shorts and no short skirts.
- No houses:Entering houses is prohibited.
- Geiger counter: You can borrow your own Geiger counter for around € 10 (200 hryvnia) from your guide or buy it in front of the checkpoint for around € 40.
- To eat and drink: you can book it in the Chernobyl power plant canteen for an extra charge of around € 10. There is a stop at a gas station on the way there and back.
- Money: You can book the food in the canteen online. The tour guides sell it again on the bus if necessary. You can pay with a credit card on the bus and in the Chernobyl canteen. Still, pack some cash to be on the safe side. Here are my tips on converting euros to Ukrainian hryvnia and withdrawing money in Ukraine.
Experience with the tour from Kiev to the Chernobyl and Pripyat exclusion zone
Booking and departure to Chernobyl
I booked the tour two days before I arrived in Kiev.
After booking, the organizers must apply for a confirmation of the visit to the restricted zone. That's why some tours were no longer available at such short notice. I didn't know that beforehand.
Therefore, reserve a place at least one week before the planned travel date. With GetYourGuide you can rebook or cancel free of charge up to 24 hours before departure without giving a reason.
I booked the "From Kiev: Day Tour to the Chernobyl and Pripyat Exclusion Zone". On the day I booked, it had the best ratings and the right program with the highlights in the exclusion zone.
The language is english.
German-language tours are significantly more expensive.
The tour begins and ends in front of the Taras Shevchenko National University in Kiev.
Departure in the morning from Kiev
My tour started at 7:25 am in front of the Taras Shevchenko National University in Kiev.
The same departure point and the approximate time was also in almost all other descriptions of the tours. The 15-minute drive from my hotel on Majdan Platz to the university with Uber cost 51.02 hryvnia (€ 1.93) in the morning.
Opposite the entrance to the university is the row of white minibuses for the Chernobyl tours. Tour guides stand in front of the buses with a list of names. You have to find the right bus with your booking confirmation.
Around 15 passengers each fit into the Mercedes buses.
Break in front of a gas station on the way to Chernobyl.
The buses have WiFi and a screen for documentation of the reactor accident on the way to the exclusion zone.
Drive from Kiev to the checkpoint
There are 12 passengers in the not fully occupied bus. First, a documentary about the reactor accident in Chernobyl is shown on a screen in the bus.
Halfway through the two-hour journey, we stop at a gas station to buy food, coffee and the toilet. The rest of the drive to the checkpoint in front of the exclusion zone goes by relatively quickly with food, the view of the landscape and the Wi-Fi in the bus.
Checkpoint in front of the Chernobyl exclusion zone
The tour guide distributes our visit confirmations and personal dosimeters in front of the checkpoint. A police officer later checked them together with our ID cards.
The inspection in front of the entrance takes 15 minutes. We have time for a toilet break. If you like, you can buy something again in the souvenir shops.
Checkpoint in front of the exclusion zone
In front of the checkpoint, our tour guide hands out the confirmation of visit for the restricted zone and a personal dosimeter for all participants. Then everyone has to get off the bus. Police officers carefully check the confirmation together with the passport and the dosimeter.
After 15 minutes we are finally allowed to drive into the exclusion zone. A British and a Polish couple bought another coffee and souvenirs from the souvenir stands at the checkpoint.
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