How to plan a safe and exciting trip to Chernobyl
Since the hit HBO series, the Chernobyl site has seen a surge in popularity; here’s how to plan a safe trip to the former nuclear disaster zone.
Many of us have seen the powerful HBO miniseries called “Chernobyl”. This series was very accurate (although there were creative releases like the dramatic scene of the helicopter apparently crashing from radiation – in reality it crashed after hitting the crane). Today it is easy and straightforward to visit this site, and you can also explore Ukraine a lot more during your stay.
There is radiation here, of course, and people are not allowed to live here (except for a few diehards), but with short exposure there is nothing to worry about. So get ready for a real post-apocalypse world. This site is only a short drive from the capital of Ukraine and the largest city of Kiev and is close to the border with Belarus. Part of the exclusion zone that surrounds it extends as far as Belarus.
History of the disaster and the state today
The Chernobyl merger and explosion happened 35 years ago, in 1986, towards the end of the Soviet Union. Some believe it even contributed to the collapse of the USSR because it helped shatter the image of invincibility. It is by far the worst nuclear disaster of all time.
The nuclear power plant is called the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, but the neighboring town was called Pripyat. It’s in Pripyat where you can truly see the post-apocalypse world of a once vibrant city reclaimed by forests and animals with birds nesting in buildings, deer grazing the streets and wolves stalking in the shadows. .
- Population of Pripyat: 50,000 (before evacuation in 1986)
As in the HBO series, local authorities were reluctant to recognize the scale of the disaster and thus refused to search the local population. When the evacuation order was given, it was carried out in earnest with the order to bring only what was necessary. They were told that they would only be evacuated for 3 days, but that they were never to return. Today you can see the personal effects of a population that leaves in a hurry, expecting to return after a few days. It’s weird and straight out of an apocalypse movie (kinda literally).
The HBO series showed incredible attention to detail, so you can see firefighters’ radioactive clothing spilling out into the basement, as shown, along with many other small details.
- Fun fact: HBO series Cherynobol was filmed in Vilnius, Lithuania (Soviet cities all look alike)
- Visa (for entry into Ukraine): Visa-free for all Western passports
Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and Factory
Today, the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone lies within a radius of about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the site (although its shape is very irregular. This zone extends as far as Belarus in addition to the north of Ukraine This is one of the region’s greatest biodiversity hotspots due to the extremely limited human interaction in the region.
- Ray: About 30 KM or 19 Miles
- Cut: 2,600 square km or 1,000 square miles
Incredibly, the plant remained operational until 2000, when the site began to be decommissioned. The explosion took place in reactor number 4, but the other reactors continued to operate as the Soviet Union and then Ukraine could not afford to shut down the entire plant. The other 3 reactors therefore continued to operate until the 21st century and the plant is still being dismantled today.
The complete clean-up of nuclear waste is not expected to be completed before 2065. Reactor number 4 is buried in a steel structure called “New Safe Confinement” to prevent radiation from escaping. You will therefore not be able to see the real reactor number 4 because it is locked up.
Today there is a range of tours you can take to see Pripyat and the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. These tours ensure radioactive safety and offer tours in different languages (including of course English). For multi-day tours, you will be accommodated in a hotel inside the exclusion zone (they claim the background radiation is the same as Kiev or Moscow). You can choose between a private tour or a group tour.
- Cost: Per day $ 99
- Duration of visit: Optional one-day, two-day or three-day tours
- Time: Departure 8:00 a.m. and return 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
- Where does the tour start and end: Kiev
Remember, Ukraine is cold in winter, so while you can visit any time of the year, the best time will always be late spring or summer. Also, don’t forget that there is much more to Kiev and Ukraine to see than Chernobyl.
- Best time to visit: End of spring and summer
You can choose from a range of tour options, including tours with a special focus on the HBO series Chernobyl and kayaking tours of nearby lakes and rivers. Some tours even allow you to visit parts of the nuclear power plant itself, such as some control rooms and other safe places to visit.
There has been an explosion of wildlife in this region, although there have been a number of mutations reported in various animals like birds due to the radiation from the area. Some of the animals include; wild boars, roe deer, black storks, harriers, badgers, moose, owls, swans, egrets, beavers and of course wolves.
In short, visiting the sites of Chernobyl and Pripyat is a unique experience and a foretaste of Armageddon and the Apocalpyse.
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