The term “Chernobyl” has now become associated with tragedy, despair, and grief. It’s been over thirty years since the day of the chaotic Chernobyl disaster. Yet, it remains as one of the most dreadful catastrophes in the history of mankind. Several generations have passed, but the appealing stories and gripping artifacts left frozen in time have tickled the curiosity of a new generation of people from all parts of the globe. No wonder, up until now, millions of tourist’s desire to visit the exclusion zone, are interested in booking Chernobyl tours, and are excited to witness the abandoned ghost town of Pripyat with their own eyes.
If you are one of these people who is planning for a tour in Chernobyl, there’s a couple of things you need to know first. From picking the right Chernobyl tour company to being aware of the safety measures, here’s everything you need to consider upfront before you visit Chernobyl.
Choosing the Right Tour Company
As the popularity of the Chernobyl exclusion zone tours grows, so as the number of travel agencies organizing them. You will encounter tons of them during your search. However, you won’t be 100% sure which of them is worth hiring. That’s why when it comes to picking the right agency, choose the one that will prioritize your safety and your satisfaction during the tour and after that. Their responsibility should include handling the organizational issues, preparing the documents needed, providing you with exhaustive information on what to expect during the trip, reminding you of the essential supplies to take along, enumerating all the nuances for you to consider, as well as orienting you on how to prepare for the tour for maximum satisfaction.
Assessing their credibility should be the very first requirement you must be aware of as well. Check their best certificates to ensure you will be guided by professionals who are experienced and more knowledgeable on the job. If you have time, you could also study their reviews from their previous clients and discuss the nuances you are interested in with their agency managers. Include in your discussion the number of people involved in the tour as well–for as you know this may affect the cost and your overall experience during the tour. Finally, select the best travel agency that has everything well-planned with all the details specified. Pay close attention to what they are offering like their pick-up point and others. Either way, if you really want to experience unforgettable and everlasting moments during the trip, find an agency that will meet or exceed the major criteria mentioned–the one whom you can trust and you will be completely satisfied with.
Consider Booking A 2-Day Tour
After choosing your tour company, you will have to set how long you want your tour to be too. The richness and diversity of the Chernobyl Exclusive zone are so vast that it is unattainable for you to cover and experience everything in a 1-day visit. Due to the in-demand requests and the aim to have everyone discover and convey this diversity and richness, the Chernobyl tour program is now offering 2-, 3-, 4, 5, 6, and 7-day trips. The 1-day tour will take you to those places which currently flood all over Instagram feeds: Reactor 4, Ferris Wheel, Duga radar, and more. Meanwhile, a 2-day trip enables visitors to fully assess the picture of radiation contamination by visiting various areas of the Zone at varying distances from the unit of the explosion. In contrast, in 3- and 4-day tours, you’ll have the opportunity to get the on-site basic radiation survival training.
But among the given trip choices, many suggest booking a 2-day tour. On this trip, you will be given a unique experience to visit locals residing in the exclusion zone. These are the people who came back after the explosion and settled there for good known as re-settlers. Whereas, others are locals who refused to leave during the disaster. Meeting those locals can be a great opportunity for you to learn more about what truly happened during the Chernobyl incident and empathize even more. Plus, you will also get a chance to spend one night in a dorm in Chernobyl town.
Consider Getting A Travel Insurance
Although travel insurance for tourists is not required as a prerequisite for a visa, it’s always a wise idea to have one. Even though half the fun of your tour is unexpected, you should always be prepared as much as possible. Now if you’re planning to book for a Chernobyl tour, you should know that Ukraine is requiring travel insurance that covers all possible expenses including COVID-19 related costs.
Under normal circumstances, Ukraine is safe to travel. However, any amount of travel involves a certain amount of risk. Among these travel-risks include petty theft, health conditions, as well as flight delays, and baggage misplacement. So, if you want to travel to Ukraine, consider getting Ukraine travel insurance. Unfortunately, a travel insurance policy doesn’t cover long-term effects and only covers you for the duration of your holiday. That’s why when buying insurance, make sure that you will not have to worry about any inadvertent expenses or mishaps. To do this, consider first the risks that you might face. Then, look for a travel insurance company that offers comprehensive coverage exclusively for those risks. Or better yet, as mentioned by Ukraine’s travel spokesperson, “those who are planning on going on the tour should proceed in caution.”
Consider the Costs of The Tour
Depending on how early you book your Chernobyl tour and what type of trip or how many days you want to be in the Exclusion Zone, the current prices of the tour will range from $110-$620. Moreover, the cost of the tours also depends on the tour duration (from 1 to 7 days with an overnight stay in Chernobyl state hotel) as well as on the tour type (either a private trip or a scheduled group trip).
The price for a scheduled 1-day trip, for example, includes all formal permissions, professional English-speaking guide (or guide plus interpreter), comfortable auto transportation Kyiv-Zone-Kyiv (air conditioning, viewing a selection of documentary films on the route), maximally permitted time of stay in the Zone (leaving Kyiv at 8:00 a.m., arriving back at 8-9 p.m.), teaching skills of radiation survival, an extended program of the visit, route map, compulsory insurance, and personal certificate about the visit to the Chernobyl zone. You can also rent the reliable personal dosimeter Terra-P for the trip for $10.
Take Note of The Safety Measures
Remember that the territory of the Pripyat town and the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is still a closed area. Visitors are not permitted to stay in these areas without an experienced tour guide. According to scientists, this area won’t be appropriate for living for more than 20,000 years. But, they added that it is safe and normal to visit the Zone for a few days. Your tour guide will lead you only to the safe routes where you can also enjoy viewing its most incredible places. A strict dress code is implemented for visitors of the zone such as no short pants or short-sleeved clothes. Instead, it’s advised to wear fully covered shoes to avoid contamination from the radioactive ground.
Even though the short tour can’t cause harm to the visitor’s health, it’s still vital to follow some rules and restrictions and apply safety measures to be protected from any health problems. Some of these safety measures include not touching any objects on the territory, and looting them, making sure that you are screened and checked for the radiation level after your tour, and finally, getting a shower and washing your clothes after the tour. These precautions are implemented to prevent letting any radioactive elements from going out of the Chernobyl territory.
Indeed, traveling is a wonderful eye-opener. It is a way to learn about histories and cultures that are different from ours. It gives us an incredible opportunity to know what mankind is capable of in their constant struggle for supremacy. And Chernobyl offers just that! You have the freedom to decide for yourself if you want to get new emotions, experience, and witness Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. You can enjoy all of these if you deliberately plan the trip well in advance, choose the right travel agency, manage to take care, as well as follow the safety protocols–your Chernobyl tour can be a trip like no other, and one that’s bound to stay with you for years to come.