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Chernobyl - practical information

How can you get to Chernobyl?

Due to the increased attention to the topic of Chernobyl these days, guides are offering the full-fledged tours to foreign guests. It is possible to book such a tour in advance, choosing among the several companies that provide excursions to the Exclusion Zone.

A tourist needs to come to Boryspil Airport, catch the SkyBus or a commuter train in order to get to Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi Railway Station. It is possible to find cheap bus tickets to Kyiv from any city on the Busfor company website. On the meeting point, tourists are introduced to the tour operator, who leads them further to the excursion.

Tours and trips from Kyiv

Travel agencies hold various tours to Chernobyl on any budget. One-day trips are the most popular ones; however, 2- or 3-days tours are available as well. You can also book a group tour and go together with your friends. In this case, agencies often provide a discount.

Average tour price: - One-day trip – 45-50 EUR - Two-day trip – 115 EUR Individual and group tours are arranged with the agency manager.

Tour price includes: - Transfer (usually by a big comfortable shuttle van); - Company representative accompaniment; - Tour insurance (agencies also offer medical insurance); - Guide assistance; - Entry permits to the Exclusion Zone.

One-day tour program starts at 7-8 a.m. and ends at 8-9 p.m. Excursion program includes lectures on radiation studies and training on survival in conditions of radiation exposition. Sometimes tourists have an opportunity to communicate with Chernobyl residents, who came back home, as well as with CNPP (Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant) employees.

chernobyl

Despite the variety of tour offers, some people are not interested in official excursions. Stalkers invade the zone alone or in groups. However, such perpetrators are usually promptly spotted. The local security draws up a report and seizes their photo equipment; further, stalkers are fined and can be released after the radiation contamination check.

If the guards find an object picked up in the Exclusion Zone during the body search, the stalker will have even more problems because it would be regarded as a penal action. Moreover, unauthorized visitors are at risk to be mutilated by wild animals. Finally, stalkers are always staying overnight in the abandoned buildings that are already dilapidated and crumbling, and it poses a serious threat to their lives.

Useful travel tips

Are you planning to go on tour to the Exclusion Zone? Then you should take with you the following items:

  • Water. 1-1,5L bottle is enough for a one-day trip as drinking from Chernobyl dwells are strictly prohibited.
  • Flashlight. It is a crucial thing if you plan to go to Chernobyl in early spring or late autumn when it’s getting dark quite quickly.
  • Wet wipes.
  • Eyeglasses, which you will use as a cover from penetration of radionuclide particles into the body.
  • Insect repellent. It is especially necessary during the summertime.

Bringing alcohol drinks is strongly forbidden. If you appear to be under the influence of intoxicants, you may get in serious troubles. Sharp objects are under the ban as well.

Underage children are not allowed to visit the Exclusion Zone. It is not recommended for pregnant women to visit Chernobyl as well.

Appropriate outfit for the tour:

  • Clothes. Your body should be fully covered under the apparel, especially during the 10-kilometer zone visit. Clothes should be made of dense texture, which will be difficult to tear if it clings to something. In case of rainy weather, it is recommended to wear a waterproof slicker or raincoat.

  • Footwear. There can be anything on the ground such as rocks, nails, branches, pieces of rusty metal, and shattered glass. That is why it is recommended to wear comfortable footwear with a thick lug sole. The best option is combat boots or hiking shoes. You will walk a lot during the tour, so your footwear has to be comfortable. It is a good idea to have a spare pair of shoes in case if you do not pass the control zone and have to throw away the first pair.

Where is to stay overnight in Chernobyl?

In Chernobyl you can stay at:

  • Desyatka Hotel. It’s a 2-strorey hotel which is located in the former building of ChernobylInterInforma. The rooms accommodate 2-3 people. Toilet and shower are shared among 2 rooms.
  • Pripyat Hotel. It is located in Chernobyl on Polupanova street. All rooms are designed in plain Soviet style. Each room accommodates either 3 or 4 people.
  • Hostel. The local hostel can accommodate up to 100 people at one time. Among the room’s facilities are TV, Wi-Fi, and shared bathroom.

Where is to have a meal in Chernobyl?

It is not recommended to eat outdoors anywhere in Chernobyl. So it is better to drink some water or have a sandwich in the car or hotel. You can have a substantial meal in the canteen which is located in CNNP. It’s a place where all plant workers, as well as many tourists, have dinner. The prices are reasonable, and the meal is really delicious. Each canteen visitor has to go through a special gate in order to get inside. If some radioactive particles are detected on your clothes, it will not allow you to come in.

What are the interesting places to visit in Chernobyl?

After the release of Chernobyl TV-series, tour popularity has raised up to 40%. People look for any opportunity to come there and see the pictures from the film with their own eyes. S.T.A.L.K.E.R game fans are also among them. So what should you see in the Exclusion Zone once you’ve made a decision to go on tour?

Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant

Unit 4 is the most crucial landmark of the whole Exclusion Zone. The first Ukrainian power plant gained its notoriety after April 1986 tragic events. The destroyed reactor was covered by the defense confinement, which protects the environment from the detrimental effects of radiation.

The Red Forest

The part of the forest which was situated close to CNNP was severely affected by radioactive fallout. Most of the bushes and trees died having absorbed high levels of radiation, and the leaves gained unusual red shade. Eventually, affected trees were cut down and buried. To this date, the local flora has already renewed, and leaves have got natural color. However, there is a slight mutation of the plants; some trees are short, having too many or too little branches, and pine needles are growing unevenly.

Pripyat

pripyat

Pripyat is a satellite town of Chernobyl located 2 kilometers from it. This city was built specifically for the workers of CNPP. By the time of the disaster, there were 47500 residents, according to official statistics; 1200 buses evacuated the frightened people in less than 24 hours. These days, this place has become even more tragic, looking dead and derelict. The wide streets are overgrown with trees, and dilapidated buildings are twined with greenery. There are still iron beds and scattered toys in the kindergartens. Amusement park looks like a scrap pile. Children never rode any of these attractions, since the disaster happened in 5 days before the park opening. Nowadays, the Ferris wheel is the most recognizable point of Pripyat, which became its landmark. By the way, this park is considered to be the most contaminated place due to the great number of metal structures.

The Polissya Hotel

This building is located in the downtown of Pripyat. It was meant to become one of the major sightseeing of the city. It was planned to open a panoramic café on the upper floor of the hotel. However, after the catastrophe, the building was used for addressing the consequences of the explosion. There were dosimetry station and soldiers base camp in the hotel, while a command unit of spotters was located on its rooftop. The spotters managed the actions of pilots participating in fire-fighting operations.

The Azure Swimming Pool

Once being beautiful, nowadays, this building became ramshackle and forsaken. The pool functioned until ‘90s, when the power plant was still in operation. The workers of Pripyat organizations used to swim here in their free time.

Cargo Port

Chernobyl backwater was the last refuge for radioactive barges and ships. After the catastrophe, vessels that transported radioactive waste were abandoned here. These days, they are anchored, slowly growing rusty and submerging.

Catfish Cooling Pond

Birds, fish, and animals are actively breeding in the places devoid of human encroachment. Catfish, the biggest freshwater carnivores, are frequently monitored in deep waters. However, they seem comfortable in the cooling pond near CNNP, and never refuse the bread, which is generously offered by the tourist groups. Tourists feed the fish from railway bridge over the channel. Giant catfish are swimming together with the flock of redfin fish.

Kopachi Kindergarten

The catastrophe forced thousands of people to abandon their homes, forgetting their belongings and leaving everything as it is. Kindergarten was not an exception. The picture of scattered blackened toys, dolls, furniture, and tricycle near the “Radiation” hazard symbol resembles a still cut from the horror movie.

Duga Radar

duga radar

Chernobyl-2 or Duga is a top-secret object which is marked on the maps as a summer camp for children. But in fact, it used to be a radiolocation station, which was a complex of giant antennae allocated for the early warning of intercontinental ballistic missile launches. Due to its strange tapping noise, it was nicknamed “Russian woodpecker” by shortwave listeners. This object was in operation only a couple of years; eventually, it was abandoned as it required a lot of experts for the maintenance. The extraordinary form of this construction sparked many speculations and legends. The length of the structure is 500 m and the height is 150 m.

When is the best time to visit Chernobyl?

There is no definite answer to this question. Chernobyl zone is a place that is constantly changing.

  • Winter. This season is the safest one since snow serves as a potent filter of radiation. There is a clear view during the winter, and the objects can be seen at the long distance. Absence of leaves allows getting a good look at the objects and houses.

  • Spring. Nature starts its revival, and it is possible to see the beautiful landscapes. It is quite important to capture the moment when the snow has already gone down, and the leaves have not blossomed out yet. This period can last up to several days.

  • Summer. Warm or hot weather, the lushness of nature, long days, and a swarm of mosquitoes in the evening. The local fauna is reviving, and tourists have an opportunity to see a hare, moose, or fox in the distance. However, note that it can be quite hot to wear warm and safe clothes all day long.

  • Autumn. There is mild weather, fewer leaves, and post-apocalyptic movies landscapes at the beginning of autumn.

If you plan to visit Chernobyl, it is better not to postpone your trip. Nature quickly takes over here, and eventually, the forest will engulf all the human traces.

Is it dangerous to visit Chernobyl? (radiation, mutants, wild animals)

In 33 years, the Exclusion Zone become surrounded by various myths and legends.

Myth №1 – Radiation

The dose rate is high in several zones, but there are places where its index is even lower than in the city. However, since a little time passed after the disaster, and most of the elements have long decay period, it is not advisable to take a walk in Chernobyl alone. Tour guides know all the secure routs where it is really safe to walk. Besides, it is forbidden to pick anything from the ground, as well as snap it off, or take as a souvenir. Stories about radiation are quite reasonable, but most of the facts are still very exaggerated. Many tourists of the Exclusion Zone are especially afraid of local air and water. Surprisingly enough, but they are considered to be the cleanest ones in Ukraine.

Myth №2 – Mutants

Indeed, single cases of mutation were recorded right after the disaster, but none of them become regular. However, there was a fall in the birth rate among certain types of cattle as well as the high death rate. Along with the emergence of the Exclusion Zone, stories of about two-headed wolves, hexapodous cats, and other mutants began to appear. Radiation could have triggered the occurrence of mutation; however, unusual genetic phenomena exist until now – for example, albinism or heterochrony (eyes of different colors). So, if mutated animals had ever existed, they have already become extinct.
Myth №3 – Wild animals. Due to the fact that hunting and fishing are forbidden, there are many wild animals here such as foxes, wolves, moose, and roe deer. It is also believed that the Exclusion Zone became a habitat for bears. What is the probability of encountering them? Bears, wolves, and lynxes do not usually approach the main roads, while Przewalski’s horses are frequently seen near the checkpoint. Anyway, walking alone in the forest thickets like an unauthorized stalker is quite risky. If you are going to walk in a group, you may see wild animals only in the distance. However, foxes usually approach the tourists, expecting the treats.

chernobyl mutant

Chernobyl chronicle: the history of the city until the 20th century

The first mention of Chernobyl village was recorded in annals at the beginning of the XII century when its territories belonged to the Principality of Kyiv. Later, these lands were passed to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. During the national liberation war of Bogdan Khmelnitsky, also known as The Khmelnytsky Uprising, rebel troops were located in the territory of Chernobyl. In the XVII century, lands were ceded to the Moscow Empire.

Chernobyl had been distinguished by the bold religious and ethnical diversity. The residents of these lands were Ukrainians, Jews, and Polish. It was a beautiful and cozy village before the formation of the Soviet Union. As the city was completely restored after the destructions of World War II, the government decided to turn this territory into a strategic facility. On August 15, 1972, in a solemn atmosphere, the first cubic meter of concrete was poured as the foundation of the future power plant. But the history of this place, which began in XII century, tragically ended in April 1986 after the disastrous explosion at nuclear power plant.

What happened in 1986?

On April 26th, 1986, an accident occurred at the 4th nuclear reactor unit of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Not only Chernobyl and Kyiv region, but also the countries close to Ukraine were affected by the wave of radiation. Despite the efforts of thousands of people, the fire at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant lasted almost for 2 weeks, poisoning the air with radioactive combustion products. During the fire, about 190 tons of radioactive waste were released into the atmosphere. 400 000 residents were evacuated from the affected area. Only a few of them returned home.

The Chernobyl disaster became global, being considered the Level 7 Major accident, according to the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES). The same level was assigned to the accident at the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant, which happened after the earthquake in 2011.

Chernobyl nowadays

After the accident, Chernobyl and Pripyat remain closed cities. It is possible to get here only having a special pass or as a part of a tourist group. There are less than a thousand of self-settlers in the vicinity of Chernobyl. People returned to their homes, and some had never abandoned them. Nowadays, there are 3 000 residents in the city, and these are the workers of the nuclear power plant. However, most of them get to work from Slavutich by train.

Over 33 years, most of the building have become dilapidated, covered with moss, and braid with trees and bushes. One can still see some utensil, toys, and furniture that remained intact in the houses. Wild animals often stroll through the streets. They are breeding because hunting is prohibited in this area. Besides, they are sometimes fed by the tourists.

chernobyl horses

Today, there are 60 mammal species in the Exclusion Zone. It’s a unique proof that nature is capable of recovering on its own when it is not affected by the human.

Chernobyl movies and games

The topic of Chernobyl has been touched upon in movies and television drama numerous times. The most outstanding and debated one is Cherobyl miniseries by HBO. The series premiered in five parts in May 2019. It became the highest-rated TV show of all time, breaking the record of the famous Game of Thrones saga.

However, directors have previously created films and TV shows about Chernobyl: - Raspad, 1990. - Chernobyl: The Final Warning, 1991. - The Year of the Dog, 1994. - The Atomic Zone Ranger, 1999. - I Remember, 2005. - The Cloud, 2006. - Aurora, 2006. - The Door, 2008. - Innocent Saturday, 2011. - The Land of Oblivion, 2011. - Chernobyl Diaries, 2012. - Inseparable, 2013. - The Babushkas of Chernobyl, 2015. - Chernobyl: Zone of Exclusion, 2014-2017.

The musical legacy of the famous band Pink Floyd devoted to the theme of Chernobyl wasn’t left unperceived as well. In 2014, in honor of 20th anniversary of album The Division Bell, they created a video for a song Marooned. Pripyat was the location of the filming. The video plot comprises archival footage made before the disaster; one can see sports events, games, and “school assembly” on Knowledge Day (September 1) – the simple things that have been irrevocably lost.

In the computer world, Chernobyl served as a location for the games series S.T.A.L.K.E.R. by GSC Game World studio. As the game was released, daredevils overran Chernobyl in an attempt to invade the closed area.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is not the only game dedicated to the Exclusion Zone. Over the part years, many interesting projects were released: - Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. - Chernobyl: Terrorist Attack. - Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. - Chernobyl VR Project. - Half-Life: Chernobyl. - Chernobylite - Isotopium: Chernobyl

Why is it worth visiting Chernobyl?

Each person has their own reasons to visit this place; someone may be a fan of history or impressed by the game or movie, while others are looking for a new experience. Here the main reason why it is worth coming to Chernobyl:

To witness the consequences of CNNP disaster, which happened more than 30 years ago, and realize the detrimental power of uncontrolled “peaceful atom”.

  • To see how people lived in Soviet times. Chernobyl is a unique place, which is forever stuck in the year 1986; there are toys, furniture, telephone booths, and other things that take you back to the past.

  • To see the famous places such as CNNP, the Red Forest, the Duga, and the Confinement depicted in movies and TV shows with your own eyes.

  • To satisfy your curiosity for the unusual, and understand that there are no mutants or treasures here, and the radiation level is relatively safe.

  • To see how nature takes over everything created by human over time. The buildings are covered with greenery, stadiums are overgrown with trees, and constructions are falling into decay.

  • To realize that technical progress can be dangerous, and one should never hasten to conduct an experiment.

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