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How to travel inside the Chernobyl exclusion zone

Video footage from inside the Chernobyl exclusion zone

Do you want to visit the abandoned buildings inside the Chernobyl exclusion zone?

Some of you may have already seen my eerie winter images of Prypyat and Chernobyl. Well, now I’ve also compiled my footage into a 3 minute video showing you what it was like to be there.

I’ve had many people ask questions about the tour, so below you’ll find some FAQs about how we travelled to Chernobyl from Kiev.


FAQs about the Chernobyl tour:

Q. Which tour company did you go with?

You must book a tour to visit the exclusion zone as independent travel to the area is not allowed. There are a handful of tour companies offering trips from Kiev. After reading some online reviews, we chose to go with SoloEast Travel on a day tour. It was fairly fast-paced but we managed to fit in all the main sights.

If you want to explore the area in depth, you can actually do a multi-day tour through the exclusion zone. This would be a great option for anyone wanting to do some photography and see more of the sights that might get skipped over on the day tours.

Q. How much did it cost?

Most day tours cost between 100-150 USD per person. For our booking, we paid a 10% deposit online, and paid the remainder in cash (local currency) on the day of the tour.

Q. What was the transportation?

Our tour was in a mini van.

Q. What was the group size?

There were about 10-12 travellers on our tour from a number of different nationalities, plus an informative English speaking guide and a driver. You can also book private tours if you want a more personalised experience.

Q. What was the tour itinerary?

We departed Kiev at about 8:00 am and returned around 6:00 pm. It’s a 2 hour drive to the exclusion zone, and on the way a documentary was played detailing Chernobyl’s history.

Once we arrived, we went through various checkpoints then explored some abandoned buildings inside the township of Chernobyl including the kindergarten. In Prypyat we went inside the high school, a sports centre, and around the amusement park. We also stood outside the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and saw the sarcophagus surrounding the damaged reactor.

Q. Were there other people in the exclusion zone?

We ran into one other tour group about the same size as ours when we stopped to take photos of the Welcome to Prypyat sign, but that’s about it. For the most part we were the only people in sight, aside from the guards at the checkpoints and workers at the power plant.

Q. Is the radiation safe?

This is the main question I get asked when telling people about our trip to Chernobyl. We were told the level of radiation is quite safe for short term exposure. You can actually rent a geiger counter for the trip to test radiation levels, which I would highly recommend doing. It’s super interesting to find random spots of radiation so many years after the accident.

There are plenty of people (around 300 I think) that actually live in the Chernobyl township inside the exclusion zone and work in and around the power plant, decommissioning the retired reactors and constructing the new sarcophagus to cover Reactor No. 4. They only spend a few days there per week, and have to take longer periods of time away from the site so that their bodies have time to recover.

On the way out of the exclusion zone we had to go through an old soviet radiation control checkpoint. Not sure if it actually did anything as it looked fairly basic but they were adamant the device worked!


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13 Responses to “How to travel inside the Chernobyl exclusion zone”

  1. Susanne

    It’s definitely an interesting place… I was so scared recently when a huge area of forest in the exclusion zone was on fire… also, the tragedy was not that long ago, looking at photos from there, everything feels so real.

    Reply
  2. Emily

    This is so awesome! And creepy, and sad, and… I have definitely been intrigued with this area and after seeing your video & reading the post, I would absolutely go on a tour–but I would still be a little freaked out!
    Cheers,

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I know what you mean Emily, the emptiness triggers so many emotions. For me it included fascination and a strange kind of respectful quietness… if you get the chance, you should absolutely do the tour!

      Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Chalsie! It’s well worth a visit if you’re ever in the area, it’s a once in a lifetime experience for sure.

      Reply
  3. Tiffany

    Really amazing video. Thank you for sharing. So sad and creepy. I too have seen these pictures and always wondered what it would be like to see it in person.

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Tiffany! It was really creepy and it’s so hard to show what it was actually like to be there, because the atmosphere is what really makes it interesting.

      Reply
  4. Sarah

    Very interesting and creepy. I saw a horror movie filmed there that was based on the kind of tour you went on. Haha…I will pass! : )

    Reply
  5. Lesya

    Hi, Ashlea! I’m currently live in Kiev, Ukraine. It was surprising for me to find your blog and see your photos from Ukraine, especially from Chernobyl. It is interesting to read your impressions and your look on my country that isn’t so popular among tourists. I know that Chernobyl is interesting place to visit among foreigners, but not Ukrainians. Many people had faced with that tragedy in 1986 and left there homes and all things they had. I saw documentary movies which told that government concealed the truth about the explosion for a few days after the accident. So people walked on the streets and children went to school and kindergartens and had no idea what had happened. That’s why so many people dead or had big problems with health. I hope we will have more positive and happy places to attract tourists in the nearest future…

    Reply

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