Things to Know If You Want to Visit Chernobyl Today
If you’re interested in visiting Chernobyl today, we have good news for you. In 2016, it is perfectly safe to visit Chernobyl for touristic purposes. And it is a fantastic experience. Yes, it is a form of “disaster tourism”–so there is a bit of a downer vibe to it.
But, it’s worth it.
Going to Chernobyl can be a very long and emotionally draining today. Obviously the Chernobyl disaster was a tragic moment in Ukraine’s history. After I took my Chernobyl tour, the best way to describe it to my fellow Westerns was this:
Chernobyl is Ukraine’s equivalent to September 11th. Except, instead of being able to recover from it and build something even better…it’s a permanent scar on their history. With September 11th, we were able to rebuild the area into a beautiful monument and symbol of hope.
With Chernobyl, it’s simply not the case. It is always going to be there. There will never be new homes built upon that land. The power plant will never be reopened. It will always be a symbol of tragedy in Ukraine.
Want To Visit Chernobyl Today? Things To Know.
Despite the somewhat negative tone of the paragraphs above, Chernobyl is truly an amazing experience that visitors to Ukraine shouldn’t pass up. And being a short hour or so out of Kiev, it’s something that you can work into your trip and pull off in a day.
Here’s everything you need to know if you want to visit Chernobyl today.
It’s A LONG Day
Most of the tours leaving out of Kiev leave from the train station or Maidan by 8am. Obviously, depending on where you’re staying, you have to figure out transit to those places.
Then, you must factor in two hours (each way) to actually drive to Chernobyl, go through passport controls (more on that later). Add in the hour lunch, and the general slow nature of the tours themselves…
…then factor in just how big Chernobyl is (a lot to see), and you’re in for a long day when it’s all said and done.
It’s very common for some of the Chernobyl tours to depart Kiev at 8am and return back at 8pm.
There’s A Lot To See BEFORE Pripyat
Pripyat is obviously the big draw, with it’s abandoned buildings and roads. But there are a lot of interesting things to take in before you even get to Pripyat–which is usually close to the end of the tour.
And of course, much more.
Bring Your Passport
There are numerous passport checks to get in and out of Chernobyl. There’s a check at the 30km border and again at the 10km. You’ll need to have your passport on you the entire time.
In addition, the tours involve a lot of getting on and off the bus, and it’s generally not a good idea to leave your backpack (with your passport in it) unattended. Consider investing in a sort of passport case that you can slip into your pocket, so you can keep it on you and protect your passport at the same time.
It Can Get Hot
You’re supposed to wear both long pants and a long sleeve shirt when you visit Chernobyl. It’s to fend off any potential unwanted radiation if you walk out into the wild terrain. Just be warned. Especially in the hot summer months!
In addition, make sure you also bring plenty of water. Most tours make a pit stop at a gas station en route to Chernobyl, so you can likely stock up on the way. Typically water is not provided until lunch, which could be 7 hours from the time you depart from Kiev.
What Do Ukrainians Think of Chernobyl?
Well, truthfully–if you want to bring a date, they may not be down with it. The Ukrainian education system really seems to play up the dangerous aspects of going to Chernobyl. Many of them will be shocked that you’ll want to risk going to Chernobyl, for one reason or another.
Conclusion: It’s Eye Opening
It’s simply amazing to see such a large area nearly 100% inhabited because of the nuclear disaster.
Chernobyl today is a safe, exciting, and “grounding” adventure. No doubt you will gain a greater appreciation for life, and feel for the people who have suffered for so long due to the Chernobyl disaster.
If you’re in Kiev, don’t miss it.
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