As you know I visited Kiev in Ukraine at the start of May. The reason I booked to go there was because I’ve always wanted to visit Chernobyl. That and the fact I managed to bag flights with Ryanair costing only a fiver each way!!
Now before I begin to go through my day in Chernobyl and what you can expect if you do a day tour I will say.. I visited before the HBO series began. Literally only days before aswell luckily.
The reason I’m mentioning this is because there has been a lot of press lately. The show was very popular and now doing trips there seems to be too! This unfortunately means my review of the tour may no longer be reflective of what the tours are like.
I expect that it is now a lot busier, a lot more expensive and booking is probably required much further in advance.
But I will tell you about my experience with the no.1 operator on TripAdvisor: Chernobyl Tours. To avoid any confusion, this is the tour I did:
Finding the pickup point
The pickup point was easy to find in person despite being difficult to locate on Google! Jump on a metro or train to Central station then come out on the side that KFC is on. You want to walk out of the station where you will find a bunch of restaurants across the road. Don’t cross, just turn right and walk past a hotel. You’ll see a bunch of buses lined up, don’t forget to check the front of them for your name on a list.
Chernobyl day trip
We boarded the bus to find 2 English guides who told us stories about Chernobyl as we drove for approximately 2 hours. We also watched a documentary about the place before we arrived which was really interesting and really helped to set the scene.
If you book this tour through TripAdvisor in the UK you will get lunch included and a Geiger Counter which you get given before you arrive. We were able to check the reading before hitting the Exclusion Zone so we could do some comparing!
First stop was Zalissya an abandoned village just outside of the 10km Exclusion zone.
This was one of my favourite parts of the day because we were allowed to venture in to the buildings and go where ever we wanted.
There was a hospital to explore and a few houses that people had been forced to leave behind.
It was crazy to see the playground completely overgrown and abandoned.
I personally didn’t think we had enough time to spend here. I’m not sure if other tours would allow you to explore more but 20 minutes definitely didn’t allow us to venture far.. But perhaps that is the point so you don’t get lost deep in the forest!
We then headed for the Kindergarden and were told the stories of the children that had to leave without notice.
The geiger counter was going crazy here.
Next we listened to stories about Radar Duga-1.
This is fascinating. Definitely worth a Google search. Who knows what the truth is about this place really..
Midday we stopped for lunch close to the sight of the explosion. This was a strange experience! First we had to pass through detectors that would ensure we weren’t covered in nuclear particles… At least I think that’s what we were doing!
Lunch was interesting.. Felt like we were queuing up in a prison canteen or something. Such an incredible experience though and I really had no clue what I was eating!
Some of my favourite canine friends were there to greet us outside too.
We got to visit the iconic structure that took them years to build over the reactor. The new safe confinement cost them 1.5 billion euros to make and I’ve read that it should only expect to last 100 years… Wow.
Again not far from here I got to wave to the stray pooches. They really did look creepy at the end of this bridge.
Finally, we visited Pripyat. The town that is probably the most talked about when Chernobyl is mentioned.
This is where most people lived and is probably the worst effected part with empty buildings left everywhere.
Its where you will find the iconic Amusement Park.
This is where we found the highest geiger counter reading. Right by the ferris wheel!
We got to walk around Pripyat for over an hour. Venturing around outside the empty buildings whilst hearing stories of what they used to be.
Entering the football stadium and imagining what it must have been like to leave all this behind.
Whilst on the bus the guides were very informative. They told us stories to relate to what we were seeing. We drove through the outskirts of the red forest and watched our geiger counters spring to life.
If you ever ventured in to the forest I’m not sure how long you would live to tell the tale.
We even drove along the bridge of death. I’ll leave that one for you to learn about if you ever do manage to visit.
Overall I’d recommend this tour if you are looking for good value.
It was very good and reasonably priced.
I’m unsure how the latest TV series might have had an impact on tour prices but I personally would recommend that you go private. This is my only regret.
After visiting Kupari Resort last year, the abandoned luxury hotel resort – Read my post here. We were quite overwhelmed by the amount of people at Chernobyl. Kupari was neglected and we were completely alone however Chernobyl was quite the opposite.
If you take this tour there will be around 50+ at each place together. Imagine how much better the experience would be if there was only you and the guide!
If you have any questions about the tour just drop me a comment anytime and I’d be happy to help.
But don’t miss this dark piece of tragic history.