Since it was first opened tentatively just under ten years ago, YPT have been running groundbreaking tours to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and making life-long memories for countless people. Naturally, visiting a nuclear catastrophe zone brings a lot of valid questions about the bureaucracy, logistics, and safety of travelling to Chernobyl to name a few.
So, to provide you with a better insight into the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, we have provided a list of frequently asked questions and answers:
Is Chernobyl Dangerous?
The level of radiation is high only in certain areas of the Chernobyl zone. As a result, those places are entirely avoided during the Chernobyl tour, or we see these places from afar or go to them for a safe amount of time. During a one day spent in the Chernobyl exclusion zone, the body receives a dose of gamma radiation comparable to that absorbed on a trans-Atlantic flight.
To put that into numbers, you will receive 3-5 microsieverts of gamma radiation which is a completely non-harmful dose of radiation. For example, in nuclear power plants around the world today, most have a safety limit for their employees set at 50-100 microsieverts per day. During a one-day Chernobyl tour, you will get even less: 4-6 microsieverts of gamma radiation. To ensure your safety we provide a personal dosimeter and you will undergo radiation scanners throughout the day, just to be extra safe. Your guide will also be equipped with a dosimeter at all times.
How to get to Chernobyl?
To get to Chernobyl is easier than you think. After booking a tour through Young Pioneer Tours you must then come to either Kyiv or Minsk, depending on which sector you want to visit. From there, everything will be arranged by YPT. On the morning of the first day of the tour, you will meet your YPT guide and the local Chernobyl team at your hotel. From Kyiv, the journey to the Chernobyl exclusion zone takes around 2 hours with a stop for breakfast on the way. Transportation is conducted on a comfortable Mercedes Sprinter minibus with AC, WiFi, and TV onboard. To visit the Belarussian sector we’ll meet in Minsk and take a night train to the town of Gomel and we’ll enter the exclusion zone from there.
Can you visit for more than one day?
You sure can! Most of our group tours feature a two-day tour of Chernobyl with an overnight stay in the zone. However, we also offer private tours 365 days a year that means you can stay in the zone for up to five days.
When is the best time to visit Chernobyl?
That all boils down to personal choice. The Chernobyl exclusion zone has its advantages and disadvantages in every season. In the springtime everything is in bloom, there are no leaves on the trees that would cover the buildings in Pripyat and as a result, it is very good for photographers. During the summer the Chernobyl exclusion zone is overgrown and overcrowded. But this is the best way to witness how nature has reclaimed the ghost city and turned it into a jungle.
In autumn, the Chernobyl zone is grey and bleak, with falling leaves surrounding the buildings of Pripyat. During the winter you can get the true bleak Soviet atmosphere without your vision being obscured by trees as well as seeing many of the animals still living in the Chernobyl zone such as wolves, wild horses, and boars, who come out due to the smaller number of tourists in winter.
How much notice do I need to give in order to book a Chernobyl tour?
The earlier you book the better. But we usually need at least 10 days to process your booking and obtain your entry permit from the Chernobyl zone administration. Sometimes, especially on private tours, the administration is able to make it much faster. If you need to book a tour for any day after the ten-day period, get in touch and we’ll be able to make it happen.
Can I go inside the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Planet on your tours?
Yes, but on private tours only. The tour inside the plant is intense and in-depth and you can stand in the very control room where the accident was coordinated from and even see the infamous AZ-5 button that was pressed that shut down the reactor and subsequently led to the nuclear meltdown.
How old do you need to be to visit Chernobyl?
You need to be over 18 to enter the Chernobyl exclusion zone one needs to be at least 18. This restriction is due to the fact that the human body is still growing below this age subsequently being much more vulnerable to radiation that would be harmless for adults.
What’s the hotel like in Chernobyl?
The hotels in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone are equal to a 2-star European hotel. There are 2 hotels directly in the zone. Each room is equipped with heating, refrigerator, TV, and shower with warm water (safe to use) and toilet.