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Personal recent travel review with pictures and tips.
Pretty much everyone can tell you the Chernobyl disaster happened in 1986 (26th April) with Top Gear (2014) and Chernobyl miniseries (2019 by HBO) increased its fame. Few people knew till recently that the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (CEZ) is not just Ukraine but Belarus to the north. Belarus was done over thanks to the wind and in south Belarus forests are still radioactive along with plenty of warning signs.

Tourism to the Ukraine exclusion zone has been allowed for about 20 years and has turned into a “Disney Land” in recent years. As popularity increased so have the restrictions though luckily Ukraine is still a million miles away from the UK’s OTT health & safety rules. Visiting is not hard though in recent months that has changed, and it seems a lot of tour companies are no longer offering tours for the general public.

For those of you who know me, I am known for visiting odd places. Think: poor, underground, WW1/WW2/communist/Soviet, rough and less democratic. Ukraine and Chernobyl ticks some of those boxes. In 2015 I did a one-day group tour. 2020 a private tour to the other exclusion zone - think north of Ukraine. 2021 a two day very pricey tour including inside the powerplant complex. New Year’s Eve 2021 a group tour again. Yes, 4x!

Back in 2015 was somewhat the best since you could enter any building you fancied without cameras, trip alarms, guards or the tour guide moaning. These days in Ukraine CEZ you cannot enter most buildings due to “health & safety”. This is sad in some way and health & safety is still little compared to the boring UK. That said it is still very cool and the other exclusion zone had zero rules (and likely zero visitors) two years back.

How do you book a tour? Simple, a licensed tour guide or company and there are plenty of them in Kyiv. You just need to be legal in Ukraine, be over 18 years old, have a passport (derh!) and ideally be in Kyiv. Even 1-2 days before you can book a tour by paying a deposit and giving a scan of your passport over to the private tourism company. They then register you with the CEZ administration and you get a pass once at the checkpoint.

What is there to see? The one-day group/private tours are pretty much the same and include:

  1. Pickup from the centre - Maidan Sq. area
  2. Dytiatky checkpoint
  3. Chernobyl town
  4. Kopachi village
  5. View out of outside powerplant & cooling river (monster catfish present)
  6. Pripyat town
  7. Duga-1 radar
  8. Vehicle graveyard
  9. Robot graveyard
  10. Fire station
  11. Inner checkpoint
  12. Chernobyl sign
  13. Pripyat sign
  14. Maybe a lunch stop
The standard question, is it safe? Many times, the Reds cleaned the area and in recent years you are forced to wear a little meter which the administration take back at the end. You can rent a dosimeter from the company, but the quality is not amazing in my view. If Top Gear went there, it cannot be too bad, and all companies claim the intake is less than a hospital X-ray. Four trips later I seem to be alive! Wearing walking shoes and trousers + long sleeves is a good idea. There are few toilets and no real shops in the CEZ so bring items with you. Don’t eat fruit from bushes/trees and drink from streams - derh!

What about inside CNPP? Be prepared to spend hundreds of dollars extra for this incredible extra tour and book well over two weeks in advance. The general tour guide does not conduct this tour and it is usually conducted by the administration’s interpreter. Firstly, they put you in a caesium chair which reads your radiation levels, give you another meter, go through security screening, you change clothes and start the tour ending with lunch nearby. Seriously cool and worth the high spend. Weekdays only. What does inside CNPP include:

  1. Golden Corridor
  2. Circulation pumps
  3. Control room no. 2 + no. 4
  4. Reactor hall no. 3
  5. Soviet computers
  6. Current day used bunker
  7. Active control rooms
  8. Memorial plaque
Enough talking now, on to plenty of photos! CNPP photos are from last year and most Pripyat photos are from 2015 when restrictions were less on entering buildings.


Power Plant Complex

Duga-1 Radar


Cooling Pond Area

Fire Fighters Memorial

Robot Graveyard

Reactor No. 4 Before New Sarcophagus

Chernobyl Town