Many of us have seen the powerful miniseries by HBO called "Chernobyl." That series was highly accurate (even if there were some creative liberates like the dramatic scene of the helicopter crashing seemingly from radiation - in reality, it crashed from hitting the crane). Today it is easy and straightforward to visit this site, and you can also explore much more of Ukraine while there.

There is of course radiation here, and people are not allowed to live here (except for a few die-hards), but with a short exposure, one needn't worry. So prepare yourself for a real-life post-apocalypse world. This site is only a short drive out of Ukraine's capital and largest city of Kiev and is close to the border with Belarus. Part of the exclusion zone around it extends into Belarus.


History Of The Disaster And State Today

The Chernobyl meltdown and explosion happened 35 years ago in 1986 toward the end of the Soviet Union. Some believe it even aided the collapse of the USSR as it helped to shatter the image of invincibility. This is easily the worst nuclear disaster ever.

The nuclear power plant is called Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, but the nearby city was called Pripyat. It's at Pripyat that you get to really see the post-apocalypse world of once a vibrant city being reclaimed by the forests and animals with birds nesting in the buildings, deer grazing in the streets, and wolves stalking in the shadows.

  • Pripyat Population: 50,000 (Before Evacuation in 1986)

Like in the HBO series, the local authorities were loath to acknowledge the scale of the disaster and thereby refused to excavate the local population. When the evacuation order was given it was executed in earnest with the people told only to bring only what was necessary. They were told they would only be evacuated for 3 days, but there were never to return. Today you can see the belongings all left behind of a population leaving in a hurry, thinking to return after a couple of days. It is eerie and straight out of an apocalypse movie (kinda literally).

The HBO series showed incredible attention to detail, so you can see the firemen's radioactive clothes dumping in the basement just as is shown, along with many other little details.

  • Fun Fact: The HBO Cherynobol Series Was Filmed In Vilnius, Lithuania (Soviet Cities Kinda All Look The Same)
  • Visa (For Entry Into Ukraine): Visa-Free For All Western Passports

Chernobyl Exclusion Zone And Plant

Today the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is around a 30 kilometer (19 miles) radius from the site (although it is a very irregular shape. This zone extends up into Belarus in addition to northern Ukraine. It is one of the region's greatest biodiversity hotspots due to the extremely limited human interaction in the area.

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  • Radius: Around 30 KM or 19 Miles
  • Size: 2,600 Sq Km or 1,000 Sq Miles

Incredibly the powerplant remained operational up until 2000 when the site started to be decommissioned. The explosion took place in reactor number 4, but the other reactors continued to operate as the Soviet Union and then Ukraine couldn't afford to shut down the whole plant. So the other 3 reactors continued to operate into the 21st century and the plant is still in the process of decommissioning today.

Full nuclear waste clean-up is not scheduled for full completion until 2065. Reactor number 4 is entombed in a steel structure called the "New Safe Confinement" to prevent radiation from escaping. So you will not be able to see the actual reactor number 4 as it is encased.

Chernobyl Tours

Today there is a range of tours you can take to see Pripyat and the Chernobyl nuclear powerplant. These tours provide assurance of radioactive safety and offer tours in different languages (of course including English). For multiday tours, you will be accommodated in a hotel inside of the Exclusion Zone (they claim the background radiation is the same as Kiev or Moscow). You can choose between being on a private tour or a group tour.

  • Cost: Per Day $99
  • Duration Of Tour: Optional One Day, Two Day, or Three Day Tours
  • Time: Leave 8.00 am And Return 7.30-8.30 pm
  • Where Tour Starts And Ends: Kiev

Remember Ukraine is cold in the winter, so while you can visit any time of year, the best time will always be late spring or summer. Also, remember there is much more to see in Kiev and Ukraine than just Chernobyl.

  • Best Time To Visit: Late Spring and Summer

There is a range of tour options you can choose from, including tours with a particular focus on the HBO Chernobyl Series and Kayaking Tours of the nearby lakes and rivers. Some tours even enable you to visit some parts of the nuclear power plant itself like certain control rooms and other places that is safe to visit.

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There has been an explosion of wildlife in this area, although there have been a number of reported mutations in various animals like birds due to the radiation of the area. Some of the animals include; wild boars, roe deer, black storks, harriers, badgers, moose, owls, swans, egrets, beavers, and of course wolves.

In short, visiting the Chernobyl and Pripyat sites is a unique experience and a taste of Armaggedon and the Apocalpyse.

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