Chernobyl Trip Part One - Arrival, Monuments and Nursery

chernobyl_road (1150x767)

By Andy Thorne

on the 21st February 2017

Welcome to the first part of our Chernobyl and Pripyat tour! If you would like to read about the first day in Ukraine, please see here!

Starting the Tour in Kiev

Our tour started at 8am, which was quite a struggle considering the night before's hunt for currency exchanges! The sky was clear blue and the temperature a warm 18 degrees, with a light cool breeze, but we were just thankful that the thunderstorms of the night before had cleared. As we were having a 'private' tour, rather than a open public tour, Natalie; the tour manager, Dennis; the tour guide; and Yuri, our driver met us outside the Hotel. We paid the tour fee and the mandatory insurance money directly to Natalie (who in turn just handed most of it to Dennis!) and jumped in Yuri's car (it was a Skoda Fabia if you were wondering - No Ladas here!).

Natalie stayed behind and Soph, Dennis, Yuri and I made our way north to the Exclusion Zone. Handing us a Dosimeter to record the radiation levels, he showed us that the background radiation in Kiev was around 0.12 microsieverts per hour, well below the limit of 0.25 microsieverts per hour. For reference, radiation from flying is about 2.7 microsieverts per hour

The journey took around one and a half hours, in which time the temperature was up to around 23 degrees - still with a cloudless sky. Eventually, the traffic was noticeably sparse. Miles went by and we saw no one, the forest was also getting more dense. Slowing down, Dennis turned to us in the back and said we were coming up to the first check point and that we had to wait for someone to bring us our Exclusion Zone Visa papers. We got out the car and had a little wonder around. We were told not to take photos of the checkpoint, so instead we took a photo of the Dosimeter, which read 0.10. Apart from that, the area was quite unspectacular - just normal green countryside.


Into the Zone

After about fifteen minutes, everything was ready. The only question I had to answer from the guards was "Which football team do you support?". Satisfied by my "Liverpool" answer, they let us through.

Straight away if felt eerie. Just the knowledge you have entered the restricted zone of the worst nuclear disasters ever was enough to plunge the car into silence. Eventually, Dennis broke the silence with some quite ominous forms, basically with the does and don't of the zone, along with a place for our autograph. A few such points were:

  • You must, at all times, wear closed-type shoes, trousers and long sleve top
  • No smoking or drinking in the open air
  • No drinking or eating anything 'from the land'

All seemed pretty obvious, so a signature later and we were officially in the Exclusion Zone!