“The place is quiet and so alone. Pretend there’s something worth waiting for” – Richey James Edwards.
In December 2015 I finally made the sad and solemn trip to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. The accident at Chernobyl which occurred in April 1986 shocked the world and was one of a few controversial blemishes during Soviet era-USSR. As an eager backpacking traveller and one who likes to get away from the popular easy travel routes, Chernobyl was a place on my hit list, despite its sense of desolation and despair. It attracts around 35 tourists a day only and has a strict procedure to get into this zone and rightly so.
Despite not being a separate country, it requires some paperwork and yes, you’ll need your passport to get into the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and you need to be aware of the dangers. To get your permit, you need to book a tour. You pay the price for the tour, submit your details and you now have permission to enter the CEZ, Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Easy!
Getting Your Chernobyl Permit
To book your excellent Chernobyl Tour, get in touch with the guys at Solo East, They are the original and best tour company for Chernobyl:
First and Original Chernobyl Tour company – http://www.tourkiev.com/
#10, Prorizna St., office 105,
Kiev, 01001, Ukraine
Mon-Fri: 9 a.m.- 6 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m.- 2 p.m.
Kiev, Ukraine office: +380-44-279-3505
Cell : +380-50305-0857
US-Canada (toll free): 1-800-893-3153 (9a.m.-7p.m.CT)
These dudes promise they will reply your email within six hours! firstname.lastname@example.org
So pop them an e-mail and get your tour booked in advance!
They have a few different tours and tariffs. Prices vary on the number of people attending, time of year and whether you want 1 or 2 days there. For me, a day tour was enough. I didn’t want to stay overnight in the only hotel in Chernobyl. I based myself in central Kiev, at the Tiu Kreschatik Hostel and headed on a day trip to Chernobyl.
To get the Permit and Tour Booked You Need
To get the permit to visit the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, you need to submit the following things to Solo East, all done by e-mail:
1. Name as in passport
2. Nationality (passport)
3. Date of birth
4. Passport number
5.Payment (via PayPal in USD preferably)
Once you have all that you will be e-mailed confirmation of the tour.
In essence, you can print this off and this counts as your actual permit, but on the day, it is all done through passport checks at the “Normal Ukraine” to “CE Zone” border. You also have to fill in the declaration on the day, your driver sorts this out on the journey there. So on the day:
1.Bring your passport
3.Wear long sleeves and long trousers and closed shoes (don’t flip flop it!)
When you meet up with the guys from Solo East at 8 am, they give you a guide to Chernobyl radiation risks, a wristband (which you don’t actually have to wear – it’s more of a souvenir), a postcard and a geiger counter. The first three you keep, the Geiger counter is day hire only, and dare I say it, for “amusement” purposes.
So that’s it – you are ready to go to the CEZ! Here are my entire articles of my day trip to Chernobyl, it was a spooky, heart felt and solemn experience:
Part 1 – Chicane Kiev
Part 2 – Entering the CEZ at Dityatki
Part 3 – Chernobyl Town
Part 4 – Duga Radar System
Part 5 – Kopachi
Part 6 – The Culprit
Part 7 – Pripyat
Part 8 – Lunch in the CEZ
Part 9 – Radiation Checks and Leaving the CEZ