The best travel takes you to a place you have researched about for a long period of time. Chernobyl was a one of these special places for me. My favourite photography focuses on the interaction of humans with the environment around them. Chernobyl and Pripyat give you the unique perspective of what a built environment looks like 30 years after humans have left. It is the ultimate location for Urban Exploration (URBEX).
This disaster in Chernobyl occurred on 26 April 1986. A combination of factors during a late night stress test of the reactor resulted in an intense explosion. An open air graphite fire burned for 9 days spreading radioactive material across 13 European countries (162,000 square kilometers). Chernobyl remains the site of the most disastrous nuclear power plant accident in history, both in terms of cost and casualties.
Two people died as a direct result of the explosion within the facility. Over the following months around 30 firefighters, first responders and employees would die from acute radiation poisoning. However, the long term effects of cancers and shortened lifespans are still being investigated.
The exclusion zones surrounding the power plant extend for a radius of 10 and 30km. Around 300 residents live inside the 30km exclusion zone. Employees of the exclusion zone (office workers, firefighters, security, tourism etc.) are only permitted to work around 50% of the time. The remainder of the time they must live outside the exclusion zone.
Where is it?
We had a private tour for one day departing from Kiev with a private driver and a tour guide. Prices vary between companies and is dependant on what is included in your package. You can expect to pay around £80-90 p/p including lunch. Putting this into perspective, in Kiev, a beer in a bar costs around £1.50 and a night’s accommodation for 4 people was around £20. So the tour was relatively expensive, but a truly memorable experience.
Food is provided on the tour.
You will need to spend the night in Kiev. I am certainly no expert in this region and recommend you do your own research on Booking.com or Airbnb.com. However, I can share with you what I learned on my trip. We spent two nights in a fantastic hostel and our last night, it was New Year’s eve so had very few choices. In short the second one was rubbish!
The good one (Dream House Hostel) is a clean low cost hostel with very helpful staff. It had a great bar, the food in the restaurant was very nice and they even had lockers to store your camera gear! From here it is walking distance to a lot of the main sights that Kiev has to offer. Take a look at the map below, if you don’t want to stay in the hostel, check the areas around it. This is the area that you want to be based!