Chernobyl Tourism: Exploring Chernobyl Exclusion Zone
Hey there, it’s Mike Swigunski here and I’m the founder of global career and best-selling author of Global Career: How to Work Anywhere and Travel Forever.
Today I’m going to be discussing one of the creepiest and strangest places in the entire world: the Chernobyl disaster exclusion zone. I’m going to talk about my first-hand experience of visiting Chernobyl back in 2013. I’m going to tell you exactly what it was like having that firsthand experience of visiting a place where one of the biggest nuclear disasters happened in the entire history of the world, so today, let’s go ahead and dig into what it was like visiting Chernobyl, and also I’ll have some fun facts that you probably haven’t heard about the Chernobyl disaster and a few things that I’m excited to share with you like my photos from visiting and if you’re interested in also taking a tour from Kyiv to Chernobyl how you can do that as well. Some of the details around what it cost what the whole day was like visiting there and a few other great facts about visiting one of the strangest places and destinations in the world today, Chernobyl, so let’s go ahead and get started right now.
The Chernobyl disaster took place on April 26, 1986, and is considered one of the worst nuclear disasters of all time now. When I traveled around Europe in 2013, visiting Chernobyl was one of my tour’s big highlights. I started from Moldova took a 17-hour train ride from kisi, now to Kyiv. Once I got there, I was too excited to visit Chernobyl because I’d seen so many documentaries learned about it in history class and countless other things that got me excited for visiting one of these eerie places in the world, so a few things before I get started is it required a reservation 11 days out I’ve done some research now. It looks like it’s a little bit more streamlined to visit but again, I’ll try to make sure that I give you what my experience was like and what it’s like to visit Chernobyl now in 2021.
So getting started with what it was like to visit, I went on a small minibus tour. I was based in Kyiv for around four or five days to visit Chernobyl in exactly one day. Essentially this mini-tour bus picked us up took us to Chernobyl around an hour or so outside of the city. Once we got there, the tour bus took us outside of the city, which was about an hour or so to get out there. The drive’s not incredibly scenic, so you’re not missing too much, but once we got to Chernobyl, there was actually some sort of conflict, some sort of issue with letting our tour bus in. We sat there for around 45 minutes before they actually let our tour group inside Chernobyl, and this was one of those things where they didn’t give us any details on why we were stopped there for so long. Still, I assume it was some sort of mishap with the reservation or some sort of issue with they only allocate so many people allowed to visit Chernobyl at one time.
Luckily we were able to go in still, and once we got inside, the first impression that I had was there are way more people inside here than I actually expected. There’s a lot of people who go in there to work a lot of construction going on. Some people have actual jobs. There’s an actual place where there are a food court people serving food. Still, most people are allowed to go in there for a certain period of days. Then they take time off, so they’re not getting extreme amounts of exposure to radiation at any time. A few other facts before we even got started, the cost of my tour was around 129. This included 45 dollars for the actual fee that goes to the government, and then the rest was towards the actual tour guide, the minibus launch reservations, and everything else that was included.
The other biggest first impression I had was that there wasn’t required to wear a mask at all times. They did give us mass during the whole tour. Still, it was just suggested that we wear it in certain areas where the radiation levels are really high. One thing to note about Chernobyl is they have cleaned up a lot of the areas like the roads other places that they’re able to wash easily, and a lot of that radiation dust wasn’t it didn’t disappear. It was just essentially scraped off into the wood. Hence, the woods and the grass are some of the highest radiation areas. One of the parts of the tour that has the highest radiation and that was the abandoned theme park, so I’ll go ahead and show some photos here I would say the highlight of the chore for me was visiting the abandoned areas the abandoned theme park, which was apparently meant to open six days after the Chernobyl disaster.
Overall, the tour was extremely exciting. Our tour guide gave us a lot of great insights into what was happening. One of the biggest factors that we discussed was how the heck they were going to fix the leaking sarcophagus so back in 2013. They hadn’t really come up with a plan. They didn’t have the money for this. Essentially when the Chernobyl disaster happened, Ukraine has left with all this natural disaster all this cleanup. They were essentially left with the bill of getting a new sarcophagus. After the disaster happened, they just created a metal box filled with concrete and metal to cover the disaster area, which was only a temporary fix. Hence, they needed to come up with a better solution, and the big solution was to create an even larger box with even more concrete and metal to essentially put over that. That sarcophagus was installed in 2016 at a later time.
i’ll go ahead and show some photos here about about what the sargophicus looked like when i was there and what it looks like now they’ve finished that in 2016 and it seems like it’s been working a lot better because when i was there it was still leaking some radiation and it was pretty much only meant to be like used for 10 years but had been on there for you know 30 years or so so moving into a few facts that you probably don’t know about the chernobyl disaster and visiting chernobyl is the one thing that kind of raised a big red flag for me was people weren’t actually evacuated right away there was a three-day period from the explosion to when radiation is essentially spewing out side of this city and the city of pripyat which is right next to where chernobyl is they weren’t evacuated until three days later and they were told at the time that it would just be a temporary evacuation you know it’d be a couple days and then they would be allowed back into their homes but once they were evacuated it turned into a permanent evacuation so a lot of people were just essentially sent away with just a few things that they grabbed because they thought it was going to be a short-term evacuation.
This was one thing that was handled really poorly, and it kind of leads on to the next point that during this explosion during this disaster, they never actually admitted publicly to what happened. Sweden was the country that actually figured it out. They essentially discovered this increase in radiation and were able to trace it back to Chernobyl. Once the governments got involved, they essentially admitted what had happened. Still, they didn’t go out and just said, hey, here’s what happened here’s the Chernobyl disaster. They didn’t let the public know about it until somebody else discovered in Sweden that the radiation levels were, you know, nearly high in that area, another fact that I discussed earlier. Still, I was surprised that masks weren’t required for the tour duration, but our guy explained that the biggest factors or risk factors are the dust particles filled with radiation.
So unless you’re rummaging through grass or some other areas where there’s a high level of radiation, you’re not going to be at risk, so I chose to wear a mask when we were in these areas of high radiation. The other thing is they do a very good job of actually measuring the radiation on you. I was measured three times in a radiation meter. Hence, you essentially have to sit in this big metal machine. It looks kind of like a metal detector, but essentially, it’s testing your clothing, testing your body and skin to make sure you don’t have an excess or a large amount of radiation on you. You have to do this three times before you can leave to measure the cars. They do an excellent job of making sure that nobody’s breaking in the rules because they’re essentially taking you to some of the safer areas to visit inside Chernobyl.
This led to the next fact that many people think that visiting Chernobyl is dangerous. Still, going on a long-haul international flight, you’re going to get around the same amount of radiation as if you were going to spend a whole day in Chernobyl, so a lot of people don’t realize that you know when you do fly, you do absorb a lot of radiation and especially on long-haul flights that are 16 hours that would be comparable where you’d probably be getting the same amount of radiation as spending a full day in the Chernobyl exclusion zone and then lastly the creepiest eeriest part of this tour visiting a preschool that was completely abandoned you could see miniature beds that were where the preschoolers used to sleep they had leftover dolls and bears that were headless and essentially this place was the scariest place I’ve seen it in video games and stuff. Still, it was creepy, and it’s one of these places that I’ll never forget.
Because it was such an eerie feeling on this abandoned preschool and all these other abandoned sites it was a really surreal experience and i highly recommend for around 100 you can go and visit chernobyl it is fairly safe but you do have to do your own research if you’re interested in learning more if you want to learn more about chernobyl i highly recommend watching the hbo miniseries about chernobyl they do a fantastic job of not only describing what happened but what happened in the aftermath and some of the things that were really big mistakes that happened under their rule during this extremely big disaster so if you’re interested in that i’ll go ahead and leave some links below and i’ll also leave a link below to a blog post that i wrote right after visiting the chernobyl exclusion zone so if you have any questions or if you’re interested in learning more about chernobyl go ahead and reach out to me and if you made it this far please consider liking this video if you learned something new about chernobyl also consider subscribing i’m putting out two new videos every week and i appreciate all of your support.
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