Since the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is not highly radioactive anymore tons of people are interested to see this scar of thousands people’s lifes.
Chernobyl tour is probabaly the most famous and popular single tourist attraction in Ukraine. And the most expensive as well.
It is considered that Chernobyl (Chornobyl in Ukrainian) Exclusion Zone may be visited only with an organised tour. Dozens of travel companies in Kyiv take care about all the official permissions, transport and guides.
Such one day service cost starts from 170 USD per person depending on travel operator and amount of people in the group.
Auch!!! That’s a sky high price even for such outstanding destination. Petra, Taj Mahal and Giza Pyramids can be visited for way less money.
But you know what? There is a way YOU can make all the arrangements by YOUR OWN and visit place of Chernobyl disaster independently. I’m going to tell you how to save more than 100 USD a day on Chernobyl tour.
In order to provide you with reliable information from the first hand I spoke with my close friend Oleksander (his FB page). Here is also his blog in Ukrainian. We studied together in Lviv law school, then we travelled in a few countries and lived together in India for 5 months, so I trust him like my non-existing brother. At the moment Oleksander is working as a lawyer in Kyiv and will share with us his Chornobyl secret.
In the beginning of September 2011 Oleksander and three Polish guys went with a private car to check out what is happening there. ALL arrangements with authorities where done by guys officially and no agents were involved.
Let’s find out how they made it.
Me (Orest): Is it possible to arrange a trip to Chernobyl Exclusion Zone on your own?
Oleksander: Yes, it is 🙂
Me: I don’t understand. Recently it was announced that tourist visits are stopped and forbidden. How can a regular traveler go there?
Oleksander: Tourist trips to the place of Chernobyl accident have been stopped but it is possible to pay a visit with a purpose of journalism, science and education if you apply in advance. Don’t have journalist ID, no worries. There are plenty of ways to prove your relation to media :-). Besides journalists, experts and scientists are welcome to Chernobyl Disaster Exclusion Zone.
Me: Whom do I have to contact in order to apply?
Oleksander: You have to contact Ukrainian Governmental Agency of Exclusion Zone which is based in Kyiv. It is the only authority issuing permissions to visit Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. All travel agencies basically do the same.
Me: Can I drive there with my own car?
Oleksander: Yes, the same I did. The only thing is that you have to provide your car number plates details a few days in advance for prior registration. So if you’re going to rent one, make sure you know which car exactly will you drive.
Me: How long is the drive there?
Oleksander: It takes approx. 2 hours to reach first check point in Dytyatky. But I did it in an hour and a half. On Dytyatky check point the authorities check your documents (faxed invitation) and let you drive further.
Then you have to drive to Chornobyl town (not nuclear power plant), find an authority office and pick up a local guide there for the rest of your trip. Exactly the same is happening within an organised tour. Guide shows you the same places as written by dozen companies on their web pages. You’ll visitPripyat gost town, exploded reactor of Chernobyl nuclear power plant and some other interesting things.
Me: Regular tour prises start from 170 USD per person. How much did it cost you?
Oleksander: Well. He-he! Official document registration fee is 804 UAH (100 USD)notwithstanding of group size. Plus guide support: 100 UAH (12 USD) for Ukrainian and200 UAH (25 USD) for foreigner. You can add 20 litters of petrol that we spent – 200 UAH. There were four of us, so we shared the expenses. In the end unforgettable lifetime experience to Chernobyl Disaster Exclusion Zone costed me 426 UAH. It’s only 53 USD for an independent trip to the place of Chernobyl disaster which is completely safe at the moment. Not bad, yeah?
Me: Impressive! Thanks for sharing this info with us. I’m sure it will help hundreds of budget travellers who are dreaming to visit this extraordinary place.
Oleksander: All the best, guys 🙂
So, how do you like that? Still, it’s not cheap for one day trip but it’s nothing close to an organised rip-offs.
By providing this informatin I don’t intent to harm business of any travel company. I want to give the opportunity to people for whom organised tour to Chernobil is out of their budget. Moreover, I’m sure it will help other travel agents who are new in the business.
I continued the chat with Oleksander in pub to get specific details such as telephone numbers and names of contact persons in authorities, what places the guide will show if you go to Chernobyl Disaster Exclusion Zone and which underwater stones might appear once you arrange a visit on your own.