Things to know when visiting Chernobyl
When you decide to visit Chernobyl please considers the following tips that will help you to enjoy the tour. Unfortunately we’ve witness too many disappointment so we simply must share these thoughts with you.
- Book well in advance! We don’t try to trick you when we say that. Booking on a short notice doesn’t work anymore. Give yourself at least a week or better two before the tour. - Allow yourself minimum one day of rest in Kiev if you travel from overseas. This will also help if your flight is delayed. - Take it easy on local food and drinks before the tour. Don’t let food poisoning ruined the journey you’ve probably dreamed of for a long time. Alcohol is extremely cheap in Ukraine – but please take it easy on it the day before. And consider other travelers who will be on the bus with you for almost a 12 hours ride. - Beware of pick pocketing in public transportation and on the streets! Loosing your wallet and passport will not just cancel your tour but it will turn your visit into nightmare of getting your travel document from a consulate in Ukraine.
If you have any question you’re welcome to email us or to come to our office in downtown Kiev. Victor Korol, director SoloEast Travel.
Frequently Asked Questions
SoloEast is the first travel agency to start regular trips to Chernobyl Zone in 1999. The way the tours are run now is a result of our 17-year history of developing the project, negotiating and persuading the government institutions to bring them to the level where the comfort for the visitors and accessibility to the major sites don’t conflict with the safety and security regulations. In spite the fact that some companies and individuals simply copied our tours, in 2016 we handled more then 70% of all English language tours to the Exclusion Zone in a professional and reliable manner. We work with many travel agencies, hotels and hostels. Regardless if you deal directly with us or if you book a tour through our partners - you can expect the same great service. We are the only operator to Chernobyl to use own (not rented) comfortable and modern air-conditioned minibuses Mercedes Sprinter and Ford. Our drivers speak English and they are instructed to drive our passengers safely. Every seat is equipped with a seatbelt. We depart from the downtown of Kiev in a walking distance from the major hotels.
Many people call the trip to Chernobyl a lifetime experience. It is expensive mostly because of the cost involved to travel to Ukraine. The cost of the regular tour starts from US $79.00 for a full day trip, covering almost 300 km in a comfortable vehicle with an English-speaking guide and other visitors who speak English. If you book three seats it could be even less. We accept all major credit cards and take care of all the fees. You don't have to worry about taking cash from the ATM - which easily add US$5.00-8.00 in fees to the amount you withdraw. Some ATM are set to give only small amounts of cash allowing your bank to charge more for evey transaction. So it's up to you. We believe that even "cheap" tours to Chernobyl can be a great experience but they could be a dissapointment as well if you compromise the quality to the cost.
SoloEast Travel is an incoming tour operator. To provide travel services to tourists from abroad it is a law in Ukraine that a company has a travel license. A tour operator in Ukraine has an insurance coverage of Euro 20,000 for unforeseen circumstances. A travel company's staff is trained to assist foreigners in Ukraine and they know what to do if there is a problem - be it a sickness, stolen documents or any legal issue where you may require a manager who can liaison in your favor with local government. Solowest is our fully registered Canadian branch licensed by Travel Industry Council of Ontario. It provides our clients with safe and reliable merchant tools including PayPal which is not avaialable to Ukrainian business yet.
Ukraine is a developing country. Unfortunately because of the lack of ethics some visitors to the country are subject for frauds. Very often reporting the crime to the police doesn’t help unless it's something very serious. When you book a tour- you have to make sure you deal with a real/legal company that has a registration and a physical address in Ukraine. Check their website well. Usually those who call themselves 100% officials in fact are not. You should be concern if you are limited to "cash only" payment option.
There are mostly cons: so-called facilitators act on your behalf and charge you for sending an application to the Chernobyl administration. In most cases they do business illegally. Should there be a problem- you will be more likely dealing with it on your own - as your facilitators would prefer not to be involved. It's easy to define them by the way they handle payments - they will prefer cash or Western Union payment for their "services" and the legal fee you will pay directly to the office in Chernobyl. They may cancel the tour without explaining why. So it's up to you to make right choice.
one? There is indeed a rule that only a person who reached 18 y.o. is allowed to enter the exclusion zone. However this rule applies to the year only - not to the day. So those 17 y.o whose 18th birth day will be before the January 31st of the current year can attend the tour.
The tour is 100% safe. You have to follow very simple rules you sign upon entering the Exclusion Zone. The most important things to remember are to watch your steps and follow your guide’s instructions. It's unsafe to leave the group and wonder on your own in the places you're unfamiliar with. If you find walking to intense you can always tell the guide and rest in or near the transportation provided. Please watch this video for the detailed information.
It is very unlikely that you will get any contamination on your cloths during the tour. There is a dosimeter control when leaving the exclusion zone. Anybody or anything that passes this very sensitive in term of radiation control is clean. There is a dress code inside the zone, which is a must: no shorts, no skirts, no sandals and no short sleeves. We still can enter some buildings with care but it's not mandatory and you can as well stay just outside.
You can quit the tour anytime before or at the first checkpoint - after that you either have to be with the group or remain on the bus. If you have an emergency you need to get in touch with SoloEast representative - if needed in critical situation you can be airlifted.
We have assisted many visitors with disabilities in taking the tour. Unfortunately we cannot offer much in term of comfort because of the nature of the area but we do try to help everybody. Please contact us in advance for arrangements. We do not suggest women seven+ months pregnant to attend the tour.
In case you haven't found the answer for your question please feel free to contact us, our customer support will be happy to help you.