I went for a day trip to Chernobyl (and Pripyat - the ghost town) with 23 other people. The tour was arranged by our local contact in Kiev (we paid in USD - even though we all are European, grr) and they asked for our passport info and reported it to the organizer, Chernobyl-TOUR(.com). (Remember to take your passports with you on the tour.)
We started at 8 am from the Kiev main railway station, and came back there at 9 pm.
In the bus (AC, TV) we were divided into two groups: Russian speakers and English speakers (the later having people from Finland, Sweden, Ireland and Germany). I can't say much of Dimitry, the first groups guide, but our own Vita was very lovely and extremely professional and knowledgeable.
On the way to the exclusion zone we were shown a documentary on the accident, which was very interesting - and sobering. We were also told how to behave: not to take pics of the security posts (at 30 km limit, 10 km limit and Pripyat itself - although in there we were allowed to shoot the post, but never the guards), keep our hands clean, not to eat or drink anything while within the zone (nor after, until we had washed our hands) etc.
On the way we had a pit stop at Ivankov (half way from Kiev and the power plant), then a stop at the village of Zalesye, where we walked amongst the ruined and inhabitable houses.
Then to the ghost town of Pripyat itself, where we spotted different hot spots (the radiation may increase threefold within a few metres) and saw high rise buildings - some outwardly in good condition, others half collapsed. We saw the hospital, the school (one of many), department store, swimming hall etc.
A short stop at the "sarcophagus" at the destoyed reactor Nr 4, where we had a group picture taken (thanks Vita :-) - you're allowed to take pics only of the sarcophagus and the new one built next to it.
Then back south, first stop being at the 10 km check point, where everybody had to go thru radiation screening (NB: Do NOT try to bring any souvenirs from the zone).
A lunch in town of Chernobyl, where 4400 people live - although not permanently, and further to the check point Dityatki at 30 kms (and another radiation screening).
On the way back we got each an individual certificate of having visited the zone, including our received radiation dose! (The guides had counters with them all the time.)
Oh, the zone is a haven for wild life. We saw Przewalski's horses in there! Also, do NOT step on any droppings you will encounter - they are quite well radiated. Might cause some trouble at the exit screenings...
We were quite tired after the long day, but it was worth every penny!
Also, at the end of the tour we were offered to buy souvenirs (glow-in-the-dark mugs, T-shirts and postcards - which Vita would have posted for us at the Chernobyl post office (unfortunately I was too tired to write any cards, as I had an early flight home waiting for me)).
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