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Your guide to visiting the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

Intrigued by the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone or starting to prepare for your visit? Here is our ultimate guide to Chernobyl and answers to your frequently asked questions.


How long can you stay in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone?

There are two exclusion zones in Chernobyl; a 10km inner and 30km outer Exclusion Zone. It is safe to stay in the outer Exclusion Zone overnight. There is a small hotel in Chernobyl town where our trips spend the night. 

On our trips to Chernobyl you'll spend two days exploring the abandoned ruins and the towns and villages that nature has reclaimed. Today there are around 200 people living within the outer Exclusion Zone.

Is Chernobyl safe to visit?

Chernobyl is now safe to visit, with very low radiation levels similar to those on a trans-Atlantic flight, but it is subject to very strict regulations. It is only possible to visit the Exclusion Zone with an official Chernobyl guide. Visitors to Chernobyl are scanned on entering and leaving the Exclusion Zone to check radiation levels. Occasionally - rarely - a reading will come back higher than recommended and in those cases you may need to leave behind an item of clothing in the zone. 

During the two days we spend in the Exclusion Zone you'll receive a dose of radiation comparable to a small dose from an X-ray scan: in numbers, you'll receive 5-7 micro Sieverts of gamma radiation, which is a non-harmful dose of radiation.

What do I need to pack?

Pack closed toe and comfortable walking shoes or boots. You'll be doing a lot of walking, and we recommend using older shoes that can be easily washed or thrown away in unlikely case they have a radiation reading on leaving the zone. In the Exclusion Zone there is often broken glass on the floor, so it is important to have shoes with sturdy tread.

Take long trousers and long sleeved shirts. July and August tend to be the hottest months so lightweight cotton clothing would be advised. In winter, temperatures can be as low as -10 to -15oc, so warm winter / ski gear is needed. We'd also recommend taking older clothes that can be easily washed or possibly thrown away and avoid clothing with lots of zips or metal poppers.

Make sure you have your camera or smartphone to capture some great photos. Keep a reusable water bottle handy for use outside the Exclusion Zone.  If you don't have one, you can purchase one of our Explore Water-to-Go bottles and save 15%.

- We would strongly recommend that you take some wet wipes, toilet roll, and hand sanitiser. Mosquito spray is needed especially when visiting in the summer months. - You must keep your passport with you at all times, so you may find keeping it in a sealed plastic bag useful.
- For the overnight stay in Chernobyl it is best to take a small overnight bag with you and to leave your main bag padlocked in the luggage storage facility at our hotel in Kyiv. 
-  You can bring along any books, cards, smartphones or iPads as the TV has no English speaking channels at the hotel in Chernobyl. 

Can I take photos and videos?

Yes! Chernobyl is a photographer's heaven. You are allowed to take as many photographs and videos of what you wish to and take a tripod too, if you have any questions you can always ask your Explore Leader and Chernobyl guide for help and advice. You can also take pictures in front of Reactor Number 4 from a safe distance. There are however restrictions in place for taking photographs at the guarded check points and at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.
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What is the weather like in Chernobyl?

In the summer months you can expect warm and sunny days with temperatures anywhere between 18 – 25 degrees. Summer is a good time to travel to appreciate the way that nature is reclaiming the exclusion zone. Winter months in Chernobyl are snowy and very cold, with temperatures dropping as low as -8 to -12 degrees. The cold, snowy zone is incredibly atmospheric, and it's a great time to photograph Pripyat and Reactor 4 - check out our Winter Photography Short Break