Two years ago, the only prejudice and reason for not going to Chernobyl zone was simple: ‘It’s not safe. It is radioactive. There are mutants’. Last year there became another reason not to go to Chernobyl: ‘The War in Ukraine’. Both reasons are true to some extent.

UA soldiers

Traveling to Chernobyl is not safe – just like traveling in general. There are places there with higher readings of radioactivity (gamma and beta), but the total amount of radiation you are exposed to is not even comparable to the radiation one receives when flying in an aeroplane or having an X-ray. The second reason has better coverage by the media. From both sides of the conflict: Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists. The military conflict (now frozen thanks to the Minsk ceasefire) is taking place at the Eastern border of Ukraine in an area that is less than 10% of the total Ukrainian territory. It is approximately 800 kilometers (500 miles) away from Chernobyl exclusion zone. And yet, the influence of the conflict may be seen in Chernobyl and also nearby Kiev. Guards at the checkpoints of the zone started to carry automatic machine guns (*without magazines inside), some Chernobyl zone employees (even those who were accompanying tourists) had to join the army. And there is much less tourism in the zone.

The military conflict in Ukraine caused many people to postpone their trip to Ukraine and visits to Chernobyl as well. The groups shrunk to less than half of what they were, and at the same time the Chernobyl zone management eased some of the regulations in order to enrich the tourist program. The tourist hotel was renovated and the restaurant’s chef now cooks some great national Ukrainian dishes. On top of that, the construction of the new sarcophagus at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is in it’s final stages – 2016 is the only year in history where the old and new sarcophagus’s will be next to each other. After 2016 the old sarcophagus will disappear forever. Actually there was never a better time to visit Chernobyl.

And it is as (un) safe as it always was

 

 

War in Donbass is far from Chernobyl