Chernobyl safer than Vatican? How did we make it the safest Chernobyl tour on the planet
Some of you may know the story how CHERNOBYLwel.come began back in 2008 with my first travel full of anxiety…wearing a lead-plate cover with jockey strap on my balls, respirator and several layers of clothing. I think most people have this respect or even fear when traveling for the first time to the amazing zone of Chernobyl. It was such a relief when I managed to organise my first tour and make it the safest tour possible. And this is imprinted on the tours we have done since. So how did we make a tour to Chernobyl (radiation) safer than a tour to Disneyland or the Vatican?
Here is the over-the-years-verified way of how we do it:
- Knowing our sh*t. A tour leader must know where and with what they work. What is ionising radiation, where are the hotspots (small piece of ground with high radiation level) in the zone, where is gamma and where is beta decay, how to cover your body parts and where are the NO GO zones, it sounds primitive. And yet, it is still a no compromise qualificator for becoming CHERNOBYLwel.come tour leader.
- Being on the pulse. When travelling, especially in a zone that was struck by a nuclear disaster, you want to be informed about what is the actual radiation level. Thus, we provide you with a Geiger Muller counter FREE OF CHARGE on your tour.
- Dosimetric controls. At least twice a day you will go through a scanner. This compulsory control checks whether there is radioactive dust stuck on your shoe, in case you wandered off the trail somewhere…. If you did, your shoes will be cleaned with ready prepared equipment and boric acid. If unlucky, we make sure our first stop on the way back from Chernobyl is a shoe store (happened once so far :-))
- Respirators. Although the chance to inhale a radioactive particle in Chernobyl is close to zero (as radioactive isotopes are heavy and sink to the ground by approximately 1cm each year), you will get a fabric respirator. The respirator is not just for taking cool selfies. They come in handy when it gets windy and dusty, but also when you get inside some old buildings (by accident of course – as since 2012 it has been prohibited to enter buildings). Or when a forest catches on fire (just couple of times in 2018).
- Small groups. One can get a great deal by joining a 40-seat bus for a Chernobyl tour. However, besides not being able to take a single picture without other people in it; you might easily find yourself stumbling upon some hole in the ground, cutting your clothes or skin on broken glass, or looking for a toilet in the forest (since the toilets at the restaurant are already taken by your co-travellers), and bringing in some radioactive particles on your shoes. Just some of the many reasons why we do a maximum 15-people-group, so your tour leader can always be there when needed.
- Transportation. You mean those retro cars offered?? Noooo…those are just for rides around Chernobyl. I mean a safe, modern and comfortable Mercedes Benz fleet that is cleaned and disinfected after each tour. But the real difference is the driver! Our drivers are experienced, calm, rested and definitely not consuming alcohol before or during a tour. Try to offer them a shot ;-) . We do 300 kilometres per day on average, doing our best to make it as safe as possible.
- Rules, rules, rules. I hate rules. Especially those that do not bring any value to the greater good. Believe me, there are lots of rules in Chernobyl from 1986 that still apply today, and you (sometimes neither I) understand why. Our tour leaders and drivers know them; and you will also get to know them – firstly via instructions email and later on a short briefing in the bus at the beginning of your tour. We will help you to comply with them and make sure you do not get into trouble with officials and policemen. If this did happen, there is always somebody from CHERNOBYLwel.come with you. We will never let you down…even if you are the“bad boy”.
- Food and accommodation. Simple, yet important. Everything we serve you was tested by us, no need to worry as we eat the same food and we live in the same place as you. Even if we dine in the Chernobyl zone - hotel, power plant, or a restaurant - we make sure all ingredients were bought outside of the Chernobyl zone. All accommodation facilities were rechecked by a dosimetrist. Be sure to approach us even if you are not happy with the cleaning lady!
- Insurance. One might say “trivial”. You have it included in price of your tour, even if you have your own travel insurance from back home. Your insurance, however, can have certain exceptions in countries or zones, and in the highly unlikely event you will need some medical help, we make sure our insurance will cover it with no questions asked. Anyway, hope you will never need to use it!
- Price. Wait, did you just say price? Insane? Right… before doing professional tours, I would never put price as a “safety support” but then again, I have ran tours for a decade now and for some reason we get a certain type of client ….to put it mildly: those who are not assholes. A single person behaving like a lunatic, disrespectfully, or just drunk and causing conflicts, breaking things, behaving like a vandal….can truly ruin your tour and can put the whole group at risk. Not just because of being aggressive, but because of attracting all the police and security forces that will definitely not make your tour pleasant, and may even cancel it. Such types of people mostly don’t care about the quality of the tour, only about the price. And CHERNOBYLwel.come is not their first choice. Gratefully.
If you are still reading this, bravo. You are truly concerned about your health and that’s the right attitude to enjoy traveling. If you have any questions, please reach out to our Customer Care (chat in your right corner), email form in CONTACT, or simply social media. We are always glad to help.
Take care and have a safe journey to Ukraine - we will take care of the rest!
p.s. You might ask: and what about the lead-plate cover jockey straps - do they come included in price as well? Nope…I will keep this embarrassing trick only for myself.
p.p.s. What about the Vatican safety??? Right….no Swiss guard in Chernobyl. However, is there any dosimetric control, Geiger Muller counters, respirators or even rules - like not placing anything on the ground? I admit, this comparison is a little bit over the line. Anyway, when the Pope wants to visit the Chernobyl zone, we will gladly add the VIP security measurements into place….just how it is done by the state delegations visiting Chernobyl on the day of disaster anniversary every year.
BTW Did you know? The Chernobyl disaster was mentioned in the bible - read our 10 Myths and Facts about Chernobyl