Ukraine tour, Discover Chernobyl

“Fascinating, exciting and moving guided tour around the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone near Kiev, staying in a Chernobyl hotel. Learn stories of tragedy and hope that emerged from the disaster.”

Highlights

Chernobyl | Kiev | Chernobyl Museum | Lavra Reserve | Monastery of the Caves | Tour Pripyat | Guided tour in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone | Sleep overnight in Chernobyl itself | Meet the people who chose to remain |

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25 Jan 2021
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Vacation type
Small group vacations
Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, traveling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week vacation, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travelers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.
What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Simplicity
Make the most of your vacation time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travelers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your vacation.

Solo travelers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those traveling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travelers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
Mythbuster
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travelers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travelers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
No.
Meet a local guide
No matter how experienced your group leader, they can never make up for the knowledge gained from a lifetime in the destination. That’s why many of our trips work with local guides around the world – who invite you into their homeland with pleasure.

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your vacation will help support conservation and local people.

Environment
The accident at Chernobyl was the result of a flawed Soviet reactor that was being operated by inadequately trained staff. Ukraine's isolation during the Cold War meant that their safety culture was lacking and this was a major contributing factor in the accident.

About 200000 people, known as liquidators, from throughout the Soviet Union were involved in the clean up during the year after the disaster. They all received high doses of radiation. In the years that followed many more liquidators were onsite but the radiation levels were far lower.

In 2010 Belarus announced that it was to settle back thousands of people into the 'contaminated areas' and by 2011 Chernobyl was declared safe enough to be recognised as a tourist attraction. Interestingly in 2015 a major scientific study found that the mammal population in the Exclusion Zone was thriving, despite land contamination, which was contrary to what experts had believed would be the case. The Przewalski's horse was close to extinction, but in areas around Chernobyl their population is increasing. Moose, deer, beavers, owls, brown bear, lynx and wolves have also all been spotted and appear to be prospering.

In addition to the above, we are continually looking for ways to improve and are proud to be ‘Responsible in everything we do’. Education is key and so all staff, Tour leaders and partnering suppliers are trained in responsible and sustainable tourism. At our UK Head Office, we continually strive towards a sustainable and planet-friendly working environment, including having solar panels installed and a company commitment to reducing our plastic usage. As well as this, we have valuable and longstanding partnerships with UK charities Toilet Twinning and Send a Cow, plus many smaller initiatives and projects around the world. We’re members of UK travel industry bodies Tourism Concern and AITO because we believe it’s important to share our knowledge and experience, as well as learn from other operators.

As a company we support Cool Earth. Protecting rainforest is one of the most effective actions to tackle climate breakdown. Cool Earth work with indigenous communities empowering them to conserve their forest; keeping CO2 locked in
Community

The Impacts of this Trip

Learning about the country we are traveling to is really important on our trips and Ukraine is a country filled with history. One of the reasons we prefer to use local Tour Leaders is so they can give a real insight into the local culture; anything from learning about the education system, to making sure we don’t fall foul of any taboos.

Secondly it is our policy to generate business and employment opportunities in the countries we travel to by employing local people. All our Tour Leaders in Ukraine are locals and we’ve personally trained them all too so they are comfortable in their work and you get great service. As well as respecting local people, we also like to be an economic benefit to them. We do this by using locally owned hotels, spreading our business to a variety of local restaurants (which is a great way to sample delicious Ukrainian food) and employing local guides where we can.

After the invasion of Crimea and the Ukrainian revolution in 2014, tourism to Ukraine was hit hard and is only now starting to recover; obviously our priority is always the safety of our groups and that is why we always follow UK foreign Office Travel Advice and are in constant contact with our local suppliers to ensure we know what conditions are like on the ground.

However we also strongly believe that is important that we continue to send groups to Ukraine to help support the local businesses and our local Tour Leaders. Ukraine is a fabulous country and the capital city, Kiev, is full of history, stunning architecture, mouth-watering food, and it’s affordable with cost of public transport, food and drinks being some of the lowest in Europe. We will also visit the unique site of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and now is the time to go. It’s been over 30 years since the accident and with each passing year the site further decays and eventually it will become inaccessible. Also tourism is only now beginning to pick up again so it’s still relatively quiet here so you can avoid the crowds, especially if you visit in autumn and winter, which is also a great time for photography as you can get a clearer view of the ruins when the leaves aren’t on the trees. In Chernobyl our groups visit the self-settlers that live alone inside the Exclusion Zone which helps to give them companionship and much needed food supplies.

Climate

3 Reviews of Ukraine tour, Discover Chernobyl

5 out of 5 stars
SHOW
3
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Reviewed on 26 Oct 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Going to Pripyat was extraordinary.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Be ready to walk lots and take in lots of information.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, as we were using local guides.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


It was wonderful. The tour leader, Anastasiia, was excellent.

Reviewed on 15 Oct 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The knowledge and professionalism of the guides.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


No real tips as everything turned to be explained in the notes issued by explore.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


11 out of 10 would not even think twice about booking with this operator again.

Reviewed on 16 Sep 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?




2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?




3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?




4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?



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