Chornobyl is probably one of the most known places on Earth. Unfortunately, it's located in Ukraine. There are a lot of rumors about Chornobyl zone, but after visiting it we can say that they are not true. There are no giant boars and catfish. Normal-sized boars sometimes occur right in the city, and normal-sized catfish live in the pond.
When visiting the area it's important to understand that it's not an entertaining tour. You should be imbued with what you see and understand what a great tragedy occurred many years ago.
Besides, I'm sure that many people are not aware that the town of Chornobyl is not the station itself - the town is situated 30 km far from the station. And nearby is the city of Prypyat. Around 300 people currently live in Chornobyl, while life in Prypyat will be impossible for thousands of years.
First you will visit the "Dityatki" checkpoint, where military people will check the passports and count people in the group.
Office of MOE is located in Chornobyl, where you will be instructed, told the story about the tragedy, and even have dinner on the way back. The food, of course, is imported from clean regions.
In Chornobyl I was impressed by a monument to firefighters - the people who first arrived at the station after the explosion, not having a clue about what was happening. They all got a huge dose of radiation. Some died immediately, while the others continued living with diseases. This is a monument to people who saved the world! For me, this monument was the biggest shock while visiting the area. I was surprised to learn that the government didn't finance its construction, it was built using the private money of the firefighters.
We also saw military equipment that was involved in the cleanup or just was in the area. Previously, this equipment occupied the entire field; now very few machines left, while the rest were buried. You can stand near the machines for no longer than 10-20 seconds, since the background radiation level is very high.
A fact: The Chornobyl disaster is the most expensive in history. It's impossible to calculate the exact amount. According to some estimates, the liquidation cost more than $200 billion, and currently continues to grow as the new Ukrytiye (Shelter) facility is being built and the government pays monthly compensation to Chornobyl people.
On the way to the station from Chornobyl, there are two more objects: the famous radar arch and the Kopachi village, which was buried under the ground in 1986. There are no buildings, only hills and warning signs.
There is a myth that you cannot stay in the zone. In fact, it's possible. Short-term visits to the zone are not more dangerous than a transatlantic flight. However, some rules exists. The zone can be very dangerous, and you won't even understand when the danger comes. If you have a dosimeter, take it with you and measure various objects in the city.
So, about the dangers: it should be clear that various objects absorb and emit radiation in different ways. If you walk in Prypyat on the sidewalk with a dosimeter, the background won't be higher than in any other city - about 10-20 mkR. But when you step on the grass, the background radiation will increase. And the moss reaches thousands of micro roentgen (I saw 1,500 on the dosimeter). But don't be afraid, all these numbers mean a dose per hour, so 1,000 mkR for 20 seconds is the same thing as 30 minutes spent in the Kyiv downtown.
Try not to step on the plants, grass and moss in particular, because they can stick to your shoes. Of course you will be checked for radiation sources when leaving the zone, but don't take a risk anyway.
In addition to general tours in Prypyat you will have some free time. People tend to disperse in all directions. We also walked away to the nearest tall buildings and explored several apartments and a kindergarten. Some people climbed onto the roof of a 16-floor building, but we didn't.
There were foreigners in our group - Germans, French etc. But most of all I was impressed by a guy from Poland. You won't believe it, but the young guy had only one limb - the hand. He came from Poland by train, got to the Lukianivska metro station, where the tour started, and moved along with the group using the skateboard.
On the way back we drove past the "red forest", the most dirty part. The radiation in some parts of this forest is so great that you cannot spend even a moment there. The dirtiest part of the forest received the radiation dose of 10,000 rads. Such radiation kills a human in several hours or days.
By the way: What was shown at the beginning of the movie Transformers 3 is absolutely not true. The station itself and the city were modeled using the pictures and were made totally wrong.
Getting there: Only as a part of an organized group tour from Kyiv. The price is about $100.