Spend an exciting long weekend like no other, exploring the incredible abandoned sites reclaimed by nature on tour of Chernobyl's Exclusion Zone, which was created when the Number 4 reactor exploded back in 1986. Chernobyl tour - Discover the ghost town of Pripyat, the Red Forest, and the 'New Safe Confinement' structure around Reactor 4 Kyiv - Walking tour of the city's highlights including Mother Motherland and the Chernobyl Museum Lavra Reserve - Explore this ornately decorated monastic complex best known for its expansive catacombs Reactor visit optional - As part of your trip, you can choose to take a special tour inside the nuclear power station at Chernobyl
Your exciting and unique long weekend begins in Ukraine's capital city, Kyiv. You will be met on arrival at Kyiv's International Airport (KBP) by a local guide, and driven to your centrally-located hotel. There are no activities planned today, so feel free to arrive in Kyiv at any time. For those booking their own flights, you will just need to let us know your flight details no later than three weeks prior to departure, in order to be met on arrival. On this long weekend we have packed in as many highlights of Kyiv as we can, but there is very little free time in the city, so if you wish to spend some time discovering more on your own, we would recommend extending your stay for a night or two. If you choose to do this, we'd suggest visiting the Museum of the Great Patriotic War, which is one of the largest in Ukraine and tells the story of the German-Soviet War in iconic and Brutalist style. It has over 300,000 items on display and memorials spread over 25 acres. It's here that the Mother Motherland statue is located and although we will see this from a distance during our city tour tomorrow, you might like to get up close and go up to the observation platform. Please note that many of Kyiv's museums close on a Monday or Tuesday, so if you wish to visit a particular attraction then please check that it is open on the day you want to visit.
It's a busy day today, with the aim of exploring a selection of Kyiv's many historic sights and to get a feel for this great city. Start with a guided walking tour of Kyiv, situated on the banks of the River Dnipro. This ancient city has been inhabited for almost 2000 years and it was once the capital of the Kyivan Rus State, from which all later Russian states were descended. Although Ukrainian nationalism is stronger than ever, you will still hear Russian spoken here today. See the onion-domed exterior of Santa Sophia Cathedral, the Golden Gate which was once the main entrance to the city, Saint Andrews Baroque church and Mother Motherland, a 100 metre high statue to honour the heroes of the Soviet Union. A visit the Chernobyl Museum will also be the perfect introduction to the site before your journey there tomorrow. Exhibits are designed to teach us of the scope of the nuclear disaster and to ensure that the lessons learnt from this terrible accident aren't forgotten. This afternoon, take the metro to Arsenalna, the deepest station in the world. Continuing on by metro to the Lavra Historical and Cultural Reserve, your guide will leave you and you'll be picked up by one of the Lavra Museum's experienced guides. Visit the remarkable 'Monastery of the Caves' founded in AD 1051, where the labyrinths provide all the natural conditions needed for mummification, and take some free time after the tour to explore either the Museum of Miniatures or the Museum Of Historical Treasures and the Holy Trinity Church. After the visit, make your own way back into central Kyiv by metro or by taxi and spend the evening relaxing and having dinner.
Set off this morning to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, about two hours' drive from the city and close to the Belarusian border. Back on the 26th April 1986 the Number 4 nuclear reactor at Chernobyl exploded with catastrophic consequences. Since then an Exclusion Zone has been in place around the plant and nature has reclaimed the towns and vehicles left within this. The accident was the result of a flawed Soviet reactor, operated by inadequately trained staff that had been ordered to carry out a poorly planned test. There were four reactors and a further two being constructed when Reactor 4 exploded twice, killing two workers and releasing at least 5% of its radioactive core into the atmosphere. A further 28 fire fighters died of radiation poisoning following the accident. At the time this was the largest uncontrolled radioactive release recorded. The city of Pripyat was built three kilometres from the site to house the plant's workers and their families and, at the time, it had 49,000 inhabitants. Within a 30 kilometre radius of the power plant, there was a population of up to 135,000 people. All were evacuated after the accident and most of these towns and villages including Pripyat are now ghost towns. Surprisingly after the accident the other reactors at Chernobyl were restarted. Their safety was improved but due to energy shortages the last reactor wasn't turned off until December 2000. In 2011 Chernobyl was declared safe enough to be recognised as a tourist attraction. Reactor 4 was enclosed in a large concrete shelter which was erected quickly after the incident and contained around 200 tonnes of highly radioactive material. The old shelter only had a shelf life of 30 years and at the end of 2016 a huge 'New Safe Confinement' structure was built on the site and moved into place over the old shelter. It is the world's largest movable structure and inside a team of robotic cranes is taking the old shelter and radioactive core apart in an effort to make the area safe again. Today, explore Pripyat with a local guide, visiting the key sites of the town including an elementary school, fire station, hospital and even an overground fairground. Your guide will also take you to see the Red Forest and the structure around Reactor 4. The sites seen in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone may vary depending on local conditions and restrictions, but you'll see the most possible during your two days spent here. This evening stay within the Exclusion Zone in a small hotel within the town of Chernobyl. The bedrooms are simply decorated and there are two bathrooms shared between every five bedrooms. There is a restaurant and bar where you will enjoy a traditional Ukrainian meal this evening. Please note that it is essential that you provide us with the correct passport information at the time of booking and that you check this is accurate on your booking confirmation/the online customer information gateway, as this will be required in order to request the permissions needed to enter the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Corrections and amendments may incur additional charges at your own expense or result in you being denied entrance to the Exclusion Zone. If you intend to renew your passport please let us know at the point of booking and ensure that you have your new passport no later than 10 weeks prior to travel. In order to be permitted to enter the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and to travel on this holiday you must be at least 18 years old.
Discover the rest of Pripyat, including the swimming pool, music school and the secret Soviet Duga Radar Facility. The radar military base was named Chernobyl 2 and didn't appear on any civilian maps and the trees were strategically planted to block the view from the neighbouring towns. There are two radars here that were constructed as part of a Soviet early missile detection system. The bigger of the two is almost 500 metres long and around 150 metres high. Also on the site are an abandoned fire station, small power plant, hospital and apartment buildings where the military personnel stationed here and their families would have lived. You might get the chance to speak with people still living within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, who are known as self-settlers. A year after the accident over one thousand people returned to their homes and despite efforts from the authorities they kept returning until eventually being allowed to stay and they have been living off grid ever since. Many of the people who choose to return were retired at the time and since it has been over 30 years since the disaster many of these people have sadly now passed away, so many of the towns and villages in the Exclusion Zone now only have one or two people living there. Late this afternoon, drive back to Kyiv for your final free evening in the city.
Your trip ends today, and you will be taken to the airport to meet your international flight. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Kyiv at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel.
4 Break Fast(s) 2 Lunch(es) 1 Dinner(s)
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