Photographing Chernobyl in Winter - Atlas Obscura Trips
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Photo Credit: Darmon Richter
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Photo Credit: Darmon Richter
Photo Credit: Nate Robert

Photographing Chernobyl in Winter

from $3,920 USD per person for 9 days, 8 nights
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  • 14 People Maximum
  • Moderate Activity Level
  • Urban Exploration
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Trip Overview
Overview

This unique photography trip to Ukraine incorporates some of the country’s most remarkable visual experiences—from the markets and street art of Kyiv to hundred-year-old brickwork drains beneath the city streets, and from towering relics of Soviet might to a post-human landscape where space-age technology lies ruined in the snow. 

Winter in Ukraine can be severe, however the rewards for visiting in winter are extraordinary—and this is a dry cold, so provided you dress accordingly with lots of layers, the experience oughtn’t be unpleasant! We’ll take regular pit stops to warm up, and finish each evening with hot, home-cooked food and (optional) Ukrainian moonshine. Whereas in summer Chernobyl is overtaken by forest, in winter the leaves pull back to reveal panoramic vistas. In Pripyat we’ll get a clear look at the city’s urban design, so for lovers of architecture and those keen to explore the peculiarities of Soviet-era urban planning, there really is no better time to visit.

Highlights
  • Ukraine’s lesser-seen photogenic delights
  • Snow-dusted monumental Soviet-era architecture
  • Experienced photographers to help you hone your craft
  • Tunnels, drains, and hidden corners of Kyiv
  • Deep exploration in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

Itinerary

Itineraries and daily schedules are subject to change. We expect to do everything listed in the itinerary, though the order may be rearranged based on weather or other local conditions.
Ukraine

Additional Info

Pricing & Single Accommodations

The total cost of this trip is $3,920. For those traveling by themselves, single accommodations can be provided, subject to availability, at an additional cost of $580. Please contact us to request a single room.

Accommodation

This trip won’t be suitable for those expecting 5-star accommodation. Particularly during our time in Chernobyl, many modern luxuries simply won’t be available. However, we can guarantee the essentials you’ll need in order to enjoy your stay: warmth and good food; power plugs for charging batteries; a modern, heated bus, and comfortable beds. At our Chernobyl homestay, the showers are usually hot, and the wifi is at least consistent, if not necessarily fast.

Activity Level

Some elements of this trip will be physically demanding. Our four-day exploration of Chernobyl involves no more than walking—but there will be a lot of that, and over rough ground—or potentially through deep snow—so be sure to bring proper walking boots or other outdoor footwear. You’ll also need warm outerwear and full-length pants inside the Zone.

The Kyiv underground tunnel tour will be particularly challenging. Expect to get wet as you climb up and down ladders and crawl through tight spaces beneath the streets of Kyiv. You’ll need to be in good physical shape for this section of the trip, and it’s absolutely not for the claustrophobic—but if that doesn’t appeal, you’re welcome to join the street photography session instead.

Photography Experience & Gear

This trip has been designed by photographers, for photographers. Your three guides, between them, have an extensive range of photography experience and will be excited to share their knowledge with you. That said, this trip is open to absolutely anyone. Maybe you received a fancy camera as a gift, and you’re not sure which button does what... or perhaps you’re an intermediate photographer looking to hone some specific skills or techniques. And for the accomplished photographers out there, you’re going to love some of the captivating visuals built into the itinerary—and your guides certainly won’t take offense if you want to skip the tutorial segments to go off shooting alone!

Having three photography guides on this trip allows for a lot of flexibility. We can work with participants with varying levels of experience and gear. We’ll take a drop-in, drop-out approach to workshop sessions, and whichever guides aren’t busy instructing will be glad to accompany you as you track down other targets. Just bring whatever camera gear you’re most comfortable using (or maybe, the camera you want to be comfortable with), tell us what kind of pictures you want to make, and we’ll do our very best to set you on the right path.

Arrival & Departure

You should aim to arrive in Kyiv on Sunday, January 12 by 4 p.m., and depart any time on Monday, January 20. Kyiv Boryspil International Airport (KBP) is your best option when it comes to booking flights into Ukraine. Traveling to and from your hotel in the city center is easiest by taxi, which should cost no more than $25 each way. Uber is very popular in Kyiv, too. If you decide to extend your stay, your guides will be only too happy to suggest additional activities for you.

Included
  • Eight nights of accommodation in comfortable and often historically significant hotels.
  • Daily breakfast and dinner.
  • The company of three photo leaders throughout, in addition to several different local guides, each stepping in to tell you about their specialist subjects.
  • Private transport throughout the trip, in a comfortable minibus.
  • Admission to all proposed activities and locations, including the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.
Excluded
  • Transportation and flights to and from Kyiv, including airport transfers. 
  • Travel insurance (recommended).
  • Additional meals and drinks outside of Atlas Obscura offerings, including lunches and alcoholic beverages.
  • If applicable, applying for a Ukrainian visa.
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Trip FAQs

Chernobyl is very much safe to visit. The outer area, the 30km Zone, acts as more of a buffer space between the contaminated land and the rest of Ukraine. This area is more or less fine—people live there full-time, they grow crops, raise livestock, and so on. Radiation levels in the 30km Zone are lower than the standard background radiation in a typical developed city. The largest dose of radiation our travelers usually get is from their trans-Atlantic flights. Most important, as always, is following the site’s regulations. Chernobyl’s security team are really thorough, and last year alone they safely catered to 60,000 visitors.

Upcoming Departures

  • Jan 12–Jan 20, 2020
    from $3,920 per person
    Book
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