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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.
The listed price of this trip is per person based on double occupancy.
You’re in good company. Solo travelers typically make up about half of our small groups. With curiosity at the center of our experiences, there’s a natural camaraderie that develops over the course of a trip. We have two options for you:
Shared Room (subject to the latest Covid-19 guidelines): You'll be matched with another solo traveler of the same gender.
Private Room: Have your own room, subject to availability, for a supplemental cost of $580. When booking, please select the single room package option.
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.
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.
This trip has been designed by photographers, for photographers. Your guides 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 two 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.
You should aim to arrive in Kyiv on January 12 by 4 p.m., and depart any time on 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.
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 is really thorough, and last year alone it safely catered to 120,000+ visitors.
The Chernobyl tourism industry has received a lot of media attention in recent years, and not all of it has been positive. On this trip, we'll explore parts of the 1,000-square-mile Exclusion Zone that most tourists never get to see. We’ll talk about the effects of tourism in the Zone, both the positive and the negative. But rather than joining the crowds at the more populated tourism hotspots, we'll spend our time eating, drinking, and talking with local people, many of whom would otherwise see little financial benefit from the increasingly corporate Chernobyl tourism industry.