When planning for their next vacations, most people envision a beautiful seaside resort or a quiet woodland retreat, not necessarily a desolate radioactive wasteland. But for some, the chance to go on vacation in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is surprisingly enticing! As everyone knows, Chernobyl, Ukraine is home to the worst nuclear disaster the world has ever seen. In 1986 the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant experienced a reactor meltdown, creating a radioactive fallout zone over Chernobyl and the surrounding areas. In an effort to avoid further radiation exposure, officials closed off the area. Now, some thirty years after the accident, the radiation in most areas of the zone has decreased to relatively safe levels. Recently, a few touring companies have begun to give tours throughout parts of the Exclusion Zone. Take a vacation to Chernobyl if interested in some nuclear fun.
Obviously, radiation exposure is one of the main concerns for those considering a trip to Chernobyl. Rest assured, those visiting aren’t going to grow three heads anytime soon. Touring the site is perfectly safe, as long as you stay with the tour group and on the designated pathways. Radiation in an area naturally decreases over time. Most of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is now at safe levels for short visits.
The ruins of the nuclear reactors are sealed in a steel and concrete structure. Tourists are exposed to strictly gamma radiation. The doses received on the tours are far below the unsafe exposure limit. So relax, you won’t be turning into the Incredible Hulk any time soon. Radiation-wise, spending a day in Chernobyl is the same as spending two days in a large city like New York. Spending two days in Chernobyl is the equivalent of getting an X-ray. So there is no need to be concerned on your journey — you will be perfectly safe.
Tourists can have many different experiences while in the Exclusion Zone. It’s possible to explore the ghost city of Pripyat, evacuated shortly after the accident. This abandoned town has been ravaged by thieves and remains uninhabited to this day. See the ruins of a model Soviet city and witness the Communist influence from that time. Visit Duga, one of two massive and mysterious military radars created by the Soviet Union. You can also get fairly close to the power plant, the source of this devastating nuclear disaster.
Additionally, you will have the opportunity to meet with survivors of the nuclear disaster. You can hear about the true impact of it on everyday people living in the area. Through their stories you can relive the era and hear about the effects the accident had on these people during that time. There are a multitude of other exciting activities for tourists to enjoy, as well.
Visitors have a choice of a variety of tours while vacationing in Chernobyl. There are one-day, two-day, and several-day tours. The price for a single-day tour can range from $89-$165 USD, depending on the tour agency. Take a two-day trip from chernobylwel.com ($329 USD), or a several-day tour from chernobyl-tour.com ($285), Seriously, if you’re looking for a fun getaway that will leave you with a healthy glow, consider visiting Chernobyl on your next vacation!
For more information about tours and pricing, visit chernobylwel.com or chernobyl-tour.com.
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Katya is right. Not only do the stairs hold, but the view from the roof, 16 floors above Pripyat, is spectacular. Winter singes the air; nothing yet blooms. There is a severe beauty that is particularly Slavic, the earth at once fecund and stark. The white quadrangles of Pripyat seem to have risen up between the trees that grow thickly right up into Belarus, encompassing a forbidden zone of a thousand square miles. The V.I. Lenin Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station (the official name of what the world knows as Chernobyl) is visible in the distance as a squat collection of shapes, emitting equal parts radioactivity and mystery. That apartment building was part of my two-day excursion into Chernobyl, one that quickly dispelled any notions that this swath of Eastern Europe is a radioactive wasteland. Or, rather, only a radioactive wasteland. I can’t quite believe that I am saying this, but tourism to Chernobyl is booming. There were 870 visitors in 2004, two years after the Ukrainian government allowed (some) access to the Exclusion Zone. Today, the Kiev-based tour company SoloEast says it takes 12,000 tourists to Chernobyl a year, which accounts for 70 percent of the pleasure-visitors heading there (including myself). I even stayed at a luxury hotel of sorts, a neo-rustic cottage that featured towel warmers and a sign that said, “Please keep your radioactive shoes outside.”