Tourists seeking new and different adventurous experiences are visiting the radiation-contaminated lands at Chernobyl.
The uninhabited zone that contains the remains of the world’s worst nuclear accident has seen a massive surge in tourists over the past few years, seeing over 50,000 people in 2017 alone. Abandoned after a reactor exploded on April 26, 1986, Chernobyl is still infused with radiation.
While tours to the site have been available since as far back as 2012, interest has increased after the 30th anniversary of the disaster in 2016. The event also saw the installation of a metal dome over the damaged reactor that reduced radiation leaks.
Tourists are provided with Geiger counters and are often shocked at the lush vegetation. The sight of nature reclaiming the abandoned roads and buildings is said to be fascinating to behold.
Tourism Boom at Chernobyl?
Many Ukrainian agencies offer tours to Chernobyl lasting anywhere between one to seven days. This allows visitors to spend the night at basic hotels or hostels near the power station.
There are various activities, such as feeding the gigantic catfish in the cooling pools, that are on offer. However, the most popular activity is a visit to Pripyat, the ghost town built for the workers at the plant.
Blocks of apartments lie abandoned, as do schools still filled with children’s toys and books. Perhaps most eerily, a Ferris wheel still rises above the amusement park in the town square.
While it may be amazing to see this iconic place, which has been turned into a living relic, tourists still face the risks of exposure to radiation. As they leave, everyone must go through mandatory radiation checks inside a dosimeter.
However, most say that the risk is minimal. A day’s stay in the area is said to equal two hours of flying over the Atlantic Ocean in terms of the dose of radiation absorbed.