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Talk About Dangerous Travel: Ukraine to Open Chernobyl to Visitors

Where: Ukraine
December 14, 2010 at 2:17 PM | by | Comments (3)

Can you believe it? There is talk—no, more than just talk—about Ukraine opening up the Chernobyl nuclear power plant area to tourism as soon as January. Talk about dangerous tourism; the explosion that contributed to the deaths, deformities and radiation-related health problems of millions and millions of people may have occurred back in 1986, but that's still very recent in the memory of the people, not to mention that the site is still totally radioactive. (Here's a 1996 map showing levels ten years later).

When we were in school, we recall opening our textbook to a page on the Chernobyl explosion, and there was a haunting image of the plant. It piqued our curiosity greatly, and we'd be lying if we said we aren't at all intrigued at the possibility of visiting. On the other hand, it's pretty understood that Chernobyl is a no-go zone.

According to RIA-Novosti, the "[Emergencies] ministry was carrying out a large amount of work and planned to report on its results by the end of the year so that visits to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster site, so far referred to as extreme tourism, 'should become systematic in January.'"

We know there are travelers out there who seek out these experiences, and if you've visited all the concentration camps and the Soviet gulags, then perhaps this is the next stop. We sincerely hope that the Ukraine publishes some hard figures on the radiation levels in the area before bus tours offload their fanny pack-wearing hoards at the foot of the reactor's sarcophagus.

[Photo: MSNBC]

Comments (3)

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Is Chernobyl Safe for travellers?

When the accident happened at the Chernobyl nuclear plant, approximately 100 times more radiation was released into the atmosphere than the two atom bombs which exploded over Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

Some hard figueres about the residual radiation levels is certainly needed.

Chernobyl tours have been happening for years

Day-long Chernobyl tours have been happening since at least 2004. I personally went on a tour in the summer of 2008. I've been told that those were all "illegal", but no attempt was made to stop us, we didn't bribe our way in and we certainly weren't the only tourist group that day. I suspect the government of Ukraine is looking for a way to cash in, thus all the coverage lately...

Ukraine

I took the 12:00 Old city tour. There is modern city tour at 16:00, too. The guide was a friendly due with typical Ukrainian pronunciation, that is well understood yet. He brought in good info all the time and kept conversing with the diverse group that we were. Moreover, he helped me plan well the time needed for my return, as I had a flight to catch. I recommend joining these tours, as you can always have a walk around the sites, but it is much, much better learning more about them by a guide, that has lived there and can bring some personal stories, too. We discovered with http://www.privatetoursinistanbul.com and we highly suggest to anyone whom would like to visit that site.

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