Did somebody say nuclear explosion? I’m not talking about Japan’s recent nuclear disaster. Instead, I am referring to my first hand view of the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster over 20 years later.
If you’re interested in touring the mostly abandoned disaster zone you will probably begin your tour in mostly beautiful Kiev, Ukraine
. Kiev is Ukraine’s largest city with nearly three million people. It’s a city worth visiting in its own right so don’t just head to Ukraine for Chernobyl. Maybe think about bumbling around this foreign city where absolutely nobody speaks English or visiting the traditionally tourist cathedrals and squares.
Most tours meet in downtown Kiev where you will board a van that takes you to Pripyat, an abandoned city bursting with radiation. The tours are common enough where most hostels or hotels will book one for you to leave the next day if you choose. Budget US$150-$300 for the day. This includes all transportation, lunch, and your tour to various sites.
After passing through a few checkpoints your guide, armed with a geiger counter to measure radiation, will whisk you away through the city avoiding the major radiation spots. It’s meant to be illegal to take photos at the checkpoints so avoid doing what I did.
Where to next? Well, a lively field with decommissioned tanks. Try and look as giddy as you can while posing because to others it might look like you got caught in a live battle.
Don’t let anyone fool you that radiation kills. As you can see the catfish are thriving just hundreds of meters from the Chernobyl reactors. I still wouldn’t want to eat one which is probably why I didn’t touch the mystery fish served at lunch.
At last you will make it to the reactors infamous for the failed systems test in April of 1986 when reactor number four of the Chernobyl plant which experienced a sudden power output surge which led to numerous explosions.
The explosions led to the release of highly radioactive smoke fallout into the atmosphere and over a massive area of land including parts of the western Soviet Union and Europe. The nearest town, Pripyat, was completely evacuated and uninhabitable to this day, not including a few loonies who moved back.
What the people left seems to come straight out of your favorite horror movie.
Or a videogame.
You made it. For around $200 US you will be one of around 7500 tourists who added Chernobyl to their list of completed siteseeing. You can credit yourself with visiting one of the world’s unique places to visit as named by Forbes magazine. That’s if you are willing to sign that disclaimer agreeing to anti-contamination policies with radiation levels up to 37 times higher than normal.
Sponsor: Florence has got this charm not every city has… Thinking of a special occasion? Try it in one of the apartments in Florence
and take your lover, your best friend or go and meet someone in the city, and watch together the sunset from the terrace.