The Grand Canyon, Iceland' Ring Road, the Dead Sea—these are all places many of us have near the tops of our travel wishlists. The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant? Not so much. And yet it appears that some people are indeed visiting the nearly decimated area on vacation.
To refresh your memory, Chernobyl was a nuclear plant located in Pripyat, Ukraine and the site of one of the worst nuclear disasters in history, which resulted in the deaths of at least 31 people (though the true, long-term toll is definitely much higher) and the release of 400 times more toxic radiation than the bombing of Hiroshima. Aka, not your average getaway destination.
And yet, there are multiple tour groups operating in the area and quite a few travel bloggers have posts outlining their excursions to Ukraine, like Thrifty Nomads, with tips on how to prepare for the trip and what to expect while you're there.
Unsurprisingly, all the tours require visitors be screened for radiation before and after entering the Exclusion Zone (aka a restricted area with a 19-mile radius surrounding the power plant), and guests are instructed not to touch or sit on anything.
To give you an idea of the Chernobyl tourism scope, more than 10,000 people visit the disaster site each year. With HBO's new miniseries (premiering on May 6), which recounts the widespread and horrific effects of the accident, that number might just go up.
On the one hand, we find it hard to see the appeal of walking around an area that experts have said still has about 20,000 years to go before it will become safely inhabitable again. But on the other, Chernobyl is in many ways a perfectly preserved (if deeply scarred) snapshot of life in the Soviet Union in 1986. Then again, we hear Paris is pretty nice...