The recent fame and success of the HBO/Sky mini-series, Chernobyl has sparked fresh interest in Chernobyl. The dark and desolate region of Chernobyl and the neighbouring city of Pripyat is back in the spotlight. This time as a perfect “Dark Tourism” destination. If you’re wondering what is dark tourism, let us simplify it. Dark Tourism (also known as black tourism/grief tourism) is travelling to places in our world that are associated with grim tragedies, widespread death and destruction. These destinations stand as a grim reminder of humanity’s greatest sufferings and tragedies. In this article, we will explore Chernobyl and Pripyat, the trending dark tourism destination.
Mikhail Gorbachev (Last President of USSR) blamed Chernobyl Disaster as the real reason for USSR’s collapse
Dark Tourism: A Nuclear Disaster and a Desolate City
On 26 April 1986, the greatest fears of humanity came alive – world’s first nuclear disaster occurred at 01:23:40 a.m. in the erstwhile USSR. Two powerful explosions occurred in reactor number 4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant near the Ukrainian city of Pripyat, after an experiment went horribly wrong. The brave workers of the power plant struggled to contain the radiation fallout.
Residents of the nearby Pripyat began to fall sick due to radiation poisoning while harmful radiations were detected as far as Sweden. On 28 April 1986, the official evacuation of Pripyat started leaving behind a fully-functioning desolate and at the complete mercy of nature. If you want to know more, do watch the HBO/Sky mini-series, Chernobyl, a 5-episode series that follows the events of Chernobyl nuclear disaster, with dramatization.
Chernobyl exclusion zone covers an area of 2600 Square kilometres!
Pripyat, Ukraine – the ultimate Dark Tourism destination
Pripyat is now a ghost city with desolate buildings being consumed by nature. The city looks straight out of post-apocalyptic sci-fi movies. It was constructed in 1970 to serve as a dormitory town for the workers of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. But after the explosions, its empty swimming pools, a giant rusty Ferris wheel, collapsed school buildings, and houses filled with toys and belongings of people now present a stark reminder of one of the greatest ecological disasters on earth. If you’re interested in dark tourism, you can take a tour and walk through the ruins of Chernobyl and Pripyat with government authorised tours that go through a 30 km exclusion zone around the abandoned nuclear reactors and safe spots.
Apart from costly human error, fauly design of rbmk reactor was also responsible for the disaster!
Is it safe to visit Chernobyl and Pripyat?
The local tour operators that are authorised to take travellers into Pripyat and around Chernobyl claim that it’s absolutely safe. However, there are some areas even inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone that are still heavily contaminated with radiation. The tours only take the visitors on a set path that don’t have radiation contamination. Visitors are advised not to wander off into the forested areas, avoid eating the local mushrooms, be careful while exploring the abandoned buildings, and look out for broken girders, uncovered manholes, and unstable structures.
To enter Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and Pripyat, you need passes which are generally arranged by the authorised tour companies. Plus, radiation safety experts also accompany the visitors inside the Exclusion Zone and Pripyat.
During a 3-hour tour, tourists receive less than one microsievert of radiation (equal to 2-days in London/ new york)!
How to visit Chernobyl and Pripyat?
Boryspil International Airport of Kyiv is the main airport of Ukraine with flights catering to the city from all the key European cities. It generally takes around 2 hours from Kyiv (Kiev) to reach Chernobyl & Pripyat and travellers prefer one-day private/ group tours. Extensive tours of 2-3 days are also available with accommodation, food, friendly guides, air-conditioned minivans, and compulsory insurance.
So if dark tourism or disaster tourism is your cup of tea, plan a holiday to Kiev in Ukraine and witness first-hand, the destruction caused by one of the world’s largest nuclear disaster! As per tour agencies who conducted Chernobyl site tours, there has been a 30 per cent hike in the number of tourists visiting the “Exclusion Zone” in May 2019 as compared to May 2018. We’d advise you to plan your trip soon enough before the place gets over-crowded!