Holiday destinations don’t get any more unusual than the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. But it is possible to go on a deeply disturbing day trip to the scene of the world’s worst ever nuclear disaster.
The day trip starts from the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, and takes visitors within 100m of Reactor Number Four. This was the one that exploded in the early hours of April 26th 1986, spreading a cloud of radiation as far as Scandinavia.
There are many disturbing things about the tour. Sights on the way to the world’s most notorious nuclear power plant include trees turned red by the radiation, giant catfish swimming in the cooling ponds and houses buried underground in order to contain the contamination.
At all times, the tour guide has a Geiger counter to monitor the levels of radiation the group is being exposed to, while safety precautions include not standing on the moss and not picking up stones or debris.
Reactor Four at Chernobyl is a truly frightening sight. No-one really knows what is going on underneath the cement ‘sarcophagus’, and – most alarmingly – it is clearly crumbling.
It was originally a makeshift containment solution, and a new multi-billion dollar shelter is planned, but for now it’s quite clear that the prospect of a second Chernobyl disaster is not exactly in the realms of fantasy.
Getting to Chernobyl, Ukraine
Nearest international airport: Kiev Borispol
Using public transport: It’s not going to happen. Special permission is needed to enter the 30km-radius exclusion zone around Chernobyl, and the only way to get it is joining a tour group. Solo East Travel is the best bet. The zone is approximately two to two-and-a-half hours drive north of Kiev.
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