Active + Adventure

Controversial Tourist Attractions

by Bob Payne

Chernobyl
Pripyat, Ukraine

The infamy: In 1986, a combination of bad design and operator error at Chernobyl nuclear power station resulted in an explosion that released 400 times more radioactive fallout than the Hiroshima bomb. Among the 600,000 people who were exposed, 4,000 have died, or are expected to, from cancer caused by the radiation.

Tasteless tourism? The failed reactor is still there, with most of its molten brew cooking away inside a concrete shell, as is Pripyat, a ghost town located three miles from the power station. Because short-term exposure to the levels of radiation here is considered to pose little risk, day tours are possible and include "sightseeing" of Reactor 4 and a walk around Pripyat's abandoned streets. (Note the sign at the town's health clinic, which reads, "The health of the people is the wealth of the country.") The price of the tour includes the use of a personal Geiger counter—you can judge whether it's for your own peace of mind or your health—and lunch, which the operators guarantee will not include locally grown products.

Why go? While adventure seekers might be drawn here for the perceived element of personal danger, we'd say that previewing a post-nuclear wasteland offers a pretty terrifying educational experience.

Chernobyl Tour, from $160 per person.

Next: France's Guantanamo Bay >

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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