Nuclear explosions, radiation and a mass evacuation -- an accident happened, and a tragic one at that 25+ years ago. For those familiar with the Chernobyl disaster that devastated inhabitants of Ukraine in 1986, you are well aware of the grave consequences of the explosion. To refresh your memory, the incident is widely considered to have been the worst nuclear power plant accident in history which spread over much of Western USSR and Europe. The battle to contain the contamination involved over 500,000 workers and cost an estimated 555 million dollars, crippling the Soviet economy.

"Chernobyl Zone 69" by Kvitlauk via Flickr Creative Commons

Is Chernobyl ready to market itself as an extreme tourist spot?

With recent horror flick Chernobyl Diaries stirring up a newfound interest in the disaster site among viewers, Chernobyl is taking extreme tourism to entirely new levels. First opened to the general public for touring in 2011, Chernobyl-goers must take extra precaution before embarking on the not-for-the-faint-of-heart tour, signing multiple waivers and even undergoing intensive radiation scans prior to entering the disaster site.

On a typical tour of Chernobyl, extreme tourists will be able to see the infamous "dead town" of Pripyat, an abandoned nuclear reactor, and the "red forest" -- a forest of pine trees that have morphed from green to a shade of rust due to unnaturally high levels of radiation. Critics of Chernobyl tourism have commented that the attractions around the disaster zone promote insensitivity toward the tragic accident and its victims. However, their resistance has yet to deter throngs of extreme tourists who are intrigued by the radiation site month after month.

" Chernobyl Journal" by Cult Case vi a Flickr Creative Commons

Know Before You Go:

  • According to government officials, the radiation exposure levels are "negligible," since the time visitors are allowed to stay within the confines of Chernobyl are carefully regulated. Regardless, visitors should remain vigilant of the nature of the area.
  • No eating, drinking or smoking is allowed outdoors while in Chernobyl.
  • The "dead zone" refers to the most highly-reactive area within the power plant.
  • An abandoned amusement park lies in the center of Pripyat, complete with a ferris wheel. Unsettling, no?

A journey to the center of Chernobyl and back seems like the perfect adventure for those crazy enough to take "extreme" to the next level. How many other travelers could say they have entered one of the most dangerous places in the world? Would you go?