Most people would like to experience something fun and memorable for their last adventure before graduating and jumping into the real world. If you were to visit Chernobyl for your senior trip, you would be participating in what is called extreme, or dark, tourism. Some people would consider this trip a form of dark tourism because of the type of tragedy that happened there, which could teach you so much if you were to visit Chernobyl. So, what is extreme tourism?
Extreme tourism is defined as “going on holiday to extreme places or making holidays into extreme conditions in pursuit of more adventure.” Extreme tourism can include things like hiking up a steep mountain, visiting a forbidden place, or a place where a tragedy happened. Visiting a place where a tragedy happened would be a form or “dark tourism.” Places like this would include the 911 Memorial or visiting Holocaust Concentration Camps.
Chernobyl was nuclear reactor accident in 1986, leaving many people homeless and 31 dead. This accident left the small town inhabitable to this day. If you were visiting Chernobyl, you would be participating in dark tourism. You are actually only allowed to visit Chernobyl for a short amount of time. If you were there longer than that time period, you could be exposed to the radiation causing you to become sick. Chernobyl cannot even support animal life, but nature is beginning to take over the things left behind.
If you were to visit Chernobyl, you would receive a visual on what the Earth would look like if people were no longer here. Alan Weisman gave a written example of this in his piece called “Earth Without People” in our Green book. Weisman stated, “With nobody to trample seedlings, New York’s prolific exotic, the Chinese ailanthus tree, would take over.”(191) This quote is an example of nature, such as trees and plants, reclaiming what is theirs. In Chernobyl, nature is growing back without people around. In my opinion, this experience would be humbling and allow you realize the consequences of your actions, like destroying forests for new towns and cities.
Visiting Chernobyl would also allow you see what Russia was like in the 1980s. Residents were not given time to collect their belongings when the accident occurred. This means that the residents grabbed a few important things, leaving toys and pictures behind. Pictures of Chernobyl show remains of this Communist Russian town. By exploring Chernobyl, you would see how they lived like the toys they used, what the classrooms looked like, and also the apartments left behind.
While radiation levels can differ day to day, you never know if the land is safe to visit. If you were to choose to explore Chernobyl, you could risk wasting your money because visiting during that time could be prohibited. Also, you are not allowed to remove anything from the site because being in possession of something contaminated with radiation could cause infection in you.
There are many restrictions involved when you choose to visit Chernobyl. The Globe and Mail is a website that posted a few rules of visiting Chernobyl called, “Rule No. 1 when visiting Chernobyl: Don’t touch anything.” You are not allowed to touch things, even yourself and personal belongings are not supposed to sit on the ground. Eating is hazardous while on the grounds of this abandoned town and advised to not eat outside. Jim Heintz, the writer of this article, stated, “Guides make sure the visitors understand that various spots in the zone are more contaminated than others and insist no one wander off the designated paths.” I do not recommend the seniors of Auburn University at Montgomery to take this trip to Chernobyl based on the risk factors involved.