On Kayaks Through Chornobyl Exclusion Zone With Pierre
In addition to the kayak activity, tourist operators also planning to take tourists on a small boat to bring them from Kyiv to the nuclear plant
But scientists are not the only one to be interested in the exclusion zone. Since 2011, Ukrainian authorities have opened the zone to tourists. Since then, thousands of people from Ukraine and the rest of the world have come here to visit the plant’s immediate surroundings.
These days, thanks in part to the massively popular HBO TV series “Chernobyl,” tourism in Chornobyl has increased by 40 percent.
“I saw it. I was interested in coming before, but because of the series I felt it would be better to come sooner rather than later,” Ted, an America tourist said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited Chornobyl himself in July. After his visit, he declared that it’s time to change the negative aspects of tourism to Chornobyl and to give new life to the territory.
For the biggest tour-operator in Chornobyl, the statement was a signal to diversify. They see it as an opportunity to take advantage of the amazing preserved nature in the area to propose something different to tourists.
One of these new activities is kayak rides on the Pripyat River.
“This river has been checked by scientists who made sure that is completely safe, and also right now we’re inside the thirty kilometers zone which is basically the buffer zone. It was not contaminated that much after the accident. Right now if you check the level of radiations around us at the moment, probably it is even lower than somewhere in the middle of Khreshatyk Street in the center of Kyiv,” Kateryna Aslamova, the chief guide of a tour operator said.
Aslamova’s company was founded nearly ten years ago by one of the liquidators of the Chornobyl disaster. He was in charge of limiting both immediate and long-term damage. By setting up these activities, his company wanted to show how liquidators’ work was successful.
“The fact that today we can be standing in the town of Chornobyl in our regular clothes without our gas masks, having the level of radiations less than four or five times than onboard an airplane, that proves that the mitigation process was successful. So yes, we are changing the image from the ‘dark tourism’ to a place of victory and to a place that recovers and can be used again,” Aslamova said.
So far, the tour-operator is still waiting for the government’s agreement to officially launch its kayak tours. In addition to the kayaks, they’re also planning to take tourists on a small boat from Kyiv to the nuclear plant.