Chernobyl Exclusion Zone tourism: First hostel opens in radioactive wasteland

Chernobyl Exclusion Zone tourism: First hostel opens in radioactive wasteland

A new hostel in Chernobyl, Ukraine, offers a comfortable short-term stay in the exclusion zone built around the site of the worst nuclear incident in history. Plasma panels and free Wi-Fi are among the perks for the guests of the four-story building, a former dormitory.

More than 30 years after the 1986 disaster at Chernobyl nuclear power plant, hundreds of tourists are flocking to the site to get a firsthand impression of the scale of the incident, despite the remaining risk of radiation exposure.

“The idea was very good – when it’s a [tourist] season and tourists arrive, there is often a lack of accommodation,” a local resident said about the new hostel, which caters especially to explorers of the zone.

For now, the hostel is not operating at full tilt, but it is already able to welcome 42 guests. After the renovation is completed, it will be able to accommodate 102 people in single and double rooms. A one-night stay in the newly-opened facility costs just 198 Ukrainian Hryvnia or $7.60 per person.

Visitors are coming from all over the world, including from such remote locations as the US, Japan, Ireland and Belgium, an administrator said.

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“People come here from all countries, they want to understand what Chernobyl is,” she said, adding that the hostel has been in high demand since its opening.

“We almost don’t have any vacant rooms.”

The Ukrainian agency in charge of the exclusion zone said that by opening a hostel it hopes to improve the quality of experience to the visitors. To that aim, a former dormitory was repurposed into a hostel, where everything needed for a comfortable short-term stay is at place. Every room is fitted with a plasma TV, a shower unit, a toilet and modern furniture, the agency said, also promising free Wi-Fi.

The 30-square kilometer zone, within which thousands of people were evacuated following the botched safety experiment that caused a meltdown at the plant’s Reactor 4 on April 26, 1986, was declared uninhabitable and remains largely depopulated up until the present time, even though most of its territory is now considered to be relatively safe. Following the disaster, the reactor was encased into a sarcophagus. Last year, a new shelter was moved into place to cover the structure that has eroded over time. The zone has become a magnet for stalkers, who illegally enter its territory in search of artifacts and to satisfy a scientific interest.

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