A CHILD’S LAUGH

A journey to the devastation and hope of Chernobyl

“Chernobyl” conjures up images of death, doom and desolation like few other place names. It is burnt onto the collective consciousness as a symbol of the potential dangers of technological progress. A reminder that technology is only our friend if we can keep it under control. It was here in Northern Ukraine that it happened: the worst case scenario, the nightmare vision of a nuclear disaster come true. Deaths running into the thousands and a whole region made uninhabitable for decades. And it was precisely to this place of devastation that Kuoni, through its ananea programme, organised a trip in collaboration with the Green Cross charity.

Why would Kuoni want travellers to be confronted with this disaster? And what would our guests expect of such a trip? What would they find? A visit to Chernobyl is an on-the-edge experience for travellers and a risky venture for a travel company. We took the risk because we take our commitment to authenticity seriously and because we believe that if a travel company really wants to show its guests the world in all its variety and diversity, it shouldn’t balk at difficult or uncomfortable destinations. A journey like this is a life-changing experience. It can help us to grow, give us unforgettable encounters and experiences, and transform our

consciousness. You learn a lot visiting Chernobyl, and the range of contrasting experiences is enormous. You stand bewildered in front of the destroyed reactor, covered with only a makeshift protective sarcophagus of concrete, and you can still easily imagine the huge destructive potential it once had. Scattered around, we can still see relics of the deadly struggle fought by workers as they hastily cleared away the radioactive rubble and tried to repair the damage, protected by gas masks and armed with shovels.

We find abandoned toys and, in a particularly poignant moment, imagine the

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