One of the coldest places on earth is not the north or south pole. Oymyakon in Russia is a place where over 540 people live. It is an amazing human settlement where winters are harsh and summers are hot. Here in the easternmost parts of Russia, the people eat only meat as it is way too cold to let anything grow. Also, the cars that are there must run on petrol. There is also no normal toilets there as it is way too cold. Welcome to Oymyakon!
I wanted to tell you about Where to go to Russia to experience extreme weather. Except for 3 months of the year, the tiny settlement in the Siberia region of Russia named Oymyakon experiences temperatures with minus degrees all of the year. In the year 2019-2020, I’ve followed the weather there and it is stunning how people can love to live in such extreme temperatures. There are some documentaries about this place on YouTube, but no good written texts about it.
Oymyakon is a tiny town that is located about 2500km north of Vladivostock. The total population there is 547 according to the 60 Minutes Australia documentary which you can watch above here. Oymyakon and the area around it are one of the hardest places to reach as there are no roads connecting this area of Russia so the only way to get there is to fly to Tomtor. A small town with a population of 1256 that was revealed back in 2002 as it says on Wikipedia.
To reach Oymyakon from Tomtor. It takes many hours to drive the 41km stretch on a really badly built road by people that were in working at the camps in Siberia many years ago. This tiny town is located on the banks of Indigirka River which is frozen most of the time. There are however hot springs in the area that never freezes but it doesn’t help much when many of the days go below -40C or even -50C!
Where to go in Russia?
Temperatures increase with altitude by as much as +10C
Oymyakon is one of the coldest permanently inhabited settlements on Earth. It is also one of the settlements that don’t have any links with the water of salty ocean which means that the freezing temperatures don’t have any barriers. So, when the winter starts. It stays like that for 8 to 9 months. The schools are only closed if the temperatures are below -50C! That’s pretty insane even for me that lives in Norway but those which lives there loves the town and the cold weather. In fact, the summers are the only time that the area gets rain. In the winter it is so dry and cold.
Because of the location of this town. Which is located in the bottom of a valley. The interesting thing is that if you move uphill, the temperature is always warmer there in the area. Its as if Oymyakon is trapped into the cold. It just flows from the mountains surrounding it down to where it is located.
In Oslo, Norway we have this kind of weather only a few times in the winter. We say that it is “kaldt i Oslo gryta“. In this type of weather, it can rain or be +1C on the hills around Oslo while in the city center of Oslo its -10C. But since Oymyakon doesn’t have any salty ocean nearby that can keep the weather a little bit warmer during the winter. It is a freezer there. I feel like I am very lucky living in Oslo even though the temperatures can drop to -15C in the winter. But -50C??? I really want to experience it.
Oymyakon have recorded temperatures below −60C for every day in January
It is measured extreme temps in Oymyakon with temperatures below -60C! Theres been January month where every day showed below -60C and on the 6th of February 1933, a temperature of −67.7C (−89.9F) was recorded at Oymyakon’s weather station according to Wikipedia.
And if these numbers aren’t cold enough for you. I can reveal that Oymyakon got a monument that can be found at the town square. There you can read that in January 1924 the temps reached a chilly temperature of −71.2C (−96.2F). That is just amazing that people are able to live in such conditions at all. But once you know how to live such a life it is nothing that can stop you. Just look at the Same in the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. Or at the Eskimos in Greenland.
Oymyakon show that life on earth can be found at extreme places all over the world either it is freezing cold or hot. The question is rather about if you can handle such lifestyle or not?
Summers can reach are hot! Above 30C even!
On the 28th of July 2010, Oymyakon recorded a record high temperature of +34.6C. So even if it got temps below -50C in winter. In the summertime, this area of Russia can have temps above +30C which is very extreme temperature differences between winter and summer for those living there.
Also, because of the high and warm temperatures during the short summer. The mosquitoes love this area. The melting snow and ice create swamps and perfect breeding grounds for those buggers. Like with Finnmarksvidda in the northern part of Norway during the summer. Here you have even more extreme counter of these blood loving insects. There are tons of mosquitoes waiting for you. I really recommend taking a look at the documentary about it above.
So, even though the summer is warm and hot. This is like a plague.
Check out these unique rock formations in Oymyakon area
Kigilyakh or Kisiliyakh are tall, pillar-like natural rock formations that look like tall monoliths standing more or less isolated. Usually, they are composed of granite or sandstone shaped as a result of cryogenic weathering. Most of the Kigilyakhs are formed about 120 million years ago. You should visit this area in the summer. Bring a tent, mosquito netting and have an awesome trip.
According to Yakut legends, kigilyakhs originated in actual very ancient people. The Yakut word “Kisiliy” means “a place where there are people.” Kisilyakh means “Mountain having a man” or “Mountain married”. The term “kigilyakh” is a distorted form of the original Yakut “kisilyakh”. This area of the world is one of the least explored parts of the world. Here there are only tiny towns that aren’t connected by roads even. I think that this area has more than meets the eye.
I really want to go here one day. See how they live and keep on living with their lives. I really respect such people a lot. Oymyakon is a place where I really want to go. Just to have been there once and seen the life there. For me it looks like August is the nicest month to go there. Just in time before the freezing nights and days starts. That is also a time when the mosquitoes aren’t that humongous in numbers.