Oymyakon, a small village of about 500 people located in the Sakha region of Russia, holds the claim to fame as being the “coldest continually inhabited place on Earth.” Located approximately 20 miles northwest of Tomtor on the Kolyma Highway in Siberia, it is not easily accessible. Situated in an area known as “Stalin’s Death Ring”, the record for lowest temperature ever recorded by a permanently inhabited settlement was set here in 1924 when a Russian scientist recorded -96°F.
The ground surrounding Oymyakon is permanently frozen. Average temperatures range from -50°F in December to +50°F in August, with an annual mean of zero degrees. Daylight in winter can last just 3 hours while in summer it can extend to 21 hours.
There are no hotels in Oymyakon, but numerous families are willing to put up guests for the night. Oymyakon loves visitors; the mayor will give any guest a certificate celebrating a visit to the “Pole of the Cold.” The town is very remote, the nearest city (in Yakutsk) being a three-days drive away. (click thumbnails to enlarge)
For the most part, the landscape is white year-round. Just about everything is covered with snow and ice. The principle industry is still very traditional, with fur trading and ice fishing stalwarts of the local economy. If one can manage to not focus too much on the endless snow, the views are fantastic. The arctic location of Oymyakon yields some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world – very popular with photographers.
Progress in Oymyakon is slow; in 2008 the town’s school received its first indoor toilet. Mobile phone service is not available, and even if it was phones wouldn’t work in those temperatures. No farming takes place and there is only a single shop to provide all the town’s food and material supplies. Residents cannot wear glasses outside as they will instantly freeze to one’s face. The name “Oymyakon” means “non-freezing water,” named for a nearby hot spring. Go figure.
Map it! click here
Hey, at least the sunsets are beautiful.