Oymyakon, the village of ice

Landscape at Oymyakon

Landscape at Oymyakon ©Maarten Takens/Flick

If you had the impression that you know what cold is, the residents of Oymyakon, a small village in Russia, could radically change any perception of this. With an average temperature of -50 Celsius degrees in the month of January, the village is officially the coldest permanently inhabited place in the world and is a possible candidate as the second North Pole.

Oymyakon is a village in Siberia where the lowest recorded temperature was minus 71.2 Celsius. This is the lowest recorded temperature ever for any permanently inhabited settlement, and the lowest temperature recorded in the Northern Hemisphere.

Let’s see some interesting facts about Oymyakon, the village of ice.

The foundation of the village

In Oymyakon live about 500 people and has been for 10 years, between 1920-1930, a stopover for reindeer herders, who watered their flocks at the hot springs of the village. Ironically, even the name of the village, Oymyakon, actually means “water which never freezes”, because the hot water spring nearby. These people slowly made ​​their settlements and erected a village in its own right.

A Yakutian horse from Oymyakon

A Yakutian horse from Oymyakon ©Maarten Takens/Flick

The life in Oymyakon

In most of the homes in Oymyakon are still burned coal and wood for heating, but the residents also enjoy some modern amenities. Nothing grows there, the soil is permanently frozen and the only source of food for these people is reindeer and horse meat. One shop meets the needs of the village, and locals are occupied with reindeer herding, hunting and ice fishing.

The doctors say that the reason why locals are not malnourished is because the milk of the animals contains an impressive amount of micronutrients.

Locals does not stop their cars because of the fear they can not to restart, and digging a burial pit requires three days and many coals placed on the frozen ground. A hilarious fact in this landscape of ice, is that the toilet is in the yard. Locals are early hardened, and, unlike other countries, if there is a snow storm or snows in considerable quantities, the Oymyakon school doesn’t suspends its courses, only when temperatures fall below minus 52 Celsius degrees.

At -55 Celsius degrees in Oymyakon

At -55 Celsius degrees in Oymyakon ©Maarten Takens/Flick

The village of Oymyakon is located at an altitude of 750 meters above sea level, which means that the length of a day is ranging from 3 hours in December, to 21 hours in summer. In such a world if you throw a glass of water through the window, the water instantly trasforms in ice cubes.

Visiting Oymyakon

For eccentric and brave people, there are tour companies that offer the opportunity to visit this village, the emblem of a simple life spent in difficult, freezing conditions.

To get here, you have to travel on the highway of Stalin called the “Road of Bones”, the famous highway built by political prisoners. No one knows the number of those who lost their lives for this “big project”, but it is known that every meter of road cost a human life, and the highway is 2000 km long.

Landscape at Oymyakon

Landscape at Oymyakon ©Maarten Takens/Flick


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