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Where Is Yakutsk – The World’s Coldest City. Photo Weather Channel

Do you live by the Frozen lyric that goes, “The cold never bothered me anyway”? If so, then let’s put your grit and endurance to the test. The Republic of Sakha, aka Yakutia, found in the Siberian province of Russia is known to be the world’s coldest inhabited destination; with a winter temperature averaging below -35°C, this destination will immediately give you horrible frostbite from the moment you leave your hotel. But that’s merely the surface of what it’s like to stay in Yakutsk, the capital of Yakutia.

Where is Yakutia or Yakutsk - the world’s coldest city?

Yakutsk city, located about 450 km south of the Arctic Circle, is the capital city of The Sakha Republic in Russia. It is the world's coldest city. According to the 2010 Census, the city had a population of 269,601; the figure is estimated to have grown to at least 300,000. Yakutsk serves as a port for the Lena River which is one of its major functions. It is served by two airports, the Yakutsk and the Magan Airport. The city also boasts of being among the biggest suppliers of diamonds.

How cold is Yakutsk?

In Yakutsk, the summers are comfortable and partly cloudy and the winters are frigid, snowy, and overcast. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from -44°F to 77°F and is rarely below -57°F or above 89°F.

Based on the tourism score, the best time of year to visit Yakutsk for warm-weather activities is from late June to early August.

Photo life persona
Photo life persona

Under such circumstances, you can’t even wear eye glasses as they would instantly freeze to your face. Cars need to be run seven days a week and 24 hours a day as you would not be able to start them again and milk is traded in icy blocks. If you are interested in experiencing such extreme conditions you should come there in December or January as those are the coldest months in Oymyakon.

Located not far away from the Arctic Circle, the duration of the day in Oymyakon varies from a little more than four hours in December to almost 21 hours in June during the months of the white nights. To get to Oymyakon you will need to drive the so called ‘Road of Bones’ – the only street from Yakutsk to the port city Magadan located at the Sea of Okhotsk. Oymyakon is located somewhere in the middle of both cities. The road was built by gulag prisoners during the time of Stalin oppression which is also the reason for the name of the street. Despite the sad history of the construction, travelling the ‘Road of Bones’ to Oymyakon is a true once in a life experience – and yes, particular in winter! For more, you my have a look at our page on Oymyakon.

Winter in Yakutsk lasts from October to May.

The climate is extreme continental. In the winter it is the coldest city in the world and in summer it is very hot.

How local people cope with coldness

Photo The Guardian
Photo The Guardian

Another major problem that people in Yakutsk have to deal with every winter is making sure that their car battery doesn’t die from the cold. There are several methods used to prevent this:

Parking Heaters – Drivers can purchase a heater to use before starting their car and intermetently throughout the day, however, this option is expensive and not always the safest.

Covers/Blankets – Thick, full-body covers can be purchased and wrapped around the vehicle when it is parked. Engine blankets are also a popular choice because they can remain on the car when it is moving.

Extra Windows– Drivers can install a second layer of windows or film inside of their vehicle to try trapping as much heat in the car as possible.

Leave the Car On – Yes, people in Yakutsk will seriously leave their car running all winter.

Why is Yakutsk the next hot destination for tourists?

Yakutsk is one of the most remote big cities in the world. Only one road connects it to the rest of the highway system, and you have to cross the Lena River to get to it. Getting to Federal Highway A360, the Lena-Yakutsk Highway, requires either a ferry or a trip across the winter ice-road. (At certain times, as the ice breaks up into floating ice-flows, it’s impossible to cross except by hovercraft or helicopter.) The road remained unpaved until 2014. Even in excellent frozen conditions, it can take 12 hours or so to drive its 747 miles.

Winter journey to Yakutia

For a few days you will see a completely different reality and become a member of ethno-expedition to one of the coldest places of our planet.

The main feature of this expedition is a visit to the Pole of Cold — the place where the lowest temperatures in Russia and the world are recorded: -71,2 °C (−96.16 °F )

It is not easy to reach Oymyakon: you will have been travelling by car for 8-10 hours a day. You should be ready to get up early, but you will manage to see a lot of interesting and unusual things:

you will see the daily life of evens-reindeer herders and find out how they survive in extremely low temperatures

climb the famous Lena pillars — a UNESCO world heritage site

meet with the charming Yakutian Laika and visit the farms where the special Yakut cows and horses are bred

participate in the pagan purification rite

try ice-fishing

get acquainted with the cultural and historical heritage of Yakutia during a visit to the ethnographic museum of Tomtor

visit the "Kingdom of permafrost", where you will see unusual ice sculptures and meet with the "Yakut Santa Claus" known as Lord of the Cold Chyshaan.

Tourist Attractions In Yakutsk

The Lena and Sinaya pillars

Photo tripstosibiria
Photo tripstosibiria

I would like to conclude my amazing facts list with another great travel destination: the Lena and Sinaya pillars. The Lena river is one the three large Siberian river and the lifeline of Yakutia. Originating roughly five kilometers north-west of the Baikal lake the river flows from south to north through entire Yakutia, and then finally flows into the arctic ocean, more than four thousands kilometers north from its source. The Sinaya river is a tributary of the Lena river.

Some 200 kilometers south of the city Yakutsk, where the Lena and Sinaya rivers meet, nature has formed unique pillars on the banks of the Lena and Sinaya rivers, reaching a height of more than 100 meters. The unique beauty has also been recognized by the UNESCO which has included the site in world’s heritage list. You should definitely come and see them. If you are interested in more information you may have look on our blog post on how we are kayaking the Lena and Sinaya pillars.

Verkhoyanie – the northern Pole of Cold

During winter, Yakutia is the kingdom of white snow and burning icy cold. The air temperature drops to record values: -60, -65 °C, and average annual temperature is everywhere below 0 ° C.

The region of the lowest temperatures is located in Central and Eastern Yakutia, and in the latter there is the Cold Pole of the Northern Hemisphere – Verkhoyansk city, where on January 15, 1885, the temperature was -67.8 ° C. The closest minimum air temperature (-67.7 ° C) was observed in the village of Oymyakon on February 6, 1933.

Interesting Facts About Yakutsk

-The Yakuts, also known as the Sakha people, migrated to the area during the 13th and 14th centuries from other parts of Siberia.

-Yakutia Airlines has its head office in the city.

-The annual Ysyakh summer festival takes place the last weekend in June. The traditional Yakut summer solstice festivities include a celebration of the revival and renewal of nature, fertility, and the beginning of a new year.

-Yakutsk is the capital of the Sakha Republic.

The population of Yakutsk is 311,760, as of 2018.

Photo yahoo
Photo yahoo

-Yakutsk is twinned with: Changwon, South Korea; Fairbanks, Alaska, United States; Harbin, Heilongjiang, China; Murayama, Japan; Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada & Vaughan, Ontario, Canada.

-The main indigenous people of Yakutia – Yakuts – prefer to be called “Sakha”.

-The Lena River in terms of its water track is second only to the Amazon River.

-Lena Pillars Nature Park in Yakutsk is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

-Yakutsk is also the largest city located in continuous permafrost and one of the largest that cannot be reached by road.

-The lowest temperatures ever recorded on the planet outside Antarctica occurred in the basin of the Yana River to the northeast of Yakutsk.

-Yakutsk is the largest city in Russia, which has no railway communication with the rest of the country.

-Yakutsk is the capital city of the Sakha Republic, Russia, located about 450 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle.

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