Oymyakon - the coldest inhabited place on Earth

Written by 56th Parallel
© Maxim Shemetov

One of the coldest places on Earth and the coldest area to be inhabited all year round is Oymyakon – “The Pole of Cold”. Inhabitants live in an area where the temperature can reach -70С (-95F).

The Pole of Cold

The valley of Oymyakon in Yakutia (northeast Russia) is known as the Pole of Cold and with average January temperatures of -50C, it is no wonder the village is the coldest permanently inhabited settlement in the world. The coldest ever temperature recorded in Oymyakon was -71.2C. This is the lowest recorded temperature for any permanently inhabited location on Earth and the lowest temperature recorded in the Northern Hemisphere. This area truly experiences the ‘Siberian winter’ as it is known around the world.

Oymyakon horses
©Photo by Vladimir Sevrinovsky

The village of Tomtor in the Oymyakon valley is located around 750 metres above sea level and the length of a day varies from 3 hours in winter to 21 hours in summer. Despite its extremely cold temperatures in winters, in June, July and August (summer time) temperatures over 30C are not uncommon. In August, as the weather beings to change, the temperature can easily drop down to -15C.

Oymyakon culture
©Photo by Vladimir Sevrinovsky

Travel from Yakutsk

The only reliable way to get to Oymyakon is a two-day drive from the city of Yakutsk, the regional capital, which has the coldest winter temperatures for any city in the world. Yakutsk has daily direct flight connections from Moscow (6h 30 min).

The Pole of Cold is located not far from Kolyma Highway (also known as the Road of Bones) which was built in the 1930’s by Stalin’s prisoners. The road starts off from Yakutsk and heads off up to Magadan and surmounts three major mountain ranges, which in combination with other climatic factors create the unique climate of the area.

Oymyakon animals
©Photo by Vladimir Sevrinovsky

History of the Pole of Cold

In the 1920s and 1930s, the village was a stopover for reindeer herders who would water their flocks from the thermal springs. Ironically, Oymyakon actually means ‘non-freezing water’, but even alcohol freeze here. Most homes in Oymyakon still burn coal and wood for heat and enjoy few modern conveniences, some homes have outside toilets.

The pole of cold man
©Photo by Vladimir Sevrinovsky

Astoundingly, around  500 Siberian people make their homes in this seemingly uninhabitable environment, mainly engaged in traditional occupations such as reindeer herding, hunting and fishing. In the last few years, another small, specialised industry has emerged here – tourism. The place is worth visiting! It is something to do at least once in a lifetime. Those people who have been to this place can be called “True subjugators of Earth”.

The Pole of Cold Festival

Every year in March a traditional Russian so-called festival is held in the Pole of Cold, the coldest place on earth. It unites experienced travellers and locals who can be regarded as true explorers of the world. Even Santa Claus, of Lapland, and Russian Ded Moroz , of Veliky Ustug, have visited and founded their residences here. These fabulous heroes meet their colleague Yakutian Chyskhaan (the Lord of Frost) who considered as the Pole of Cold host.

The Pole of Cold festival
©Photo by Vladimir Sevrinovsky

During the festival, visitors witness lively celebrations showcasing the traditional costumes, music and dance of the indigenous Even people as well as reindeer racing, ice fishing, dog sledding and native cuisine.

Oymyakon The Pole of Cold
©Photo by Aleksander Cheban

This amazing destination and a festival can be visited on our tour Yakutia: The Pole of Cold.
Contact us for more information and enquiries:

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About 56th Parallel

56th Parallel is a travel company specialising in providing packaged tours and travel services in Russia.

Our goal is to redefine travel to Russia, focusing on creating the most rewarding experiences, which help travellers unfolds the soul of this exciting destination.



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