The Coldest Place On Earth
Where: Oymyakon, Russia
For... the adventurer without the holiday allowance left to make it to Antarctica.
Deep within the icy, frostbitten heart of Siberia lurks the coldest inhabited place on the planet. Oymyakon, in the Sakha Republic, once had an air temperature recorded at –71.2C. There’s even a plaque dedicated to the “Pole Of Cold”. Its native water freezes, so everything is imported from Yakutsk – a two-day drive away – while it takes several days of bonfires and digging to bury the dead. You’ll also have to get used to eating frozen meat and braving the Arctic chill to go to the bathroom in outhouses – because all the indoor plumbing freezes.
How to get there: Well, that’s an experience itself. You’ll need to depart from Yakutsk and know some basic Russian to book a taxi – or blag a ride aboard one of the tankers that transport water to town. Then, it’s a desolate 20-hour drive north-east across the Siberian wilderness and frozen rivers of the Road Of Bones – a highway erected over the skeletons of the Gulag labourers who built it during the Stalinist era.
Where you’re staying: There are no hotels in Oymyakon – so you’ll have to stay with a local family. Don’t forget your phrasebook.
Itinerary: Once you’ve paid your respects at the Pole Of Cold memorial, go for a spot of ice fishing and then warm yourself up at the thermal spring on the town’s outskirts. Before you leave, pick up some local delicacies from the only store in town and collect your certificate from the mayor of Oymyakon – handed out to the few who make the trip each year.
Approximate cost: AED12,000 (flights, heavy-duty winter clothing and a lot of emergency and spending money)