Yakutia North

tiksi – тикси

Tiksi is a small town on the Laptev Sea coast straight north of Yakutsk. It is an important Arctic sea port. Tiksi as many other northern towns was thriving in good old Soviet times. People from all over the Soviet Union used to come to the North to make big rubles.  On weekends Tiksi residents used to fly to Moscow for shopping and dining and wining in Moscow restaurants. Currently Tiksi looks shabby, littered with debris and 70% abandoned. In winter Tiksi can be reached by winter roads. It is a long and somewhat extreme trip. Besides, there are flights from Yakutsk. In late June - early September a boat from Yakutsk makes 6-7 voyages by the Lena River. I visited Tiksi in June 2018 by air. A KGB permit (propusk) was required for foreigners wishing to visit Tiksi. In January 2021 the border zone regime was lifted for Tiksi. No propusk is required now.

Tiksi streetscapes.

Tiksi is the Sea Gate of Sakha (Yakutia) Republic.

The 60th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. 1977.

Glory to labour! or Long live working class!

Due to evaporation the hill and metal scrap seem to be hovering above clouds.

The avid traveler Frank Rainer from California is exploring the Tiksi cemetery.


A short trip to the nearby tundra is possible on request.

The unattended weather station unveiled by President Putin in August 2012.

batagai – батагай

Batagai is a small town located within the Arctic circle 670 km north of Yakutsk . Batagai is accessible by road only in cold period. It is quite a long and somewhat extreme road. Fortunately, there is an airport in Batagai that travelers can use all the year round with the intention to see the Batagai permafrost sinkhole and to visit Verkhoyansk - one of the three places which claim to be the coldest inhabited place on the Earth.

The sign saying that the Verkhoyansk county is the Pole of Cold stands right across the airport terminal.

This monument reminds visitors that once wooly mammoths walked this land.

BATAGAI  permafrost sinkhole

The Batagai permafrost sinkhole is about 18 km from the airport by road. According to local experts, a small permafrost sinkhole was first noticed in 1950. It looked like a short narrow ravine. Gradually it acquired a peculiar shape of a spermatozoid and measures about 1,000 meters in length. Annual growth is 10-15 meters. On hot summer days the wall of permafrost melts, cracks and creaks. Sounds produced by melting permafrost remind me of Perito Moreno glacier in Argentina.

A shotgun is a necessary precaution needed to fend off brown bears.

Several km from the sinkhole there are ruins of a factory built and operated by gulag prisoners.

verkhoyansk - верхоянск

Verkhoyansk is 70 km west of Batagai. A 1.5-hour drive by a dirt road.  Along the road one can see a monument to local horse breeders. The horse plays important part in life of Yakuts. It is both a means of transportation and a source of meat. The endemic Yakut breed is absolutely cold resistant and stay outdoor all the year round.

A place to make donations to butter up local spirits. Shamanism.

There are 3 small settlements in Yakutia which claim to be the Pole of Cold: Oymyakon (Оймякон), Tomtor (Томтор) and Verkhoyansk (Верхоянск). As a story goes, in 1926 a geologist named Sergey Obruchev was exploring the area looking for gold and being in Oymyakon either registered minus 71.2ºC or only theorized that temperature in this area may fall as low as minus 71.2ºC. However, the fact of minus 71.2ºC has never been documented. The documented lowest temperature in Oymyakon equals to minus 67.7ºC. Feb. 06, 1933. Meanwhile, in Verkhoyansk on January 15, 1885 a political exile Sergey Kovalik clocked minus 67.8ºC and on February 6, 1892 the local properly licensed and equipped meteorological station again measured minus 67.8ºC.

The letters read, "The town of Verkhoyansk is the Pole of Cold"

The museum of local history.

Specimens of local fauna.

The memorial plate dedicated to the first minus 67.8°C measurement occurred on 15 January 1885.

Verkhoyansk was founded in 1639. In the 19th century it was used as a place of exile for hundreds of political dissidents. The then tsarist regime hoped that harsh climate and remote location would re-educate those revolutionary minded people. All hopes proved in vain. Below is a bust of a prominent revolutionary Victor Nogin. The town of Noginsk in Moscow oblast is named after him.

On May 1, 1899 Verkhoyansk political exiles marked the Labour Day for the first time in Siberia. The fact is commemorated by the following monument. May First aka Labour Day celebrations were strictly prohibited before 1917.

Some streetscapes of Verkhoyansk.