Local Time: MSC + 6 hours
Distance From Moscow: 8,300km
Average Winter Temperature: -35C
Sakha (or Yakutia as it is also known) is the largest region of Russia and a land of unspoilt nature – mountains, rivers, lakes and tundra. It is the homeland of the people known as Yakuts or the Sakha - a Turkic people who speak a language of the Siberian branch of the Turkic languages and are famed for their skills in animal husbandry, especially reindeer, horses and cattle. In addition to the Yakuts, Yakutia is also home to the Evenks, Evens and Yukaghir people, as well as, of course, Russians. Many of these people have retained their traditional activities of hunting, fishing and reindeer herding.
Yakutsk is the capital of the republic and in winter it is only for the brave as it is one of the coldest cities on earth. The settlement of Oymyakon has the world record for the coldest temperature for a permanently inhabited place on Earth (-67.78C). The record was set on 6 February 1933 and for a settlement with 472 people it is rather large compared to other places on the cold list.
Yakutia is not just worth visiting to experience the cold:
around 40% of the republic is located in the Arctic Circle
more than 90% of the republic is covered with virgin forests, lakes and rivers which are completely untouched by industry.
more than 15% of the world's wilderness is located in Yakutia.
The best examples of mammoth remains are also found here. In addition, you can see in Yakutia ancient rock paintings. Competitions in a tug-of-war involving frozen fish and catching reindeers with lassos are also held here. Finally, many interesting pagan rituals are still observed by the native people – including the worship of lightning as a spirit of nature.
WHEN TO GO TO YAKUTIA
As you will have gathered by now, it gets very, very cold in Yakutia. Winter in Yakutia is very cold and long therefore any of the winter months will give you a real cold and snowy experience. The coldest period is from December to the end of February and in this period the temperature can drop to -50. Along with the temperature, flight prices also fall and it is much cheaper to visit during this time.
The extreme continental climate means that the air is very dry and the temperatures can rise and fall 20 degrees in short periods. Whereas in the European part of Russia the coldness is felt immediately due to the high humidity, in Yakutia you don't realise you are actually freezing at first. But as the Russians say - there is no such thing as bad weather just bad clothes; if you dress properly you should be able to be outside for quite a long time.
HOW LONG YOU NEED IN YAKUTIA
It is best to go to Yakutia for a week or at least for five days - it is far away and takes time to acclimatise.
HOW TO GET TO YAKUTIA
There is, as of yet, no railway line to Yakutsk. The closest station is located in 12km on the other side of Lena river in Nizhny Bestyahkh which is connected with the Trans-Siberian and the Baikal-Amur railways. However, a flight is the best option.
A flight from Moscow takes about 6¾ hours. Normally the flight there is at night and the flight back is in the morning.