Brits may be shivering in their winter coats this December as it has already snowed in the UK and the chilly weather is just around the corner. But you’ll probably be grateful for our relatively mild weather when you discover the coldest village on earth, where locals endure temperatures as low as -71°C.
The coldest temperature ever recorded in the UK was a freezing -27.2°C in Braemar in Scotland in both 1895 and 1982. However, in Oymyakon in Eastern Siberia, Russia, temperatures regularly drop below -50°C. Even by the standards of Siberia – one of the coldest inhabited regions on earth – this is extreme.
The coldest temperature ever recorded in Oymyakon was -71.2 °C in 1924. The average winter temperature is -50°C, which means it often drops even lower. You’ll be amazed that people manage to live and survive in such freezing temperatures – but they do, and they have families, jobs, and even go to school in the cold.
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The area’s remote location, miles from the sea and deep in a valley, makes it a freezing desert in winter. Additionally, local legend says that when God created the earth, his hands became so cold as he moved across the ice that he dropped everything in Oymyakon.
Due to the low temperatures, frostbite can occur after just a few minutes, but wrapping up warm can help. The area was originally used as a place for reindeer herders to water their animals at a local thermal spring – but other than the natural spring water and other liquids, it is difficult to stay hydrated.
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Cars are running almost constantly and have to wear jackets or the engine will freeze. Most of the toilets are outhouses with no plumbing as the pipes are broken and as you walk around the village even your tears and tears freeze on your face and eyelashes – so you have to wear a balaclava if you don’t want!
The ink in schoolchildren’s pens can freeze on the way to school and the lenses of their glasses sometimes stick to students’ faces. Even your phone’s camera lens can freeze when you try to take a snapshot.
While many of us put hard liquor in the freezer to chill and don’t have to worry about the drink – since liquor has such a low freezing point – even bottles of vodka can solidify if left on your doorstep in Oymyakon .
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The food in the village is of course unusual due to the weather. The local delicacy is raw foal meat, eaten like deli meat. The vitamin-rich dish provides residents with the vitamins they would otherwise get from growing fresh fruits and vegetables that cannot grow there.
There are also many fish in the local diet, caught by ice fishermen on the frozen lakes – stroganin is a type of sashimi made from raw sturgeon meat or arctic cisco. Dairy products, reindeer and frozen berries are another part of the local cuisine that every visitor has to get used to.
To reach the village, according to Mirror, one must drive for days on the “Road of Bones” to Oymyakon, a highway built under Joseph Stalin’s rule and so named because of the horrific slave labor used in extremely adverse conditions to build it was , resulting in thousands of deaths.
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When you arrive in the village, the town’s “cold keeper” will give you a certificate proving you’ve made it. The FCDO is currently advising British nationals against traveling to Russia due to the risks and threats posed by the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
The gov.uk website says: “FCDO advises British nationals against all travel to Russia due to risks and threats posed by the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. The situation in Russia is unpredictable. These include: security incidents such as drone strikes in some parts of the country, lack of available flights to return to the UK, limited ability of the UK government to provide consular assistance.