untamed wilderness and dark history
Yakutsk – Ust-Nera – Oymyakon – Susuman – Magadan
Regular monthly departures: this tour is offered regularly once a month. Let us know your desired departure month by clicking on the ask-us button below and we will match your preferences with the relevant scheduled group departure. If you are unsure about the month you wish to travel in, then simply tell us a period or a season of the year and we will give you a wide range of scheduled group departures: just pick up yours!
Our scheduled group departures don't suit your plans? If you are travelling with friends and there are 5 or more of you, you can set your own dates and we will organise a tour just for you without charging any additional fee. If you are travelling solo or with less than 4 companions we will organise a slightly more expensive tailored tour according to your time schedule and specific geographical preferences.
Please note: this journey follows two slightly different routes in Yakutia depending on which season you'd like to travel in: the late-spring/summer route is shorter (eight days in Yakutia) as it doesn't include Oymyakon, whereas the winter one (recommended) includes both Oymyakon and Tomtor plus a visit to a reindeer herders' winter camp. The price difference between the two options amounts to 400 € per person.
Day 1 - Yakutsk
In the morning you will meet your tour guide in the lobby of the designated hotel (exact hotel address and meeting time will be communicated well in advance per email; private airport pickup and shuttle service available for a small additional fee).
Introductory briefing about the region, the route and the set of rules to observe while travelling in the Russian Far East.
Yakutsk walking tour: Lenin Avenue, Permafrost Museum, State Drama Theatre, Transfiguration Cathedral, WWII Memorial and plenty of Soviet architecture and socialist monuments.
Lunch, dinner and overnight in Yakutsk.
Day 2 - Lena Pillars
Today we'll enjoy a long day trip to the majestic Lena Pillars, the world-famous rock formations towering over the Lena river just a couple of hours south of Yakutsk.
In summer the trip will be done by speedboat, whereas in winter you will travel by jeep on the so called "winter road" (that is the frozen surface of the river).
The excursion will last between 10 and 12 hours and includes a short ascension hike to the panorama deck and some free exploration time in the park, which you can spend either wandering along one of the many trails crisscrossing the surrounding forest or simply enjoying a Yakutian-style picnic at the camping area.
Along the way to the pillars, if time permits, we will stop in Bulgunnyakhtakh, a traditional Yakutian village with an impossible-to-pronounce toponymic.
Dinner and overnight in Yakutsk.
Day 3 - Kolyma Highway
We'll leave Yakutsk early in the morning and embark on an epic journey along the Kolyma Highway, also known as the Road of Bones, because the skeletons of the forced laborers who died during its construction were used in many of its foundations.
Right after Yakutsk, we will cross the Lena River. In winter time we'll drive on the frozen surface of the river.
We’ll also pass through Nizhny Bestyakh, an important transport hub where two federal roads – the Amur-Yakutsk Highway from the southern town of Neryungri and the Kolyma Highway to Magadan – meet each other.
We'll then head east-northeast to semi-abandoned Khandyga, a Soviet-made town that used to be quite busy and prosperous back in the good old days, as the area was intensively mined for coal and gold and its airport served as one of the main hubs for the Alaska-Siberia Air Route during WWII.
Besides the routine pauses for food, toilet and random landscape pictures, we'll break the 8-to-10-hour journey to Khandyga in several traditional Yakutian settlements, such as Cherkyokh, where we'll visit the local open-air museum.
Along the road, it’s also possible to see roaming Yakutian horses, native horse breed adapted to dwell in the extreme cold climate, and able to locate and graze on vegetation hidden under the deep snow cover.
Dinner and overnight in Khandyga.
Winter only add-on (2 days) - Oymyakon
We'll drive to the Soviet outpost of Teply Klyuch and then continue onto the village of Kyubyume through the mountain passes of the Verkhoyansk Range.
We'll stop en route to visit some truly stunning natural sights such as the Tomporuk Pass and the Zayachya Petlya.
After an early dinner in Kyubyume and fuel and photo stop in Tomtor, we'll reach Oyamyakon, the notorious Pole of Cold.
We'll devote two days to Oymyakon, the coldest inhabited place on Earth.
Average winter temperatures here regularly reach –55°C with a record of –67.7°C (−89.9 °F) registered in 1933.
We'll pay a visit to the Soviet-era Pole of Cold Stele and meet the local Chyskhaan, the Yakut "Keeper of the Cold".
You'll also enjoy some extreme temperature experiments (such as making snow out of boiling water), participate in a traditional ice-fishing session and meet local families.
Lunch, dinner and overnight in Oymyakon.
Day 4 - Kolyma Highway
We'll continue our journey along the Kolyma Highway and head northeast to the abandoned Soviet lost town of Kyubyume.
We'll have a picnic lunch in Kyubyume and, armed with our loyal cameras, we'll set to explore this shadow of a city, the perfect setting for a dystopian post-Soviet zombie movie.
From Kyubyume we'll move on and after having crossed two of the highest passes Yakutia, the majestic Bryungandinsky and the endless Olchansky, we'll eventually reach the town of Ust-Nera, capital of the Oymyakonsky District.
Dinner and overnight in Ust-Nera.
Day 5 - Kolyma Highway
Driving along the the Road of Bones we'll keep heading northeast and drive past the end-of-the-world Mad-Max settlement of Artyk before entering a empty and uninhabited hinterland of doomed ghost towns and somber GULAG remnants.
Highlights of today's leg of the journey will be, indeed, the GULAG complex near Ozernoye and the abandoned Soviet blocks in Kadykchan, as well as the impervious Kolymo-Indigirsky Pass and the melancholic obelisk marking the border between the Republic of Yakutia and the territory of the Magadan Oblast.
In the evening we'll eventually arrive in the rather anonymous town of Susuman, where we'll base ourselves for the night.
Dinner and overnight in Susuman.
Day 6 - Road of Bones – Bone-breaking Roads
The longest drive of our tour awaits us: 650 kms across an inhospitable backcountry of discomforting emptiness and ghostly remnants of Soviet mining settlements, what could you possibly desire more than this?
In the late afternoon we'll gloriously cross the city limits of Magadan, one of the remotest towns of the former Soviet Union and, from 1932 to 1953, it was the administrative center of Dalstroy, a vast and brutal forced-labor gold-mining operation and forced-labor camp system.
Dinner and overnight in Magadan.
Day 7 - Magadan
Lazy day in Magadan to recover from yesterday's long haul and enjoy the well-deserved comforts of a proper city.
In the afternoon we'll have a guided city tour around Magadan visiting the port area, the regional museum, the GULAG remnants and the world-famous Mask of Sorrow monument.
Lunch, dinner and overnight in Magadan.
Day 8 - Sea of Okhotsk
On the last day our our tour we'll drive along the coastline of the Sea of Okhotsk looking for odd sights, off-the-beaten-path attractions and photogenic subjects such as remote Soviet memorials, sinister ghost towns and grimly quaint fishing hamlets.
Dinner and overnight in Magadan.
DAY 9 - Flight back home or transfer to further destinations
After enjoying a last Soviet-style breakfast together we'll take care of your transfer to the airport/train station of choice.
For those flying out: we will arrange transfer to Magadan International Airport for your flight back home.
For those wishing to take the train/bus to reach further destinations: we will arrange transport to the local train/bus station.
End of the tour.
3 to 9 participants: 3850 €
The price includes: double/twin room accommodation (breakfast included; single supplement: 20 euros/night), private transport in the region (jeep or minivan), entrance fees to the attractions listed in the itinerary, guiding and translation service.
The price does not include: international flights and any other flight not explicitly included in the tour price and itinerary, meals, drinks and tips, visas if required, entrance fees to attractions not listed in the itinerary, insurance.
The route of this tour has been carefully designed after several research trips in the region. It is, however, always possible to slightly modify the itinerary according to the needs and the suggestions of the participants. Our motto is flexibility.
where the heck am i travelling to?
BELOW you can see the different tour stages marked on a map of the region you are going to explore with us
POSSIBLE TOUR COMBINATIONS FOR THIS ITINERARY INCLUDE