My friend, the North. Yakutsk-Tiksi-Yakutsk 2024.

Hi folks!

Last week I completed quite possibly my most mind-blowingly awesome trip up to the Far North – from Yakutsk in a northeasterly direction and then further north to Russia’s northern coast. You’ve had a few intro-posts on the expedition already; now for a (slightly) deeper dive…

My regular readers will know well how driving through beautiful countryside practically anywhere in the world – especially with me behind the wheel and especially covering long distances – is one of my favorite pastimes. Back in the early 2000s I went on some Mediterranean drives (for example in Crete and Sicily); I’ve driven in both North and South America; I’ve done a stretch of Great Ocean Road in Australia; and I was on the road for more than a week in Namibia (one of the most unforgettable trips of my life).

Then, in early 2021 a group of curious psychos kindred spirits and I drove along the full length of the Kolyma Highway in Russia’s far-east from Magadan to Yakutsk (and we were enjoying it so much we then decided to drive all the way to… Moscow!). Now, you might expect that we’d have had our fill of long-haul deep-frozen winter road-trips after that, but, actually, you couldn’t be more wrong: we were all so bowled over by what we saw and generally went through on that expedition that we decided to repeat the extreme endeavor just a year later – albeit with a slightly different route and this time not going all the way to Moscow.

And that’s how we came to be under the spell of the North: it simply wouldn’t let us go – and still won’t. For what did we do this year in early spring (don’t be fooled – in these parts early spring is more wintry than most other places on the planet – and some:)? We were back for more – only for a yet more intense version: we headed further and deeper into the deepest Siberia, and to the farthest-north reaches of the Far North (go figure) – deep within the Arctic Circle, no less. Oh yes. The route decided on? Yakutsk > the Laptev Sea port-town of Tiksi > Yakutsk – all ~8000 kilometers of it, including ~4000km along/on its winter roads/frozen rivers!…

So, Tiksi – what gives? Winter roads – what are they (and what happens to them in, say, summer?). All in good time folks…

For now, let’s start with the main question – why?!…

That’s easy: our expedition north promised to be just like our two Kolyma adventures, only better; as in – more extreme, as in – all the more beautifully unique, as in – all the more exclusive, since no one (yes, no one) in their right mind would ever undertake such madness a challenge for fun. Some take this route north as it’s their job: truckers; but they sure aren’t doing it for fun. We were doing it as it’s… like a crazy-expensive vintage whisky: most folks on the planet will never get to taste it, but everyone should – if they could (afford it) as it’s so special. The bonus here is that the expedition neither costs millions (and can’t be finished off in one sitting with friends:) and it lasts a full three weeks: talk about savoring the moment ).

All righty – enough gushing words already; where are the pics? They’re coming right up – carefully selected out of more than two thousand taken. The photos will be either mine or those of my fellow road-trippers (thanks guys)…

Here’s one, chosen literally at random… and fairly screaming masterpiece ->

Arctic beauty:

Is that a sign for a picnic area? A bit chilly for picnics, no? ->

Europe Arctic Endless…

On-the-road scenes – or should that be from-the-road scenes? Whatever – plenty coming up… ->

Arctic tundra:

Mountain-pass scenes:

You’ll notice – not a soul about. Not on the roads, not by the roadsides. No villages, no rest areas. No nothing but mountains and valleys with a road over/through them – and us! ->

Occasional strange rock formations:

…Even stranger ones ->

And mirages (yes – real ones). Like this one – that “wall” there doesn’t actually exist (it’s a Fata Morgana) ->

Ooh – I spoke wrote too soon. There are some real buildings and some folks out and about – but only in the few settlements along the way ->

Industrialism up here too ->

The roads themselves are beautiful in the Far North ->

From a distance the roads look smooth, but close up it was often a different story ->

Long distances, few settlements ->

Occasionally – the hairiest of bends ->

Sometimes it’s not so much potholes and ruts in the road but gentle wavy ups-and-downs – much nicer ->

Rather often a curious bird would fly behind our convoy – or directly above the first vehicle! ->

Birds like this one:

Of course, in these pics you can’t see the wind – but it’s there, I can tell you! Another thing you can’t see – a road! Around these parts you just drive upon the ice in a northward direction toward the Laptev Sea! ->

Super-thick ice hummocks! ->

Is it hoarfrost – or is it snow? ->

The Arctic (and Antarctic) is a magical land that spellbinds, hypnotizes and entrances you – and doesn’t let go!…

Now for a few photos of our vehicles:

And all together:

The pick-ups did well – coping with temperatures below -40°C (given it was March, they never went below 50°C) and the bumpy Arctic “roads” ->

Off-road they did well too, until, that is, their chasses bottomed onto the ice-snow in between deep ruts since they (the pick-ups) were weighed down with all our kit:

The pick-ups had been specially prepared and adapted for Arctic conditions – and it showed: we drove them ~5000km with no problems at all.

And we made it to our intended destination – Tiksi on the Laptev Sea (which sea shares its seawater with… the Arctic Ocean!:) ->


An extraordinary, unforgettable, wonderful expedition.

And that’s all for today folks. But I’ll be back with more photos, emotions and detailed travelogue narrative shortly (yes – sorting the pics and vids taking longer than expected, but we’re getting there:)…

To be continued!…

The rest of the photos from our Yakutsk–Tiksi–Yakutsk expedition are here.

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