300km of pure whiteness, plus some unexpected volcanism.

Hi folks!

So many business trips – so little time for… continuing my tales from the deep-frozen Siberian Far North side! But since flying back from China, let me get back to it. So, where was I? Ah – yes: arriving in the village of Sasyr after nightfall and, given there are no hotels or guesthouses to stay at, we were bedding down in the village school’s gym hall on rubber mats!…

Unusual circumstances? Yes. Original? Indeed. Uncomfortable? No!…

We were warm (here – crucial!), there was food, there was fuel at the nearby filling station (we drove there later), and – most importantly – there was table tennis. What more could you ask for?

The following morning – on the fourth day of our Yakutsk-Tiksi-Yakutsk road trip – after breakfast, we were back on our way on the winter/ice road. Next destination: the village of Khonuu (see the map at the very end of this post). And what an interesting and gorgeous day it was too…

First – warm-up pic:

This was a day of pure white magic, as you can see…

But I’m getting ahead of myself…

The day started really early – before daybreak. Up and out of our extraordinarily original lodgings – not forgetting to take snaps thereof (later: “look where we stayed in Sasyr!”) ->

We breakfasted at the village’s only café ->

Then it was into the cars and we were back on the (winter/ice) road…

The first 60 km weren’t the most comfortable back on the Arctic winter road – bumpy and thus slow. The only fast stretches were the few upon iced-over lakes along the way…

Here’s the winter road from up above (gotta love drones) ->

The road winds through the valley between the Chersky and Moma mountain ranges. To the left – Chersky ->

And to the right – Moma ->

After smooth stretches – back to rugged and rutted:

The road fluctuated between uneven and smooth all day. After a while we just got used to the changeability, concentrated on the wonderful meditative views, and enjoyed the playlists of music on the cars’ stereos prepared specially for the expedition. Then, suddenly – on the horizon… – a volcano?!

Early that morning our expedition leader, Alexander, told us we’d be passing a volcano this day. And, given I’m a bit of a volcano buff – or at least fan – I somewhat scoffed under my breath. “You mean a symmetrical, cone-shaped mountain?”, I smart-assed ). However, to my disbelief – and embarrassment – it turned out this really is a volcano – here in Yakutia! Sure, it’s sleeping, but it’s still a volcano – through and through! ->

It’s called Balagan-Tas, and it’s here.

Alas – no time to stop and maybe climb it, we drove on past it…

A little further, and low and behold – another volcano; almost perfectly cone-shaped again! ->

This is an old one, shown, upon closer inspection, by its collapsing cone, and there’s no crater left:

It’s called Uraga-Khaiya, and it’s here:

Turns out this is an active volcanic area! Now we understood why the administrative buildings in Yakutian villages are all reinforced with buttresses. Earthquakes are common occurrences here!

On and on and on, admiring the views, enjoying the Pink Floyd discography…

The road turns smooth again, signifying we must be back on a river ->

Up goes the drone again – the views becoming all the more fantastical. And here come the warm naleds! Can you see our cars in the next pic?! ->?

Here’s an ice bubble that’s come up out of the frozen lake. Judging by the footprints, someone’s been on a walkabout around here recently…

Meanwhile the views continue to become all the more enchanting:

For those who might fancy road-tripping up here, this is where we were – where the Tas-Yurakh and Borindya rivers meet.

All of a sudden – signposts ->

We head straight for the setting sun:

Aha – we arrive at civilization! ->

We arrive in Khonuu, looking forward to a hearty supper and then warm beds…

Daily stats:

Overall stats, so far:

Here’s our hotel:

Here’s today’s route, with both volcanoes marked, plus the naled not long before Khonuu:

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

Leave a note