Tag Archives: tiksi-2024

Tiksi expedition 2024 – Kolyma Highway, then the “Arctic” winter road to Sasyr.

All these business trips of mine and the corresponding blogposts of late have kept me from continuing my tales from the ultra-frozen side – from our Yakutsk-Tiksi-Yakutsk winter/ice-road expedition. That all stops here!…

So, where was I?…

Ah yes. Our original plan of heading north along the frozen Indigirka river had been scuppered since the Indigirka Tube had flooded. It was therefore decided by the more experienced among us to take the Arctica winter road instead. So, leaving the village of Ust-Nera, we did just that. Straight away – wonderfully wintery Siberian scenes ->

Our expedition leader – former long-distance trucker Alexander Elikov – had done the full length of this winter road plenty of times in both a trucks and Toyotas. His comments to us about it both soothed and instilled some worry at the same time: “It’s a fairly straightforward winter road; the only issue is that it’s so long and monotonous that by the end of it you’re bored silly”. Oof.

Early on, however, we were anything but bored – so enthralled were we by the passing scenery ->

Read on…

Que sera, sera – in Ust-Nera-Nera!

Our next overnight stay on our Yakutsk-Tiksi-Yakutsk road trip was in Ust-Nera. As you can see on that Google Map – that’s a long way: 560 kilometers, which should take around 10 hours (!). However, all those 10 hours were to be spent on the Kolyma Highway, so, we were like: yes, bring it on!

I’ve told you plenty of times already – this isn’t just a fascinatingly beautiful road-route to be taken through the deep-frozen Siberian countryside, this is a candidate for one of the most beautiful road-routes in the whole world! Yes, that is a bold statement; but it’s not as if I haven’t driven on some of the other contenders for that title around the world; therefore, I’m sticking with my boldness. I mean – just look! ->

Still need convincing? How about our decision to drive along Kolyma Highway already a third time in as many years? Still need convincing? Read on…

Read on…

Flickr photostream

  • Japan / Jun 2024
  • Japan / Jun 2024
  • Japan / Jun 2024
  • Japan / Jun 2024

Instagram photostream

Tanks aren’t afraid of dirt – or the Arctic.

I’ve been asked rather often already about the vehicles we undertook our road trip to Tiksi in. And that’s understandable – especially since they aren’t quite the instantly recognizable household-name vehicles like, say, Land Rovers or Toyota Land Cruisers…

First off, I have to say that we didn’t choose the vehicles ourselves; we left that to the experts – Arctic automotive-expedition specialists Alexander Yelikov and Yevgeny Shatalov. Alexander – Sasha – was in a specially tuned Great Wall Wingle 7, while we – the tourists – were in the three Tank 300s, as supplied by Yevgeny – Zhenya. Here are all four vehicles – somewhere between the settlements of Nayba and Tiksi upon a frozen Laptev Sea:

And here we are in the Indigirka Tube:

So – why were we in “Tanks”?

Read on…

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Yakutsk-Tiksi-Yakutsk-2024: first overnight stay – Khandyga.

Hi folks!

Herewith, another episode in my  Yakutsk-Tiksi-Yakutsk expedition series…

You’ve had my warm-up posts (about winter/ice roads, naleds, and the Kolyma Highway). Now’s come the time to climb behind the wheel and get going!…

It all started in Yakutsk. From there we headed east/northeast along the Kolyma Highway for nearly a thousand kilometers. Next, the plan was for us to take a left turn and head north all the way up to the village of Tiksi on the northern Russian coast up inside the Arctic Circle: no cakewalk – even with all the necessary vehicle customization, special other kit, experienced crew, and professional supervision. The plan was to then drive back down from Tiksi, albeit it by a different route, and take a right onto Kolyma again and back to Yakutsk.

Like I say, that was the plan we had – as we were all set at the “starting line” in Yakutsk for our ceremonial pic. More on how things didn’t go to plan and why, of course, coming later (still – we did make it to Tiksi, as the title of this series on our expedition hints at)…

Also coming up: why particularly this pickup and these jeeps were chosen for the expedition, how they were specially adapted for the cold and ice, how they actually dealt with that cold and ice, and in what state they were in when we arrived at the “finish line”. Patience, dear Watson…

Read on…

1500km on the R504: devilish cold; snow, ice and hoar.

There are many different kinds of roads and highways. There are straight and there are winding; there are smooth and there are bumpy; there are fast-moving and there are snail’s pace; there are ordinary and there are beautiful (rather: ordinary, pretty, beautiful, and mind-blowing). There are plenty of beautiful roads around the world – most often among mountains and along coasts. Especially beautiful (mind-blowing) are those that follow the coast on mountainsides (= x2 the effect); for example – the GI-682 along the Costa Brava near Barcelona, which we drove on last month.

Other great along-the-coast roads I’ve had the pleasure of driving on down the years include, among many others, Chapman’s Peak Drive between Cape Town and the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa (which, alas, is waaay too short), the Great Ocean Road in Australia, and the Overseas Highway from Miami to Key West. Then there are the many meditative roads I’ve driven on, like the TF-436 on Tenerife, State Highway 2 in New Zealand, Highway 565 in Tibet, and the R256 in Altai, Russia (which I’ve only done in summer).

Now, the above-mentioned are great, beautiful roads. But then there’s the Premier League of roads – the crème de la crème of roads that both boggle and truly blow the mind. These include: State Highway 94 ending at Milford Sound in southern New Zealand; the roads of Namibia that cross the desert; and also – less of a road and more just a frozen surface – Lake Baikal. Then, of course, there’s R504 – the Kolyma Highway – through the Russian Far East

Read on…

Water, outside, not frozen – below -40°C. How?!

Our friend, the Far North – even in winter (and up there, in northern Yakutia, even March is winter). The extended winter of the North is a kingdom of eternal snow and ice, extreme cold, and endless white expanses. All the same – and you won’t believe this – you can find H2O in liquid form out in the crazy cold!

But… how on earth is that possible? How can you have liquid water when the temperature’s below -40 or even -50°C? Well, you can – we saw it for ourselves, and we even had a bathe in it (not on this Yakutia trip, but on our previous two – in Oymyakon in both 2021 and 2022).

First – a teaser. What’s this in the following photo? I’ll tell you near the end of this post. But for now, let me tell you more about naleds, aka aufeis, aka overflow, aka icings…

There are a number of reasons why water (as opposed to ice) can be found up here…

Read on…

You’ve heard of a road trip. But what about an ice-road trip?!

You’ve had your intro posts already; now, if there are no questions from the audience, I’ll proceed to my next tale from the Far Northern side, which could have been titled “Yakutian ice roads heading north from Kolyma Highway“. But first, I think – an explainer…

What is an ice road? And what’s a winter road?…

But before I get to that, a few pics (what else?) ->

That pic is of a stretch of winter road between the villages of Sasyr and Khonuu (here). As you’ll see by that there Google Map, there’s no regular (asphalted) road between the two, but in winter (and into spring) there’s the winter road you see in the pic. From around April to October each year the only thing here is impassable tundra, marshland, lakes and rivers. But by November, everything here is covered in deep snow and thoroughly deep-frozen, and along come large snow-clearing trucks and… voila – the winter road is ready for use; until, that is, the next heavy snowfall – when the snow-clearers come back for another pass.

That’s the basic description of a winter road. An ice road is pretty much the same – only it’s not on land but on the thick ice of a frozen river; for example – on the Indigirka (see next pic). And these are much-preferred by long-distance truckers to winter roads since they’re normally so much smoother: they even call them “asphalt”, since they permit speeds just as on actual roads.

Read on…

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:

Read on…