Is it crazy to drive from Yakutsk to Oymyakon in winter?

December 28, 2011

road to oymyakon

Thought I wrote much about driving from Yakutsk to Oymyakon, but still questions are coming into my mail box. Here is the last one with many repeated questions. It arrived from a journalist who wants to do a report for a German car magazine about driving in a real winter. He says he needs a car.

“Is there any rental car company that rent cars for self driving? Or what are the major car dealerships in the city (German brands very welcome like Mercedes, BMW, Volkswagen, Opel, Porsche, Audi; or Volvo, Fiat, Renault… – or do you only drive Japanese cars?). Also I like to know the problems using a car at minus 45 degrees. Can you stop the engine? How do you keep the petrol liquid? What about the tires? I am thinking to drive from Yakutsk to Oymyakon. Is that possible? Very dangerous? Crazy? How long does it take? Huuh, so many questions, but you probably know the answers…”

Find my answers to this man’s questions:

Is there any rental car company that rent cars for self driving?

No rental car company in Yakutsk at all. This type of business didn’t find any ground here. Here cars are very expensive and people’s average salaries are very low. For comparison, a Russian UAZ might cost as low as 600 000 rubles, but the ordinary salary is around 20 000 – 30 000 rubles. So you see no one will trust his/her car to anyone as it is real treasure. Another reason is that roads are so bad that cars get broken very quickly, if driving irresponsibly, and repair expenses might be too high as well.

Or what are the major car dealerships in the city (German brands very welcome like Mercedes, BMW, Volkswagen, Opel, Porsche, Audi; or Volvo, Fiat, Renault… – or do you only drive Japanese cars?).

In country side people drive Russian UAZ only, as they are cheaper and it’s cheaper to repair. In cities like Yakutsk, Mirny and Nerungri people prefer Japanese cars, as they are reliable and cost less than Europe-produced cars.

There is one store through which it’s possible to order car, but produced in Russia only. They might be UAZ again and cars made in Russia like Ford and Toyota.

Also I like to know the problems using a car at minus 45 degrees. Can you stop the engine?

No. Otherwise you won’t start engine again. When outdoor, it’s highly recommended to keep the engine running.

How do you keep the petrol liquid?

As far as I know, local drivers use so-called winter petrol. With some antifreezing addition.

What about the tires?

Winter tires. With sparks.

I am thinking to drive from Yakutsk to Oymyakon. Is that possible?

Oymyakon drivers can make that way three times a week. This is a regular route for locals, but experienced ones.

Very dangerous? Crazy?

For locals, not. For unexperienced westerners, maybe, yes. Actually, no, if not driving crazy and not fast. All incedents on the road happen when drivers are drunk or very tired.

How long does it take?

In winter about 20 hours. If to make stop in Khandyga for night, so it would two-day driving. It is recommended to spend a night in Khandyga, as the hardest mountain part comes after that settlement.



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