Earth : Europe : Russia : Russian Far East : Magadan Oblast
Magadan Oblast is a region rich in minerals and human suffering. The areas now known as Magadan Oblast and Chukotka were home to the Kolyma Gulag, a network of work-camps the size of France where approximately 500,000-1,000,000 men, women, and children died as a result of overwork, malnutrition, the cold, and human brutality. Anyone interested in the Kolyma gulags, or just more generally in human nature and great literature, should read Varlam Shalamov's Kolyma Tales.
Russian is likely the only language you will encounter here.
There is no railroad connecting to Magadan Oblast and there is only one road, the Kolyma Highway, leading from the west, from Yakutsk. This road dirt or gravel for most of its length, is just over 2025km long and crosses 3 mountain ranges. As of 2008, the all-season connection from Kyubyume to Ust-Nera was completed, meaning that the road is now technically passable by 2 wheel drive cars, though few would then be capable of the return trip. When the ice breaks during April and freezes during September river crossings at Yakutsk and Khandyga are only available by helicopter. With the exception of a few mining towns, long sections of the road are uninhabited, and most towns have no police presence. In particular, the 500km section between Yagodnoye and the outlying settlements of Magadan is home to fewer than 4000 people.
Most traffic on the Kolyma Highway is mining trucks or trucks carrying building materials to and from Magadan. Hiring a taxi or jeep and driver costs about US$100/day.
Getting out of Magadan Oblast is best done by plane, but it is possible to venture down the Kolyma Highway, a long, lonely road into Yakutia as far as Yakutsk. This route is only really passable in the winter months of November-March and summer June-August, though traffic exists on some sections nearly all year round.