As the coldest inhabited place on earth (with a recorded temperature of -96.16 degrees F in 1924), the small Russian town of Oymyakon, with a population of 500, was once only used as a location for political exiles. Winter temperatures average at about -58 degrees F, which has a serious on effect on body function. The ground is permanently frozen all year long and the town currently has only one hotel. Popular sports include skiing, ice hockey and ice fishing. I got within 2500 miles of Oymyakon, when I was in Vladivostok. And even closer when I was in Skovorodino, Russia (while on the Trans Siberian Railway), a mere 1278 miles away.
I did not set out or plan to visit these extreme areas. The Atacama was part of my drive through Chile from top to bottom. And I cannot even remember getting off the train in Skovorodino. Coldfoot, Alaska was cold enough at zero degrees F!!! Pick your poison carefully.
Now this was a real adventure. Mike and I stopped here for a few days on our way to several safaris in central Africa.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
—home to a 1,700-year-old Christian civilization, the birthplace of modern humans, and the coffee
bean—is climbing back onto the international stage with an assist from China, which has gotten busy building new highways across the country and finishing a new airline terminal in the capital of Addis Ababa
, seat of the African Union. It’s more feasible than ever to use Addis as a base to explore what the rest of the country has to offer. To the north, the “historical route” connects Aksum, the fourth-century home of the Ark of the Covenant, to the medieval castles of Gondar, as well as the 12th-century rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and the grass-roofed monasteries of Lake Tana, source of the Blue Nile. In the south, the Omo Valley is home to a diverse and vanishing number of tribes in a landscape that’s lush and raw and the Danikil Depression, reachable by helicopter, the hottest and one of the deepest places on earth. With so much to see, make sure to take some time in Addis, too: to view the famous skeleton of Lucy at the National Museum, drink a macchiato at Tomoca Coffee (just okay), share a plate of injera (yuck!), the teff flatbread used to eat stewed meat and veggies, and sample the hopping Ethio-jazz scene in one of the city’s historic night clubs. —Alex Postman GK says skip Addis!!!! It is a cesspool, and a challenge to navigate.
My suggestion for any of you seeking adventure: just let it happen, do not make it your goal. Even the three African safaris were relatively safe and predictable, in retrospect. I would worry more about pickpockets, hotel theft, and opportunistic cab drivers. I was a long way from home, not likely to ever set foot there again.
So, what is the craziest place you have visited?
Speaking of which, there are only a few places I would never visit again. Tangiers, Morocco comes to mind, as does Machu Picchu, Peru, Siberia, and Stonehenge. In the U.S., I would never re-visit the Great Mall in Minneapolis, Disney World and the Everglades in Florida, and any of Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.