Last Wilderness: Solo Ride through Siberia

All alone on the Siberian tundra. As far as the eye can see, nothing.

“Based upon my many years of research, I believe that this trip,
and its subsequent equestrian discoveries, rates as the most
incredible Long Rider adventure in the modern age.”

No small words from one who have seen them all; but that’s how founder of The Long Riders Guild, CuChullaine O’Reilly, introduced this adventure to Pythom.

Ian Robinson is believed the first foreign Long Rider to have made a solo equestrian journey in Siberia in 125 years.

First foreigner to explore the Yakutia region of Siberia on horseback in this new century, the New Zealand rider previously made solo journeys in Mongolia, Tibet and Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor.

Siberia turned out something else entirely.

Crossing a waterlogged taiga, the rider and his horse navigated thick forests up to their knees in mud. Unarmed, Robinson could only watch with a drawn knife his dog and a bear play around camp.

And then there was the Siberian loneliness.

“I didn’t expect to meet many people once I had set off,” he told CuChullaine O’Reilly. “I knew it wouldn’t be like Mongolia or Tibet where it is possible, if you want to, to ride across the entire country and meet nomads or villagers almost every day.”

“I could almost count on one hand the number of people I met on my five week ride.” (One of them a Russian man who had chosen to spend a year alone to search for a lake monster.)

Riding through Yakutia, Ian found how horses adapt to the infamous cold of the region: They eat porcini buried in snow and take occasional naps in the middle of walking.

(Ed note: Yakutia’s “Pole of Cold” recorded -71.2 degrees Celsius in 1933. That’s seasonal night time temps in some valleys on Mars.)

Ian rode in fall, not deep winter, but even then temperatures dropped enough for his boots to be frozen stiff in the mornings. “I couldn’t get them on without lighting a fire and melting them,” he recalled.

Similar to situations involving public lands and other wilderness in the Americas; nomads in Mongolia and related regions are affected by new laws declaring their grounds national parks, making it illegal for them to hunt or to gather wood for a fire.

Ian thus never met the legendary Eveny reindeer nomads in Siberia, whom he was relying on to restock his supplies.

“To stand on the top of a ridge and be able to see for miles in all directions and to know that I was the only human in the entire landscape was rare, exhilarating and terrifying at times, particularly when I had run out of food,” the lone rider reported.

Check in at the interview about a horseback journey through a world few know still exists today.