Born In Total Isolation In Siberia, She Went Decades Without Knowing The Outside World Existed

Agafia Lykova, known to some as the Siberian hermit woman, is an incredible individual who has lived alone in the Russian wilderness for more than 70 years. The Lykov family – Karp Lykov, his wife Akulina, and their two sons – moved to the isolated Siberian region of Russia in the 1930s. They built a cabin and had two more children, including Agafia. 

In the summer, conditions can be manageable, but during the winter months, temperatures in Siberia plummet. For perspective, Oymyakom is located in Siberia, and it is considered to be the coldest town on Earth. One day in 1933, the temperature dropped to a mind-numbing -89.8 degrees Fahrenheit.

A large food supply is essential for survival, as lots of calories are required to build fat and protect against the cold weather. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to grow crops because the land is green and fertile for only a few months out of the year. 

Despite lack of food and basic amenities, Agafia managed to make a life for herself while living alone in the wilderness for more than 30 years.


  • Agafia's Uncle Was Murdered By Bolsheviks

    In 1936, Karp Lykov's brother was killed by a Bolshevik patrol outside their small town in Western Russia. This upset Karp and his wife, Akulina, who were pacifists. Determined to get away from Communism and escape religious persecution they felt under the regime, they left their village near the city of Kursk with their two sons.

    The family traveled into the wilderness to make a safe new life for themselves.

  • The Family Survived Eating Tree Bark And Their Shoes; Akulina Starved Herself To Death So The Kids Could Eat Her Portions

    Prior to Agafia's birth in 1944, the Lykovs found a spot in the Siberian wilderness to settle down with their sons. To say life was extremely difficult would be an understatement. Their diet consisted primarily of potatoes and wild mushrooms. They made their own clothing from a spinning wheel they brought with them during the several-hundred-mile journey.

    In 1961, a snowstorm devastated their crop. With little choice, they ate tree bark and their shoes to stay alive. Proving a mother's love has no bounds, Akulina stopped eating, giving her portions to her children. She died of starvation.

  • For The First 35 Years Of Her Life, The Only People Agafia Knew Were In Her Family

    Up until the age of 35, the only people Agafia knew were her family. In 1978, a group of geologists inadvertently encountered them. The scientists discovered that Agafia spoke an unusual language that the family had developed due their isolation from the rest of the world.

    In the years since, Agafia has gotten to know local authorities; however, she prefers to stay in the wilderness and not move to a nearby town.

  • Her Family Didn't Know About World War II Or That A Man Had Landed On The Moon

    The Lykovs lived in such isolation that they had no idea that incredible events had taken place around the world. They didn't know that Neil Armstrong landed on the moon on July 20, 1969, or that even that World War II had occurred. The family didn't use a television or electricity. Agafia had never seen or heard a car or plane.

    Agafia did explore the country in the '80s at the invitation of the Soviet government. She traveled around Russia for a month and encountered horses, cities, money exchange, and other aspects of everyday life for the first time. She also learned about Chernobyl and had to explain the disaster to her father when she returned from her trip.

  • She Is Part Of An Orthodox Christian Sect Known As "The Old Believers"

    One of the main reasons the Lykov family opted to live deep in the wilderness was a fear of religious persecution. Karp and Akulina Lykov belonged to an ultra-orthodox group of Christians known as The Old Believers. The sect was born in the 17th century when revisions were introduced to the Russian Orthodox Church; those who opted to follow the pre-revision Church were known as Old Ritualists, or Old Believers.

    More than 300 years after some Christians began following this religion, Agafia continues to practice its beliefs. She uses what she claims is a 400-year-old Bible, and her home is covered in Christian decorations.

  • Geologists "Discovered" Them In 1978, And Agafia Has Lived Alone Since 1988

    Agafia has outlived her parents and siblings. After the geologists stumbled upon them in 1978, her family members gradually died. Some think the scientists may have inadvertently brought germs into the settlement, leading to their deaths.

    Others argue that they died of natural causes. Her father, Karp, outlived all of his children except for Agafia and passed away in 1988. Some geologists with whom Agafia became acquainted helped her bury Karp's body on the mountain.