In 1937, the Lykov family headed into the Siberian wilderness to escape Russian society. Today, only Agafia Lykov, the infamous Russian hermit, remains on the sturdy homestead.
Agafia Lykov is a name that has lingered around the outdoor mystery community for years, sparking documentaries and Vice film footage on the way her family survived in the remote Siberian wilderness. As of 1988, she is the single surviving member following the death of her father, Karp, making her one infamous Russian hermit.
Recently, she made waves in media outlets when she phoned in to authorities using a satellite phone, requesting a rescue for a hospital visit due to the pain in her leg she was experiencing. Now that her leg injury is treated, she waits in the Russian town of Tashtagol for emergency services to airlift her back to her home.
While she waits, however, let’s reflect on the history of how Agafia found herself in the wilderness and the story of her family’s incredible survival.
First, an overview of the amazing way Agafia survives at the spunky age of 70. This is her homestead – reliable and warm, with a working fireplace. It is Siberia, after all.
A seasoned wilderness expert, this Russian hermit is an exceptional survivalist. Check out her homemade skis and lumber-chopping skills!
However, as hunting requires more effort than she can put forth after all these years, she knows how to work the documentarian crowd and always asks for them to bring her animals, like goats and chickens.
So how did she end up here?
Agafia’s mother and father, Akulina and Karp, were members of the Old Believers, a centuries-old sect of Christianity. It rose to prominence in 1660. Agafia still practices in the Old Believers religion, using a Bible that she claims to documentarians is over 400 years old.
The family retreated into the wilderness to escape current societal conditions, which if you’re a history buff, you realize that Russia was not a very open place to be with the world on the brink of World War II.
However, times were hard for the Lykovs (you’ll see both Lykov and Lykova in spelling, though Russian translation directly points to Lykov). Akulina, Agafia’s mother died of starvation and instead chose to feed her children to guarantee their survival. This image shows one of the original geologists with the Lykovs upon discovering them. There are no photographs of Akulina available.
When the geologists came across the family, they found that the tools the Lykovs had used for decades were wearing down, but their spirits were not.
Despite being completely alone, she’s not! She has both her cat and pup to keep her company.
Possibly the best part of Agafia’s experience is the fact her acres of yard is literally littered with space junk, leftover fallout objects from the Soviet Union’s intense space exploration program.
Agafia, after being in civilization to treat her injuries, is ready to return to her homestead. Her opinion on city living? “There are so many cars. Why do you need so many?” she asked in an interview this week.
Rebecca Marshall, a British director who created a documentary on Agafia titled The Forest and Me, said of Agafia:
“When I finally met Agafia, what surprised me was that rather than feeling like a primitive situation, it felt like arriving in the future – to a world with no technology, the vast forest littered with discarded space junk.”
Maybe Agafia knows the secret that we all have yet to learn.