These incredible photos show one 72-year-old woman’s hermit lifestyle in Siberia

You’ve probably never heard of Agafia Lykov.

Most people haven’t, and that’s intentional: Agafia is a hermit who lives miles from the nearest town, in the Siberian wilderness.

Agafia Lykova
Living in remote Siberia means having a gorgeous backyard. It also means no running water or electricity or civilisation. Vice

Agafia’s homestead was built across much of the 20th century by her family — its only residents since about 1937. That was the year that Agafia’s father, Karp, set off with his wife and two children into the Siberian wilderness.

Agafia is now in her seventies, still living in the Siberian wilderness by herself, and she’s tough as nails. This is Agafia in 2013:

Agafia Lykova
Agafia Lykov. Vice

What’s it like living in remote Siberia, with no access to running water, electricity, or any of the other benefits of modern civilisation? Vice put out a documentary about Agafia in 2013 that shows it’s even harder than you’d imagine

[slideshow]
[slide
permalink=”/#the-lykovs-left-russian-society-and-headed-into-the-wilderness-back-in-1937-1″
title=”The Lykovs left Russian society and headed into the wilderness back in 1937.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56a0035ddd0895f2678b47bd”
source=”Unknown”
caption=”Karp and Akulina Lykov left their village of Lykovo for the wilderness due to fear of religious persecution.”
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#karp-and-akulina-lykov-were-part-of-a-sect-of-christianity-known-as-the-old-believers-it-rose-to-prominence-with-some-christians-in-the-1660s-2″
title=”Karp and Akulina Lykov were part of a sect of Christianity known as ‘The Old Believers.’ It rose to prominence with some Christians in the 1660s.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56a0035ddd0895f2678b47be”
source=”Vasily Surikov”
caption=”This painting from 1887 by Vasily Surikov depicts Feodosia Morozova, a martyr of The Old Believers movement.”
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#over-300-years-later-agafia-still-practices-the-beliefs-her-parents-brought-to-the-siberian-wilderness-3″
title=”Over 300 years later, Agafia still practices the beliefs her parents brought to the Siberian wilderness.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56a0035ddd0895f2678b47bf”
source=”Vice”
caption=”The bible she uses is ‘over 400 years old,’ Agafia says.”
credit_href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tt2AYafET68″
]
[slide
permalink=”/#her-homestead-is-decorated-with-christian-artwork-4″
title=”Her homestead is decorated with Christian artwork:”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56a0035ddd0895f2678b47c0″
source=”Vice”
caption=””
credit_href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tt2AYafET68″
]
[slide
permalink=”/#sadly-its-just-her-in-the-homestead-her-last-surviving-relative-karp-died-in-1988-5″
title=”Sadly, it’s just her in the homestead. Her last surviving relative, Karp, died in 1988.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56a0035ddd0895f2678b47c1″
source=”Vice”
caption=”These photos were taken in the 1970s, when the Lykovs had their first interaction with people since moving to the wilderness in the 1930s.”
credit_href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tt2AYafET68″
]
[slide
permalink=”/#at-72-agafia-is-spry-and-energetic-but-living-in-the-harsh-siberian-wilderness-by-herself-is-incredibly-difficult-6″
title=”At 72, Agafia is spry and energetic. But living in the harsh Siberian wilderness by herself is incredibly difficult.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56a0035ddd0895f2678b47c2″
source=”Vice”
caption=”At night, in the winter, temperatures drop to -30 Fahrenheit (or worse).”
credit_href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tt2AYafET68″
]
[slide
permalink=”/#she-has-to-chop-wood-for-warmth-7″
title=”She has to chop wood for warmth:”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56a0035ddd0895f2678b47c3″
source=”Vice”
caption=”Yes, that is a 72-year-old woman carrying a massive piece of wood on a snowy slope in the woods.”
credit_href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tt2AYafET68″
]
[slide
permalink=”/#she-has-to-use-her-homemade-skis-to-traverse-heavy-snows-to-retrieve-water-8″
title=”She has to use her homemade skis to traverse heavy snows to retrieve water:”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56a0035ddd0895f2678b47c4″
source=”Vice”
caption=””
credit_href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tt2AYafET68″
]
[slide
permalink=”/#-9″
title=””
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56a0035ddd0895f2678b47c5″
source=”Vice”
caption=”Yes, those are skis made out of wooden planks.”
credit_href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tt2AYafET68″
]
[slide
permalink=”/#hunting-is-outright-too-much-for-her-she-asked-documentarians-visiting-in-2013-to-bring-a-goat-and-a-chicken-10″
title=”Hunting is outright too much for her. She asked documentarians visiting in 2013 to bring a goat and a chicken!”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56a0035ddd0895f2678b47c6″
source=”Vice”
caption=””
credit_href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tt2AYafET68″
]
[slide
permalink=”/#when-the-family-was-first-discovered-back-in-the-1970s-by-a-team-of-russian-geologists-the-familys-tools-were-wearing-out-11″
title=”When the family was first discovered back in the 1970s by a team of Russian geologists, the family’s tools were wearing out.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56a0035ddd0895f2678b47c7″
source=”Vice”
caption=””
credit_href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tt2AYafET68″
]
[slide
permalink=”/#agafias-mother-akulina-died-of-starvation-in-the-1960s-she-reportedly-chose-to-feed-her-children-over-herself-12″
title=”Agafia’s mother, Akulina, died of starvation in the 1960s — she reportedly chose to feed her children over herself.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56a0035ddd0895f2678b47c8″
source=”Vice”
caption=”This picture from the 1970s depicts several Lykov family members with one of the original geologists who discovered the family. There are no pictures of Akulina available.”
credit_href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tt2AYafET68″
]
[slide
permalink=”/#despite-agafias-hermetic-existence-she-thankfully-has-two-adorable-pets-to-keep-her-company-here-is-her-cat-little-drawing-13″
title=”Despite Agafia’s hermetic existence, she thankfully has two adorable pets to keep her company. Here is her cat, ‘Little Drawing’:”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56a0035ddd0895f2678b47c9″
source=”Vice”
caption=””
credit_href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tt2AYafET68″
]
[slide
permalink=”/#and-heres-her-dog-taiga-14″
title=”And here’s her dog, Taiga:”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56a0035ddd0895f2678b47ca”
source=”Vice”
caption=”Taiga is named after the ecosystem in which Agafia lives — a massive wooded region known as the ‘Taiga.'”
credit_href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tt2AYafET68″
]
[slide
permalink=”/#when-taiga-barks-aggressively-its-a-good-indication-of-a-nearby-bear-agafia-usually-uses-her-rifle-to-shoot-blanks-into-the-air-when-she-sees-a-bear-15″
title=”When Taiga barks aggressively, it’s a good indication of a nearby bear. Agafia usually uses her rifle to shoot blanks into the air when she sees a bear:”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56a0035ddd0895f2678b47cb”
source=”Vice”
caption=””
credit_href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tt2AYafET68″
]
[slide
permalink=”/#her-homestead-is-sturdy-but-extremely-modest-its-built-for-hard-living-16″
title=”Her homestead is sturdy, but extremely modest. It’s built for hard living.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56a0035ddd0895f2678b47cc”
source=”Vice”
caption=””
credit_href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tt2AYafET68″
]
[slide
permalink=”/#she-has-a-working-fireplace-for-warmth-thankfully-17″
title=”She has a working fireplace for warmth, thankfully.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56a0035ddd0895f2678b47cd”
source=”Vice”
caption=””
credit_href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tt2AYafET68″
]
[slide
permalink=”/#and-the-views-are-incredible-if-youve-got-time-to-stop-and-enjoy-between-all-the-manual-labor-18″
title=”And the views are incredible if you’ve got time to stop and enjoy between all the manual labour:”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56a0035ddd0895f2678b47ce”
source=”Vice”
caption=””
credit_href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tt2AYafET68″
]
[slide
permalink=”/#hilariously-during-the-height-of-the-soviet-space-program-it-was-common-for-complex-technology-to-literally-fall-from-the-sky-into-agafias-familys-backyard-19″
title=”Hilariously, during the height of the Soviet space program, it was common for complex technology to literally fall from the sky into Agafia’s family’s backyard.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56a0035ddd0895f2678b47cf”
source=”Vice”
caption=”Here’s Agafia with a piece of space technology that fell to Earth near her home.”
credit_href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tt2AYafET68″
]
[slide
permalink=”/#in-2016-agafia-was-suffering-from-leg-pain-and-was-airlifted-to-the-nearest-hospital-she-quickly-returned-to-her-hermetic-existence-soon-afterward-20″
title=”In 2016, Agafia was suffering from leg pain and was airlifted to the nearest hospital. She quickly returned to her hermetic existence soon afterward.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56a0035ddd0895f2678b47d0″
source=”Vice”
caption=””
credit_href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tt2AYafET68″
]
[slide
permalink=”/#a-2013-documentary-from-vice-visited-agafia-to-document-her-lifestyle-its-beyond-worth-your-30-minutes-21″
title=”A 2013 documentary from Vice visited Agafia to document her lifestyle. It’s beyond worth your 30 minutes:”
content=”
image=””
source=””
caption=””
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#and-hey-maybe-you-read-russian-22″
title=”And hey, maybe you read Russian?”
content=”If you do happen to speak/read Russian, there’s an even earlier documentary on the Lykov family that you can watch right here.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56a0035ddd0895f2678b47d1″
source=”Lost in the Taiga documentary / Vasily Peskov”
caption=”Here’s a rough look at the Lykov homestead in the 1990s, care of Russian journalist Vasily Peskov.”
credit_href=””
]
[/slideshow]