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Back to the wilderness for remarkable hermit Agafya Lykova after hospital treatment

By The Siberian Times reporter
20 January 2016

Aged 71, she shuns civilisation and accepts a helicopter ride back to her home in remote Siberia, without a gun to protect her from bears.

Agafya Lykova met with Kemerovo region governor Aman Tuleev. Picture: Administration of Kemerovo region

Cured of leg pains, the indefatigable Agafya, her fame now stretching around the world, on Wednesday flew back to the place she calls home, where she was born during the Second World War into a family of Old Believers who had fled Soviet repression to live in the forest.

The previous week, she had been rushed to hospital after complaining of acute discomfort in her remote farmstead - more than 100 kilometres from the nearest village. 

Hardly ever in her life had she left this home in the wilderness, where her family - all now dead - had sought sanctuary from religious persecution.

But after treatment at Tashtagol hospital in Kemerovo region, she opted to return to the mountainside above the Yerinat River - where she is under threat from wolves and bears, and also winter cold which she has described as 'unbearable'.

Her recent stay in hospital reported by The Siberian Times led to stories around the world. But now our picture shows the reclusive woman on her way back home, on a helicopter provided by Aman Tuleyev, governor of Kemerovo region. 

Agafya Lykova in hospital

Agafya Lykova in hospital

The previous week, she had been rushed to hospital after complaining of acute discomfort in her remote farmstead. Pictures: Efir-T

She is concerned for her chickens and goats, and also for an Old Believer called Georgy who has come to live with her to help her in her lonely vigil.

Before leaving, she presented the governor with mittens made of goat wool. But she rejected his suggestions that she should stay in hospital for a month to better improve her health. 'No way, no way, I worry about my household, and Georgy. I need to rush there.' 

The governor asked if Georgy had a gun to protect her from a bear, but she would not hear of it. 'Well, think it's quite dangerous to give him a gun,' she said. In the summer a bear dug into the grave of her dead neighbour Yerofei, she said. 

For most of her life, she has lived like a peasant from the 19th century with hardly any modern comforts. But the governor handed her a warm scarf and jacket, and has ensured she has supplies of medicine, new porcelain, a chainsaw, wheat, rice and barley), as well as flour, sugar, and feed for her animals. 

Agafya Lykova

Agafya Lykova

Agafya Lykova

Before leaving, she presented the governor with mittens made of goat wool. Pictures:

'Great Agafya, you are as beautiful as ever, so I wish you good health,' said the governor. She offered him her 'great appreciation' for helping her. She told journalists before leaving: 'I feel better.' She could now 'at least stand on my legs'.

Her family fled into the wilderness in 1936 and when they were discovered living off the land after being spotted from the air in the 1970s, they had no idea World War Two had started - or ended. 

Her little plot is located close to a river about some 150 metres up a remote mountain side in the Abakan Range, in south-western Siberia. She was the fourth child of Karp and Akulina Lykov and for the first 35 years of her life she had no contact at all with anyone outside her family.

It was in the summer of 1978 that a group of geologists accidentally stumbled across the family, with scientists reporting that Agafya spoke a strange blurred language 'distorted by a lifetime of isolation'.

Reclusive Siberian hermit Agafia Lykov comes out of isolation to say Happy New Year

For most of her life, she has lived like a peasant from the 19th century with hardly any modern comforts. Picture: Alexander Kuznetsov/Krasnoyarsky Rabochiy

Her father had taken the decision to flee normal civilisation in 1936 after a communist patrol arrived at the fields on which he was working and shot dead his brother. Gathering a few meagre possessions and some seeds, he took his wife, Akulina, their nine-year-old son, Savin, and two-year-old daughter Natalia, and headed off into the forest.

Over the years they retreated deeper into taiga, building a series of wooden cabins amid the pine trees. When their metal pots had disintegrated beyond use, they were forced to live on a staple diet of potato patties mixed with ground rye and hemp seeds. The Lykovs subsided mainly on trapped wild animals and cultivated potatoes. They had no firearms, no salt and did not know how to make bread.

Reclusive Siberian hermit Agafia Lykov comes out of isolation to say Happy New Year

Agafya Lykova, pictures by Igor Shpilenok

Reclusive Siberian hermit Agafia Lykov comes out of isolation to say Happy New Year

Over the years they retreated deeper into taiga, building a series of wooden cabins amid the pine trees. Pictures: Igor Nazarov, Igor Shpilenok, Vladimir Makuta

However a bad winter in 1961 killed off everything in their garden and they were reduced to eating their own leather shoes. The cold weather, and lack of food, tragically proved too much for Akulina who died.

Once the family was discovered they continued to live in the wilderness and, apart from salt, knives, forks and handles, they opted not to adopt any methods or items from the modern world.

Sadly just two years later three of the four children also died: Savin and Natalia suffered kidney failure and Dmitry died of pneumonia. Agafya's father died in his sleep in February 1988, but despite her age and the risks to her health she continues to live permanently at the little homestead.

Comments (58)

God bless Agafia I whispered and Agafia replied - in German, thank you. I heard you very clearly Agafia. I question and I have no answer yet and I see nothing on the computer to indicate how you are since leaving hospital, which you did so long ago now. Did you return to your home - I am not convinced that you did. I hope there are videos soon that are completely up to date soon, with your self talking and moving as proof, also showing where you are.
God bless Agafia.
Wren, Australia
15/01/2021 17:34
Dear Agafya, a time is coming soon when God's heavenly Kingdom will end all suffering, sickness, and death, and your parents and siblings will return to you in the resurrection in perfect health. Hope for and pray for that time, soon to come. God hears prayer, and He will answer your sincere prayers for that time. I would love to meet you someday. You are an inspiration to me, and you encourage me. You are close to my heart. May you continue to enjoy peace and good health.
Tim Nicholas, Walterboro, South Carolina, USA
02/01/2021 02:19
Deus te abençoe sempre querida Agafya . Vc realmente é uma heroína. Em pensamento embora tão distante estarei lembrando de ti. Vc é uma mulher de fibra. Abraços fraterno.
Maria Aparecida moreto, Ribeirão Preto Brasil
21/04/2020 05:15
I love you Agafia, May God protects you . You teach the world commitment and love of God. May God bless your life with His all blessings.
sumara sadia, canada Alberta
06/04/2020 10:32
Agafya, you are an amazing strong woman. God bless you forever. My prayer are with you.
Remiwi, Colorado, USA
17/02/2020 04:20
I know that God will always by your side to protect you from danger,God bless you dear agafya,after waking up in the morning and done my prayer i exitedly open my phone and and read updates about you,i am soo inspired by your stories,I know that your strong faith in God will protect you from any harm,God bless you dear agafya,I LOVE YOU
Maria Helen Eluna, Philippines
06/11/2019 07:49
I really enjoy reading up dates on Agafia. God Bless her, she is a living Saint!
Michelle, Pierre Part, LA USA
27/09/2019 08:25
God bless and good health to Agafia
Nathan Donovan, Canada
04/04/2019 06:13
I am suprised that Agafya did not become seriously ill leaving her homestead and being treated in the hospital. She lived in isolation most of her life and her immune system would be garbage against even a cold or flu.
Jennifer, USA
20/02/2019 17:27
Dearest Agafia, through you I have rediscovered my faith. I love you in a very special way. You are pure of heart and so selfless. As I watch you, I smile as you smile. But, upon leaving uou, I cry. I know God protects you but, I also feel very protective of you. I will pray with all of my heart, that you live pain-free and in peace. God Bless you, sweet Agafia. ❤
Vicki, Reisterstown, Maryland. United States of America
03/01/2019 01:40
There are no words to express how much Agafia has touched me - GOD bless you Agafia and keep you close to HIS Heart - you are so sweet, such a beautiful soul that inspires us all -how can we help you? where can we send money or supplies or whatever you might need/
Ninni V. Genovese,
20/12/2018 10:15
our family has been following Agafia's story for awhile and we are so very touched by her strength, her resilience, but most importantly by her faith - GOD bless you Agafia; we don't know whether you'll ever be able to get the messages sent to you from all over the world, but surely your Guardian Angel does know and somehow may you learn that there are many people praying for you and cheering you on to live as you choose; in peace, surrounded by the beauty you have known since your birth, and when The Good GOD calls you Home, may you be laid to rest with your beloved family -
Rickie A Lemus, Santa Barbara, California
20/12/2018 09:59
Bless you Agafia you are an amazing, wonderful, lady. You are an inspiration to us.
Cheryl, Tacoma
24/10/2018 09:24
She's beautiful!!
Marlene Tobin, Canada Newfoundland...
12/10/2018 10:59
Agafia you should be eligible for the elderly pension you are over sixty five I would get someone to help you fill out the forms so you can get it it could help you with everyday expenses even if you are living way up there you still should be able to get it praying for you everyday
Lavinia Pomare new zealand, new zealand
03/10/2018 00:13

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