Some of us dream of living off the grid, trading modern civilization for the physical hardships and isolation of pre-modern living. Here are a handful of people who, by design and by circumstance, found themselves living in seclusion for years or even decades.
The Lykov family, spending 42 years (1936-1978) in isolation in an uninhabited part of Khakassia, Southern Siberia.
The parents after the rediscovery
They were rediscovered by a helicopter pilot, but the family didn't wanted to leave their isolated home. The religion of the family was under threat—they were Old Believers who protested against the reforms of the Russian Orthodox Church by Patriarch Nikon between 1652 and 1666. The Old Believers continued some liturgical practices that the reformed church did not.
The house now
Karp and Akulina Lykov left civilization with their two children in 1936 and ended up near Yerinat river, more than 160 miles (250 km) from any settled place. Two more children were born in 1940 and 1943. Akulina died of hunger in 1961, and three of their children perished in 1981. Karp himself died in 1988, but his youngest daughter Agafia still lives in the house.
And here's a 35-minute documentary about the last surviving Lykov by VICE Magazine:
Lt. Hiroo Onoda, a Japanese soldier, sent with some other units to the underpopulated Philippine island of Lubang in 1944. One year later, the Japanese Army sent thir flyers to tell the soldiers that the war was over. Onoda believed that those papers were dropped by Allied planes and lived in the jungle in the next 29 years.
When a backpacker named Norio Suzuki found him in 1974, Onoda refused to believe him that the WWII has ended in 1945. Suzuki returned to the island with the soldier's ex-commander to tell him the truth. He wasn't the only Japanese soldier who had continued fighting after WWII and was found almost three decades later: Shōichi Yokoi was discovered in the jungles of Guam in January 1972 and Teruo Nakamura fought until November 1974 in Indonesia.
Teruo Nakamura (left) and Shōichi Yokoi (right)
Yokoi arrived on Guam in February 1943 with the 38th Regiment and, when the American forces captured the island one year later, he went into hiding with ten other soldiers. Seven of them moved away, but Yokoi and two others did not. They visited each other until the mid-1960s, when the other two died in a flood.
Nakamura was stationed on Morotai Island in Indonesia but after the capture of the island by the Allies, he lived there with other stragglers and continued to fight the enemy forces, and later the local police. In 1956, he left the others and decided to build a small camp with a hut and a fenced field, and fought for eighteen more years.
Ng Chhaidy, a four-year-old girl who went missing in the jungle and returned 38 years later in 2012 in Myanmar
Chhaidy disappeared in a nearby forest with her cousin, Beirakhu, but the latter girl was found five days later. In the following years, there were some stories about a long-haired girl with long fingernails seen in the jungle, but nobody could catch her. You can read about the whole story on Open.
The now 47-year-old Christopher Knight, known as the North Pond Hermit, lived for 27 years in the Maine woods.
The North Pond Hermit was a legend for decades, but the public learned the reality in April 2013, when a man caught him stealing food from a camp. Knight may have been responsible for more than a thousand thefts of food, drink, kitchen gear, and other items.
(Photo by Kennebec County Sheriff's Office and Maine Department of Public Safety, via AP)
Emma Orbach, the Hobbit of Wales
The 58-year-old Oxford graduate lives in her self-built mud and straw roundhouse named Tir Ysbrydol (Spirit Land) without electricity, running water, or other advanced technologies. Her drinking water comes from a nearby watercourse, firewood is from the forest, fruits from her trees, and food from her seven chickens and three goats.
Here you can find more modern day hermits.
(The pictures are screenshots from the video.)
Dina Sanichar, the Indian Wolf Boy who lived among wolves until he was six years old in 1867
He acted like a wolf—ripped off his clothes, ran on all fours, and ate only raw meat from the floor. He never learned to speak, but later become addicted to tobacco and could eat cooked meat, too. Dina died in 1895 at the age of 34.
The Cambodian jungle girl, found in January 2007, alleged to be Rochom P'ngieng, who had disappeared in 1988, at the age of eight, while herding buffalo
(Photo by Heng Sinith/AP)
A 42-year-old Vietnamese man, Ho Van Thanh and his two-year-old son Ho Van Lang, who in the jungle for 42 years after his wife and two other sons were killed by a mine, found in August 2013
They lived in a treehouse home, 16 ft (5m) up in the air, and survived on corn, fruit, cassava roots, and some animals, killed by their arrows and knives. The son knew only a few words of the local dialect and the father had fallen out of the habit of speech.
The Russian werewolf boy with wolflike behavior, but without any communicative competences, had been living with a pack of wolves for years in Central Russia
He was taken to a Moscow hospital, but escaped a day after being rescued in December 2007.
Two siblings living in seclusion for twenty years in Shandong province, China, found in 2012. They moved to the mountains in the 1980s and lived in a small tent.
"Attempts to communicate with the pair revealed that they were incapable of speech, but the elder brother could understand the reporter's questions and could respond using simple gestures.
A villager told reporters that the pair have another brother, who has a job and regularly provides them with necessities.
But despite the help that the pair have received, Honghua's hands have become deformed due to her constantly clenching her fists. Doctors say her hands have now lost all function, which could have been the result of severe trauma." – according to China.org.cn.
Bonus: The most isolated man on the planet, a man in his mid-forties, the last survivor of an uncontacted tribe in Brazil.
The tribe's village was destroyed by settlers in early 1996, and the man has been alone since then. The man digs 5-foot-deep rectangular holes in the thatch huts he builds, grows vegetables, hunts, collects honey, and hate clothes.
In 2007, with ranching and logging closing in quickly on all sides, government officials declared a 31-square-mile area around him off-limits to trespassing and development. – according to The Slate.