DAY 1, 20 MARCH 2022. ARRIVAL IN MOSCOW
Arrive in Moscow and make your way to the Radisson Blu Hotel at Sheremetyevo Airport. Your room will be booked in your name. Just show your passport at the reception to check-in. If you arrive at a different airport in Moscow and would like us to arrange a transfer to Radisson Blu, please let us know in advance. Your guide shall contact you in the evening for further details.
DAY 2, 21 MARCH 2022. FLIGHT TO NADYM AND ON THE TO THE REINDEER HERDERS
After midnight, walk to the terminal to check in for the domestic flight to Nadym. Once in Nadym, meet the local team, board the 6X6 Trekol vehicle, a Russian all-terrain vehicle that can drive in the tundra throughout the year, whether in the freezing winter or through the endless summer swamps where mighty rivers cross these plains, making them nearly impassible even for the reindeer.
At this time of year, many of the Yamal Peninsula's largest reindeer herds will be not far from Nadym. Depart Nadym to an encampment of nomadic Nenets reindeer herders who own several thousand deer. Due to the massive sizes of herds, the nomads are constantly on the move in search of new pastures for their livestock. Two to four times a week, they must take down their entire camp, pack it onto sleds and migrate to a new area. This is really one of the trip's highlights, and we will do our utmost to make sure you attend at least one such occasion. Once at the herders' camp, settle in one (or few, depending on group size) chums (the traditional tents of the Nenets, made of deerskin) for a good rest after the long journey here.
DAYS 3-5, 22-24 MARCH 2022. WITH THE REINDEER HERDERS
For the coming three days, stay with the Nenets, an ethnic minority of the Samoyed people. The Nenets have their own unique language, which is entirely unrelated to Russian. They maintain the world's longest and most enduring migrating routes - up to 2000 kilometers annually. The lives of these nomads, who have no permanent residence, are centered around never-ending physical work. Lassoing the deer, butchering them, enjoying a meal of raw deer meat (their favorite type of food), sewing deerskin clothes, or producing sleds are all parts of their daily chores. The coming two nights will be spent with the family for an up-close encounter with the Nenets' ancient traditions and unique culture. Sleep on comfortable reindeer furs, serving as mattresses, eat the traditional food of the nomads, and simply submerge in a pure Nenets experience away from the comforts of western life.
DAY 6, 25 MARCH 2022. TO THE LAND OF GULAGS
Say farewell to the nomads of Nadym and embark on a long journey over a zimnik, a temporary winter road that does not exist in summer. While the infrastructure in the far north of Russia is obviously under-developed, during wintertime, when the tundra freezes, a network of roads opens up across the region. Travel on them can be pretty rough, but it is the only way to get around. Today's zimnik is of particular interest, as it runs parallel to the infamous 501 Salekhard-Igarka Railway of Death- a 1500 km railway that Stalin tried to build along the Arctic Circle using prisoners of gulag concentration camps for labor. The railway was abandoned after his death, but in many places, the tracks remain, as do plenty of bridges and the gulag camps where the prisoners lived. Some have around 20 – 30 wooden houses still standing as well as watchtowers and barbed wire fences. In the afternoon, arrive at one of these Gulags, which has been renovated by a hermit called Uncle Vasya who lives here hunting, fishing, and picking berries and mushrooms. Stay here for late lunch and join Uncle Vasya for a glass of vodka and some semi-coherent stories about his past and life in this secluded location. Afterward, continue this lengthy road trip, arriving late in the evening in the city of Salekhard.
DAY 7, 26 MARCH 2022. THE REINDEER HERDERS' FESTIVAL
The annual Reindeer Herders' Festival in Salekhard is held out on the frozen river. Hundreds of nomads come to compete in traditional sports such as reindeer racing, wrestling, lassoing, tug of war, and more. This is one of the world's largest gatherings of reindeer herders. Friends and relatives get to celebrate for one day, leaving behind the hardships of their daily routine and enjoying the festive atmosphere. Spend the day attending the sports competitions and enjoy the country-fair ambiance and the joy and laughter of family and friends reunited after the long and harsh winter, celebrating here the beginning of the relatively warmer spring. Overnight in hotel.
DAYS 8-10, 27-29 MARCH 2022. REINDEER AND MUSKOXEN
Leave Salekhard for the 5 - 6 hours' drive to another encampment of reindeer herders. These nomads live in an area inhabited by one of the region's largest muskox herds. The muskox is a unique genus. Despite their ox-like appearance, they are more closely related to sheep and goats rather than to oxen. Its scientific Latin name, Ovibos, translates into sheep-ox, and it is known as the animal with the thickest fur. While those who have traveled in the Himalayas will note the apparent resemblance between the Himalayan yak and the muskox, they are, in fact, very distant relatives. The large herds that now roam the northern fringes of the globe are a remarkable testimony to the success of wildlife conservation programs. Once a highly-prized game for its delicious meat and high-quality fur, the muskox is now a globally protected species. With the excellent implementation of conservation laws worldwide, the species has managed to recover and is now thriving in northern America, northern Europe, and Siberia. Spend two days with the nomadic family, immerse in their daily routine and take excursions to view the large herd of muskox.
DAY 11, 30 MARCH 2022. A BUFFER DAY IN SALEKHARD
Today serves as a buffer or safety day. While the program above sounds seamless and straightforward, the hurdles involved with the logistics of such a trip are immensely complicated and highly vulnerable to unpredictable weather conditions. This safety day is meant to ensure reaching the flight back to Moscow in time, in case the ice melts down earlier than expected, roads are blocked, a snowstorm makes travel impossible, or it simply takes longer than expected to reach the reindeer herders. Suppose all goes like clockwork, and the arrival in Salekhard occurs as planned, the day will be dedicated to exploring this rural provincial capital. Visit the ancient fort built here by the first Russian explorers and traders to settle in this remote land. They exploited profitable trading relationships with the Nenets and set the foundation for Russian expansion into far-northern Siberia. Salekhard later became a center for some of the most infamous Gulag camps. One of the best known "guests" was Trotsky, sent here for re-education and forced labor before being deported to Mexico, where he was brutally murdered by NKVD agents. Roam the streets of Salekhard, stop by small shops, and feel the vibe of life in Russia away from the glitz and glummer of Moscow and St. Petersburg. Overnight in a hotel in Salekhard.
DAY 12, 31 MARCH 2022. THE LONG WAY OUT OF RUSSIA
After an early morning check-out, drive to Salekhard airport for the flight to Moscow. The flight arrives early enough in Moscow to connect to the departing flight out of Russia and back home on the same day.
Dates & Pricing
20th March, 2022–31st March, 2022
- $6,600 Per Person (For a group of 6 or more)
- $700 Single Room Supplement
Yamal - Reindeer Nomads Festival tour rates are quoted in US Dollars
[email protected] reserves the right to change Yamal - Reindeer Nomads Festival tour prices and programs due to changes in flight schedule, changes in airfares, and other local circumstances.
Prices are based on twin share occupancy.
Rates for private groups of 2 travelers and above:
2 travelers- US$9500/ person
4 travelers- US$6450/ person
- Flights Moscow - Salekhard - Moscow
- All ground transportation while in Yamal
- All accommodation (hotel in Moscow and Salekhard. Staying with families on on warm, soft reindeer furs)
- All meals while with the nomads
- All permits required for the region
- English speaking guide
- Fees to the Nenets
- Satellite phone for emergency calls
- Food in Moscow, Salekhard, Labytnangi, Nadym
- Personal travel insurance or medical insurance
- International flights
- Personal expenses
- Western clothing or equipment. You will need a sleeping bag, western boots, very warm western clothing and so on.
- Permit for using a drone. This can be acquired for 20,000 rubles.
- Satellite phone for personal or work-related calls. You can purchase minutes for 150 rubles per minute.
Note: this trip travels through areas where travel-related infrastructure does not exist and through areas where people are simply not impressed by foreigners coming from afar to see them, their lives, and the environment they inhabit. We eat whatever we are served (if and when we are served) and sleep on any sort of flat surface available. In return, we’ll get to travel through some places that are rarely traveled by outsiders, if at all. We’ll get to meet the locals in a way very few do, and get to learn about the history of traditions that go generations back. The trip has a pace of its own- we stop with the nomads to experience their life up close, waiting for special events (like migration or animal slaughter) to happen. Things will happen at a slower pace than the regular highlight-to-highlight trip. The trip takes place through extreme weather conditions, and weather might dictate the trip’s pace in case of snowstorms, melting ice, or blocked roads. This is a trip for those willing to compromise their comfort (a lot!), and are curious to visit some of the world’s most remote regions and the people inhabiting these regions.