DAY 1, 24 MARCH 2022. ARRIVAL IN MOSCOW
Arrive in Moscow and spend the night in an airport hotel. We shall make the arrangements for your hotel room depending on the airport in which you arrive, and from which you take your flight out east. Some of these airport hotels shall be within the terminal itself, or within walking distance, while in other airports you would need to take a short ride with the hotel’s 24/7 free shuttle bus service.
DAY 2, 25 MARCH 2022. FLIGHT TO SALEKHARD
After midnight, revert to the terminal to check in for the domestic flight to Salekhard. Arrive in Salekhard, and go to explore 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 3. 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 and daily chores and enjoying the festive atmosphere. Spend the day attending the sports competitions and enjoy the country-fair atmosphere and the joy and laughter of family and friends reunited after a long and harsh winter as they celebrate the beginning of the relatively warmer spring. Overnight in a hotel.
DAYS 4-7, 27-30 MARCH 2022. REINDEER AND MUSKOXEN
Leave Salekhard for the 5 - 6 hours' drive to an 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 an oxen. Its scientific Latin name, Ovibos, translates into sheep-ox, and it is known as the animal with the thickest fur in the world! While those who have traveled the Himalayas will note the apparent resemblance of the muskox to the Himalayan yak, 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. 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.
The coming three nights will be spent with the family for an up-close encounter with the Nenets' ancient traditions and unique culture, and for excursions to watch the large herd of muskox. Sleep on comfortable reindeer furs, serving as mattresses, and eat the traditional food of the nomads, to simply submerge in a pure Nenets experience away from the comforts of western life. On the last day, drive back to Salekhard and spend the night in a local hotel, a rare chance for a warm shower on this trip.
DAY 8, 31 MARCH 2022. TO THE LAND OF GULAGS
Depart Salekhard and embark on a long journey through a typical Siberian tundra. This journey 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 forced-labor camps. The construction of the railway was ceased after his death, but in many places, the tracks remain, as do plenty of bridges and the gulag camps where the prisoners lived. 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 the road trip, arriving late in the evening at one of the largest Nenets encampments in the region. For this night, and the coming two nights, prepare for yet another very local experience, sleeping on cozy reindeer skins and enjoying a very local meal without any comforts.
Days 9-10, 1-2 April 2022 THE LARGEST REINDEER HERDS
Wake up in the 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. For the coming two 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 2,000 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.
DAY 11, 3 APRIL 2022. THE LONG WAY OUT OF RUSSIA
After an early morning farewell from the Nents herders, take the short drive to Nadym 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
24th March, 2022–3rd April, 2022
- $5,948 Per Person (For a group of 6 or more)
- $508 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$7,920/ person
4 travelers- US$6,393/ 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.