This photosafari trip to Yamar-Nenets Autonomous region in the Tundra is unique. We will be staying and trying to understand the lifestyle of the Nenets, the nomads of Yamal. Nenets raise herds of reindeers in the Siberian Arctic. We will be staying a couple of nights in chooms (tents) and participate in the work of the herders. The stark winter landscapes and the Aurora Borealis in this part of the world are so beautiful.
We will also witness the annual Salekhard Reindeer Herders Festival in Aksarka where reindeer herders across land come together to compete in the various sports and events held on that day.
If you are interested in documentary, people, landscape and festival photography, this is one trip that you should not miss.
2. Salekhard Background
Salekhard was founded in 1595 and was called Obdorskaya fortress (meaning “near the Ob” on the language of Komi people). In 1635, the first inhabitants came to the settlement. It became the northernmost settlement in Siberia. It is often known as the Arctic Capital as this city is situated on the Arctic Circle.
Both in tsarist and Soviet Russia it was used as a place of exile. In 1949-1953, Salekhard was one of the bases of construction of Transpolar Railway also known as Salekhard-Igarka Railway (mostly closed railway branch to Novy Urengoy, passing also through Nadym). In December 10, 1930, it became the capital of Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region
3. Salekhard Reindeer Festival
The annual Reindeer Festival is held on the 30th March 2019 at Aksarka. This is where reindeer herders from all over the Yamal Autonomous Region come together to compete in reindeer games and socialise. You can read more about Annual Reindeer Herders Festival
4. Experience the nomadic lifestyle of Reindeer Herders
Experience a stay in a choom in the frozen marshlands of the Yamal Peninsula in northwest Siberia, Russia. The choom (tent), home to the nomadic Nenet, used reindeer hides wrapped around wooden poles. During periods of migration chooms are moved every other day. Choom sites are chosen based on pasture and ground quality with a water source nearby. After checking the vegetation on a choom site, the Brigadier pushes his reindeer driving stick, called a khorei, into the ground where he wants the centre of the choom to be.
There are about 45,000 Nenets staying in Siberia, about 12,000 are staying in and around Yamal Autonomous Region. Each family raise about a 1,000 or more reindeers with some herding more than 10,000 heads.
5. Staying in a Choom
You will be staying in a Choom (tent) for 2 nights with some of the Nenets, reindeer herding nomad families. You will experience the lifestyle and participate in some of their daily activities like herding the reindeers, hunting, etc. You will need to bring an arctic sleeping bag and be prepared for the camping experience. There would not be any bathing or proper toilet facilities during these two days. You will have to do what the Nenets do.
Here is an experience of travellers who have visited the Nenets and got involved in the Lifestyle of the Nenets
6. What are the other equipment that I need to bring?
Clothing – The average temperature in Salekhard is around -7deg C. Which means that the temperature can drop as low as -20 degC in some places. Keeping warm is a priority. You can wear layered clothing with at least a waterproof outer layer.
Footwear- a pair of waterproof trekking boots with some felt linings and a pair of crampons are ideal for walking on ice surfaces. You can order a pair of crampons online for about US$10 to 15. For better protection, you may want to get a pair of winter boots and a pair of gaiters.
7. Camera Equipment
You will need an ultra-wide angle, wide angle and a medium telephoto lens. You need to prepare for people, and landscape photography A sturdy tripod is a must for good landscape and aurora photography. We will be giving a briefing on camera equipment when the time comes before our departure.
8. Difficulty of this trip
It is easy to moderate. There will be very little trekking to places of photography. Getting yourself acquainted with the wind, cold and the Arctic weather are the hardest part of this trip.
9. Meeting place for this trip
You will need to arrive at Moscow on or before the 28th March. You may want to arrive a few days earlier to tour around Moscow and get acquainted with this city. Hotel accommodation and tour are not included in our price. However, we can help you book your accommodation.
a) Day 1 – 28 March 2019 (D) (Arrive at Moscow)
Check –in Hotel at Moscow
Shopping for Winter gears at Decathalon
Dinner at Moscow
b) Day 2 – 29 March 2019 (D) (Moscow to Salekhard)
Departure from Moscow to Salekhard
Arrival at Salekhard
Check in to the hotel Salekhard
Free and easy to walk around Salekhard city
c) Day 3 – 30 March 2019 (B/L/D) (Reindeer Herders Festival)
Transfer to Reindeer Herders Festival
Shooting at the Reindeer Herders Festival at Aksarka the whole day
Stay at the hotel in Salekhard
d) Day 4 – 31 March 2018 (B/L/D) (Reindeer Herders’ Choom)
Transfer to the Choom camp.
Shooting the activities of the Nenets.
Aurora Borealis hunting around the camp (depends on nature)
Overnight in Choom camp
e) Day 5 – 1 April 2019 (B/L/D) (Reindeer Herders Choom)
At dawn shooting catching of reindeers
Day shooting herders dressed in national costumes.
Evening shooting herding reindeers
Aurora Borealis and Milky Way around the camp. (depends on nature)
Overnight in choom camp
f) Day 6 – 2 April 2019 (B/L/D) (Transfer to Salekhard)
At dawn shooting activities around the camp
Saying farewell to our hosts
Transfer to Salekhard,
Night stay at the hotel in Salekhard
g) Day 7 – 3 April 2019 (B/L/D) (transfer to Moscow)
Last minute shopping in Salekhard
Departure for Moscow
Arrival at Moscow
Check in at hotel in Moscow
h) Day 8 – 4 April 2019 (B) (depart for home)
Transfer to Moscow Airport
If you are interested in this trip, please email [email protected]