With much of its territory above the Arctic Circle, Yamal means ‘edge of the world’ in the language of its indigenous people. The Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District
spans from the slopes of the Polar Ural Mountains, north to the Kara Sea. Its administrative centre, the historic town of Salekhard (population 43,000) straddles the Arctic Circle. The Yamal Peninsula was considered so inhospitable that Stalin built his prison camps here. And yet a rich, colourful and resilient culture and ancient shamanistic religion have managed to survive here. Yamal is the home of the Nenets, custodians of a style of reindeer herding that is considered the last of its kind. To survive Yamal’s extreme climate, the Nenets migrate with herds of up to 10,000 strong from their winter pastures in the southern taiga, north to their summer grazing lands near the Arctic Ocean.
Why travel to Yamal:
- Famous throughout Arctic Russia as being the best reindeer herders with the biggest herds, the longest migration routes and the most well-preserved culture, this off-the-beaten-track trip to the Yamal Peninsula will give you a rare glimpse into one of the last few surviving nomadic tribes in the world
- Travel back in time and experience a cultural immersion like no other when you live like the indigenous Nenets of Yamal, from sleeping in conical teepees known as ‘chums’ to working with reindeer and traversing through snowy forests on reindeer-pulled wooden sleds