After visiting THAT PLACE in Russia weather in Petrozavodsk will not frighten you
Enjoy Russian School has just launched COLORFUL RUSSIA project that will let our students an opportunity to choose the place to learn Russian. In March we go to Sochi, in May – to Kazan. Every city is unique and is worth visiting. This week the Matryoshka’s Diary author Elena is taking you on a trip to the Yamal Peninsula on the North of Russia to camp with a reindeer herder. Who knows, maybe after Kazan Russian course will be held there!
The Yamal Peninsula. One of the 27 Unforgettable (and life-changing) Travel Experiences according to Qantas, the largest Australian airline
The Yamal Peninsula, a tongue of land protruding northwards from Salekhard into the Kara Sea, is the ancient roaming grounds of the Nenets, Siberia’s indigenous reindeer herders. Since 2017, expedition-style trips are organized to the region, giving participants the opportunity to camp on the permafrost with a Nenets community and immerse themselves, for a few days at least, in their traditional way of life.
The vast tundra will give you a true sense of the isolation of this region. Located above the Article Circle, the camp is located in the valley of Langot Yugan river. There are chums (huts in the local Nenets language) and a Russian banya (bathhouse). There you will get a chance to try raw or salted fish and reindeer meat. Depending on the season, stoves may be used for heating and in colder months blocks of ice might need to be melted for your morning cup of tea!
It’s easy to see how the Yamal (sometimes translating to ‘the end of the world’ in the indigenous Nenets language) gets its name; the remote tundra, featuring low-lying shrubs, mossy pastures, snaking rivers and vast lakes, is pummelled by icy winds for most of the year, with temperatures dropping regularly to almost -50°C. Despite the freezing conditions for much of the year, the area is home to some 10,000 nomads and more than 300,000 domestic reindeer. Start you day with getting to know the family of nomads and their children. You might get a chance to see how small baby reindeers are living and how laikas (dogs) are protecting the herds.
Spend the rest of the day learning more about the Nenets, such as how the nomads stay warm during the freezing winter nights or about how they construct their chums – the conical-shaped tents made from reindeer hide stretched over a skeleton of wooden poles. There will be plenty of time to get involved in camp life by helping in the kitchen, learning some traditional sewing or learning Russian or Nenets words. Keep your eye out for Sihirtia, the mystical, magical trolls that are said to inhabit the tundra and were here long before the Nenets arrived on this land.
The indigenous Nenets people in Russia rely on reindeer for almost everything
This creature provides food, warmth, transport and clothing. Learn about the differences between woman’s and men’s sledges as well as how to set them up and prepare for the ride. After trying to team your sledding, join the Nenets for a ride! Make sure to try traditional reindeer meat (main vitamin source of nomads) or even try your hands at making stroganina (long sliced frozen fish or meat), the traditional delicacy of indigenous people of the North.
Did you know: etiquette when staying on the Nenets Camp in Russia
- Alcohol is prohibited during the whole stay with the Nomad family
- Avoid raising your voice and shouting as it can be considered offensive for local spirits
- Using drones above animal herds is prohibited