Blogs about Reindeer Herders


I started adding blogs to the Yamal Peninsula Travel website in October 2012. Links to all new blogs, together with dates, titles and descriptions will from now on be added regularly below. For all my blogs related to reindeer herders from before this, starting in July 2008, I will include links to the site where I published them.

See this website’s Trip Types page for costs and itineraries of trips to different Nenets areas

29th July 2012 – lassoing reindeer, strangling them and drinking their blood

Description of Nenets nomads rounding up a 10,000 reindeer herd and lassoing reindeers that can be killed for food and furs. Description of which type of reindeer can be killed, which cannot, and how Nenets recognise their reindeer among thousands of others. Description of aibat, where reindeer are strangled with ropes, opened up with knives and everyone sits down to eat raw meat, organs and drink warm blood straight from the carcass.

27th July 2012 – Nenets lake fishing

A description of a the usual Nenets method of fishing on tundra lakes.

26th July 2012 – Migration on reindeer sledges to a new encampment

A long, detailed description of packing all chums and possessions onto sledges, catching reindeer for transport, migrating through the tundra and setting up a new encampment.

25th July 2012 – Arrival in northern Yamal Peninsula

After several hours by helicopter from Yar Sale village I arrive at the encampment of my nomadic Nenets friends Radik and Kostya Seroteto near the Mordi-Iakha River in the north of the Yamal Peninsula. Blog includes conversations with them, observations on differences between summer and winter encampments. I learn about their tradition of bringing up birds and sometimes een wild animals in the chum.

July 24th 2012 – Industrialisation versus nomadism on the Yamal Peninsula

After 2.5 days by train, crossing the Ob by ferry from Labytnangi to Salekhard, taking a 17-hour boat ride from Salekhard to Yar Sale and waiting 2 weeks in Yar Sale for our ever-delayed helicopter, our expedition was finally preparing to fly to Yamal the next day. Our aims? To hand out questionnaires to as many nomads as possible to find out their opinions of industrialisation and the gas pipeline, based on which letters to the Russian gas giant Gazprom and the government will be drafted, and to register the coordinates of as many sacred sites and cemeteries as possible in the hope of saving them from destruction.

April 2012 – Mountain reindeer herders of the Kola Peninsula
Blog about my stay with Saami reindeer herders in Lovozero Region of Arctic European Russia’s Kola Peninsula. They keep their reindeer in the mountains over the winter and herd them north into the tundra in spring, which this blog contains a description of.

April 2012 – Farewells before the spring migration
My third trip to Yamal with a client. Blog again starts with an aibat description and continues into an analysis of how Nenets view the tundra itself.

February – March 2012 – Who are the Nenets?
This blog begins with a description of an aibat meal, where Nenets strangle a reindeer, open up its carcass, sit around it on the snow and eat its raw organs and meat and drink its blood. The blog then continues with a short history of the Nenets and a general description of their lives including how they work with the reindeer, their annual migration patterns, their spiritual beliefs and so on.

January – February 2012 – Bitter cold in the beautiful forest tundra
This second blog about my first trip to Yamal with a client focuses on our stay at the nomadic encampment and what we learned their about Nenets culture, religion and their work with the reindeer.

January 2012 – Return to Yamal
My first trip to the Yamal Peninsula with a client, Ian Gillespie from Ireland. This first of two blogs about this trip is more about the journey there by train, then all-terrain vehicle along the frozen River Ob to Yar Sale village, then 7 hours by snowmobile via the village of Kutopyugan to a nomadic encampment in the forest tundra.

May 2011 – Reindeer herders of Kamchatka
A blog about my brief stay with Even reindeer herders halfway up the Kamchatka peninsula in the Russian Far East. They turned out to be nowhere near as traditional as the Nenets.

December 2010 – January 2011 – outdoors nomadic life in -80C
My first ever trip to the Yamal Peninsula. The blog contains plenty of infrmation about Nenets culture, religion and reindeer herding in general.

December 2010 – Moscow to the Arctic by train
A blog about the 2.5 day rain journey from Moscow to Labytnangi, gateway to the Yamal Peninsula

May 2009 – Shamanist nomads of Northern Mongolia
I spent several days with the Dukha reindeer herders of Northern Mongolia, just across the border from Tuva in Siberia. They have preserved their beautiful traditional clothing better than their relatives across the border in Tuva. I visited three different camps of Dukha but my stay was cut short by a very nasty bout of malaria which I had picked up a month previously in the Philippines.

July – August 2008 – Blood, vodka and mosquitoes
My first ever visit to nomadic reindeer herders. I flew to the isolated Arctic town of Naryan Mar in European Russia’s Nenets Autonomous Okrug and from there took a 4-hour passenger barge north up the River Pechora to the village of Nelmin Nos. From there I rode two hours with a local in a motorboat then walked 8 hours into the tundra to find an encampment of Nenets reindeer herders. I spent a week with them.

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