9 Day Ethnographic Photography Tour

A nenets man stands outside in the snow on our arctic photography tour

Russia’s far north is a land of extremes. In winter, the temperature can drop as low as -64°C, which turns the landscape into a frozen fairytale. In this forbidding climate live the Nenets, Siberia’s indigenous reindeer herders, preserving a way of life that’s been passed down through generations. This is your chance to head off on an arctic photography tour like no other.

We join the Nenets as they go about their daily lives, observing first-hand what it takes to not only survive but thrive in such a place. These generous people welcome us into their chums (large tents) for a week, and you’ll get amazing opportunities to photograph them, their reindeer, and their adorable dogs.

The vast and unpolluted night skies here offer a wonderful chance to see millions of stars and practice your astrophotography. If we’re lucky, we’ll also get to see the beauty of the Northern Lights as they dance above the Nenets chums.

This trip runs from February to April.
Contact us via email or phone if your preferred dates are unavailable.

The night sky and northern lights on our arctic photography trip

Ethnographic Arctic Photography Trip Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrival in Salekhard 

Arrive at Salekhard airport and transfer to the hotel where you’ll check-in before having an arrival briefing about what to expect in the days ahead. Our local guides will check that your gear is suitable for the expedition.

a nenets reindeer stares at the camera

In the afternoon we can organise a tour of Salekhard (the only city in the world directly located on the Arctic Circle) or you can explore by yourself. We suggest visiting the Shimanovsky museum, with its exhibitions of Nenets ethnology, archaeology and natural history, or the reconstructed wooden Obdorsky jail.

Salekhard hotel (twin-share)

Meals: D included

Day 2 – Salekhard to Nenets Camp 

After an early breakfast, we’ll use a combination of car transfer and snowmobiles to take us out to the Nenets’ camp in the remote tundra. We’ll have lunch on the way and can stop at any time to photograph the beautiful winter landscapes. On arrival at camp, we will be welcomed by the Nenets family and then join them for dinner. 

All meals are included during our stay here and are typical of Nenets cooking. The food is simple and usually includes fish or reindeer meat. Stoves are used for heating and in winter, blocks of ice will need to be melted for our morning cup of tea! Accommodation will be in the chums (traditional tent made of reindeer skins and felt) of the Nenets and is basic, with pit toilets. Before turning in for the night in the chum we’ll keep our fingers crossed to see a display of the Northern Lights.

Accommodation: Nenets chum

Meals: B/L/D included

a nenets child plays with the herding laika at the winter homestay

Days 3-7 – Nenets Camp 

Life with the Nenets. We will have plenty of time to observe the traditional way of life of the Nenets and the amazing ways that they cope with this harsh environment. You’ll have plenty of chances to take photos and can also participate in the daily running of the camp. 

You can help chop firewood and learn about Nenets cooking. We’ll also have time to see how to make reindeer-skin clothing, wooden sledges, and other essentials for polar life. Many of the families have children, and they’re always keen to get us to join in with their games. 

We’ll have the opportunity to take a snowmobile trip out to the reindeer herds, to meet and photograph these shy and gentle creatures up close. We’ll get to see how the Nenets’ Herding Laikas, specially bred for this environment, manage and guard the reindeer, as well as watch reindeer lassoing and sledge driving.

Accommodation: Nenets chum

Meals: B/L/D included 

The Nenets homestay in winter

Day 8 – Nenets Camp to Salekhard 

After breakfast, we’ll say goodby to the Nenets and pack up our gear before making our way back to Salekhard. On arrival we check-in at the hotel and this evening we can arrange for you to enjoy a trip to the banya in Salekhard. Alternatively, you can simply relax in your room before the option of a final group farewell dinner tonight.

Accommodation: Salekhard hotel (twin-share)

Meals: B/L/D included

Day 9 – Depart Salekhard

After breakfast we’ll transfer you to the airport for your flight.

Meals: B included

a nenets boy plays outside in a snowstorm at the homestay

Costs & Services


  • Accommodation: 2 nights in Salekhard hotel (twin-share), 6 nights homestay with the Nenets
  • Meals as specified in the itinerary
  • Russian Arctic Travel English-speaking guide and photography guide
  • All transfers in Salekhard
  • Snowmobiles and fuel
  • Arctic safety/security equipment
  • Tents, sleeping bags and cooking equipment for camping
  • Permits and visa invitation letter
  • Return flights from Moscow or St Petersburg to Salekhard

Not included

  • Personal expenses such as drinks, tickets, phone calls, etc.
  • Travel Insurance
  • Individual clothing, backpack, cold-weather clothing (contact us for advice – rental is available)
  • Use of banya in Salekhard
Russian Arctic Travel founder Aleksei in the snow outside the Nenets homestay

Note: The final route and activities may vary slightly, as the weather can be unpredictable here in Yamal. Your guide may need to adapt the program depending on the group, prevailing conditions and available options at the time. There is no cook on this trip, but you’re welcome to help the guides prepare meals and learn how to become a fantastic camp chef! During the expedition the cooperation of all participants will be crucial – you‘re always welcome to lend a hand.

Other important information

  • Please be aware that you are visiting this nomadic family in their home and this is a very personal space for them. The guides will inform you of any specific considerations or taboos that you need to be aware of.
  • Alcohol is strictly prohibited during the whole stay with the Nenets family
  • The Nenets might move their camp at any time, so we will only know the exact location of our homestay just before departure
  • Accommodation in the chums is on a sharing base. Depending on the group’s size there might be a chum available for the group only
  • Drones can only be operated as instructed by our local guide for this trip 

Fitness and dietary requirements

  • A basic level of fitness will certainly help increase the enjoyment of the trip, but no special training is required
  • Dietary requirements should be discussed prior but can usually be catered for

Recommendations for Clothing and Equipment

  • Will be sent at the time of booking

Visa Information

  • Russian Arctic Travel will provide visa invitation documents for you to apply for your Russian visa overseas

Price is based on double occupancy: a single supplement of €200 will apply if you are a single traveller and are not happy to share a twin room.