8 Days Hiking & Rafting: Highlights of Rai-Iz Mountain

The Polar Urals are one of the most beautiful regions of the Russian Arctic and, indeed, Siberia as a whole. There’s a huge variety of landscapes and places to explore and this 8 day adventure around Rai-Iz Mountain packs a huge amount of variety into a short space of time.

You’ll have the opportunity to hike through the mountains and see a glacier up close, before heading down into a beautiful valley where the Indigenous Nenets people often set up their summer campsite. We’ll explore a village that was abandoned and is slowly being reclaimed by nature before embarking upon a short rafting trip to give you a taste of the amazing rivers in the region.

This is one of our favourite trips and we’re really excited to share it with you!

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

Highlights of Rai-Iz 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. 

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. 

Accommodation: Salekhard hotel (twin-share)

Meals: D included

Day 2 – Salekhard to Mount Rai-Iz Weather Station 

Following an early breakfast in Salekhard, we’ll take a ferry across the River Ob to the village of Kharp, 90 minutes away. Once we arrive in Kharp, we’ll make sure all our gear is secure and then head off on our adventure into the wilderness.

A view over the lakes of the polar ural valleys in Siberia

Our destination for tonight is an abandoned weather station on Mount Rai-Iz. The picturesque route to the station leads along the Kerdomanshor Creek. We’ll pass past rocky outcrops in the canyon, a beautiful polar forest, and then will cross open water. It’s a challenging hike, but a whole lot of fun! 

When we arrive at the weather station, we’ll need to heat the place using a wood-burning stove. The guides will prepare dinner, but your help is very welcome! We’ll sleep in the shared room of the station.

Hiking: 17-20 km

Accommodation: camping in weather station

Meals: B/L/D included

Day 3 – Hiking to Jade Valley

After our night in the weather station, we’ll have breakfast and leave the weather station behind. Today is a really interesting route that takes us past the glacier of the Romantics to Jade Valley which lies at the foot of Mount Dinosaur.

We’ll make sure there’s plenty of time for you to enjoy the area around the glacier – if you’ve never seen glacier-melt before then the colour of the water is absolutely astounding. Once you’ve had your fill of the area and taken plenty of photos we’ll finish our day’s hiking.

A man holding a camera gives directions to another man on a hiking trip in Jade Valley

At Jade Valley we’ll set up our tents for the night before enjoying dinner under the stars.

Activity: Hiking 20 km

Accommodation: 2-4 person tents

Meals: B/L/D included

Day 4 – Hiking to the River Sob 

Today, we’re aiming to meet up with the Indigenous Nenets people who often camp near the River Sob. We can’t guarantee that they’ll be there, as sometimes they need to move their reindeer on to new pastures, but we usually meet up with them at some point during this portion of the trip. 

Assuming that the Nenets are at their usual site, we’ll get acquainted with the family, and you’ll have a really unique opportunity to experience the way of life of these nomadic people. We aim to have lunch with the Nenets and, if desired, they usually invite us to stay with them overnight. Our back-up plan if we don’t meet with them is to set-up our own camp once again.

Activity: Hiking 20 km

Accommodation: 2-4 person tents or Nenets chum

Meals: B/L/D included

Day 5 – Rest Day

There are several options today, and you’re free to decide what you’d like to do. The abandoned village of Polyarny lies about an hour’s walk away from our campsite and makes for a really interesting excursion. If you would rather relax at the campsite then you’re very welcome to do so whilst we prepare our rafting equipment for the following day.

A hiking banya on the banks of the river Sob with the mountains in the background

Many people like to try their hand at fishing whilst we’re in the area, and we can prepare your catch for everyone to enjoy at dinner time! In the evening we’ll organise a hiking banya for you, since you’ll deserve it after the activities of the last few days.

Accommodation: 2-4 person tents or Nenets chum

Meals: B/L/D included

Day 6 – Rafting on the River Sob

The Sob is a calm, beautiful river that carves its way through the Polar Urals. Unlike some of the rafting in the area, this is a quiet journey that allows you to really enjoy the scenery as we pass. There’s plenty of time to stop for photos, quick walks along the river, or to enjoy some fishing depending on the wishes of the group.

We’ll reach our campsite for the night and set up our tents before enjoying dinner together.

Activity: Rafting 

Accommodation: 2-4 person tents

Meals: B/L/D included

Day 7Return to Salekhard

After breakfast today we’ll take our time breaking down the camp before doing a final stretch of rafting back to the village of Kharp. From here we transfer in vehicles back to Salekhard where you’ll check into your hotel for the night.

a group on a rafting catamaran on the river Sob

This evening we can arrange for you to enjoy a trip to the banya in Salekhard or you can simply relax in your room before enjoying dinner together as a group.

Activity: rafting

Accommodation: Salekhard hotel (twin-share)

Meals: B/L/D included

Day 8 – Depart Salekhard

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

Meals: B included

Costs & Services

Included

  • Accommodation: 2 nights in Salekhard hotel (twin-share), 5 nights camping 
  • Meals as specified in the itinerary
  • Russian Arctic Travel English-speaking guide
  • Tour in Salekhard if desired
  • All transfers in Salekhard
  • Arctic safety/security equipment
  • Tents, sleeping bags and cooking equipment for camping
  • Permits and visa invitation documents
  • 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)
  • Use of banya/sauna in Salekhard if desired

Please 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.

Fitness and dietary requirements

  • A basic level of fitness is required for this trip, as the days are very active. You do not need prior experience in rafting.
  • Dietary requirements must be discussed prior but can usually be catered for with advance notification.

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.