1000km Snowmobile Expedition through the Arctic

reindeer in the snow at the nenets homestay in siberia on our snowmobile expedition through the arctic

There are adventures, and then there are adventures. This trip definitely falls into the second category. Join us on a snowmobile expedition into the furthest reaches of the Russian Arctic. Over 2 weeks and 1000km, you’ll get to see the best of what the Siberian winter travel has to offer. You can read a first-hand account of one of our trips right here.

The circuit we take on this expedition takes us far above Russia’s Arctic Circle, and in these vast, isolated regions, we’ll find the Nenets. The Nenets are Siberia’s indigenous nomadic reindeer herders, and they have learned how to thrive here. You’ll stay with them, learning about their way of life and how they survive in the extreme cold of the Siberian winters.

We’ll visit the only hot springs in Russia above the Arctic Circle and a very special reserve where animals from the ice age still roam. Experience the magic of a true winter wonderland on this incredible snowmobile trip that’s truly off the beaten track.

This trip runs from February to April.
A minimum of 4 persons are required for the trip to go ahead.
Contact us via email or phone if your preferred dates are unavailable.

Taking a break on a snowmobile trip with Russian Arctic Travel

Deep Arctic Snowmobile Expedition 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 Seyda

Following an early breakfast in Salekhard, we go via ice road across the frozen River Ob to the village of Kharp, 90 minutes away. Here, we’ll load the snowmobiles and sledges, and head off on our adventure into the wilderness.

We cross the Polar Urals on our snowmobiles, travelling to the village of Seyda on the Usa River. Depending on the time of year, part of our journey today will happen in the dark, as the polar days are short. We spend the night in a heated trailer belonging to a local resident.

Distance travelled: 150km

Accommodation: Heated trailer or guesthouse

Meals: B/L/D included

a heated tent under the stars in the polar urals on expedition

Day 3 – Seyda to Pym-Va Shor Hot Springs

This morning we cross the railway before venturing deep into the arctic tundra. The only signs of civilisation here are occasional traces of the nomadic Nenet reindeer herders. We may come across some of their abandoned campsites and a few sheds as we travel through the tundra.

The day finishes when we reach Pym-Va Shor hot springs – the only hot springs in Russia north of the Arctic Circle! We’ll pitch a large heated tent here to spend the night in. Depending on the time of our arrival, we may be able to soak in the hot springs tonight.

Distance travelled: 100km

Accommodation: Heated tent

Meals: B/L/D included

Day 4 – Pym-Va Shor Hot Springs

Rest day at Pym-Va Shor. Today we’ll take the opportunity to have a break from travelling on the snowmobiles. We spend the day exploring the area, with plenty of time to soak in the hot springs. Once again we’ll spend the night in our heated tent.

Accommodation: Heated tent

Meals: B/L/D included

Russian Arctic Travel founder at the Nenets campsite

Day 5 – Pym-Va Shor Hot Springs to Vorkuta

Today we are back on our snowmobiles and travelling through the beautiful frozen tundra. Our destination for tonight is Vorkuta, a coal-mining town just north of the Arctic Circle, and the easternmost town in Europe. After three days roaming the tundra, this is always a welcome visit to civilisation! Tonight we’ll stay in a comfortable hotel in the town of Vorkuta itself. 

Distance travelled: 150km

Accommodation: hotel in Vorkuta (twin-share)

Meals: B/L/D included

Day 6 – Vorkuta

We stay in Vorkuta today, taking the opportunity to explore this semi-abandoned town. You’ll see Stalinist architecture sitting alongside dilapidated Khrushchyovkas – the Soviet government-sponsored housing of the 1960s.

Once home to 200,000 people, now only 60,000 remain in this once-powerful industrial centre, creating an eerie atmosphere where beauty sits alongside decay. We’ll get some rest here, as well as stocking up on food and fuel for the next leg of the journey. 

Accommodation: hotel in Vorkuta (twin-share)

Meals: B/L/D included

nenets reindeer in siberia

Day 7 – Vorkuta to Bolshaya River

This morning we head back into the Polar Urals. After riding through the tundra and along the foothills, we’ll set up camp at the confluence of the Bolshaya and Malaya Kara rivers. This is a wild and remote place which tourists rarely have the chance to visit. 

The sense of isolation from the outside world is extreme, with big skies meeting endless horizons. The snow is pristine, and you’ll find that the only signs of life are occasional wildlife tracks and our own footprints. 

Distance travelled: 100km

Accommodation: heated tent

Meals: B/L/D included

Day 8 – Bolshaya River to Gornokhadatinsky Reserve

We depart camp today for the Gornokhadatinsky Reserve, where we are almost guaranteed to encounter musk oxen. These remarkable arctic animals are one of the few to survive the ice age. 

Our road today takes us through mountain valleys and passes to the basin of the Shchuchya River in the foothills of the Polar Urals. If we’re lucky we may also see some of the rarer animals of the Siberian region such as arctic foxes, arctic owls and arctic hare. 

Distance travelled: 150km

Accommodation: heated tent or cabin

Meals: B/L/D included

Day 9 – Gornokhadatinsky Reserve

Rest day. If the weather is good we can spend the day walking in the reserve.

Accommodation: heated tent or cabin

Meals: B/L/D included

Day 10 – Gornokhadatinsky Reserve to Lake Bolshaya Khadato

After yesterday’s rest, we’re ready to ride all day today. You’ll see a completely different landscape as we leave the tundra behind and enter the mountains. We travel through several valleys between the mountains before either making camp for the night on the banks of Lake Bolshaya Khadato or staying in a nearby cabin (weather dependent). 

Distance travelled: 100km

Accommodation: heated tent or cabin

Meals: B/L/D included

Day 11 – Lake Bolshaya Khadato to Nenets Camp

This morning we’ll cross two further mountain passes before arriving at a Nenets camp where we’ll be welcomed by these nomadic reindeer herders before joining them for dinner.

The Nenets homestay in winter on one of Russian Arctic Travel's trips

All meals are included during our stay here and will introduce you to the traditional Nenets cuisine – simple meals that usually include fish or reindeer meat. Accommodation here will be in the chums (traditional tent made of reindeer skins and felt) of the Nenets and is basic. Before turning in for the night in the chum we’ll keep our fingers crossed to see a display of the Northern Lights.

Distance travelled: 150km

Accommodation: Nenets chum

Meals: B/L/D included

Day 12 – Nenets Camp

Life with the Nenets. Today, we’ll head up into the mountains to see the reindeer belonging to the Nenets family. These shy animals can be difficult for humans to approach, but the experienced reindeer herders are able to drive a herd towards us with the help of their Nenets Herding Laika dogs. You’ll then have an opportunity to feed the reindeer with bread and salt, which they love.

If you’re interested, you can also try your hand at hunting hare and ptarmigan, which will be cooked by our hostess for dinner. In the evening we’ll hope for an aurora display again, but clear skies here are always full of glittering stars even if the lights don’t put in an appearance. 

Distance travelled: 60km

Accommodation: Nenets chum

Meals: B/L/D included

a nenets man leads reindeer with a lasso

Day 13 – Nenets Camp to Salekhard

We leave our Nenets hosts after breakfast and drive back to the village of Kharp over a mountain pass. In Kharp we will leave the snowmobiles and transfer to our vehicle for the 90-minute drive to Salekhard. This evening we’ll have dinner in a local restaurant and, after many days of cold and wind, we can warm up in a local Russian banya or sauna! Tonight will be spent in a comfortable hotel in Salekhard.

Distance travelled: 50km

Accommodation: hotel in Salekhard (twin-share)

Meals: B/L/D included

Day 14 – Depart Salekhard

Breakfast at the hotel, and then transfer to the airport for your flight.

Meals: B included

Costs & Services

Included

  • Accommodation: 2 nights in Salekhard hotel (twin-share), 2 nights in Vorkuta hotel (twin-share), 7 nights camping in heated tent or cabin, 2 nights in Nenet chum
  • Meals as specified in the itinerary
  • Russian Arctic Travel English-speaking guide
  • Tour in Salekhard if desired
  • All transfers in Salekhard
  • Snowmobiles and fuel
  • 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 – rental is available)
  • Horse riding in Gornokhadatinsky Reserve (an additional 150 Euro per person)
  • Use of banya/sauna in Salekhard
The Nenets campsite

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
  • Using drones above the reindeer herds is prohibited

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.