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Life of Reindeer Herders of the Polar Urals

The Polar Urals is the northernmost part of the Ural Mountains. As well as throughout the Ural watershed, it is a geographical border between Asia and Europe, as well as an administrative border between the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug and the Komi Republic.

These are harsh and sparsely populated places, but due to the fact that the Vorkuta-Labytnangi Railway crosses the Polar Urals, it is relatively easy to get here. In winter, the Nenets come to the mountains of the Polar Urals with their herds of deer. Photos by: Sergey Karpukhin.

Life of Reindeer Herders of the Polar Urals, Russia, photo 1

the life of nomadic herders

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Salekhard – the view from above

Salekhard is a city with a population of about 49 thousand people, the administrative center of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District. It is the only city in the world located directly on the Arctic Circle.

It was founded as a Cossack fort of Obdorsk in 1595. At the beginning of the 19th century, the fortifications were demolished, and Obdorsk turned into a village. In 1933, it received a new name – Salekhard, which in translation from the Nenets language means “settlement on a cape”. Photos by: Slava Stepanov.

Salekhard, Russia - the view from above, photo 1

fly over Salekhard

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Nenets Reindeer Herders of Yamal

Yamal is a peninsula located in the north of Western Siberia, on the territory of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District. The landscapes of the peninsula are represented mainly by tundra with numerous lakes.

The peninsula is poorly developed by people. Nenets, the indigenous inhabitants of Yamal, are engaged in such traditional activities as large-scale reindeer herding, fishing, hunting. Yamal on Google Maps. Photos by: Andrei Kireev.

Polar lights and a typical Nenets raw-hide tent. Air temperature – minus 30 degrees Celsius.

Nenets Reindeer Herders of Yamal, Russia, photo 1

harsh life of reindeer herders

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Of the indigenous peoples of the Russian North, the Nenets are the most numerous. According to the 2010 census, the total number of the Nenets people living in Russia was 44,640, of which 29,772 were living in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, part of the Tyumen region.

Let’s look at some scenes from their life in winter, when the temperature ranges from minus 20 to minus 40 degrees Celsius. Photos by: Petr Ushanov.

Life of the Nenets Reindeer Herders in the Russian North, photo 1

visit the Nenets

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Novy Urengoy is a city located in the northern part of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region. It is the unofficial “natural gas production capital” of Russia.

This city, located on the boundary of the subarctic climate, is a great place for watching the Northern Lights. Here is an example. If you visited the territory around the city in the first half of November 2015, you would see the following beautiful scenery. Photos by: Kamil Nureev.

Polar Lights, Novy Urengoy, Russia, photo 1

night landscape in shades of green




Transpolar Railway – The Dead Railroad

Transpolar railway (Gulag construction sites #501 and #503) is a railroad running on the way Chum – Salekhard – Igarka.

The construction of the railway began in 1947. Among the most likely reasons of the construction were the developing of infrastructure of Russian North, the simplification of supply of Norilsk, as well as improving the supply of the Northern Fleet.

Abandoned Transpolar railway Salekhard-Igarka, Russia view 1


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The expedition to Russian Far North

In addition to the previous post about the travel to Karskoye Sea coast of Russian North here is an interesting video of this travel by ashotog.


The following photos were captured during the expedition to the coast of Karskoye Sea on the territory of Yamal peninsula of Russia (Yamalo-Nenets autonomous okrug).

The region is extremely rich in natural gas (about 20% of all known natural gas deposits of Russia). The pictures were taken by nub1an and frederick-taer. And here is the video report.