Frozen Siberian Landscapes and the Migrating Reindeer Herders
Join this photographic journey through some of Russia’s most pristine arctic landscapes and the local culture of migratory Reindeer Herders that you have only seen in magazines.
At this time of year, the mountain peaks are snow-covered, and the shallow waters of Lake Baikal are forming thick, reflective ice that gets polished like a mirror—perfect for photography!
We will put you in the right place at the right time to experience the bright sun, fantastic ice statues, and beautiful formations of ice. With the sun shining brightly, the daytime temperature will rise above freezing almost every day—but the ice on Baikal will still be hard and clear. We will have morning and night photo sessions in crystal hummocks by the most beautiful islands on the lake.
From here, we will switch gears and move onto the second part of our workshop, the reindeer herders. We will immerse you in an ancient nomadic culture of the Siberian Arctic. We’ll be staying in the winter camps of Nenets, the nomadic people of “Yamal,” the Nanet word for ‘the edge of the world.’
There are few places as enchantingly remote as the Yamal Peninsula, deep in Siberia’s isolated Arctic region. The Nenets of Yamal have created a unique way of life. Each spring, they migrate from winter pastures on the Russian mainland to the summer pastures in the Arctic Circle, a journey of up to 1,000 kilometers.
This is your chance to experience a small part of this epic journey alongside these extraordinarily resilient people. Together with our hosts, we will eat traditional dishes, predominantly venison, fish, and taiga berries. Of course, there will be more familiar menus available as well. We will rest in sleeping bags, inside a traditional Chum. At night our hosts will run a generator to recharge our camera and computer batteries.
Is this workshop for you? If you like remote, exciting travel, beautiful ice, caves, grottos, northern lights, and immersion in the local culture of one of the last great nomadic people on earth—then yes! If you can handle cold weather, long days and nights of shooting, and living with and photographing the reindeer herders as they do their migration, then yes!
Irkutsk and Salekhard,
February 1–16, 2021
Itinerary and General Information
February 1, 2021: Arrive in Moscow (SVO airport code) this day, before 3:00 PM. Transfer to our hotel, and time to rest after the flight. We’ll kick off our adventure with a group dinner this evening.
February 2, 2021: Walk on the Red Square and tour around Moscow after the breakfast. After dinner we will transfer to the airport for our evening overnight flight to Irkutsk.
February 3, 2021: Early morning we arrive in Irkutsk. We transfer to Olkhon Island. We’ll have breakfast of Buryat cuisine on our way. Evening and night (depending on the sky condition) photo session on Shamanka Cliff.
February 4, 2021: We’ll have an early start out for Uzury. We photograph sunrise in the beautiful ice grottos. After breakfast we are leaving for Cape Hoboy. During February we can see the most beautiful ice there, of tender blueish tint, and ice hummocks build up wonderful conglomerations of crystal ice blocks. We are going to spend a few hours here hunting for masterpieces. This evening, we’ll have a night photo session in the basin of the Maloe Sea or in ice grottos.
February 5, 2021: Our morning photo session will be near the island of Ogoy. We are going to explore and to take pictures of the coast and the islands of the Maloe Sea Strait. An evening and possibly a night photo session in the grottos of Kharantsovsky Island or in the grottos of the Maloe Sea.
February 6, 2021: We have built in a spare day to allow for bad weather, and as needed, we can repeat shooting at the most interesting locations.
February 7, 2021: We are again meeting dawn in the grottos of the Maloe Sea as one visit to those places is never enough. In the afternoon after lunch we travel back to Irkutsk.
February 8, 2021: Transfer to the airport in Irkutsk. Our unforgettable journey along the ice Baikal is over. We depart for Moscow at 7:00 AM, arriving at 10:00 AM, and check in to our Moscow hotel, with some time to rest. We’ll have a group dinner in Moscow and a briefing devoted to the second part of our trip.
February 9, 2021: We’ll have a full day in Moscow again, to recover, relax, be a tourist, and also to spend time doing our famous image reviews and critique.
February 10, 2021: The Reindeer Herders portion of our trip begins. Transfer to airport for our flight to Salekhard. We’ll check in to our hotel, have some downtime, tour the city and enjoy a nice dinner together.
February 11, 2021: We transfer to Nenet’s camp. This is a long travel day, six hours if the weather is good, eight hours if the weather is so so. And it can be up to 12 hours if the weather is extremely bad. We travel by custom 6WD Snow Vehicles, and at the end, we have a 3km snowmobile ride to host family’s camp. On arrival, we’ll meet our host family, get settled in, and have dinner. With luck and clear skies, we can photograph the northern lights.
February 12, 13, 14, 2021: We will photograph the reindeer herders during the day, and at night we will hope for clear skies so we can photograph the northern lights.
February 14, 2021: We are leaving Nenet’s camp after breakfast for Salekhard, where we have a hotel for the night. This is a long travel day, six hours if the weather is good, eight hours if the weather is so so. And it can be up to 12 hours if the weather is extremely bad. We travel by custom 6WD Snow Vehicles.
February 15, 2021: Morning flight departure for Moscow. We’ll have a final goodbye dinner and celebrate an amazing photographic adventure.
February 16, 2021: Flights home from Moscow (SVO airport code) anytime this day.
Accommodations, Weather, and Transportation
Accommodations: In Moscow, we are at a five-star hotel with all the expected amenities: beautiful rooms, safe water, en-suite facilities and Wi-Fi. At Lake Baikal, we are in four-star accommodations, again with safe water, en-suite facilities, and Wi-Fi. At Nenets, we will spend 3 nights in the reindeer herders' tents, together with reindeer herders. For 2 nights, usually 3-4 guests share 1 tent with some reindeer herders. With luck, we may get to have additional tents, we’ll see. For our last night at Nenets, we are in a very large wooden “permanent tent/building” where we will all sleep together, dorm-style. ** It is possible we may have additional sleeping tents for our last night, we are working on this.** It is is quite warm in the tents during the day time, because of the oven. But it can be cold at night. We will provide a -15C down sleeping bag. You will bring a travel pillow, sleeping bag liner, and an inflatable air mattress. The toilet facilities are sit-down, camp-style (outdoors, not heated, no running water), and are located near the campsite. There are no showers during this part of the trip, but we will provide for the ability to wash up each day. Be prepared for very cold conditions all day and night, basic camp-style food, and rough sleeping conditions.
Temperatures in Moscow:
Day 0C high to -15C low (32F high to 5F low)
Night -5C high to -25C low (23F high to -13F low)
Temperatures in Irkutsk and Salekhard
Day -10C high to -25C low (14F high to -13 low)
Night -15C high to -35C Low (5F high to -31 low)
Yep, it’s cold. But we will show you how to be warm, we promise. We’ll spend considerable time with you making sure you have all the right clothing and gear. Winter photography like this has its challenges and the rewards are amazing. So don’t let this deter you.
Transportation: By vehicle, we’ll be in small buses or minivans, with ample room for you and your photography gear. Two seats per participant. Roads will range from paved and smooth to unpaved and bumpy at times. To and from Nenet’s camp we are on 6WD Snow Tractor vehicle. And at the very end, we will travel 3km by snowmobile.
By air, we’ll be in normal commercial airliners. You will have normal luggage restrictions for checked and carry on luggage. Bringing your camera backpacks on board the aircraft will be no problem.1x checked luggage at 23kg, Cabin luggage at 10kg. Extra is OK but you may be required to pay for additional luggage. If requested, there may be upgrades to business class available for the internal flights, just ask us for availability and extra cost.
What to Bring and How to Prepare for Your Workshop
Please see our How To Prepare For Your Workshop page now for guidelines on workshop prep, gear, and packing. Approximately 90 days before your workshop, you will be sent a PDF with more specific instructions.
Double occupancy lodging (single available, just ask)
All meals and transportation during the workshop
Internal flights during the workshop
Photographic guiding and instruction from two pros
Image reviews and post-processing instruction
Adventure, fun, inspiration, and a great time!
What’s Not Included?
Air travel from your home to Moscow, Russia and back. Russian Visa (we have a service we will recommend to you). Any meals and accommodations before or after the workshop dates. Medical Evacuation Insurance (required). Travel Medical and Trip Cancellation Insurance (optional, but recommended). Items of a personal nature. Alcoholic beverages. Anything not specifically listed as included.
Some special gear that you’ll need: Katoolah microspikes, a sleeping bag liner, and a travel pillow. You are free to choose other brands but you will need these items.
Your deposit of $4,995 will secure your place on this workshop. A second payment of $4,000 will be due on July 1, 2020 The balance of $4,000 will be due not later than November 1, 2020. All of our standard terms and conditions apply. Need special payment arrangements for your deposit? No problem, just ask us.
Are you still hesitating? Watch the videos again, and then click the Sign Me Up! button. This workshop will fill fast. We’ll see you at Lake Baikal!