It was already freezing when I landed in Moscow and hailed a cab to the railway station. I expected nothing less from the Russian capital, but the thermostat would only continue to plunge over the next 44 hours as I made my way to Labytnangi, my train’s final stop on the edge of the Arctic Circle.
After arriving and spending the night in an ominous, pink-hued Soviet hotel, my travel partner – the incredibly talented journalist Sophy Roberts – and I spent the morning gathering supplies before setting off on an 11-hour drive into the depths of Siberia. That night we reached the ‘Land of Hope Reindeer Camp’, a remote refuge in an otherwise frost-bitten desert. It was also our home for the next five days.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OUR 15-DAY REINDEER EXPEDITION
I’d come all this way to meet the isolated Nenet tribe, Russia’s last nomadic reindeer herders, as part of a new expedition experience created by Intrepid Travel. Armed with camera and a notepad, Sophy and I set out to share the stories of Russia’s indigenous people, and how Intrepid’s expeditions were helping to preserve their culture.
The following photos give a quick glance into the lives of Russia’s inspiring Nenet people, who live a challenging existence on the edge of the Yamal Peninsula.
Our Trekols – 4×4 amphibious vehicles – battle the winds as we begin our 11-hour journey to the Yamal Peninsula.
Our home for four nights was a traditional ‘chum’; a tent or tepee wrapped in reindeer hides, equipped with beds and a fireplace.
RELATED: WANT TO HIKE WITH A BERBER FAMILY IN MOROCCO? YOU WILL NOW.
The first morning was spent visiting a neighboring family. In the tundra, there are two forms of transportation: snowmobile and reindeer sled.
Intrepid Travel leader Boris, traveller Sophy Roberts, and our local host Ivan Pavlova (and dog) embark on our morning commute.
Our incredible host, Ivan Pavlova, secures the sled before tending to his family’s herd.
Meet Anya, a 22-year-old mother of four who lives on the Yamal Peninsula.
Anya walks through her herd. Her family owns a total of 200 reindeer.
A local herder attempts to lasso a reindeer. He would gather four reindeer to take him (via sled) to a neighboring village, a journey that would take over four hours.
A portrait of the traditional Nenet people and their winter clothing.
After a long morning on the sleds, Ivan (left) and I (right) share tea and soup inside a chum
Ivan leads our group to the edge of the Peninsula, a sacred site for the Nenet reindeer herders.
A typical afternoon would be spent ice fishing. Despite living in the frozen tundra, the Nenets still rely on the land for their food and sustenance.
We cooked up an evening meal right on the ice: freshly cooked fish.
Sophy and I sending a final goodbye to the Nenet people.
One final sunrise before we embark on another 11-hour drive. We’re left humbled and inspired by the beautiful Nenet people.
Join us on the adventure of a lifetime to Siberia’s remote Yamal Peninsula on our 15-day Russian reindeer expedition.
All photographs taken by Sophy Roberts and Mikey Sadowski.
10 Reasons Why Adventure Travel Is Good for YouCandice Gaukel AndrewsJuly 7, 2015
One of my favorite scientific findings: Take a hike, get a bigger brain. ©Candice Gaukel Andrews
For the past several years, I have been writing about adventure topics for the Good Nature Travel blog, on everything from the merits of bumpy roads to tracking devices on narwhals. From my own thoughts on adventure to the latest scientific research, we’ve covered a lot of ground together.
Looking over all of these articles since my first appeared here on February 9, 2010, I realize that one theme keeps showing up: adventure travel is simply good for you. So I’ve compiled a Top 10 list of the reasons why.
While there are several physical health benefits to adventure travel (see nos. 1, 2 and 3, below), the advantages for your mental wellness are just as impressive (nos. 4, 5 and 6). Too, adventure travel can enlighten your soul (nos. 7 and 8 ) and even help save the world (nos. 9 and 10).
Can you think of anything else that can do all that?
Ten Reasons Why Adventure Travel Is Good for You
One wilderness just doesn’t seem to be enough; your soul quickly calls for more. ©Candice Gaukel Andrews
1) When you get dirty, you improve your physical health. Scientists have recently reported that our modern obsession with cleanliness might be leading to a rise in allergies, asthma and inflammatory bowel disease. Getting dirty could just be the best path to developing a strong immune system. Going on adventures means getting dirty—and healthier.
2) Outdoor activities can prevent (or treat) a wide range of health problems. Doctors around the country are now handing out “park prescriptions” for conditions ranging from heart disease to obesity to attention deficit disorder. Adventure travel takes park prescriptions to the next level.
3) There are no age limits on adventure. Anyone can make nature a playground. Adventure travel is an activity you can stick with for life.
4) Take a hike, get a bigger brain. Research indicates that hiking or walking grows brains. Typically, your hippocampus gets smaller once you hit your mid 50s, leading to memory loss. But a group of middle-aged adults that took three, 40-minute walks a week for a year grew their hippocampi, on average, by 2 percent, which could improve their retention for years. Hiking adventures will keep you mentally sharp.
5) Going on adventures raises your tolerance for uncertainty. Placing yourself in situations where things don’t always go as planned—such as on an adventure trip—helps you learn to cope with the uncertainties in life. And there is no shortage of those.
6) Adventure travel lets you safely “try on” alternate lives. One of the best things about embarking on an adventure is that you can shed your familiar skin for a while and pretend to be anything you want to be—before you take a drastic and permanent step. Who would you be if you lived there?
7) Going on adventures fosters reflectiveness, a mental skill often in short supply today. Adventures give us pleasant memories, which we often bring back to the forefront of our minds for reminiscing. This means that our journeys “marinate” awhile, an especially valuable exercise these days when we’re all so perpetually busy that most of what we do passes by in a flash and is gone forever—without having any real meaning attached to it. But reliving our adventures again and again allows us the time—and capability—to learn something from them.
Adventure travelers need to become environmental activists. ©Candice Gaukel Andrews
8 ) Adventure travel feeds your dreams and builds your confidence. The editor of National Geographic Traveler Magazine once suggested that the “Cycle of Travel” went like this: 1) dream, 2) plan, 3) go, 4) share. But no matter how many steps it takes to get there, the one thing that’s certain about traveling to spectacular nature spots is that it soon becomes addictive. Experiencing one wilderness just doesn’t seem to be enough; your soul quickly calls for more. And each time you go, you find yourself changing. Adventures build your confidence; and with each successive one, you challenge yourself just a little bit more. I would add a fifth step to the Travel Cycle: dream bigger.
9) Adventure experiences remedy a societal ill: loss of adventurous children and the extinguishing of wanderlust. Today, the United States is facing what some have described as an epidemic: the loss of the adventurous childhood. The Outdoor Foundation reports that youth participation in outside activities has declined for three straight years. And when parents overschedule kids and insist on being involved in every one of their activities—when they become “helicopter parents”—they kill a child’s desire to explore. The spark for wanderlust goes out, permanently.
10) Adventure travelers may be more important than ever for saving the world. Some scientists warn that in nine years’ time (or less), global warming will become impossible to reverse, triggering accelerated climate change. If they’re right, a group of individuals within the general public is going to have to come forward and upgrade their environmental efforts, if the world is to survive. That select group of people just may turn out to be adventure travelers: those who typically venture beyond the envelope in the outdoors.
As Mark Twain once wrote, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Here’s to your adventures, in whatever corner of the world you find them,
TAGS»Adventure Travel, Candice Gaukel Andrews, Climate Change, Conservation, eco-travel, Health, hiking, Narwhals, National Geographic, Travel, trekking, walking, wanderlust, Wildlife
POSTED IN»Travel Tips
About the author:Candice Gaukel AndrewsView all posts by Candice Gaukel Andrews
A multiple award-winning author and writer specializing in nature-travel topics and environmental issues, Candice has traveled around the world, from the Arctic Circle to Antarctica, and from New Zealand to Scotland's far northern, remote regions. Her assignments have been equally diverse, from covering Alaska’s Yukon Quest dogsled race to writing a history of the Galapagos Islands to describing and photographing the national snow-sculpting competition in her home state of Wisconsin.In addition to being a five-time book author, Candice's work has also appeared in several national and international publications, such as "The Huffington Post" and "Outside Magazine Online." To read her web columns and see samples of her nature photography, visit her website at www.candiceandrews.com and like her Nature Traveler Facebook page at www.facebook.com/naturetraveler.