Offbeat Video

By Katy Gill


An adventurous software engineer decided to better her holiday by living with a nomadic community of Nenets reindeer herders.

Kat Zhou, 25, enjoyed immersing herself in the Russian travelling culture for five days in November 2017, experiencing exactly what it entails to live in this primitive community.

Pics from Kat Zhou / Caters News: One of the huntsman hearts the reindeer.

The nomads live and sleep inside a handcrafted reindeer fur tepee called a ‘chum’ – pronounced ‘choom’ – located just above the Arctic Circle in Siberia, on the Yamal Peninsula.

The video features daily tasks the herd must endure, such as reindeer herding, fishing, sewing boots out of reindeer fur and meal preparation.

Pics from Kat Zhou / Caters News

Kat, from California, USA, said: “Much of the trip was incredibly awe-inspiring.

“When you’re that far north, the sun never fully rises and the sky is a beautiful reddish colour all day long.

Pics from Kat Zhou / Caters News: The children of the huntsman families play in the chum

“Dawn pretty much goes straight into dusk, so just looking out onto the snow until the glow of the sun was visible was incredible.

“At night, the Northern Lights lit up the sky.

“There was never a lack of beautiful sights.”

Pics from Kat Zhou / Caters News

Due to the climate, the Nenets don’t have a supply of fruits or vegetables, relying solely on reindeer blood as their main source of vitamins and minerals, especially iron.

Kat even had a chance to try the meat raw herself.

Pics from Kat Zhou / Caters News

She said: “The raw liver is considered the best part of the reindeer, and it was delicious.

“They eat most of their fish and reindeer meat raw, it retains more of the vitamins than it would if they cooked the animal.

“The Nenets only eat one cooked meal a day, usually a soup made with reindeer meat or fish.

Pics from Kat Zhou / Caters News

“The rest of their meals consist of mostly just tea and bread and biscuits with small amounts of cheese or raw fish, which they obtain from trading reindeer meat and antlers at trading posts.”

Typically, it can take up to 36 hours to reach to remote location, fortunately it only took the adventurer 10 hours to reach.

The 25-year-old said: “The family migrate every one or two weeks to make sure their reindeer have a steady source of lichen to feed on.

Pics from Kat Zhou / Caters News

“The number of reindeer a family has represents their wealth, a family needs a minimum of 100 reindeer to be able to migrate and have enough meat to eat

“The richest families can have upward of 5000 reindeer.”