The Yamal peninsula

April 2015

Where is Yamal peninsula? The Yamal (also known as Jamal) peninsula is located in Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, a region of Russia in northern Siberia. The peninsula extends for about 600 kilometers from the northern shores of Russia, into the Arctic Ocean (Kara sea), a place very little known and seldom visited by either foreigners or Russians. The climate of Jamal Peninsula is polar and the landscape is dominated by a flat land, frozen for most of the year, with tundra vegetation. Though inhospitable, this region is home to nomadic Nenets people, an ethnic group living on reindeer herding, an animal that abounds.

Nenets camp Jamal peninsula
An expedition with Nenets people, lets to discover not only ancient lifestyles now lost in much of the world, but also to explore the unusual landscape of Yamal peninsula in northern Siberia, a place very rarely visited and almost completely unknown to the outside world.

 

Fir tree
At southern latitudes, within a short distance from the Arctic Circle, the landscape of Jamal peninsula is dominated by small fir trees.

 

Fir trees Border line between taiga and tundra
Siberia
Photos of Yamal peninsula. The southernmost areas of Yamal peninsula, not far from the last outpost city of Yar Sale, has actually a mixed vegetation of tundra (in April hidden under approximately half meter of snow) and taiga: this is actually where taiga becomes tundra, as in just few kilometers to the north, every tree will quite suddenly disappear.

 

Yamal photos. The Yamal Peninsula is mostly flat, although some areas present low hills. The average altitude between the latitudes of 67° and 73° (the full extension of Jamal peninsula from south to north) is only a few tens of meters above sea level.

 

Arctic tundra
Tundra In the areas where snow has already partially melted, the tundra is visible and formed mainly by mosses, lichens, mushrooms and other plants whose height is never more than 20 cm. This vegetation is the primary food for the reindeer.

 

White reindeer
A quite rare and stunning all-white albino reindeer.

 

Jamalia Yamal
Thanks to the often clear air, the sunsets on the peninsula of Yamal are particularly colorful.

 

Northern lights Aurora borealis
Northern light
Photos of Northern Lights. During the ten-day expedition in Yamal Peninsula, I have been lucky enough to see the Northern Lights for two nights. The month of April is the maximum time limit to observe this wonderful phenomenon in southern Yamal peninsula, because later the nights becomes too short and too illuminated.

 

Halo
Photo of halo. Another phenomenon that can be observed in Yamal peninsula, like in other polar regions, is the halo, a kind of circle around the sun, created by the reflection of the light, due to ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere.

 

Birches Birch
Another tree usually found in Yamal peninsula, within latitudes that do not exceed 67 degrees, are birches, having however the appearance of large shrubs, rather than of real trees.




 

The sun illuminating Yamal peninsula around noon, on early April.

 

Reindeers Yamal peninsula
Reindeer Yamalo-Nenets
The reindeer can be considered an integral part of the landscape, and it is really amazing how these animals manage to survive in such extreme conditions.

 

Peninsula of Yamal
Moving gradually towards the north, the trees disappear, replaced by very low shrubs almost totally buried in the snow.

 

Endless expanse of snow Nomadic camp in Siberia
Then, almost suddenly, as if there were some sort of boundary, trees and shrubs disappear completely, giving to Yamal peninsula the look of a flat plain, cold, desolate and inhospitable. The expanse of snow stretches unbroken to the horizon and beyond, with the sun as only reference point.

 

Pingo Hydrolaccolith
Jamal Peninsula Pictures of pingo. The endless flat expanse of Yamal Peninsula is occasionally interrupted by pingo (or hydrolaccolith), an odd geological structure formed by ice and frozen soil, which grows because of hydrostatic pressure.

 

Nomads of the tundra Snowmobile
The delicate pastel shades of the Jamal Peninsula at sunset.

 

Hiking on the snow
Walking under beautiful sunsets.

 

Sunset in the arctic
Photographer Images of sunset in the Yamal Peninsula, with photographers that capture the moment.

 

 

Rendeer eye
The landscape of Yamal Peninsula seen through the eye of a reindeer.

 

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