Meet the team and read what past clients have to say!
Edward Adrian-Vallance was born in Oxfordshire on 08.09.1983. He received a 2.1 in Spanish and French from the University of Exeter. He has since spent his time travelling the remotest and wildest corners of the planet. He has a particular interest in tribal and nomadic people, who he has visited in the Middle East, the Amazon, New Guinea, Indonesia, every Arctic region of Russia, Morocco, Panama, Mongolia, China, Tibet, Vanuatu, Micronesia, the Philippines, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan.
For the last nine years he has been living and working in Russia, and he speaks fluent Russian. In 2011 he started working as a guide, taking people to the visit his Nenets friends on the Yamal Peninsula in Arctic Siberia. In 2012 he set up his company, Argish LLC, which specialised in tours to the Yamal Peninsula. While at first, Edward was Argish’s only employee as well as its managing director, the company has since expanded somewhat and now has three employees. They run tours and organise film shoots all over Russia these days, although around 50% of the trips are still to Yamal.
While Edward is based in Moscow, he spends three to six months each year in the Siberian North and is considered a local in many areas. He has contacts on every level of society, from nomads to town dwellers, from all-terrain vehicle drivers to government workers. He has a high level of social capital, which is essential for efficient and successful trip organisation in these logistically challenging areas.
He has personally guided more than 50 trips to the Arctic. Among his past clients are dozens of photographers and journalists, several academics and scientific teams, dozens of international tour agencies and film crews from Australian Channel 7, Finnish Channel 4, TVN (Poland), Keo Films (filming for the Discovery Channel), as well as several independent filmmakers. His articles on Siberia have been published in the Geographical Magazine, The Calvert Journal, Travel Addict and Globe Spots travel site.
Dmitriy Eskin was born and raised in Moscow and spent most of his life trying to get away from it as often as possible to explore the wildest and remotest parts of his homeland. He has always been an active outdoorsman, and from a young age has had a passion for all sorts of adventure travel, including skiing, climbing, mountaineering and trekking. He has travelled all over Asia and Russia, including to many remote and hard to access areas.
He has learned English and Chinese language since childhood and has spent several years in China teaching English. He uses his time off from Argish LLC to organise and guide trekking expeditions for Russians in the Tibetan areas of western China.
Dmitriy has been working for Argish LLC since August 2013 and has guided around fifteen trips to the Yamal Peninsula. He has had great success at building a close working and personal relationship with the nomadic families there while helping his guests to achieve their goals at the same time.
Zelphira’s parents moved from Yar Sale (a small village on Arctic Siberia’s Yamal Peninsula) to Omsk (a big city in southern Siberia) before she was born. However, after completing her studies at Omsk University, much to her mother’s dismay, Zelphira decided to move back to Yar Sale to teach English!
She spent several years in Yar Sale before moving to Salekhard to work as an interpreter. She gained experience in tourism when working for two startup Salekhard tour operators, neither of which eventually took off. In 2013, she began working permanently for Argish LLC and had been truly invaluable to us ever since. She has made many trips to nomad camps at different times of year and in different parts of Yamal, always receiving excellent feedback from clients. She has a remarkable ability to strike up a friendship both with her guests and with the nomads they are staying with, helping these two extremely different cultures understand one another and have fun together while at the same time achieving all the clients’ trip goals.
As well as guiding trips, she does a significant amount of administrative and organisational work and is truly invaluable to the company as someone permanently on the ground in Yamal.
Feedback from past clients:
Ian Gillespie from Belfast was our first ever client, who came to the Yamal Peninsula back when it was just Edward Adrian-Vallance taking individual guests to meet his Nenets friends. Here’s what he had to say:
This was the trip of a lifetime! As a result of his travels and research Ed has unrivalled access to a number of nomadic reindeer herder families on the Yamal Peninsula. As a result, I was able to travel to and live with one of the most traditional tribal societies on the planet. Ed has built up such a level of trust and friendship with these private, dignified people that I was accepted almost as a family friend (Ed is a family friend!) and thus gained a real insight into their culture, daily lives and spiritual beliefs. We got to experience the herders working with 10,000 reindeer and were even granted access to a Nenets sacred site, rarely seen by outsiders.
Ed’s organisational skills meant that the long journey by train, all-terrain vehicle and sledge to reach the herders’ camp went without a hitch – quite an achievement in Russia, especially Arctic Siberia! He is fluent in Russian, without which the would-be traveller could not even hope to obtain the necessary permits to visit the region.
All things considered, this trip was an incredible experience and has left me longing to return. Thanks!”
Our next guest was photographer Cristian Barnett ( http://www.crisbarnett.com ). He has made multiple trips with us to Yamal, Yakutia and Moscow. Here’s what he had to say about his trip to Yamal:
In April 2012 I travelled with Ed to spend time with his nomadic Nenets friends on the Yamal Peninsula. I had been researching the possibility of travelling to this area to meet the Nenets but until I found Ed the prospect seemed pretty daunting. It was an extraordinary experience to meet and stay with the Nenets on their encampment and to sleep in a chum ( a kind of Yurt ). This is a way of life that has changed little over hundreds of years, and it was a privilege to be witness to their day to day life.
Travelling anywhere off the beaten track is not easy, but Ed arranged everything perfectly. After arriving in Salekhard we immediately headed off to Yar Sale, driving on a frozen river for much of the journey. On arrival, we just had time for tea before making our way by ski-do sledge out to the encampment.
My requirements for this trip were to photograph different people in different places within 35 miles of the Arctic Circle, not only nomadic Nenets but also Russian people living in towns and villages. Therefore, on a 10-day trip starting and finishing in Moscow, this was the itinerary that Ed organised for us: two nights in the nomadic Nenets encampment, followed by a sledge ride across the frozen Gulf of Ob to spend a day at an annual reindeer herders’ festival in the village of Kutopyugan. We then returned by sledge to the village of Yar Sale where we spent two days photographing locals before returning to the town of Salekhard. We spent two days in Salekhard and half a day in the nearby town of Labytnangi photographing a selection of subjects that Ed had prepared in advance, including hovercraft drivers, local researchers, journalists, representatives of various ethnic minorities, a soldier, local musicians, an artist, etc. I was impressed not just that Ed had managed to find so many interesting people but to communicate and behave in a way in which we were made extremely welcome everywhere we went, and it was often with sadness that we said farewell to so many new friends.
Apart from being able to fulfil my photographic requirements I enjoyed travelling with Ed because I felt he was along for the ride with me and not just for me. This is an important distinction because ordinarily I travel alone and hate the idea of being on a pampered and inflexible tour. If you like package holidays, cruises and buffet dinners this certainly isn’t for you but if you like independent travel and don’t mind roughing it a bit you will enjoy a heightened experience of local life ( including some serious culture shock, weird foods and maybe a little discomfort ) which may not otherwise be possible.
It may have been possible for me to get out to Arctic alone but I’m convinced that without Ed’s help I wouldn’t have had such and enjoyable and rich experience and certainly would not have been able to spend time with the Nomads ( let alone find them ! ). I can heartily recommend Ed for what is undoubtedly one of the most amazing travelling experiences I have ever had.
Our Next Guest on Yamal was Charles Louis Regiec, who loved it so much that he came once in November 2012 then again in December 2013!
The Yamal tundra during winter time is a truly inhospitable world where you have to deal with extreme weather and the complete absence of physical comfort. The tundra is also, however, the staggering kindness, strength and dignity of the Nenets people, a fascinating nomadic culture and almost otherworldly scenery. Independent travellers who are interested in people and in the unexpected will greatly value this kind of adventure. It is a place where you experience previously unknown feelings and love every second of your stay.
Ed and I travelled by helicopter from Salekhard to Yar Sale village where the nomadic reindeer herders met us. After putting on traditional Nenets’ clothing (which is the only way to survive there in winter) we started the very long sledge ride to their encampment further to the north. During the ride, we enjoyed the Northern Lights and shooting stars, while also stopping at another encampment on the way for tea and food.
We stayed at a nomadic encampment for a few days and got to migrate twice with 50 nomadic people, 10 000 reindeer and over 100 wooden, hand-made, reindeer-drawn sledges. This meant spending all day outside, both times in the bitter cold and wind.
The deep level of trust between Ed and the Nenets reindeer herders to which he brings guests is what makes these trips possible, and guarantees guests the opportunity to experience the real nomadic lifestyle of the Nenets at close quarters.
Photo by Charles-Louis Regiec – facebook.com/charles.louis
In January – February 2013 Matthew Allison and Kent Mesplay visited Yamal with us.
My friend Kent Mesplay and I travelled to the Yamal Peninsula with Ed Vallance during the harsh Siberian winter and stayed with Nenets families. Kent and I travelled with Ed for two weeks from Moscow all the way to a remote Nenets camp in the middle of the Arctic Siberian tundra.
I have travelled independently to 150 countries around the world and visited many of the world’s indigenous tribes. The experience of travelling to the Yamal will always rank as one of my most fascinating and amazing trips.
Ed was an excellent guide who looked after all of the logistics of the trip and made sure that everything went as planned. This is no easy feat in a place as remote as the Yamal. The best part of travelling with Ed was that, although he was our guide, it felt like we were with another co-traveller. Ed truly loves the Yamal and the Nenets people as well as travel and adventure. Ed has forged very strong relations with the Nenets people, and he is more like a relative than a tourist to them. Ed ensured that our experience was real and not contrived. His knowledge of the Nenets and their way of life is second to none. I have and will continue to recommend Ed and the Yamal to my friends.
In February 2013 Jongwoo Park, a photographer and film-maker from South Korea, and his assistant Seongu Yuk visited the Yamal with us. Here’s what Jongwoo had to say:
I wrote to Ed explaining my desire to shoot a film about the Northern Lights on Yamal. He recommended the best time of year for this and took me and my assistant out to stay at a nomadic Nenets encampment in the tundra for ten days. Every night we were treated to magnificent displays of Northern Lights. During the day we photographed daily Nenets live, such as herding reindeer, lassoing reindeer, moving camp on trains of reindeer sledges, strangling a reindeer then eating raw meat and drinking blood straight from its carcass. We visited several nomadic camps in the area, as people’s reindeer had got mixed up with others so had to be separated, which was quite a sight!
We also needed to film people recounting Nenets legends about the Northern Lights. This was beginning to seem impossible, as only older people who don’t speak Russian still know these legends. However, finally, on the last day when we were already back in Yar Sale village, Ed found us a woman who was able to recount a long and colourful Nenets legend about where the Northern Lights came from.
Many thanks for all your help! I look forward to my next trip to Yamal with you!
Also in February 2013, an international group of bikers participated in an event called The Ice Run. It was organised by a British company called The Adventurists, which also does the Mongol Rally and Mongol Derby. They covered 1800km of Siberian wilderness on old Soviet motorbikes, finishing in Salekhard, the capital of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Region. I was their fixer at the Salekhard end of the race. Here is what the organiser, Katy Willings, had to say:
Ed assisted me with the logistics for the finish line of the Adventurists’ Ice Run 2013, acting as a fixer, trouble-shooter, and of course interpreter. His knowledge of the Salekhard region, its customs, politics and personalities, and how to get things done, was invaluable. His language skills are flawless, allowing me to hold nuanced conversations and negotiations with other contractors and partners. He was an energetic crew member, well able to cope as plans changed, people made unexpected requests and challenges arose. He combines a healthy insight into what’s ‘normal for here’ and an understanding of the expectations and needs of international tourists and travellers.
In February and March 2013, Arman Alizad, star of the series Kill Arman which aired in over 100 countries, came to Yamal to shoot an episode of a series he was working on for Channel 4 in Finland. Here’s what he had to say:
Ed took us out to an encampment of nomadic Nenets reindeer herders on the Yamal Peninsula to shoot one episode of a series we were filming for Channel Four in Finland. We got loads of incredible footage in this extreme, isolated environment and had a great time with our friendly Nenets hosts. Ed is an amazingly skilled and experienced guide who was always one step ahead of our need concerning what we needed to capture on camera.
There are not many people who can organise this kind of journey and especially during winter time. Edward is pretty much the person to contact if you want someone who understands the needs of a western production crew but also has the language and organising/people skills to manage things in Russia. He knows the people and especially the Nenets. This is the most important factor when having a fixer. To have someone who knows the locals personally. This will have a huge and positive impact on how the locals accept you and how they co-operate. I’ve filmed in extreme conditions / environments / cultures all over the planet and it makes a huge difference whether you have a fixer who personally knows the locals or if you don’t.
A word of warning – a trip to Yamal is not going to be a walk in the park. We had to spend many hours outdoors in freezing temperatures, travelled long distances by snowmobile and slept in the cold chum. It was by far the most physically difficult of all the trips we made for this series. But Yamal and the trip to the Nenets will definitely steal your heart. Our journey was one I will remember for the rest of my life. Be ready for the experience and the trial of a lifetime.
In April 2013 Per Michelsen, a photographer from Norway, came to the Yamal Peninsula and the Polar Urals. Here is what he had to say:
Ed organised a trip for me to live with nomadic Nenets reindeer herders on the Yamal Peninsula and in the Polar Ural mountains. I got plenty of amazing photos, some from smaller camps of 1 – 3 chums, some from a huge camp of 8 chums, 100 sledges and 10,000 reindeer which I migrated with, and some from a 3-chum camp high up in the Polar Urals. Reaching these isolated, traditionally nomadic people is not easy, but Ed’s organisation was flawless – many thanks!
Here is a link to Per Michelsen’s photos from Yamal and Polar Urals.
In September/October 2013, Nicholas Drofiak asked me to organise a trip to the Ket people and the town of Igarka in the Central Siberian Arctic, located a 3-day train ride and a five-day boat ride from Moscow. Here’s what he had to say:
Ed was my translator and fixer on a trip I made overland from Moscow to the Arctic part of the Yenisei River on Taymyr. I’m a researcher and doctoral student and needed to be able to carry out some fairly complex interviews both with a speaker of the indigenous Ket language in the remote village of Baklanikha and with museum staff in the town of Igarka. Ed was not only able to negotiate booking the various forms of transport including a 6-day journey on a riverboat (well night impossible without fluent Russian), but he took the time to read my research plans so that by the time we reached Baklanikha he understood and could explain exactly what it was I wanted to do: not easy, considering my project straddled architecture and linguistics in addition to being itself in a sense an artwork. I couldn’t have found anyone better to travel with. On top of all that we both had a terrific time, saw days of spectacularly vast skies and taiga scenery, and met some extraordinarily generous people. An incredible trip. Thanks, Ed.
In March 2014 Nick Mayo and Amber Huang visited the Yamal Peninsula:
What an experience! It began with an 11-hour ride to the camp in a snowstorm. From a distance, the tundra looks flat. In a sledge behind a snowmobile it is quickly apparent that it is not! We were welcomed at the three chum camp by Vatako, Alya and their family with whom we lived for a week. I had envisaged a daily routine. There isn’t. Time of day is unimportant. Life revolves around the weather and the reindeer. Fine weather means outside work. We spent a day watching Vatako, Alya’s husband, and a group of Nenets from neighbouring camps sort herds that had become mixed. Rogue animals were lassoed and roped with astonishing dexterity. At other times we went hunting for Arctic hares, collected firewood, chopped ice blocks for water and, as observers, participated in the weekly feast of raw, freshly strangled reindeer meat, organs and blood.
I was a little apprehensive of sharing a tepee for a week with 10 other people. Living communally turned out to be the highlight of the trip. It is only inside the chum that it becomes apparent how the Nenets have adapted to their harsh environment.
I regularly travel to extreme locations as an ethnic photographer. Yamal was close to surreal. Many thanks to Ed and Dmitry (our guide) of Arctic Russia Travel for organising an adventure which otherwise I could never have experienced and which equals any I’ve done.
Please click this link for more of Nick Mayo’s photos from the Yamal Peninsula.
In April 2014 photographer Gordon Esler visited Yamal. Here’s what he had to say:
What an adventure! After a three-day train journey, we were in the wilds of Siberia. Nothing can prepare you for the extreme climate, the nomadic lifestyle of the Nenets nor the hospitality of the people making their existence in the harshest of conditions. This is a trip that will stay with you long after your return. Ed was crucial in the planning and organisation of the whole expedition and I always felt safe and had the utmost confidence in his abilities. Already looking forward to a return trip…
Here is a link to Gordon’s photos from Yamal.
In December 2014 Film-maker Shanu Subra migrated with nomadic Nenets reindeer herders on the Yamal Peninsula. Here’s what she had to say:
I contacted Arctic Russia Travel after seeing a picture of a young Nenets girl on the internet. I was soon assisted with the planning of my expedition to Yamal. They possess in-depth knowledge and quickly provided me with a realistic proposal for exactly what I needed. I was guided by Dmitry, who was very well organised and professional. The weather conditions worsened as we reached Yamal but Dmitry was well prepared, experienced and very knowledgeable and was able to help me achieve all my goals without any hiccups.
Arctic Russia Travel has always been kind enough to respond to all my queries with an incredibly can-do attitude. I would defiantly recommend the company to anyone looking for a no hassle well-prepared trip.
In March 2015 we organised a film shoot for Keo Films and the Discovery Channel in the far North of Irkutsk Province on the Yakutian border. It was for a survival program with Ed Stafford as a presenter about his trek to the mysterious Patomskiy Crater. We went out to get the coordinates of the crater and other useful landmarks, enlist the help of locals and find nomadic reindeer herders with whom Ed could travel. Here is what the director, Mat McDonnell, had to say:
Arctic Russia Travel provided critical logistical and research support for a tight production schedule for Ed Stafford: Into the Unknown for Discovery Channel. They worked independently gathering daily reports that allowed us to plan our shoot effectively and in a very short time frame. I wouldn’t hesitate to use them again. Without them, we would not have had a program. Period.
See this link for photos from the program.
In March – April 2015 British journalist Kate Eshelby spent 10 days living and migrating with Nenets nomads on the Yamal Peninsula. She was one of the first ever western journalists to witness and document their bi-annual 24-hour migration across the 70km wide Gulf of Ob, a frozen bay of the Arctic Ocean. Her articles were published in the Independent newspaper and National Geographic Traveller, amongst others. She says:
Arctic Russia Travel provides an incredibly fun and professional service. This trip was absolutely fantastic and extremely memorable – I still often think of some of the exciting moments. Arctic Russia Travel enabled me to do my job with no problems.
In April 2015 photographer Eduardo Lostal visited Yamal with us. Here’s what he had to say:
A thrilling experience, a world in white. Sometimes you felt like you’re living in a cotton candy. The Nenets people are hospitable and amazing. It’s a true trial for a genuine traveller. My guide Dmitriy really knew what he was talking about and I thoroughly recommend it.
Click here for a link to Eduardo’s site.
In January 2016, former vet Bob Gainer visited Yamal, researching reindeer herding, slaughtering and anthrax vaccination methods. Here’s what he had to say about his trip:
Everything I asked for, Zelphira [the guide] somehow managed to come up with. If plan A didn’t work they had another 50 plans, at least one of which would work. The only thing was that my bulky sleeping bag and western clothes that I transported all the way from Canada were not really needed, as the nomads provided me with their own fur clothing and furs to sleep on, which were much better than anything you can buy in Canada! Also, I gained weight eating what they ate.
I’m in my 70’s, maybe a bit rough and ready, with a vet degree and post graduate degree. I never once felt uncomfortable (except perhaps the snowmobile ride into the nomad camp), and was always made to feel welcome by everyone I met. I left with a love for Yamal, its people, its country and the way it seemed to be run. I wish there wasn’t this perceived tension and misconceptions about Russia in the west.
All this was provided on a modest budget, about half what you would pay in Canada for a less exciting adventure. The only unfortunate thing is I have to diet to lose all the weight I gained.
From 2013 to the present we have worked in close partnership with Israeli-owned tour operator Trips@Asia, running several trips for them every year in various different parts of Russia. Here is what their CEO Ron Oren has to say:
Russia is a country where the only real surprise one could expect is to have no surprises. Again and again, throughout the many trips we have planned and operated together, Argish LLC proves to be the right partner for some of the most extreme trips Trips@Asia has been operating. Their familiarity with Russia allows us to take our travellers to explore some of the remotest regions on earth, knowing that when things get complicated, Ed will come up with an appropriate solution, allowing the trip to keep on going and our travellers to keep on enjoying some of the hidden gems of the vast and wild country that is Russia.
Since 2015 we’ve been organising Arctic Siberian expeditions for Secret Compass. Tom Bodkin, their managing director, says:
We have worked directly with Arctic Russia Travel on a number of occasions and have found that they are very professional and deliver on our demanding requirements. All our team members have been very happy and we will continue to use Arctic Russia Travel in the future.
And now, for some company details, we’re obliged by law to have here in Russian!
Наименование юридического лица: Общество ограниченной ответственностью “Аргиш” (Argish LLC).
Адрес: 119331, г. Москва, Проспект Вернадского д.29, пом. I, оф.4
Наименование банка: АО “АЛЬФА-БАНК”
Расчетный счет номер 40702810802870000828
Корреспондентский счет номер: 30101810200000000593