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Visiting Tsaatan Tribe

Meet the reindeer nomads during their short-lasting stay out of the taiga's deep forests

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Maybe some have heard of the Tsaatan tribe, but few have met them in person, for that small group of people have been hiding in the taiga forests since ancient times. The tribe consists of less than 50 families, and that small population still falls into two groups—western and eastern Tsaatans depending on what part of the taiga they occupy. This people's traditional husbandry is built around reindeer breeding. It is quite risky to limit one's means of survival to only one type of livestock, owing to harsh Siberian winter conditions which may easily wipe out huge masses throughout the so-called winter dzud, or starving. The tribe could even die out due to some reindeer disease, but thankfully an Italian association helped them out and provided the necessary reindeer vaccines.

The tribe is not going to change its long-established habits, and it would be very nice of you to bring them some products when you visit. They leave the deep forest and come closer to civilization only for a short period in summer from mid-June to mid-August, and may be found not very far from Tsaagan Nur Sun. A horse ride there would take one-two days. During the tour, you will have time to visit 5 to 10 families, so it would be wise to buy the same amount of products for each household as gifts. All the shopping can be done either in the capital city of Ulaan Baatar, or in Mörön, or in the very Tsagaanuur before departure.

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