Indigenous People’s Sustainable Means of Transportation

The Connection with the Surrounding Environment

Traveling with Nomadic Tribe is discovering new worlds, different lifestyles and ancient cultures that have survived the passing of time. But it is not only that, the most important thing is to live with the indigenous people and share their habits and traditions.

Therefore, when we travel to a tribe we adapt to their daily routines and one of them is their means of transportation. We forget about our cars, our motorcycles and our modern vehicles and we immerse ourselves in times gone by also through their means of transport.

Can you imagine moving from city to city on an reindeer sledge, or walking down the street on a camel? Traveling with Nomadic Tribe is that and much more.

The means of transport used by Indigenous People have developed over the centuries to cover freight and people transport needs and to guarantee a connection with other territory areas and many of them have not changed for centuries.

Their development or identification was strictly connected to the territory: whether it is desert areas, mountains, lakes or islands, Indigenous People have been able to adapt to the environment and choose the most appropriate means of transportation.

Here are some examples to discover together… What are you waiting for to try one of them during your next trip?

NORTH CANADA: Inuit and other First Nation People – The Canoe and Kayak

Inuit kayaker

Inuit kayaker

(CC BY 2.0)

If you visit the Inuit, you will have to prepare yourself to cross the frigid waters of lakes in the North by Kayaking! Ready for the challenge?

Do you know that the Alaskan Inuit people were the first to build and use kayaks at least 4,000 years ago? Historically, canoes and kayaks were built for hunting, fishing, transportation, trade, warfare, gifts and ceremonies and have always represented some of Canada's most important vessels. All because northern North America is a unique but even challenging land of lakes, rivers and coasts and the canoes were since the beginning a resourceful response to this environment.

Kayaks are small, narrow boats made of wood, with a sealed sealskin cabin to prevent the rower from sinking should the boat capsize.

The word kayak means "hunter's boat", as they were originally built for hunting and used to drag animals — seals, caribou, even whales — to shore.

SUBARCTIC AREA: Inuit, Nenets, Sami and Komi People – Reindeer and Dog sledding

Nenet woman and her reindeer sleigh during Nomadic Tribe Expedition

Nenet woman and her reindeer sleigh during Nomadic Tribe Expedition

Javier Salinas

If you travel with Nomadic Tribe to destinations in the Arctic, prepare yourself for unforgettable sleigh rides!

In subarctic areas and nearly inaccessible areas of the world, the dogs and the reindeers became essential for survival by providing a mode of transportation for both goods and humans themselves.

Sled dogs

Sled dogs


A sledge pulled by animals became the best way to transport food and supplies when waterways could not be used inland or due to ports being frozen. Anything would move on sledges pulled by dogs and reindeers: doctors, medicine, tools, news and mail, books and fabrics.

The indigenous people of Finland, for example, the Sami, believed that the only creatures on earth who had a soul were humans and dogs. The Sami respected and valued the dogs, as they felt they were the thread that connected humans with the surrounding nature. The same goes for the Nenets and other tribes in relation to reindeer. Their physical and spiritual connection dates back to the beginning of their existence.

DESERTIC AREA: Berbers – Camels as ships of the desert

Camel Caravan in the Sahara Desert

Camel Caravan in the Sahara Desert


You won’t find a better mean of transportation than the camels if you travel to visit the Berbers!

This means of transportation has been used for transporting goods across Asian and North Africa deserts for thousands of years. They are the only desert animals able to carry heavy loads of goods and travel for an extended period without food or water.

Berbers people held the key to travelling across the Sahara learning to thrive in its vast sand dunes. They learned to exploit camels and their natural adaptations for desert survival to travel and trade in the region. Berbers used natural indicators to guide their voyage across the Sahara: they found their way by examining the stars, the smell of the sand, the vegetation, and the height of the sun and moon. They paid attention to the mountains in the distance and the shadows of the dunes. This is another example of how the in-depth knowledge of the territory, together with the choice of the right means of transport, can allow survival in difficult contexts.

MIXED AREAS: Berbers, Mursi,Masai,Titicaca Lake Dwellers – How donkeys become indispensable for many indigenous tribes.

A Quechua lady rides her mule, Peru

A Quechua lady rides her mule, Peru


Be ready to travel by donkey in some of our most impressive destinations!

After camels, another important transport animal was and is still the donkey. It is mainly a cargo transport animal though; occasionally, it transports its owners after offloading its load. It was principally used for transporting goods and farm products from the farms to the market. Donkeys were incredibly important, being smaller, more durable, and more comfortable to handle and feed than horses.

They were and still are used in a lot of African, South America and Asian areas. They are essential in mountainous or particularly steep areas, for example for water transport in case that the source is located in an inaccessible or particularly challenging to reach the place. Some of Indigenous People tribes that still use donkeys as one of the primary means of transportation today are Masai, sedentary Berbers and Mursi Tribe in Africa or Titicaca Dwellers in South America.