Trip Report

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Trip Report

Russian Far North

8 days trip in the Kola peninsula , hunting for northern Lights on the Arctic shores

by guitxu07765About Me:I am born in a small french village in Brittany, I studied political sciences and international relations in Bordeaux and then lived in Russia for almost 7 years, working in the space sector. My taste for travel and adventure finally got t... read more

Russia4 days / February 2019

Highs & Lows

Don't miss Teriberka, it feels like you're at the end of the world!

Housing and tourist infrastructure in Teriberka are of poor quality

Itinerary Overview

Murmansk : We arrived in Murmansk by train from St-Petersburg. We traveled in 3rd class, called Platzkart. We paid € 20 (top beds) and € 30 (bottom beds) per person.The trip lasts exactly 24h. We traveled in winter and through the windows paraded the snow-capped landscapes of the Taiga which gradually changes into Tundra. We only spent one day in Murmansk. The city - the former headquarters of the Soviet Northern Fleet - was completely destroyed during World War II and rebuilt very quickly after the war in a very Soviet style. It is therefore a gray and charmless city, unless one appreciates the Soviet style and architecture. In the morning we visited the imposing Alyosha monument erected in memory of the Soviet soldiers who died during the Second World War to defend the Arctic. In the afternoon we booked a guided tour of Lenin, the World's first nuclear-powered icebreaker, which is now a museum. It was fascinating and in my opinion it remains the most interesting thing to see / do in Murmansk.

Teriberka : We left our hostel in Murmansk at 9 am to set off for Teriberka, a small village on the Arctic shores. It was a big fishing village in Soviet times but since then it was dying until the Andrey Zvyagintsev movie "Leviathan" which takes place there. The film was a great success internationally, which attracted many tourists to the village and saved it from certain death. The journey from Murmansk lasts around 3 hours crossing the tundra with stops to at some points of interest and viewpoints. Once we arrived, we strolled on the beach to observe old boats and beached trawlers, a legacy of the Soviet period when the village lived from fishing. We had lunch in the only restaurant in the village, a bit expensive but pretty good. In the afternoon we continued a little the visit of the village by going to the filming locations but night falls very early in winter, around 3 p.m. We dined Kamchatka crab, also called “king crab”, the local specialty. We bought it from a local because its fishing being regulated the restaurant sells it at a high price. After dinner we went hunting for the northern lights, equipped with small cookies, a bottle of vodka and a thermos with tea. After more than an hour of waiting in freezing cold we finally witnessed the phenomenon. It started very small then it got bigger, bigger, and finally it filled our sky with a magnificent green spray. It was a very emotional moment. The next day we rented snowmobiles to explore the surroundings of Teriberka during. We went to the Dragon Egg Beach on the shores of the Arctic Ocean. The beach bears this name because of the large round pebbles that cover it. This place has a very strong and particular energy. We really feel at the end of the world. After that we went directly to Murmansk without even taking the time to have lunch because night falls early and with it increases the risk of snowfall which regularly blocks the road to Murmansk and forces people to stay on Teriberka. Important to know especially if you have a plane to catch!

Husky farm near the city of Lovozero : We wanted to experience the Saami culture, an indigenous reindeer herding people who live in Lapland, and also to make the sled dog which has long been the main means of transport in the region. So we booked an excursion to a husky and reindeer farm lost in the Taiga, 15 km west of Lake Lovozero. We set off from Murmansk in a minivan which dropped us off at the entrance to a dirt road alongside the road to Lovozero. From there, we went deep into the forest in a sledge towed by a snowmobile to cover the last few miles to the farm. The Taïga was covered with a thick layer of snow.  It was a fabulous introduction. Once we got to the farm we were greeted with cherry pies and a glass of “mors” (a typical russian fruit drink prepared from berries). Then we started the activities: dog sled ride, reindeer sleigh ride, and finally a guided tour of the small museum of Saami culture. I was a little bit disappointed by the dog sledding and very disappointed by the reindeer sledding (3 minute round trip). We also wondered about the treatment of the sled dogs - Siberian huskies - who looked very tired. Moreover we had to hurry as the groups of tourists follow one another at a rapid pace. Although the typical Saami lunch they serve us at the end was very delicious. On the menu, fish soup and reindeer meat. In addition to the activities we had booked a night on site. This allowed us to walk freely around the farm, which is located in a truly magnificent setting, to spend time with the reindeer, to interact with the employees. In the end, an experience much more enriching and interesting than the activities included in the package. During the evening we took part in the last activity: ice fishing on a near frozen lake. The fishing was unsuccessful, but the reward was equal to our efforts: a very powerful aurora borealis tore the sky. Our starry sky got covered with red, pink and green reflections. A mind-blowing spectacle. 

  • 2 Nights: Murmansk
    starting point to discover Kola Peninsula
  • 1 Night: Teriberka
    Andrey Zvyagintsev movie "Leviathan"
  • 1 Night: Lovozero
    dog and reindeer sledding in the Taiga

Q & A

  • What would you have changed?

    The Husky Farm Activity Package is expensive for activities that lack interest and are distorted by the number of tourists. it felt very artificial to me. The sled dog activity is nice but I think it is better to approach it as part of a 2 or 3 day traveling trip with the dogs.

  • Anything go wrong during the trip?

    No, because we were supervised by a local tourist operator, but the Murmansk - Teriberka road is regularly blocked during heavy snowfall . Actually for this trip it is better to have at least one day in reserve, otherwise the risk is not being able to get to Tériberka, or, worse, getting stuck there and missing your plane for example.

  • How was the food?

    The best food we had was in the Husky farm. If you want to try the Kamchatka crab in Teriberka you have to buy it from a local, it will be much cheaper than in a restaurant. You also should pay attention to buy a fresh one. The one we bought was already bouled so after we re-cooked it, it was without any taste.

  • What tips would you give a friend?

    Do not spend more than one day in Murmansk, there are really few things to do there. Avoid making dog sledding in Murmansk, it’s a big business there but you should try to spend some time to find a more authentic place to do it.

  • Transportation Tips?

    We get from Murmansk to Teriberka in taxi but it is much cheaper to get there in small buses called “mashroutka”. On the other hand, it is not possible to get to the husky farm by public transport, the cheapest solution is to rent a vehicle because taxis charge a lot to go there.