The procedure is to call them and ask when the next trip is, and to reserve a seat, and to arrange a place to meet. The cost is in the area of 2000 roubles ($40).
If you need help communicating with local service providers feel free to ask me by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org
PS. Just got a call from one of the operators, Sergei, tel. +7 921 157 9231, who confirmed that there are no regular buses but trips are organized “on demand”. At this moment he has the trips scheduled for March 5, 8, 10, and 17. The trip from Rovaniemi to Kandalaksha is 3000 roubles ($50+) and from Salla to Kandalaksha 2000 roubles. No particular pickup point but call Sergei and give him your address, and he’ll pick you up. And HE DOES SPEAK ENGLISH!! Since there are about five operators like him you can pretty much get on the bus every or nearly every day.
PPS. A comment from Alexandra:
It would be good for the foreign traveller to understand that all the buses are focussed on shop tours to Finland for the Russians. That is, the probability is high that either/neither the dispatcher or/nor the driver will speak English, and the routes, the places and times of parking are tied to major stores popular with the Russians. Also many of these tours originate in Murmansk or Apatiny..
Just returned from a trip to Zapolarny on an interpreting assignment. Here are some useful bits pertaining to the logistics of travelling from Kandalaksha to Zapolarny cheap and easy.
The annoying thing is that there is no direct link, either by bus or railroad, between Kandalaksha and Zapolarny. You’ll have to travel through Murmansk. But it turned out easier than anticipated.
To get to Murmansk fast and cheap hop on a minibus that leaves at 5:30 am and 6:30 am off the train station parking lot. To reserve a seat call 8 911 349 9000. The trip will take about 4 hours and as of the moment, it costs 700 roubles ($12US). The train is slightly slower and considerably more expensive ($20-35) but there are several during the day. See tutu.ru for the train schedule.
Another option of getting to Murmansk is by arranging a ride through blablacar.ru. My first experience with the system was highly positive. Lots of traffic between Kandalaksha and Murmansk, and the “standard” cost is 500 roubles (under $10) per passenger.
There are few things more gloomy and depressing in this country than postapocalyptic style”garage coops”. Our car has been stuck in one of these, in Niva-3, an industrial outskirt of Kandalaksha, for the last two weeks for a welding job.
The last 15km long dirt and gravel section of the Alakurtti to Salla (Finland) road has finally been covered with asphalt. The ceremony of opening the road took place yesterday. Travel between Kandalaksha and Finland is now even easier.
Visited the Kandalaksha Yacht Club yesterday. Spoke with the owner Alexey, mostly about setting up an Eider museum on the property. Have been given a tour of the place. Were impressed with the scale, taste, and perspective.
Of things that can be of interest to a traveller from afar:
(a) Accommodation. Two rooms, each with two beds and a fold-out couch, 2500/night per room regardless of the number of guests. Breakfast included. Rooms are minimalistic with no windows but clean and fresh. Peteulok Rechnoy 22 (next door to the Kandalaksha Nature Reserve), tel. +7 911 304 8101. More on this accommodation option >>more >>
Kandalaksha leaders and those of Finnish municipalities that border with Russia have met last week to discuss joint projects, including setting up a major snowmobile route across Norway, Sweden,Finland, and Russia. Another project discussed was expanding the capacity of the transportation network of the Murmansk region and including it into the trans-European road system.
Transaero just announced a direct flight from Moscow to Murmansk. Three times a week, 2.5 hours in the air, and the cost is said to be 6000 roubles ($150 at the current rate) both ways. Another 6 hours of rail to Kandalaksha but still beats 36 hours by train alone.