A few days ago I received the following letter from a Polish traveller to this neck of the woods. I’m reproducing the letter in its entirety, with author’s permission, in the hope it may be of use to other potential travellers here.
2 months ago I asked you some questions before the trip to Teriberka, Tumanny and Sredny peninsula. I returned home recently.
I want to tell you, that all your informations were correct. I wasn’t
arrested there. Also, there are no gas stations, tire services nor car
services at the road to – and in – Teriberka and Tumanny. Nature is
astonishing there, and Teriberka is really magic place. I saw Kandalaksha
too, and many other towns, like Kalevala, Belogorsk or Kirovsk.
When trying to drive to Sredni peninsula, despite being careful, I destroyed
exhaust in my car after just few hundred meters. It was huge mistake, this
road is exclusively for SUVs and 4×4s. I’ve been in workshop in Zapolyarny,
but damage was so severe, I was forced to leave to Norway with broken
exhaust, because my visa (and temporary car importation) was about to
expire. Nobody in low cars should try to go there.
Also, while going to Teriberka/Tumanny, I noticed as low temperatures, as 2
deg. C. (5 – 8 was typical). The temperature sensor was at a mirror, so just
above the ground, near 0 was possible. So, driving there, at the end of
June, with water in radiator was possible, but risky.
I’ve recently have been once again looking at the issue. It appears that the only way to get the FSB (former KGB) permit is via a local incoming travel agency. Those I’ve contacted (www.atv51.ru, snow51.ru, and www.m-tour.ru) would only arrange permits to the participants of their tours that start at ~$400/person. I’m continuing to look for one that would provide assistance with no strings in the form of tour participation attached.
Pulled up enough courage to dial the KGB Murmansk number given on top of the application to visit Sredny and Rybachy on the regional Ministry of Natural Resources site. To my surprise they picked up the phone on my first attempt and quickly referred me to another number, +7 (8152) 454108, and that number again answered, but the answer was alas that yes, a special permission is required, and the traveller has to contact KGB via one of the registered tourist organizations in the Murmansk region, NOT directly as the statement on top of the form seems to imply. They say it takes about a month to get the permit.
So we now now how to easily get a credible answer as to what is closed off to foreign travellers, and an approximate procedure, although a local company with a proven track record of arranging for these permits needs to be found and tested.
Got a question from a Finnish traveller where application form for the permit mentioned here a year ago has disappeared. Having done a search, I have re-discovered it in a different location of the same Murmansk Ministry of Natural Resourses site.
The question of whether foreigners can or cannot visit Sredny and Rybachy, and what permit if any is required, remains open. No permit is required according to the Barents Observer article but on top of the Ministry form it says is is indeed needed for non-Russians.
By some reason I don’t feel like calling the KGB headquarters in Murmansk even though they are closest to possessing the most current info.
Generally you foreigners are better toilet-trained than my compatriots, and I’m posting the photos below not to teach you but only to contribute to the realistic image of the place in the eyes of would-be visitors. Usually Sredny and Rybachy are shown too idealistically to my taste, and I’d like to inflict a small doze of reality upon you.
This post is slightly inebriated. One of the locals offered us a salmon to buy. The price was 1500 for the salmon alone, or 1000 for the fish plus a bottle of vodka. Without questioning the logic of pricing we took both.
Although I resented having had my ass dragged all the way up here, I concede that the landscape and the whole environment is as close as it gets to being “out of this world”. Further, it is probably fair I should familiarize myself with the territory before getting your travellers to hire me to organize your trip here. So here we are, just went through Musta-Tunturi, gotten to Sredni, and covered most of the way through the east side of the peninsula before stopping for the night.
Here are a few photos I’m sharing in hope of communicating the spirit of the place:
Last place to buy a beer. Somewhere in Musta-Tunturi mountains. Despite their popularity, this place has next to no infrustructure to look after travellers.