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.
They ordered me to translate their site into English, and immediately uploaded these translations to snowtracker.ru/en/. Last March we ourselves took part in one of their 3-4 hour tours, were impressed, and can recommend Kola Expeditions to travellers looking for the “local spirit”.
Here are some photos from the recent trip to the tundra hills over the village of Kolvitsa, thanks to two Finnish travelers I took there. During a good half a day in the hills we met no one and saw not a single piece of trash. I think I’m starting to understand what draws people up there.
The white stuff is lichens. No reindeer here, thus lots of lichens.
These are much worse than mosquitoes. Unlike the latter, gnats slice off a patch of your skin. On Wendesday I got bitten by some during the trip to the hills, and my arms are still swollen and it still itches three days later. The all-knowing Alexandra says these will last about a week. One of the worse thing about gnats is they don’t really hurt when they initially attack you. ALWAYS WEAR LONG-SLEEVED SHIRT TO THE WOODS AND TAKE SOME INSECT-REPELLANT WITH YOU!!
Today I’m taking two Finnish travellers first to the Volostnaya hill, and then to the famous “Iron Gates” between the Domashniye (“home”) tundras and Okkatyeva hill, half-way between Luvenga and Kolvitsa. Wish us all luck.
What took me to Lovozero this time was an interpreting (and trip organizational in general) assignment by two Swedish journalists dispatched here to write about the life of Saami. They’ve promised to provide a copy of the article that I will, of course, share with you.
We met in Apatity where I got by train, having wimped out of the idea of driving 200km through icy roads in a blizzard and -30C. The train trip from Kandalaksha to Apatity cost 700+ roubles ($14) and lasted an hour and a half. Lots of empty seats on the train, probably no need to buy tickets in advance during the off-season period.
I first researched the option of a train to Olenegorsk and then a bus but it turned out there was no direct bus to Lovozero from Olenegorsk, the nearest station on the Murmansk railroad. Here is the bus schedule at Olenegorsk: