If Kuzomen is not far enough for you, cross the Varzuga river

varzuga-ferry-1On Thursday we witnessed an UAZ van ferried to the other side of Kuzomen, to the true “beyond”. That’s the only way, except the helicopter, to get to places like Chavanga, Strelna, or Chapoma.

Here are a few photos to show you how it happens, with the floating platform being pushed by a motor boat. The cost of this adventure across the river is ~5000 roubles ($70) per crossing. more >>

Day of eared jellyfish

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There are two types of jellyfish living in the White Sea: Aurelia aurita and Cyanea capillata. Aurelia aurita is also called “Eared jellyfish” even though it has no ears. It got its name from its bright and clearly visible reproductive gonads.

Aurelia sometimes comes close to the coastline and gets stranded on the beach, or is thrown out by the storm. But never before have we seen so many jellyfish as we did yesterday.

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more >>

The day of giant things

On our second day in Kuzumen we found a huge tree on the beach. Can’t imagine where it has come from. There are no trees of this size within at least 100km from here.

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A huge root, 2×3 meters, and the trunk of at least 10 meters in length more >>

Our traditional August vacation in Kuzomen has started

This is one of the easiest yet most interesting routes around the Kola Peninsula. You can do that alone or by hiring Uncle Pasha as your driver, guide, and translator.

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Below are travel notes from the first two days on the road. These are useful (facts) and useless (beautiful sights). more >>

Off to the hills for the whole day

okkatyeva-hillToday 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 KolvitsaWish us all luck.

Boat rowing regatta in Umba tomorrow, July 2

rowing-regattaThe festival is held yearly since 1998, and is intended to promote the Pomor culture and newly-fashionable “healthy lifestyle”.

Four and two-oar boats, both classic and flat-bottomed, are used.

For more info contact event organizers at +7(81559) 5-17-44, 5-18-33, or +7 911 063 4912, or e-mail them to cfks-t@list.ru.

Arctic Trophy starts off Varzuga on August 7

arctic-trophyStarts in Varzuga, total distance 700km, with the final destination at the village of Ponoy in the far-eastern end of the poninsula. The expedition is expected to last 7-10 days, which is not surprising given complete lack of roads beyond Varzuga.

To would be travellers to “no foreigner access” areas

noJust spoke with someone actively involved in the Umba tourism scene about the feasibility of getting an official permit for foreigners to visit the area. Was told that success in obtaining such is so extremely rare as not to be worth trying.

In all probability the same applies to other “no foreigner access” areas.

The consequences of being caught there without the permit is a fine and termination of your Russian visa, and denial of visa application for several years. And the police are said to be happy to charge trespassers.

Sorry folks..

This season’s first mushrooms

Gyromitra-esculentaPicked up 5 fruiting bodies of Brain Fungus (Gyromitra esculenta) yesterday near Luvenga. Intend to eat them today.

Since this mushroom is of somewhat controversial edibility I want to say possible good by to friends and clients. (I do intend to boil it twice before consuming though.)

An elementary school opened in Kuzomen

burnayevaUp to very recently the only option for for four elementary school age kids in Kuzomen was a boarding school in Varzuga, with mere 8 visits home per year.

Things changed recently with the arrival of the new teacher, Ekaterina Mikhailovna Burnayeva, from Murmansk, after her two trips to South Carolina, USA.

burnayeva-chacing-wild-horsesIn addition to teaching she prepares school lunches and chases away the famous wild horses of Kuzomen that often scare children.