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:
The bus station is next to the railroad one. The bus will only get you to Revda, 25km from Lovozero, and there are three trips per day: atrociously early in the morning, early, and in late afternoon. For details click on the schedule above to enlarge it and see for yourself.
First, we settled in Lovozero’s only hotel, Nadezhda at Danilova 21, behind the village’s only diner (“stolovaya”). It is managed by a nice lady Ludmila, tel. +7 921 150 3124. She even speaks a few words of English!
The setup is basic. A three-room apartment with one bathroom constructed in a way that makes splashing water on the floor unavoidable when you shower. Thankfully, the brush to pick it up is there too. The bill was based on 900 roubles ($18) per person per night in a shared room.
Having settled in the hotel we proceeded running around the city taking interviews. Visited Viktor Startsev, the head of the Tundra Co-op, Tatiana Viktotovna Sechko, the director of the Saami cultural center, and of course Valentina Vyacheslavovna Sovkina, the chairwoman of the Saami parliament,who provided us with a place to stay during our previous exploratory visit to Lovozero. All these officials were extremely welcoming, open, and generous with their time.
Next day we went off, on two snowmobiles,
to the reindeer base 90km east of Lovozero, lead by Mikhail Barakovsky, who organizes snowmobile tours of the area and is the top dog on the local tourism scene. There we met Yuri, the head of the reindeer shepherds crew, and Ivan, the keeper of sleigh deer.
After a few hours of pestering them about their life and deer breeding technology we headed back through 90km of tundra. On the way back met an old guy making it to the reindeer base on deer harnessed to a sleigh!
Another note that could be of interest to you travellers is about the cafe/restaurant situation in Lovozero. Having been told there is a new bar and cafe opened recently in the village we rushed there in ancicipation of a proper dinner only to find that it has no kitchen and offers no food. Beer only.Location: If facing the bathhouse (“banya”) look for the entrance from the right side of the same building the bathes are in. “Stolovaya” on the main street remains the only viable food option.
Lovozero, which initially gave me the impression of a ghost town, continues opening up.