A letter from a recent traveller to Sredny and Rybachy, Teriberka and Tumany

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.

Best wishes – Jack from Poland

Foreigner access to Rybachy and Sredny

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.

Any hints or suggestions?

What territories are closed to foreigners – info from the horse’s mouth

kgb-still-watchingPulled 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.

A application for a permit to visit Sredny and Rybachy on the Ministry’s site

permitGot 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.


Access to Sredni and Rybachi peninsula

According to this 2010 Barents Observer article (thanks, Heikki) this area is no longer restricted to travellers, including foreigners. The application one had to fill out in advance last year seems to have disappeared from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Murmansk region site so we can probably assume it is no longer required. Better call someone based on Sredni or Rybachi, or get me to call them on your behalf to get up-to-date information, before going there.

Finally, a series of killjoy photos from Sredny and Rybachy

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.


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Rybachi and Sredny Peninsula are not only vodka, salmon and WW2

..as Pasha descirbes. Rybachi and Sredny Peninsula is also rough roads from hell, spectacular rocks and stones, multicolored lichens and unique patterns with which they decorated every stone.

Rybachi and Sredny is mountain rivers and waterfalls, blueberries and cloudberries, blue lakes on top of mountains, tundra that merges into the sky, and the Barents Sea that smells of freedom.

It is a place where one just has to come for a few weeks to see and feel at least a small part of its nature.

This is the place where you want to stay forever. Human language is too poor to describe this place. Better look at some pictures.

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Greetings from Musta-Tunturi and Sredni

9Although 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.

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