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Kola Peninsula and The White Sea

13th August - 27th August 2018

£2900 for a car with two people (tbc) - 4 places left

Grade: 4

This adventure to Russia begins some 200 miles North of the Arctic Circle. The land here has an incredible beauty, the land of the midnight sun where I believe the spirit of the place is wilder than the spirit of Africa. You will explore the forests and lakes of the Russian Lapland near the mining town of Monchegorsk before driving on the beach beside the White Sea in the Kola Peninsular.

The off roading is extreme and you will need a very well prepared car. Our adventure through the Russian Lapland is on “winter roads”, so called because local people only travel on them when they are covered in ice and therefore smooth. Our adventure uses them in August and at this time of year they are made up of rocks, mud and broken bridges which provides an excellent challenge for you and your car. Water is everywhere and your car must be able to wade through rivers of bonnet height.

We meet in the Finish town of Salla which is only 60km or so from the Russian Border. Once the formalities at the border are over you will soon find yourself traveling along a gravel road that leads towards the distant mountains and the city of Kandalaksha where we spend the first night on Russian soil.

The lodges that we use are deep in the wilderness of Russia, the first is in a very remote village in the forest and the second sits on a headland overlooking the White Sea.

During our wild camping nights in the forest and beside the White Sea you will enjoy the heat and comfort of a real flame at every campsite because wood is so plentiful. The heat is welcoming and its smoke a deterrent to the mosquitoes. We never know how many of these tundra insects will be around as it depends upon the severity of the winter and the warmth and wetness of the spring, but they are slow and big so easily killed. Daylight for eighteen hours is wonderful and the evenings never stop so you need to make yourself turn in for the night to prevent becoming overtired.

After fifteen days of adventure you will find yourself back in Finland on smooth tarmac roads. Our last night together is at Lapenluku: this wooden lodge sits beside Lake Inari and is a wonderful place to relax for a day or so before the journey south through Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Everyone always leaves Russia with a sense of a challenge conquered and an achievement of great significance that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

The Route

Day 1: Salla(Finland) to Hotel Belamorie, Kandalaksh: 3 to 9 hrs depending on how quickly and easily we cross from Finland to Russia.

Day 2: Kandalaksha to The White Sea: 4hrs on road and off road tracks: Wild Camp beside the sea.

Day 3: White Sea Coast: 4hrs on tracks and road:Wild Camp in the dunes near the Varzuga River.

Day 4: Lodochny Lodge or Pomor Village Guesthouse: 4hrs on beach and sand tracks.

Day 5: Lodochny Lodge or Pomor Village Guesthouse to Estuary Camp: 4hrs on sand tracks with river crossings.

Day 6: Umba to Lichen Camp deep within the forest: 4hrs on road and stone tracks with river crossings.

Day 7: Lichen Camp to Franks Guesthouse in the village of Oktyabrsky: 4hrs on tracks with river crossings.

Day 8: Oktyabrsky Rest Day

Day 9: Oktyabrsky to Monchegorsk and the forest : 6hrs on road with the last few km on rock tracks with bog and river crossings.

Day 10: Kuzaman Track towards Verkhnetulomsky: 5hrs on challenging rock tracks with river and bog crossings.

Day 11: Kuzaman Track towards Verkhnetulomsky: 5hrs on challenging rock tracks with river and bog crossings to a lakeside Wild Camp.

Day 12: Kuzaman Track towards Verkhnetulomsky: 5hrs on challenging rock tracks with some river crossings. Wild Camp in the forest.

Day 13: Kuzaman Track towards Verkhnetulomsky: 5hrs on gravel tracks and some deep river crossings with a wild Camp after the last crossing 90km from Verkhnetulomsky

Day 14: Vekhnetulomsky to a wild camp in the forest near the border with Finland: 5hrs on gravel and tarmac roads.

Day 15: Finland and the start of the journey home.

How to get to the start in Rovaniemi, Finland:

Route One

This route is a very good way to travel without pushing yourself to get to the north of Finland. There is a lot of variety along the way with some memorable towns and campsites which we will suggest during the training weekend in England

Ferry from Harwich to Hook of Holland: (cost approximately £182 return)

You will then drive to the north east of Denmark and catch a ferry from Fredrikshaven to Gotenburg in Sweden: (cost approximately £86)

Your journey will then head north to The High Coast of Sweden before entering Finland at Kimi. The distance from Esberg to Salla: 1388 miles each way

Bergen to Hirtshals in Denmark: (cost approximately £170) Your return route will take you past the glaciers in the heart of Norway near Bergen before a journey through the Fjords to Denmark.

Route Two

This route is an epic drive through Holland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Finland with some incredible cultural experiences along the way.

Ferry from Harwich to Hook of Holland: (cost approximately £182 return)

Ferry from Denmark(Fredrikshaven) to Sweden(Gotenburg): (cost approximately £186 return)

Distance from Hook of Holland to Salla: 1742 miles each way

Some Rules for Russia

1. Slow down early for Custom, Military and at Police Checkpoints. They are only wanting to make sure that our passports are in order and there is no malice. The false information that governments spread around the “Cold War” is unfounded.

2. Drive well within your ability on road and observe all speed limits.

3. When off road let the car in front cross any difficult terrain before you do. One car stuck at a time is preferable.

4. Mosquito bites are best avoided, although you will get bitten a few times. Keep as much of your body covered as is possible and use deterrents sparingly as reactions are common with overuse. The mosquitoes are slow and big so are easily killed. When you have put up your tent spray a repellent inside and keep the tent closed.

Bush Sense

1. Take a spade with you when going to the toilet as well as matches to burn your toilet paper.

2. Bears are the only dangerous wildlife that you may meet, but you are very unlikely to see any as they are frightened of humans. If you do come across one stay in your car or if on foot walk slowly away, pretending that you have not seen it.

3. Mosquitoes can be very numerous so it is very important to take precautions. use nets as well as chemical deterrents. Here in the North most repellents do not work.

Further Details

For more information please check out the following pages: grading, equipment, roadbooks and camping.