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Old 30 Jan 2012
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Travel report, Kola Peninsula summer 2011

Travel report, Kola Peninsula 2011

Travel report, Kola Peninsula 2011 - YouTube

The Team:
Vidar, designated off-road driver.
Jon, co - driver and responsible route planner.
Tobias: highway driver and conciliator.

The Off-Road Vehicle
Toyota Land Cruiser HJ60 (1984)
- BGF AT tires, with one spare
- Warn winch
- ARB diff locks in rear axles
- Old Man Emu HD suspension
- Original tank of 90L with additional extra 20L
- Car extension tent and additional ground tent.
(additional equipment included; satellite phone, shovel, first aid kit, hi-jack, GPS)

The Trip:
Our initial thoughts for travelling was to join a larger group of fellow travellers from an off-road society, however, due to limited number of entrants and based on our past experience -- we decided in the end, to make it up on our own, a second trip to the Kola Peninsula in northern Russia.

From our first Russian trip, we had managed to save some maps providing great granularity of the territory information, combined with our own research and digital equipment -- we not only got great insight of the field and routes but made several key outtakes for waypoints navigating us in the rough nature.

The journey started off from Sweden, we took the boat to Finland, and from there we moved, quite aggressively driving, to Salla. Salla, a city in northern Finland, which is situated close to the border to Russia. After an overwhelming time of waiting and going through custom and inspection -- we entered into Russian territory in less than 38 hours.
In short, our journey took us to many villages, many of them secluded and often as time stood still.

Cities, such as Kandalaksha -- offered us, to stop and stay over at a hotel, stock up on food and items (and more importantly, to uphold and fulfill the Russian VISA requirement of one night documented hotel booking).
From Kandalaksha, we drove onwards to the river Varzuga. This region is worldly renown for its wild salmon fishing, and the beautiful shoreline. We have to point out, that in Varzuga, we also saw some mesmerizing classical Russian churches.
Due to this year's season low rainfall, we had better access, to discover the area for alternative off-road routes. The portions of sand dunes, offers a feeling of a Sahara-like experience close to the White Sea. This is an absolute must to see and experience -- especially driving at the sediments during tide. We rounded off the day by setting up tent next to the riverbed.
The next stop was the city Umba, we passed by towards the village Inga - this specific section offered us maybe not the most beautiful scenery, but on the other hand, it satisfied our off-road needs. During our stay and driving, we meet a companion of fins, also off-roaders, and decided to accompany them.

Together, we drove to the higher points of the area that is found on the mountain at about 1000 meters above sea level. To make it up all the way up on the mountain, we had to leave the cars, with a trekking time of 3 h up and down. Russian wildlife at its best! If looking for difficult passages, or more advanced driving, the mountains at Kirovsk and Revda are to be recommended -- with combination of stony passages, water and wetlands.
A thrilling experience, as we ended the day by setting up a camp at approximately 1000 meters above sea level, near a small lake.

Key outtakes:
- Paper maps are still key, and provide you very good and valuable information, often in areas which are not marked by GPS etc.
- The nature of the region are in most often cases, not spectacular -- you need to find the hidden gems, and this may take time or several routes -- but once you find them, it's worth your time. In retrospect, it would certainly spend more time on mountains roads; there are some things to see.

Dependent on time, and events unfolds, maybe there will be a 3rd trip to Kola Peninsula, meantime hope this movie instills you with ideas for your own adventure up north, enjoy!

// Jon
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