Congratulations. You’ve nearly made it to near the end of the world. Vikings were not wimps but they hesitated venturing beyond Kandalaksha for the fear that there is nothing but total darkness and void in there, preferring to loot France and England instead. The names of places often originate from Sami “house of witches”, “mountain of darkness” and such. The local priest, an educated fellow and a recognized historian, speaks seriously of the local spirit and ghost population. Welcome to Kandalaksha..
The tank on Kandalaksha’s central square. Generations of Young Pioneers (re-branded into “Nashi” and dubbed “Nascists”) swore here their loyalty to the business of Lenin (now Putin or “Great Russia” or whatever it is). Children regularly fall from the tank and at least one death made it to the press. Sad but somehow fitting that tanks continue to kill. I should make a page for “absurd ways to die” and add it to my Russian Misery Travel (c) concept..
Getting to Kandalaksha
From Moscow by train, 36 hours, $50-150, depending on the class. Northern trains are generally clean and comfortable, and fellow passengers are quiet and will not smoke inside compartments.
Or by car but it is a 2000km journey. Travel either along the Moscow to Saint-Petersburg road, then to Petrozavodsk and along the main highway. Easy to navigate, and the pavement is mostly good. Or take the Yaroslavskoye Shosse from Moscow, go through the “Golden Ring” area, and then turn towards Medvezh’yegorsk. A bit longer and the road is said to be worse but your trip will be more saturated.
Individual car trips possible for the whole or any part of the Moscow to Kandalaksha axis ANY TIME OF THE YEAR. A house trailer will be available soon and you can certainly count on is for the 2012 travel season. I like Kiev and am likely to expand the concept all the way to Kiev or even beyond, all the way to Chisinau.
..Coming up. For now see www.kandalaksha-reserve.org Several hotel available, all in the $50-150 per room range. House trailer parking with hydro and waste disposal in summer months, very inexpensively ($10-15/night). If you are staying for longer time you may want to rent a private apartment. Unfortunately apartment owners are shy about making their offers public but feel free to contact us for accommodation advice and information.
Here is an extensive compilation of Kandalaksha Hotels from the Kandalaksha Nature Reserve site:
Attraction and memorable places in Kandalaksha and area
Here is just a very shortened summary based on a rather extensive list from www.kandalaksha.org
Island Mikkov. Located where the Kovda River flows into the Kandalaksha Bay. Granitites formed 2.3-2.4 million years ago are exposed here. Gneiss and amphibolite boulders, which are at least 2.9 million years old, are scattered around. Of interest to those who are amused by this planet’s history. Geology students flock there.
Curative dirt of Palkina Guba. They are used locally to treat diseases of the nervous system and joints.
The Cape of Verkhny Navolok of the Tolskik Peninsula of the Kandalaksha Bay. A range of minerals caught and exposed in transition. Minerals of the epidotic group, amphiboles, pyroxenes, and granites. A mecca for geology students.
Ringing stones. If you strike one of these stones it will produce prolonged metallic sound. Sami tribes treated these stones as cult objects. A few of these stones are found at the Volosyanaya Hill.
Oket’yeva (Akat’yeva) mountain and the “Iron Gate”. In Sami “akka” means not only “old woman” but Great Goddess. The gorge between Okat’yeva and Domashnyaya hills is a stone corridor about 500 feet long. Ancient Samies thought of the gorge as the residence of Great Goddess. The gorge is within walking distance from Luvenga.
The labyrinth. Walking distance east from Kandalaksha. Possibly a cult object used by the Sami or Celtic tribes.
Holy stones that housed the spirits of departed Sami shamans. No loud talking and certainly no profanities within hearing range of these stones! Sacrifices encouraged. Objects that are connected to hunting (eg. bullets) are especially appropriate.
Silver Mines on the Medvezhi (Bear) Island. These are now flooded, and access to the island is highly restricted. But I’m toying with the idea…
Wooden church in Kovda. Built in the 17th century and presently being restored. See more on the Kovda page.
Military cemeteries –
Russian: Kandalaksha, Beloye More village, Train Station Yyamozero, Kayraly village, Alakurrti village (two cemeteries), Train Station Voyta, Staryye Prolivy, Nivsky, Kayraly, Kuolayarvi, the 50th, 63rd, 74th, and 88th kilometer of the old Kandalaksha to Alakurtti road, Kovdozero, Zarechensk, Train Station Kovda, Nivsky, Fedoseyevska.
German: Near Staraya Salla and near the crossing of roads to Murmansk, Saint-Petersburg, and Lupche Savino.
Finnish: Staraya Salla.
Contact us for grave searches and care, or if you require assistance organizing your trip to visit a grave.
A comprehensive list of names on the graves of the Tersky (Luvenga, Umba, Kuzomen) side of the White Sea: qwercus.narod.ru (Russian)
Other possible points of interest
..The cross erected in the 16th century and then again in 2004
.. Kandalaksha Monastery
.. The cross in memory of Swedish raid on the Kandalaksha Monastery in 1589 (450 local residents, including monks, killed).
.. Old Pomor Cemetery in Kandalaksha
.. The place between Island Anisimov and Island Bogomolikha where icebreaker Sadko sank in 1916 and then was raised in 1933 and restored in 1934.
.. Clashes between local guerillas and the British marines in 1919 in Kandalaksha and Kolvitsa.
.. The place where blimp “USSR B-6” (105 meters long, 19 th. cubic metes of hydrogen, three motors 800hp total, top speed over 100km/hour) crashed in February 1938.
.. A place near Island Bolshoy Sedlovany where steamer Pomorye exploded on a mine in August 1941. 62 victims, no survivors.