I first thought about going to Murmansk a couple of years ago, but it never really got any further than just the idea. Until now. Actually, besides from setting a date, and researching possible routes, it is still not more than idea. I also need permission. From the Russian authorities in terms of a visa. But that have to wait a while.
So far, I have some ideas to the route, and the plan as it is right now, is a follows.
Though I call it the Nordkapp & Murmansk trip, a big part of the trip is riding the Norwegian west coast. The roads are far from straight, and there are quite a few ferries.
In Murmansk, I will meet with Artem, who will show me the city, introduce me to Russian cuisine – and vodka.
In addition, it is important to note entry to Russia requires visa.
As with all my trips, I like to do research. I hate finding out that I passed something really interesting, and I like to get an understanding of the time needed for the trip. The wife do too.
Of the almost 7000 km, I think about 200 km is on gravel. It is all (I think) in Russia. Although I think the gravel is good quality, it is gravel, and can be a bit slippery when wet.
|August 17th, day 1||First day is going to be riding to Stockholm to catch the ferry to Turku, Finland. It will be an uneventful ride on the highway. South Sweden has really a lot to offer in terms of cool backroads, but not for this ride.|
I will need to be there in time to catch the 20.00 ferry to Turku. The ferry arrives the next morning at 7.35 (yes, that is suspiciously precise).
|August 18th, day 2||After arriving at 7.35 in the morning, fully rested after sleeping in my cabin, having had breakfast on the ferry, it is north east toward the border crossing that I plan to take. But it is a very long ride, so I won't make it in one day. I will be riding through, but I do want to set aside time to absorb the Finish scenery. I will most likely stop somewhere around Kuopio.||458|
|August 19th, day 3||The last day in the European Union for quite some time. I am crossing the border to Russia at the Vartius/Lyttä border crossing after 271 km. So I'm thinking that would be in the afternoon. This will be Monday afternoon, so I am hoping it won't be too busy. But you never know how long time it will take, with queues and processing.|
After the border - probably late afternoon - I am planning to ride to the town of Kostomuksha where I will spend the night. I am planning on booking this hotel in advance. The hotel will register my visa with the police, which is required by law. I am actually exempt from that as I will be spending less than 7 business days in Russia anyway. But having it done, doesn't hurt. I am not planning too many kilometers as I need to have time for the border crossing. I guess it can take anything from 20 minutes to a couple of hours.
|August 20th, day 4||This will be super exciting as this will be the first full day of riding in Russia. And also because the roads I will be riding are gravel roads for the most part. I will be riding north with the village Kalevala as destination.|
Althogh the roads are gravel, quite a lot of them have been photographed by the Google street view car, and I see that they are in a pretty good shape. It is farly flat, so no hairpins, and I assume that they are quite fast to ride.
But I do want to absorb as much as possible and also, the fast that it appear to be the last town for quite some distance, it makes sense to stop for the day. That way I can refuel, physically and mentally. In addition, I will not be in a hurry to leave Kostomuksha, giving me time to stock up on supplies. I would like to get a Russian sim card for my phone so I'm not completely off the grid.
I'm planning om making a reservation on Hotel Velt, Kalevala, just next to lake Ozero Sredneye Kuyto.
|August 21st, day 5||After what I'm sure will be a great night's sleep, it is onward to Murmansk. But with those distances, I won't make it this day. First, 170 kilometers of good gravel before hitting the M18 highway. But first, a visit to a World War II Soviet Warrior's cemerary and memorial. I believe that World War II is called "Great Patriotic War" in Russia.|
This will also be the day where I cross the Arctic Circle. Fun fact, the Arctic Circle moves 15 meters per year due to fluctuation of the Earth's axial tilt (tidal forces).
The day will come to an end at the city of Kandalaksha.
|August 22nd, day 6||Finally arriving at Murmansk, where I will check in to a hotel. I am planning to stay for 2 days. If the M18 is quick, I may not stop in Kandalaksha, but for now, that is the plan. |
I will arrive realtively early, probably early afternoon, so I will wash my clothes, get my photos, and video organized a bit.
Then I hope to meet with Artem. I am hoping to get some good food, hear about the life in Russia, and Murmansk. I know Artem has been around in Russia, so he knows of the differences between areas. I think counties are called Oblast in Russian.
|August 23rd, day 7||Sightseeing. Including the Lenin Ice Breaker, the Alyosha monument, getting a feeling of the Murmansk beat. I am hoping to meet with Artem again, if his schedule allow, getting good food and more vodka.||0|
|August 24th, day 8||Checking out of the hotel, and riding west towards the border to Norway. On the way, I want to see the Lavna Waterfalls, and if possible, the Kola Deep Borehole. Although the project stopped in 1989, it is to this day still the deepest artificial point on Earth, with a true vertical depth of 12,262 meters (more than 12 kilometers straight down). This is a third way through the Earth's crust. |
Today, it is just a ruin, and the borehole is covered with a metal seal, so there's is not really a lot to see. And even less to fall in to (although I probably couldn't fit with its 23 cm diameter anyway).
After that, I'd like to see the town of Nikel. It is apparently quite polluted from the nearby Norilsk Nickel plant. But I'm not gonna stay long.
Fun fact: English rockband White Lies, filmed their video for "Farewell to the Fairground" here back in 2009.
After just another 40 kilometers, I will reach the Norway border at Storskog. Just 15 kilometers from the border, I will stop at Kirkenes where I will stay for the night.
|August 25th, day 9||Destination Nordkapp. But it is a long ride. There is a ferry, Hurtigruten, that sail from Kirkenes to Honningsvåg. It is a 17 hours trip, departing on the 25th at 12:30, and arriving at Honningsvåg the next morning af 5:30. It is very convenient, but it is not the cheapest transport, and at 1700 NOK without a cabin, it is to the point where it is ridiculous. Although it could be great to the fjords from the seaside, I will probably ride.|
And I will ride all the way to the town of Porsanger, hoping I can find some place to stay the night.
|August 26th, day 10||Porsanger to Nordkapp is a short trip. A little shy of 200 kilometers, so I will be there before lunch. What I hear from people, is that they actually don't stay long. If is more about having been there. There isn't much to see. Maybe getting some lunch at the restaurant and buying some souvenirs. |
And of course, I assume the sun is shining from an almost cloudless sky with only the fluffy cumulus clouds to add dramatic effects to the photos. I the weather is bad - which I believe it often is - and might be for large parts of the Norwegian west coast - I'm probably just going get some lunch, mandatory pictures and then on my way.
I am thinking to find some place to sleep in Honningsvåg. Or maybe even further south, is possible.
|August 27th, day 11||At this point, it is onward to the next highlight, Lofoten. I won't make it in one day, so I am planning on riding to a camp site called Fosselv. On the route, there's a couple of sights that I want to see, including the Alta Museum, and maybe have a cup of coffee at Gildetun.||391|
|August 28th, day 12||Continuing south west to Lofoten islands. I will enjoy the spectacular scenery on the way, and absorb all the sights, smells, (maybe rain) along the E6. Just east of Nordkjosbotn, I am thinking to ride off the E6 on to the 87 to hopefully ride a smaller road in the hope that there is less traffic. It will just be for a small while as the 87 joins the E6 about 100 kilometers, or so. At that point I will continue on 86 on a more coastal route. The day will come to an end somewhere at the base of the Lofoten islands.||379|
|August 29th, day 13||I am really looking forward to riding this route. I will enjoy the wonders of the scenic mountains and fjords while I cruise to Moskenes. I will be taking the ferry from Moskenes to Bodø either in the evening of the 30th (it departs at 20.30) if I have enough time. But I don't want to rush through the route, so I may stay the night at Moskenes (or around), and take the 7.00 ferry. The 20.30 ferry arrives at 23.45 at which point it can be inconvenient to find a place to sleep. The 7.00 ferry arrives at 10.15, so it seems like a better option.||327|
|August 30th, day 14||Leaving Moskenes with the 7.00 ferry to Bodø, arriving at 10.15, I will be taking a day "off". With riding every day since Murmansk, it is time to take a day to stock up on supplies, get laundry done, and do some sight seeing in the area.||0|
|August 31st, day 15||This day will take me through the first part of the Helgelandskysten scenic route. It is a long route with lots of ferries. This day will take me on 6 small ferries. I don't know their schedule, crossing time, and wait time, so I have no idea how long it will take. The distance may be too optimistic. On tthis day, I will be crossing the Arctic Circle again, going south. It will actually be while on a ferry. It will be 10 days since I crossed it in Russia, this day.||351|
|September 1st, day 16||The ride this day is not very long. So there is time for more scenery absorbing, or as a buffer for the ride the day before it has turned out to be too optimistic. It is the bottom part of the Helgelandskysten scenic route. There are 3 ferry crossings.||180
|September 2nd, day 17||Continuing south from the Helgelandskysten scenic route. The stop of the day is Trondheim. No too long distance this day, and allow for a relatively early check in at some place in Trondheim.||311|
|September 3rd, day 18||This day will take me almost to the Atlantic road, which is famous for its twisting bridges. |
It is said, however, that it has been blown out of proportions, as the scenic photos that you see, are taken from angles you cannot get to, unless you fly or have a drone. I have a drone, so I will take my chances.
Eiither I will be riding the Atlantic road this day in the evening (if the sun set is nice) - in which case I will continue; or, I will ride the road the following day, in which case I will spend the night in Kristiansund.
|September 4th, day 19||This will be the day of riding the Atlantic road (assuming I didn't do it the previous day), and the Trollstigen route. Both should be quite scenic. Although there is one ferry crossing, it is a relatively short day with hopefully lots of time for absorbing the scenery (i.e. taking pictures and video).||236|
|September 5th, day 20||I am continuing further south this day. It will be a bit longer than other days, but I may have covered some of it from the previous day. With one ferry crossing and a little more than 400 kilometers, the end of the day will be at the beginning of the Ryfylke scenic route. That route is for the following day to enjoy.||430|
|September 6th, day 21||Riding the Ryfylke scenic route. Continuing on a ferry to Stavanger.||179|
|September 7th, day 22||From Stavanger west to the ferry that will take me down the Lysefjord to Lysebotn. This is a nice ferry ride, and the road after the ferry is supposed to be super awesome.|
Lyseboth scenic route will be the last planned scenic route on the trip as the next couple of days will be about riding home.
|September 8th, day 23||Just a little west of Oslo, I am expecting to ride all the way home this day.||624|
Download GPX file to import into Garmin Basecamp: GPX
Download the KML file to import into Google Earth: KML
There is nothing in the plan that is set in stone. Circumstances change, reality bites, assumptions are wrong, weather sucks, and plans are always adjusted along the way. And thank God for that – that is what makes it interesting.
Changes in the plan is part of the plan
Also, when I ride with someone, they always have great input to things to see. Locals we meet may suggest something too.
Do you want to tag along?
I don’t mind riding alone. But I like company. Having a cold beer after day’s ride, bitching over cage drivers, police, the weather, or whatever is worth bitching about is nice. And of course detail plan the following day.
Not to be too anal about how things are done (I’d like to think I am open minded), but I like to be aligned with my travel buddies.
- Relaxed, not too much in a rush. I’d rather cut off some of the plan than to rush through it.
- Generally within the speed limits.
- Preparing to ride at about 8.00 and start looking for accommodation at about 17.00
- Don’t mind gravel and a little technical terrain, but riding on a heavy GS, there are limits to my abilities.
- I’m in it for the journey, not the destination (although the latter is a prerequisite of the former).
- Ideal number of riders is 2-4.
- Basic hotels, motels, B&B, and the like, with a shower, toilet, a bed, and a place to eat in walking distance.
- Single rooms for some alone time, if possible (subject to price and availability). I’m not going to bitch about sharing room, if needed. That can be fun, sometimes.
- For this trip, I think camping will be a great way to be less dependent. And also, I am a little concerned that the prices in Norway are too high for hotels and B&B’s. So camping will be part of the trip, although I do prefer a little a room or cabin.
A very quick and rough “guesstimate” is as follows:
|Petrol||7000 km @ 16 km/l, approx 400 liters @ €1.50. It is slightly higher in NO, but a lot lower in RU (less than €1)||650|
|Accommodation||22 nights @ avg €30||660|
|Ferries||8 smaller at €20 (I made that up) €160|
1 Moskenes-Bodø €65
1 Stockholm-Turku €90
|Visa||Russia visa, including invitation||100|
This is not including entry to sites, food & dring, and other out-of-the-pocket expenses.
Feel free to leave a comment below.