My Amazing Trip to Murmansk
Murmansk, a city located in the far northwest of Russia, is a place of stunning natural beauty and fascinating history. With a population of over 300,000, it is the largest city north of the Arctic Circle and one of the world's most important ports for the export of Russian minerals.
- Winter Wonderland: Murmansk experiences long, harsh winters, but it's also a winter wonderland for adventurous travelers. With the Northern Lights illuminating the sky and snow-covered landscapes that stretch for miles, it's the perfect destination for winter sports like snowmobiling, skiing, and ice fishing.
- Arctic Adventure: The region around Murmansk is home to some of the world's most breathtaking landscapes, including fjords, glaciers, and the majestic Barents Sea. Whether you're hiking, fishing, or just taking in the scenery, the Arctic is a true adventure playground.
- Cultural Richness: Despite its remote location, Murmansk is a city with a rich cultural heritage, boasting numerous museums, theaters, and galleries.
- History Hub: Murmansk played a significant role in World War II, serving as a vital supply route for the Allies and a base for the Russian Navy. Today, visitors can explore the many monuments and museums dedicated to this fascinating period in the city's history.
The goal of my trip to Murmansk is just to enjoy the scenery and beauty the city offers as well as to witness the Northern Lights – if I am lucky enough. And lucky I was when I got to see this natural wonder right on my first night there! I have been told that I might not catch it during my time there due to the fact that predicting when the Northern Lights will be visible can be difficult, as it depends on various factors such as solar activity and cloud cover.
On the second day, I visited the Saami village and I learned so much about the Saami people and their fascinating culture.
The Saami people are indigenous people of northern Europe, living in the northern regions of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. In the Murmansk region of Russia, the Saami people have lived for centuries, maintaining their traditional way of life and cultural heritage.
The Saami people in Murmansk have historically been nomadic, traveling with their herds of reindeer for food and transportation. This traditional lifestyle continues today in some parts of the region, where Saami families still rely on reindeer herding for their livelihoods. They have a long history of living in close relationships with the reindeer, which serve as an important source of food, clothing, and transportation. The Saami have a deep spiritual connection with reindeer, viewing them as sacred animals, and have developed a unique set of practices for herding and managing reindeer herds. Today, the relationship between the Saami people and reindeer continues to play a central role in their cultural identity and way of life.
The Saami people in Murmansk have a rich cultural heritage, including traditional music, dance, and clothing. They are also known for their intricate and beautiful handicrafts, including textiles, jewelry, and wooden artifacts. Despite their proud cultural traditions, unfortunately, they face numerous challenges, including economic marginalization and the effects of industrialization on their traditional way of life. Some Saami communities are also under threat from resource extraction and mining activities in the region. Thankfully in recent years, there have been efforts to preserve the cultural heritage of the Saami people in Murmansk. This includes programs to promote traditional crafts, language classes, and cultural events that showcase their unique way of life. The Saami people are an integral part of the cultural landscape of Murmansk and their traditions and way of life are a valuable part of the region's rich heritage. By supporting their efforts to preserve their culture, we can help ensure that their unique way of life will continue for generations to come.
My third and fourth days in Murmansk could be considered semi-fail days. Let me tell you guys what happened.
I had the plan to visit the Icebreaker Museum. Just before going there, I discovered that the museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. And not just the Icebreaker Museum, several other places, primarily museums, are closed during these two days as well.
It was a bummer, but I did not let it get the best of me and pulled out my list of places I wanted to go in Murmansk. The next place I really wanted to see on that list was the Snow Village. Another bad planning on my part because it is located at least 3 hours' drive away from the city center.
On the next and my last day in Murmansk I had planned to go to Teriberka. Teriberka is a village located about 120 km away from the city, known for its rugged beauty and remote location on the Barents Sea coast. It is sometimes referred to as "The Edge of the World" due to its remote location and spectacular landscapes, with the surrounding area featuring fjords, mountains, and glaciers.
Unfortunately, the day before I was going to Teriberka the weather was very windy, resulting in the road there being buried deep in snow overnight. I was on the phone with the driver that was supposed to take me there all morning, but since the road remained closed there was nothing we could do. Then, again, I pulled out my what-to-do-in-Murmansk list. It was Tuesday so I still couldn’t visit the Icebreaker Museum, and it was again too late to go to the Snow Village. I needed to do at least something before catching my flight back to Moscow that night.
Huskiesledding. It was on my list and I hadn’t done that. Immediately I got in contact with several places that provide that service. And luck was on my team once more when I found a place that could take me in right away.
Huskiesledding is a popular activity in Murmansk and a great way to experience the region's unique and rugged landscape.
Huskiesledding is a traditional method of transportation in the Arctic and offers a unique way to explore the region's snow-covered landscapes. You'll be able to enjoy the scenic views and feel the rush of the sled as the dogs pull you along. Some tours even offer the opportunity to help drive the sled, which can be a fun and exciting experience.
Being with the huskies was amazing. They were Siberian Huskies – a beloved breed in Murmansk, Russia, known for their strength and endurance in harsh arctic climates. These dogs were originally bred for sledding, and their thick double coats of fur protect them from the cold temperatures of the region.
In Murmansk, these dogs are often used for sledding expeditions and are highly valued for their ability to navigate through snow and ice with ease. They are also popular as family pets, known for their friendly, outgoing personalities and loyalty to their owners.
The sledding culture in Murmansk is deeply rooted in its history, with the breed being brought to the region during the Nome Gold Rush of the late 1800s. In recent years, they have been used in several famous sled dog races, including the Iditarod race in Alaska. Overall, the Siberian Huskies of Murmansk are a testament to the strength and resilience of both the breed and the people of the region, who have a deep appreciation for these amazing animals.
Saying goodbyes to those huskies was definitely one of the downer parts of my trip.
In conclusion, Murmansk is a city that offers visitors a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and adventure. With its stunning scenery, rich cultural heritage, and exciting winter activities, it's no wonder that this city is one of the most popular destinations in the far north of Russia. Whether you're an outdoor enthusiast, a history buff, or just looking for a unique and exciting travel experience, Murmansk is a must-visit destination.
So there you have it, a taste of the exciting, adventurous, and culturally rich city of Murmansk. Pack your bags and head north for a truly unforgettable experience!