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Russia & Finland - The Hunt for the Northern Lights. 10 days

 
Join us on the hunt for the magical green light in the far north of Russia and Finland.This is  journey to observe the timeless phenomenon: the aurora borealis or the Northern Lights! We look for the lights in the north of Russia and in Finland. Winter in the far north of the European continent is also worthwhile even if you we aren't able to see the lights.

Join our active, international groups of all ages. Most will come from the Netherlands and Belgium which adds to the cultural aspect of this trip. You will find almost all of your fellow travelers speak great English!. Our guide addresses the group in Dutch and English. 

Itinerary

  1. St. Petersburg
  2. St. Petersburg
  3. St. Petersburg- night train to Kirovsk
  4. arrival Kirovsk
  5. Kirovsk - evening train to Murmansk
  6. Murmansk
  7. Murmansk, excursion Teriberka
  8. Murmansk - Ivalo
  9. Ivalo
  10. Ivalo

Day by day

 Saint Petersburg - stately and charming

Day 1. Saint Petersburg
Day 2. St. Peterburg
Day 3. Saint Petersburg - evening train to the far north

We start this special journey in the unique St. Petersburg : window to Europe and Russia of today. Saint Petersburg in the winter is cold and beautiful. A visit to the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg can take a whole day; after all, this is one of the largest cultural-historical museums in the world. Of course there are the classic sights such as the Petrus Paulus fortress and the Mariinski theater for example. St. Petersburg was built according to the canal model as known in Amsterdam. In winter you can certainly skate in St. Petersburg in the Victory park and on the Yelagin Island north of the center. Because of the cold and the snow there is a soft blanket over the city and its parks that muffles the noise of the city. Winter is therefore a special time to visit this part of the world.

Russia is big, very big. The average Russian does flinch when it comes to a train journey of 72 hours or more. We get on the train at the end of the third day for a relatively short ride of a little 24 hours towards the high north. We cross the Arctic Circle in the afternoon and arrive in Apatity on the Kola Peninsula.

White mountains and light, green light

Day 4. arrival Apatity - Kirovsk
Day 5. Kirovsk - evening train to Murmansk

The Kola peninsula has the shape of a thick landlob and is surrounded by the Barents Sea and the White Sea. Although Kola is almost entirely above the Arctic Circle, it has an ice-free coast thanks to the wave current and a relatively mild climate. In the winter, the maximum temperatures here are around -5 degrees. We go here to enjoy the beautiful nature, the mountains and views.In the evening of day 4 we arrive in Apatity and travel directly to Kirovsk. The village has a population of 30,000 and owes its existence to the extraction of various minerals that are found here in large quantities. In the winter, little is mined making this the perfect base for snow activities in the Chibinen mountains .

We can hike, cross-country, ski or go on a snowmobile here. And in the evening we go to look for the Northern Lights! We drive through the mountains and while enjoying a hot drink against the cold we have the first opportunity to admire the Aurora Borealis. After a full day in nature we board the train for a short drive of about 3 hours to Murmansk.

Murmansk and Teriberka

Day 6. Murmansk
Day 7. Murmansk, visit Teriberka

We have two full days to discover the largest city above the Arctic Circle. The history of Murmansk only goes back a century; in 1915 the city was founded in order to remain in contact with the West. This is thanks to the relatively pleasant climate that makes the port free of ice 365 days a year. A railway connects the north with Saint Petersburg and beyond. For this reason, most of the inhabitants of the region, the Murmansk Oblast, live on or near the railway. We find a few attractions in this city, such as the Alosha monument that commemorates the soldiers who defended the city during the Second World War. The Atomic Crush Lenin is a special museum and monument that recalls the rich history of shipping. (This is named for the atomic powered ice breaker.)However, what makes the city special is the northern location at the end of the world and the list of unique "most northern ...". This is how we find the most northern art museum in the world. the most northern train station and the most Northern McDonalds in the world.

We also find Sami communities who are used to harsh winters and living with nature. The Oscar nominated film " Leviathan" was filmed in the village of Teriberka and gives a nice picture of Russia today. The natural environment in the far north of the Barents Sea is truly beautiful. We pay a visit to the village. Also in Murmansk there are opportunities to go out with a snowmobile or to make a sleigh ride with reindeer. And of course every evening we spend here offers a new chance to see the special northern lights..

Sami in Finnish Lapland

Day 8. Murmansk - Ivalo
Day 9. Ivalo
Day 10. Ivalo -

With our own bus we cross the border to Finnish Lapland. We travel through sami area and it is possible to visit one of the communities. We stay overnight in Ivalo, a good base for various activities in the region. In the Inari lake you can go ice fishing. The Sámi Museum Siida is the national museum and stores the spiritual and material culture of the Finnish Sámi in its collections. In the south of Ivalo we can work with reindeer or huskies or go skiing and / or cross-country skiing. In addition, this is obviously the place to view the Northern Lights for the last time. By sleigh, on snowshoes or slats, by snowmobile, etc. it is possible to go out in the evening and look for the Aurora Borealis. After a last green glow in this remote no man's land and a camera full of beautiful photos, the trip comes to an end.

Dates and prices

Departure dates 2019

Land Begins Land Ends Price Availability  
Feb-16-19Feb-25-19$2,5400 seats
Feb-23-19Mar-04-19$2,6050 seats
Mar-09-19Mar-18-19$2,5400 seats
Mar-16-19Mar-25-19$2,6700 seats

Departure dates 2020

Land Begins Land Ends Price Availability  
Feb-15-20Feb-24-20$2,54020 seatsbook now >
Feb-22-20Mar-02-20$2,54020 seatsbook now >
Mar-07-20Mar-16-20$2,54020 seatsbook now >
Mar-14-20Mar-23-20$2,54020 seatsbook now >

Conditions "Guaranteed leave"

Practical information

Accommodations & Meals


We spend the night in tourist-class hotels, where the rooms are always equipped with their own shower and toilet. The Russian hotels were built in the 1970s and 1980s in the typical rectilinear Soviet version. A dying phenomenon in the Russian hotel system is the dezjoernaja, the floor lady, who manages the room key, and provides drinks and hot water for tea. In St. Petersburg we stay in Gostevoy Fond, situated in a good location in one of the typical Soviet buildings in the city. North of the Arctic Circle, the accommodation is traditionally furnished with all the amenities for a cold winter.

Typical hotels: 

Kirovsk          Gornaya Dolina
Murmansk     Moryak
Ivalo              Hotel Ivalo
Ivalo              Kultahippu Hotel

Single room
Individual travelers are matched with other single travelers of the same sex. If you do not want to be classified with another participant, you can book a single room for the listed additional charge. 

Hotel extension
Extension or advance can be booked with accommodation in Saint Petersburg or Ivalo.

Meals
Breakfast is included with this trip. Breakfast consists of bread, a dish with cheese and sausage and a fried or boiled egg. Sometimes there is fruit juice and yogurt, at least tea and coffee. You can make your choice for lunch and dinner. In the larger cities, a large number of new restaurants have come in recent years, in the smaller cities the choice is more limited. In the big hotels and restaurants, ordinary European dishes are prepared: soup, meat / fish with rice or potatoes. Yoghurt and salads are widely available. The dessert is usually limited to ice cream.

The national drink in Russia is tea. Coffee, always served black, is much less drunk. Tap water is good and clean, but does not always taste good. In Saint Petersburg, drinking tap water is not recommended. Here you can use the best bottles of water.

Flights & Transportation

 We provide the land program only therefore you will need to book your own international flights. Since the majority of the participants are Dutch and Belgian, and will be arriving from Amsterdam, our start and end times for the land program are based on their arrival and departure times.  You should organize your own flights to correspond with their arrival times. Make sure you arrive at the same time or prior to their scheduled arrival so you will not miss the welcome meeting or any activity. 

The Dutch will fly with Finnair. will arrive in St. Petersburg at 7:55 PM You can arrive earlier in the day and check in to the hotel. 

On the final day, the Dutch will depart Ivalo at 1:55 PM

If your scheduled flight leaves at the same time or within an hour or two after, you are welcome to join the Dutch participants on the bus to the airport, at no additional charge. 

Transport
We travel partly in Russia and Finland by train and with a comfortable bus.From St. Petersburg to Apatity we travel with a comfortable train; this journey takes about 24hr. This is actually the best way of traveling Russia. In the 2nd class coupés there are 4 beds and sheets and a blanket is provided. We can stretch our legs in the aisle and the restoration car is open for a large part of the day. During the trip there is also a regular stop and you can usually go outside. We also travel by train from Apatity to Murmansk.

From Apatity to Kirovsk and back we travel by bus. From the departure from Murmansk we continue with a private bus to Ivalo. We can stop in this way wherever we want to stretch our legs, take a picture or visit a beautiful place.

In St. Petersburg metro, tram and taxi are convenient means of transport.


 

Money Matters

 Included:

  • Land Program 
  • Transport by bus
  • Hotel stays with breakfast
  • Overnight stays in train in 2nd class coupés (4 people)
  • City walk through Saint Petersburg
  • Snow shoe tour near Teriberka on the Barents Sea
  • Tour Leader assisted

Money matters
In Russia there is paid with the Russian ruble (RBL). The Euro is used in Finland. Look for the current prices on oanda.com .

ATMS: there are ATMs in most of the big places where overnight. 
Cash: you can change dollars at banks. 
Credit cards: can be used in many places.

You will need to budget for  expenses that are not included in the fare, such as meals, entrance fees, optional excursions and personal expenses. 

It is customary to give tips for services rendered. In order to avoid having to always dispose of tips, a tip jar is set up at the start of the trip, from which the (joint) tips are paid to the drivers, guides, hotel staff, etc. The guideline for the tip jar for this trip is around $25. 

For all estimated costs, see COST SUMMARY on Dates & Prices section. 

Excursions

Your tour leader will have many activities planned. You are free to join the group and guide or you may go exploring on your own. The cost of entry fees are not included so you can select those things that you would like to do. 

You can not miss some places of interest, are difficult to reach or are 'en route' to our next place to stay. Such excursions are included in the program at Djoser. The admission fee is also exclusive for excursions included in the program.

During this trip the following excursions and points of interest are included in the itinerary:

  • City walk through Saint Petersburg with Nevsky Prospekt, the Hermitage and the Peter and Paul fortress.
  • Stay in the outdoor sports area in Kirovsk
    Snowshoe tour near Teriberka village on the coast of the Barents Se.
  •  
  • During the trip, other excursions are possible that are certainly worthwhile.

A short distance from Saint Petersburg, for example, are imposing outdoor residences of the 18th-century tsars that can be visited. These are out-of pocket costs. 

  • Skiing or other snow sports in Kirovsk
  • Visit to Saami community in Russia
  • Reindeer safari in Ivalo or Murmansk
  • Visit to the Siida Saami museum in Inari
     

Travel Documents

Visa for Russia is needed.  We will provide further information. 

Passport - must be valid for 6 months beyond exit from country 

About 4 weeks before departure you will receive more information about the visa application

It is important that, in your passport, two blank pages are free for the visa.

Health Issues & Insurance

No vaccinations are recommended for this trip. It is wise to take a medical kit with aspirin and medicines for intestinal disorders. The tour guide is also in possession of a medical kit containing sterile medical equipment.


 

Group Composition

 Minimum group size: 10  Maximum: 20

You will join an international group with active  travelers of all ages.  We will be happy to provide the group demographics upon request (age range, male/female, # singles). 

As we partner with Djoser, Netherlands for this trip, most participants will be arriving from Holland and Belgium.  You will find most have a superb command of English.  The international make-up of the group adds to the cultural experience. 

Tour Leaders & Support Staff

 A Dutch tour leader will accompany the group and will address the group in Dutch and in English. He or she will make sure that you get the important information. The tour leader is a logistics coordinator and not a lecturer. They have good knowledge of the area and in addition to coordinating planned activities, can suggest fun things for independent activities and dining.

We work closely with our in-country representatives who help us insure that our trips run smoothly. They have years of experience working with Djoser

Climate & Geography

In Russia and Finland it becomes cold in the winter. The days are very short, but often clear and sunny. Temperatures in St. Petersburg are falling below freezing. In the coldest month, January, it's average at -10 ° C. In the Murmansk and Finnish Lapland oblast it is often even colder, so thermo clothing is not a luxury. In the winter there is also a lot of snow, of course indispensable for the necessary snow fun!

The primeval landscape is characterized by its untouched nature with many pine forests and thousands of clear lakes.

Photos & video

Book Trip/Trip Inquiry

Are you ready to book a trip?


* Submit this form to begin your reservation process.  Confirm that names exactly as they appear on a current passports.  If names on your international, domestic flights or visas (if applicable) do not match your name as it appears on your passport, some countries will deny you entry.

TIP:  Also verify your name on your flight records, within 24 hours after reserving to avoid change or cancellation penalties.   

* Pay by personal check or credit card:  Visa, Mastercard, American Express

* Call us with your charge card information.  Your place will be reserved upon receipt of funds for required deposit.

* Refer to the Prices & Dates page for an overview of your total costs & deposit 


* Download the Booking Form with Terms and Conditions

* Fax for with signatures for all participants 18 and over to  484-595-9140 . Or scan to us at luke@djoserusa.com

* Or mail Djoser, Inc., 154 Woodgate Lane, Paoli, PA 19301 - Attn: Luke Neal


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