Kirkenes is at the north-eastern end of Norway, 10 kilometres from the border with Russia and 400 kilometres inside the Arctic Circle, further east than Istanbul and St Petersburg. Kirkenes is not a charmingly attractive place at first glance, a frozen shore with functional buildings and plenty of snow. Everything looks pretty new, no surprise given that during World War 2 it suffered 320 air attacks, second only to Malta, having been occupied by Nazi Germany, used as the main supply base for the Murmansk Front and then occupied by the Red Army of Russia. The Russians are still here, road signs are in Russian, plenty of boats in the harbour, all in good and close relations. We however are here for a snowmobile safari in Kirkenes.
Our guide, Ulf, is a charismatic Norwegian constantly cracking jokes, he wants people to have a good time with Barents Safari which we booked via Hurtigruten for our Norway Arctic Circle trip. Snowmobiling in the Arctic Circle on a frozen fjord leading to the Barents sea sounds cold but with the suit they give you and the heated handlebars of the snowmobile you don’t feel a thing. The weather went from wonderful sun to white-out in seconds, just follow the snowmobile tracks to avoid any unpleasantness of crashing through any weak ice. Ice road truckers never had it so easy.
Sliding and skidding along the snowy surface gives you a great feel for the far north, the remoteness and middle of nowhere feel you get from the Norwegian Russian border gives a beguiling tranquillity of silence rarely glimpsed in modern life. It’s not technically challenging but it is fun, our Go Pro filming can confirm that. If you get the chance, go for it. Sam loved it, I need to convince her to get a motorbike now.
Finishing off the snowmobile safari with a warm up in a Sami lavvo tent with tea and a snack. Ulf confesses the key to surviving in Kirkenes is with this snack, it’s his version of Norwegian viagra, Reindeer heart. Of course, he doesn’t tell you that until after you’ve eaten it. Sorry kids, we ate Rudolph, Christmas is cancelled. If it makes you feel any better, it tasted disgusting.
Find out trip to Norway and the Arctic Circle here.
Find our Husky Sledding in Tromso here.