Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Travel 5 days (hunting Aurora) in Arctic under $225


Total spending: 17870 Ruble/ $225 excluding flight tickets

I've set my eyes on Murmansk since last year when my friends introduced Murmansk to me. I had to go... For the sake of Aurora Borealis, for the sake of a "Scandinavian" experience which I couldn't afford.

photo credit: Ng Yung Jeat
Located in Russia, extreme northwest on the Kola Bay, Murmansk is the largest city above the Arctic Circle, with road access to Finland and Norway. It is also a 15 hours drive from the more well-known Russian city, St. Petersburg OR a 2 hour 30 minutes flight from Moscow.

My trip was organised by Mr. Олег Теребенин from Visit Murmansk and v-leto.ru. Thank you for all the wonderful memories. Check out their websites for more tour options with superb English-speaking tour guides. (Contact details are provided at the end of the article. ) 

Day 1: Arriving in Narnia

Endless surprises seemed to pop out in every corner since the very first day. Flying into Murmansk at night was exciting. In fact, it was one of the most magical experience I've ever had. I remembered the night when the plane flew above those dense clouds, I turned over to face the window as I prepared to sleep... and there I see it-- The dancing Northern Lights, right in front of me!
Remember when Lucy opened a magic wardrobe and discovered Narnia? This is exactly how I felt right at the point when I pushed the exit door at the airport. Snow snow and more snow! Mr. Oleg was already there waiting for me with a big open-armed welcome.

Day 2: Teriberka

Price: 12000 Rubles/ $159 per jeep 


photo credit: Aisswaria
Mr. Alek and Alexei came to pick us up with their jeeps on 9 a.m. It was a 2 hours joy ride out of the city of Murmansk, with a lot of photo stops. Our guides were doing a great job telling us interesting stories about the region. Teriberka is the setting for the Oscar-nominated Russian Movie "Leviathan", which went ahead and won a Golden Globe in 2015. This place is half-deserted, with a lot of abandon houses along the coast of Barents Sea. Well don't get me wrong, THIS, is the exact reason why I like it! If I were to put it in one word: EXQUISITE!

Day 3: Murmansk City

Price: 1500 - 2200 Ruble/ $ 20 - 30 ( depending on season and size of the group)


In this tour we were picked up by Mr. Oleg himself on 10.30 a.m. Mr. Yaroslav was our guide of the day, explaining every single details perfectly in English, making the day tour an enjoyable and informative one.  Murmansk is one of the cities of Hero in Russia. The monument of Alyosha stand tall in remembrance of all Soviet soldiers, sailors and airmen in World War 2.
The Lenin Ice Breaker is the World's first nuclear-powered ship. Now it was converted into a museum, based permanently at Murmansk. We got all interesting insights on how an Ice Breaker works and how energy was generated in "Lenin". Highly recommended!
Other cool spots visited: City Panorama, Orthodox Church, City Museum, A "wishing" Salmon

Read more: Murmansk City day tour

Day 4: Sami Village and Husky Farm 

Price: 5200 Ruble/ $ 69 ( depending on your choice of package)


photo credit: Ng Yung Jeat
Sami people are an indigenous Finno-Urgric people inhibiting the Arctic area. We were humbled by the opportunity to visit one of their Villages in Murmansk.
Highlights: made a wish at the Shaman Poles, interacted with reindeer and some colour-changing polar foxes. With a small additional fee, jump on a reindeer sleigh and fly over the moon in search of Santa Clause.
Read more: Sami Village experience


Photo Credit: Ng Yung Jeat
Ever wonder why Huskies seem to have their faces all over 9GAG? Their expressions can be really dumb at times. I mean, really Really REALLY dumb! However, don't be fooled. They are intelligent creatures... riding on a husky-sleigh is definitely an at-least-once-in-a-lifetime must-do! What I love about the Husky Farm is the fact that the owners treat each and every huskies like their own babies. It's fun to see them interact with their owner, kissing her like no tomorrow... Adorable!
Read more: Husky Farm experience


photo credit: Ng Yung Jeat

Day 4 night: Aurora Borealis/ Northern Lights Hunting

Price: 1500 Ruble/ $20 (depending on how big your group is, month and weather)

I'd never heard of Murmansk before being introduced to it last year. Little did we all know, it is one of the most affordable place on earth to hunt for the Northern Lights! During our hunting, Mr. Oleg brought us across the river to take in the nice night of Murmansk city. Then, he drove us to his secret aurora spot where we prayed fervently for a glimpse of the Northern Lights. Mr. Oleg even prepared hot tea while we waited, and a bottle of (rum?) to celebrate the sighting. Weather was not the best when we were on our hunt. Fortunately we managed to locate a window of clear sky and later, witnessed a spectacular dance of the spirits from a distance.
Read more: Aurora Borealis in Murmansk

Aurora in Murmansk is pretty amazing too. Photo by  Mikhail Rzhavin from Moscow.

Day 5: Snow Village

photo credit: Ng Yung Jeat

Bus ticket: 1300 Ruble / $17
Transport to Snow Village: 130 Ruble/  $1.73
Entrance Fee: 400 Ruble / $5 
The Snow Village in Kirovsk is a museum, made completely out of snow and ice! For a small entrance fee, you get to enjoy an elaborated indoor snow/ice maze and an outdoor snow sculpture exhibition. Don't miss the snow tubes on your way out! We dedicated the entire afternoon snow tubing, and guess what, it was completely FREE!
Read more: Snow Village Experience


Trying a Salmon dish (preferably a wild Salmon!) is a must when visiting Murmansk. If you are not a fan of Salmon, try other seafood!We eased our craving for good seafood at Terrasa. For as low as $5, you'll get a superb meal with beverages, what a steal!
After dinner, Mr Oleg came pick us up at the restaurant and then off to the airport. We were blessed to catch 3 more Aurora Borealis in action. Oh boy, what a journey!
Read more: What to eat in Murmansk

Once again, a big thank you to Mr. Олег Теребенин from Visit Murmansk and v-leto.ru for arranging our tour. All opinions are my own.
Contact: Mr. Oleg Pavlovich Terebenin
Phone: +79212731919
E-mail: terebenin@mail.ru
 

UPDATE (12 January 2017)
Prices above do not apply anymore, only for reference.
As you can see, from a unknown destination, Murmansk had become a popular destination since the post got viral in 2016.
There are a few reasons why you should expect 3-10 times the above price now:
1. It was in January 2016, when Murmansk was pretty much unknown
2. It was in 2016 when the value of Rubles dropped to the bottom of the Valley.
3. We were 5 in a group. The more the cheaper.
4. We speak Russian, so we looked for our own accommodation and transportation + manage to haggle.

Thank You for Reading!  
Feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below!

70 comments:

BT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bernard Tan said...

This is very informative! would love to visit arctic!

Travel Tramp said...

This is actually awesome! Murmansk is so off the beaten track! I have to go here now.

Sung -hi said...

New destination I never heard of. This is awesome for us who are tired of mainstream destinations. Never knew Russia can be this cool.

Dang Travelers said...

Wow this sounds AMAZING! I haven't heard of it before. It sounds like a pretty reasonable trip too which is always good for our budget-friendly ways.

cindyrina said...

Oh gosh! amazing experience. The view is gorgeous! This place will be in my list too.

wfc said...

wow...such a nice place . never thought before . but it's really interesting to experience it!

Shingzz Lss said...

Have been longing to visit Scandinavian country for very long. So glad to be able to read through your blog post knowing more about the aurora in Arctic.

Wai Yee aka Rane said...

wow thanks for the tips here. Will plan a trip there soon

LeeYing C said...

wow this will be my target for next yr ! seem sooo nice! thanks so much for sharing this :)

farena said...

Looks like such an amazing trip! Thanks for sharing...

Joanne Wee said...

Narnia !!! Wow ~!!! Snow!!!
I love all your photos
and thanks for sharing all the information...

ANFIELD said...

just found out FIFA 2018 will be held in Russia. this place will be so popular that time, i can foresee it!

FiSh. ohFISHiee said...

wow that's such a beautiful place!! I'd wish to go some day since i have not seen snow before

Syafiera Yamin said...

mAK AIH RUSSIA !! Received sponsorship from waze for budapest but cannot bring kids,, of course i didnt go., :(

Shinndu said...

I bet it must be very cold.... I heard aurora sighting is from september to april. i guess april will be a good time? because 1st it will be spring, comfy wheather, and then you get to see the magic... oh oh and the flower too!

Sunshine Kelly said...

Wow I wish that one day I will be able to go there and experience aurora hunting too.

Shelly B said...

It sure sounds like you had an awesome time. What made it even better was the tour guide! I would really love to go there at least one time. You topped off the trip with a seafood feast. Yum! My kind of trip. Thanks for sharing your adventure with us. I enjoyed the read.

Miera Nadhirah Tan said...

Amazing blog post and amazing experience.. what I won't give to get an opportunity to see those Northern Lights as well...

Jennifer @ Mom Spotted said...

What an amazing experience! I would love to travel more! Looks like you found some great ways to enjoy it too!

Tori Gabriel said...

This sounds like a once in a lifetime trip.i am so jealous as seeing the Northern Lights is top of my bucket list. I loved this post.

Shubhada Bhide said...

This must be once-in-a-lifetime experience for you. I would surely try to visit too.

Emily said...

What a trip it has been for you. It can only remain on my bucket list right now, even though it seemed quite affordable from your itinerary.

Shereena Gill said...

Aurora, a must in my bucket list!

Rodger said...

Amazing. The entire trip sounds really nice. Great if you can share more photos from the trip.

Jaclyn Anne said...

To be honest I had never heard of Murmansk before. It looks beautiful and I would love to visit and see the Northern Lights one day - a definite for the bucket list. From your details it sounds like staying and traveling around Murmansk is rather affordable, which is great. Thanks for sharing your travels with us!

Parent Palace said...

This looks like a wonderful trip filled with so many experiences. I am totally jealous and ready to follow in your footsteps! Plus, I completely love your banner pictures at the top - I can't wait to get back to Grand Canyon. Such a wonderful experience every time.

NAZMA IQBAL said...

Wow this sounds amazing . I can see that u had loqds of fun... And it
Was not that expensive .. Wowww

Michelle said...

This trip to Murmansk sounds absolutely fabulous and I would love to do everything you did. I enjoy visiting different places that aren't just popular tourist destinations.

Aliza Sara said...

That actually cheap. But im wondering how much would the flight tickets be. T.T

Dom said...

This is the first time i've heard of Murmansk as a destination to view the Northern Lights. It sounds great and very affordable, thank you for sharing and highlighting this alternative.

Hanniz Envato said...

Hopefully I'll get to see the lights for myself one day but I'm not a fan of the Artic cold!

Six Time Mommy TEST said...

Wow would love to visit the Arctic one day. I'm not really a fan of the cold but it sure looks just beautiful so would be lovely to see. - Jeanine

Sharon Lee said...

This post was really amazing! I hope that one day I can't have the chance to see Aurora Light. I know we will have to wait for 7 years till the next light here.

Jennifer Johnson said...

What a fun trip to go on!! I have a friend who did a mission in Russia and loved it, looks so pretty there.

Censie Sawyer said...

What an amazing place to visit. I would love to take my family on a trip liek this. I hope that one day we can all see the Aurora Lights. Such an amazing experience.

Ashley Steer said...

This is exactly the type of trip I want to go on!!! I tell my friends I want to visit Iceland and they all look at me weird... haha. Nice to see someone else enjoying frigid temperatures!

Camesha | Mama Motivator said...

What an extraordinary experience. This is definitely one of those once in a lifetime trips!

Bonnie Gowen said...

This sounds like a really great experience! Thanks so much for sharing all of this.

Mumsand Babies said...

You must have had a great time enjoying it. I am so looking forward to plan a visit to see northern lights.

Shini Lola said...

Wow~ Looks like a fun trip here. Thanks for sharing. =D

GengQian said...

really cool experience. i hope i can see some lights too if i have the chance!

Miriam Goh said...

Omg awesome!!!!!! I have always wanted to chase Aurora. Definitely something on my bucket list

monicazyoung said...

On my bucket list. Bookmarking the page to come back when we are ready for our vacation. What an amazing experience and trip

Ivy Kam said...

Wow Arctic?! The place looks so so extremely cold to me >.<

Salma Tayo said...

oh my the aurora borealis!! i want to cry. i have always want to see them. pray that i'll be able to go and witness them live someday.

Katie Moseman said...

Wow, what a difference from where I live. Down here in Florida, we never see snow at all. I'd love to travel to someplace like this where winter is really a thing and snow covers the ground! Neat photos you have here, and it looks like a lot of fun.

The New Travel Blog said...

Hey Miss Happy Feet, just wanted to say I'm glad I found your blog. It has a really original feel to it. I haven't met many Malaysian bloggers. Keep doing your thing! :) -Dan

eLaNaKcL said...

Wow.... great budget travel. Time to save up!

Nikki said...

Looks you had a great time! Such a fun and amazing place to visit. Glad you shared it!

Arisa Chow said...

That husky face is so adorable!! Always wanted to see the aurora lights as i heard news it's fading away every year.

Brooke Fedigan said...

So Jealous, what a trip. Great photos and the one of the Husky is so adorable. Glad you were able to make this trip work in your budget.


Brooke

Katherine Phillips said...

This looks like a fun and fantastic trip. It all looks so interesting. Makes me want to go there.

Deal Match Maker said...

Oh wow..so many fun activities and they are pretty affordable.
==rika-==

Dawn GT said...

wow everthings looks so amazing. you took some great photos...

Tyra said...

This looks absolutely amazing. Seeing the northern lights is bucket list for me, and I am going to try to go sometime this year. Looks like an amazing experience and your pictures are excellent.

Hannah Adkins said...

It looks like an absolutely amazing time! I love those reindeer, I so want to cuddle one!

Peachy Adarne said...

Amazing, I always wanted to experience watching the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. It is nice Murmansk to visit Murmansk now before it gets crowded and expensive.

Miss Happy Feet said...

Yes it is such a hidden gem in Russia!

Miss Happy Feet said...

Off the beaten track!

Miss Happy Feet said...

April is good.

Miss Happy Feet said...

Yes. Go before it gets popular after FIFA World Cup in Russia!

Miss Happy Feet said...

It is! According to yahoo travel, the lights will dim for a decade after 2016.

Miss Happy Feet said...

Yes, it is still budget friendly now but certainly not after FIFA 2018 in Russia. It will get popular sooner or later :D

Miss Happy Feet said...

I agree

Jessica Ayun said...

I am so glad to find this post. I will be moving to St. Petersburg in September and that would be my first time in Russia. Though this is a long drive, it looks totally worth the travel time. I will definitely check this. Very magical!

Miss HappyFeet said...

Oh dear Jessica, you simply have to go! :) it's surreal and affordable, what a win win situation!

Danielle Greco said...

Omg this looks amazing !! I love that you've been there, such a bucket list trip :) . I love the huskies and reindeer, they are adorable! Stunning photos
Danielle | AccordingtoD.com

Unknown said...

Hi Miss Happy Feet! Wondering why you got this very low price as I asked Oleg and he cannot offer this price. Want to do the aurora borealis, sami, and husky too.

Miss HappyFeet said...

Hi, unknown! :)
as you can see, from a unknown destination, Murmansk had become a popular destination since the post got viral. There are a few reasons:
1. It was in January 2016, when Murmansk was pretty much unknown
2. It was in 2016 when the value of Rubles dropped to the bottom of the Valley.
3. We were 5 in a group. The more the cheaper.
4. We speak Russian, so we looked for our own accommodation and transportation + manage to haggle.

Hope I answer your question :)