Kola PeninsulaBeneath the midnight sun or the dazzling lights of the Aurora Borealis, the Kola Peninsula is a mesmerizingly wild and beautiful corner of the Russian Arctic.
Almost entirely above the Arctic Circle, jutting out between the White and Barents Seas, the Kola Peninsula is a place where only the hardiest survive. The landscape is dominated by taiga forest in the south and tundra in the north, with mountain ranges, crystal clear lakes and rivers and rugged coastline in between. Kola’s vast grasslands are visiting grazing reindeer in their thousands over the summer months. The indigenous Saami, or Sami, who also inhabit northern Scandinavia, are the guardians of this land. A semi-nomadic people with their own language and customs, the Sami traverse the tundra on husky-drawn sleds and depend on reindeer herding for their livelihood. Astonishingly, not all of Kola is untouched and steeped in ancient tradition. The capital Murmansk, with a population of over 300,000, is the largest city north of the Arctic Circle, and despite its industrial port town feel, is a remarkably lively town, with bars and restaurants and an interesting Naval history. In the middle of summer, the arctic sun shines down on much of the peninsula 24 hours a day. In winter, Murmansk and its surrounds is of the best destinations on earth to observe the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, a constantly shifting display of colour-changing lights and one of nature’s most breathtaking atmospheric phenomenon.