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ATV/Quad safari to the Russian border

Take an excursion and see something new: Ride a four-wheel drive ATV to the Russian border in Kirkenes.

As soon as I take my motorcycle helmet off, I get bit by a mosquito. And I immediately wonder – was that a Russian or a Norwegian bug? A message chimes in on the phone: “Welcome to Russia.” But we are most definitely on the Norwegian side of the high border fence, in Skafferhullet, Kirkenes. Ten metres away, a yellow post marks the end of Norway, and five meters past that is a red and blue marker: the start of Russia.

“The only time you will do this.”

“Don’t step out of line, they are definitely watching. If you pee here, you’ll be arrested within three minutes”, warns our guide Ulf Hildonen.

No cameras with long lenses are allowed – the Russians have a lot of military equipment by the border. On the Norwegian side, a watch tower surveys the area, and on the border fence, a sign warns of camera surveillance. On the Russian side, you see only woods that look suspiciously like Norwegian trees. But not too far away, Russian soldiers armed with Kalashnikovs patrol the forest.

If the idea was to take an excursion to see something new, we’ve accomplished our mission by riding four-wheel drive ATVs to the Russian border in Kirkenes.

The driving is relatively simple. We learn the ABCs of our ATVs in just five minutes, led by patient and competent guides. Easy movements on the gas and brakes. Extra careful in roundabouts, as the Russians are used to a different style of traffic safety. Both hands on the wheel. Smile. Because this is probably the only time you will do this in your whole life.

Photo: Marcel Kissmann

Kirkenes – east of Istanbul

My 11 year old son rides with me, smiling behind the visor on his helmet, leaning forward and shouting:

“Dad, look! Signs in Russian!”

Shops and street names are shown in both local languages, the Russian with Cyrillic letters. There is a close relationship between the border towns of Murmansk and Kirkenes.

“Are the Russians allowed to come to Kirkenes? Does Putin let them?” asks the eleven-year-old.

Russian citizens must apply to leave their own country, but the border agreements of 2010 between Norway and Russia allows those who live closer than 30 kilometres from the border to cross without a visa.

The border between the two nations is 196 kilometres long, but there is only one crossing station: Storskog. During the Cold War, this was part of NATO’s front line against the eastern bloc. Mines and bombs from WWII are still buried in the area.

We drive our ATVs over the Pasvikelva river to the border station. Workers and newly-rich Russians in expensive cars stream from Murmansk towards jobs and shops in Kirkenes.

We buy a Russian doll in the souvenir store, strap on our helmets and drive to a viewpoint overlooking Kirkenes, the fascinating town that lies at the same latitude as Tromsø, but, improbably, is also east of Istanbul.


The classic round trip voyage: Bergen–Kirkenes–Bergen

If you wish to create your own voyage in Norway, you can select which ports you want to travel from and to.

The classic round trip voyage
Bergen is an international city with a small-town atmosphere, and is often called a gateway to the fjords. Read more about Bergen
Bergen
Florø is Norway’s westernmost town and is surrounded by a scenic archipelago. Read more about Florø
Florø
Sheltered at the east side of the island of Vågsøy, Måløy is a major exporter of Norway's treasured seafood. Read more about Måløy
Måløy
Torvik is a small village on the island Leinøya and is the entrance to beautiful Herøy and the bird island Runde. Read more about Torvik
Torvik
Situated at the entrance to the Geirangerfjord, the art nouveau town Ålesund could have been taken right out of a fairy tale. Read more about Ålesund
Ålesund
Protected from the harsh surrounding elements, Molde is beautifully situated in a scenic fjord landscape. Read more about Molde
Molde
Kristiansund sits on four islands and is founded on bacalao – dried salted cod, known locally as “klippfisk”. Read more about Kristiansund
Kristiansund
Home to the famous Nidaros Cathedral, the university town of Trondheim is both youthful and historical. Read more about Trondheim
Trondheim
The maritime splendour of Rørvik and the thousands of surrounding islands are an attraction in itself Read more about Rørvik
Rørvik
A charming town in the middle of Norway, rich in history and maritime atmosphere. Read more about Brønnøysund
Brønnøysund
The Seven Sisters mountain range might be Sandessjøen’s primary claim to fame, and the UNESCO listed Vega Islands are also close at hand. Read more about Sandnessjøen
Sandnessjøen
Nesna is an idyllic and tranquil former trading post on the Helgeland coast. The scenic surroundings comprise the islands of Hugla, Handnesøya and… Read more about Nesna
Nesna
Dramatic peaks to the east and a wonderful archipelago to the west provide Ørnes with a unique natural setting. Read more about Ørnes
Ørnes
Bodø is home to sea egles, the midnight sun, northern lights and the world’s strongest maelstrom Saltstarumen. Read more about Bodø
Bodø
Stamsund provides a genuine Lofoten experience and a unique encounter with the Viking era. Read more about Stamsund
Stamsund
Svolvær attracts nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers, in addition to artists in search of the very special light. Read more about Svolvær
Svolvær
The idyllic village where founder Richard With started Hurtigruten more than 120 years ago. Read more about Stokmarknes
Stokmarknes
Fascinating sea landscapes and a bold move in city design – Sortland has the nickname “the blue city”. Read more about Sortland
Sortland
With its 203 inhabitants, the charming village of Rishøyhamn is Hurtigruten’s smallest port of call. Read more about Risøyhamn
Risøyhamn
Outdoor adventures and cultural impulses – Harstad has it all. Read more about Harstad
Harstad
Fisheries and agriculture add character to the small town of Finnsnes, often called the gateway to Senja. Read more about Finnsnes
Finnsnes
Set in a majestic landscape and packed with culture and history, the splendour and vitality of Tromsø surprises many visitors. Read more about Tromsø
Tromsø
Alpine mountains and deep fjords provide Skjervøy with a scenic setting. Read more about Skjervøy
Skjervøy
Colourful houses cling to a dramatic mountain landscape in the small fishing community of Øksfjord in Finnmark. Read more about Øksfjord
Øksfjord
The Arctic city of Hammerfest is the northernmost town in the world and is full of life. Read more about Hammerfest
Hammerfest
A colourful small fishing village on an Arctic archipelago in the Barents Sea. Read more about Havøysund
Havøysund
Honningsvåg is the gateway to the North Cape and offers excellent shopping and exciting activities at the end of the world. Read more about Honningsvåg
Honningsvåg
By a small fjord on the west side of the northernmost part of the European mainland lies the small but vibrant fishing village Kjøllefjord. Read more about Kjøllefjord
Kjøllefjord
Amongst the ports of Hurtigruten’s classic route, this proud fishing village is as far north as you get. Read more about Mehamn
Mehamn
Cool and crazy Berlevåg offers wide horizons and unforgettable landscapes. Read more about Berlevåg
Berlevåg
The ruggedly charming village of Båtsfjord is a major hub of the Norwegian fishing industry. Read more about Båtsfjord
Båtsfjord
Vardø is the oldest town in Northern Norway and the easternmost in the country. Read more about Vardø
Vardø
A multi-cultural town with arctic nature at its best on display. Read more about Vadsø
Vadsø
Kirkenes is known as the gateway to the east. Here, you can explore the Arctic winter or the never ending day. Read more about Kirkenes
Kirkenes
Ports in Fjord Norway
Bergen is an international city with a small-town atmosphere, and is often called a gateway to the fjords. Read more about Bergen
Bergen
Florø is Norway’s westernmost town and is surrounded by a scenic archipelago. Read more about Florø
Florø
Sheltered at the east side of the island of Vågsøy, Måløy is a major exporter of Norway's treasured seafood. Read more about Måløy
Måløy
Torvik is a small village on the island Leinøya and is the entrance to beautiful Herøy and the bird island Runde. Read more about Torvik
Torvik
Situated at the entrance to the Geirangerfjord, the art nouveau town Ålesund could have been taken right out of a fairy tale. Read more about Ålesund
Ålesund
Protected from the harsh surrounding elements, Molde is beautifully situated in a scenic fjord landscape. Read more about Molde
Molde
Kristiansund sits on four islands and is founded on bacalao – dried salted cod, known locally as “klippfisk”. Read more about Kristiansund
Kristiansund
Ports in Trøndelag
Home to the famous Nidaros Cathedral, the university town of Trondheim is both youthful and historical. Read more about Trondheim
Trondheim
The maritime splendour of Rørvik and the thousands of surrounding islands are an attraction in itself Read more about Rørvik
Rørvik
Ports in Northern Norway
A charming town in the middle of Norway, rich in history and maritime atmosphere. Read more about Brønnøysund
Brønnøysund
The Seven Sisters mountain range might be Sandessjøen’s primary claim to fame, and the UNESCO listed Vega Islands are also close at hand. Read more about Sandnessjøen
Sandnessjøen
Nesna is an idyllic and tranquil former trading post on the Helgeland coast. The scenic surroundings comprise the islands of Hugla, Handnesøya and… Read more about Nesna
Nesna
Dramatic peaks to the east and a wonderful archipelago to the west provide Ørnes with a unique natural setting. Read more about Ørnes
Ørnes
Bodø is home to sea egles, the midnight sun, northern lights and the world’s strongest maelstrom Saltstarumen. Read more about Bodø
Bodø
Stamsund provides a genuine Lofoten experience and a unique encounter with the Viking era. Read more about Stamsund
Stamsund
Svolvær attracts nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers, in addition to artists in search of the very special light. Read more about Svolvær
Svolvær
The idyllic village where founder Richard With started Hurtigruten more than 120 years ago. Read more about Stokmarknes
Stokmarknes
Fascinating sea landscapes and a bold move in city design – Sortland has the nickname “the blue city”. Read more about Sortland
Sortland
With its 203 inhabitants, the charming village of Rishøyhamn is Hurtigruten’s smallest port of call. Read more about Risøyhamn
Risøyhamn
Outdoor adventures and cultural impulses – Harstad has it all. Read more about Harstad
Harstad
Fisheries and agriculture add character to the small town of Finnsnes, often called the gateway to Senja. Read more about Finnsnes
Finnsnes
Set in a majestic landscape and packed with culture and history, the splendour and vitality of Tromsø surprises many visitors. Read more about Tromsø
Tromsø
Alpine mountains and deep fjords provide Skjervøy with a scenic setting. Read more about Skjervøy
Skjervøy
Colourful houses cling to a dramatic mountain landscape in the small fishing community of Øksfjord in Finnmark. Read more about Øksfjord
Øksfjord
The Arctic city of Hammerfest is the northernmost town in the world and is full of life. Read more about Hammerfest
Hammerfest
A colourful small fishing village on an Arctic archipelago in the Barents Sea. Read more about Havøysund
Havøysund
Honningsvåg is the gateway to the North Cape and offers excellent shopping and exciting activities at the end of the world. Read more about Honningsvåg
Honningsvåg
By a small fjord on the west side of the northernmost part of the European mainland lies the small but vibrant fishing village Kjøllefjord. Read more about Kjøllefjord
Kjøllefjord
Amongst the ports of Hurtigruten’s classic route, this proud fishing village is as far north as you get. Read more about Mehamn
Mehamn
Cool and crazy Berlevåg offers wide horizons and unforgettable landscapes. Read more about Berlevåg
Berlevåg
The ruggedly charming village of Båtsfjord is a major hub of the Norwegian fishing industry. Read more about Båtsfjord
Båtsfjord
Vardø is the oldest town in Northern Norway and the easternmost in the country. Read more about Vardø
Vardø
A multi-cultural town with arctic nature at its best on display. Read more about Vadsø
Vadsø
Kirkenes is known as the gateway to the east. Here, you can explore the Arctic winter or the never ending day. Read more about Kirkenes
Kirkenes
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