Last weekend I went to the North West of Russia to region called Kareliya, next to border with Finland. One of the best russian playspots is located here in the little rural villige of Tivdia. The region itself is beautiful, few people, untouched nature, clean rivers, lakes, waterfalls, white nights.
The Tivdia wave, photo – Артур Лепманис
Last years perfect flow – the wave at it's best, photo – Mikhail Burov
Cows and dogs run free in the village, bears and wolfs run free in forests. Locals are friendly and offer you fresh milk, cheese, fish and banya (Russian sauna). You can camp free wherever you like or rent a room in local wooden houses for three to four euro a night. I love this feeling of peace and freedom you get here – far from big roads, cities, internet and shops. If you want to get some taste of Russia but not ready to go deep (all the way to Caucasian mountains, Altai or Baykal regions) this is the place to go - you can even drive on your own car from europe (100km from Finland).
photo - Артур Лепманис
photo - Геннадий Соколов
The wave itself is natural, so water levels are unpredictable, they depend on amount of snowmelt and speed of melting in spring. But for the whole of May and June you're almost guaranteed to find something to surf. Sometimes, when all conditions come together it can be an epic green wave with just the right amount of foam on top. There are eddies from both sides as well, to use right one you need a rope.
Russian freestylers come hunting the water every year, coming from 1st May till end of June on weekends and for a few weeks from all of western Russia (Moscow is 1100km away) and even further. For the last two years kayakers from Finland have been coming too. This time the level was a little bit lower then perfect, but still provided a decent wave! The weather made up for the water. It was sunny nineteen hours a day and in other five hours it was a beautiful sunset/sunrise (you get white nights here so sun never goes completely).
Foam pile was big, so you could do some hole moves. But wave tricks still worked. High speed and occasional pulse keep you on edge. Competition this year was very interesting, I can proudly say - level of Russian paddlers rising with each season. Organisers did a very good job providing very pleasant atmosphere, live music (band came and played for us in the middle of nowhere), a few less serious disciplines and party competitions, no entry fee and even prize money - first time as far as I remember russian freestyle competitions!
In fact organisation was so good, they were running earlier for the womens finals and I almost missed my rides as I was still changing :) as a result finished only 3rd after winning prelims. Will be smarter next time.
I very recommend this event for European paddlers to visit. You will see the other world, different parties, experience russian banya, food&nature, and of course people and relationships here not like in Europe too. Cheap flights now going to St. Petersburg (500km away) or Moscow, where you can jump in someones kayak bus or car. I will answer your questions about visa, it's easy enough.
I am very thankful for everyone this year for a very warm hearted experience at Tivdia, and for all friends who provided photos. More detailed photo report you can find here www.kayaknroll.ru/news and here ergin.ru/blog
At the moment I am finished with all my selection events and going deep in to training for the Worlds with intention to participate in as many competition before US as possible.
Ancient Russian device for boiling water. Called Samovar, still very useful in 21st Century