Tips for hiking around near the Saatse Boot area

Source: Toomas Tuul

Tips for hiking around near the Saatse Boot area

The mysterious Saatse Boot in Setomaa is part of the territory of the Pechorsky district in Russia and constitutes a stretch of land surrounded by the territory of Estonia. The boot-shaped area of around one kilometre is located near the Saatse village (Setomaa’s capital Värska is approximately 20 km away) and attracts both domestic as well as foreign tourists every year. How many places are there in the world where you can stay on Russian territory without a visa? But beware – there are specific requirements and a code of conduct at the Saatse Boot. Those who violate the border rule should take into account the time for proceedings and must pay a fine.

Saatse Boot

Photo by: Toomas Tuul

On the Värska-Saatse road section, you will enter the control area of the Republic of Estonia and the Russian Federation on two occasions. The current border, which is officially only the temporary control line, was drawn after the restoration of independence of Estonia in the middle of the 1990s. The control line mostly remained within the border drawn in 1945. In order for locals to be able to use the Värska-Saatse shortcut, the border officials agreed that the Saatse Boot may be passed through by vehicle (incl. bicycle), but stopping is prohibited. It is prohibited to step foot on the ground of foreign territory.

Please note that legally the Russian Federation has the right to stop a vehicle passing through their territory (Estonian Police and Border Guard Board).

There are yellow warning signs in Estonian, Russian and English before the entry to the border area, notifying that you are about to enter the Russian Federation and that walking and stopping is prohibited there. This is monitored by the fine border guards of both countries as well as cameras. It is, in fact, prohibited to get closer than 15 metres to the border post. If you wish to do so, you can take photos with the border posts at the yard of the Saatse Museum, where it is allowed and appropriate.

As of 2019, there are only three places in Setomaa where it is possible to cross the control line: Koidula and Luhamaa border points, which are open for traffic, and the Saatse border point, where the border can be crossed only on foot or by bicycle. And even this is allowed only for Estonian and Russian citizens.

Be careful and follow the signs!

Photo by: Toomas Tuul
Last updated : 05.02.2021

In category: South Estonia