Report from my 2013 visit to Swedish Laponia

by Bengt Hildebrand - 2 years, 1 month ago

Dear Fellow travellers and hikers!

Being a globetrotter I sometimes forget about Sweden, the country where I was born and raised and where I have lived most of my life.

One of the most beautiful parts of Sweden is the far north called Laponia (Lappland in Swedish) which is a vast landscape of rolling mountains, alpine meadows and moors, deep forests and lots of rivers and lakes.

In August 2013 I went hiking to Sarek National Park, the jewel in the crown, and Sweden’s only remaining real wilderness.

Our party of four took the night train from Stockholm Central Station to the town of Gällivare where we changed to the Ritsem bound local bus. A few hours later we disembarked and boarded the tourist boat over lake Langas to Saltoluokta Mountain Station (lodging and boarding available at a reasonable charge – credit cards accepted).

For eight days we hiked in mostly sunny weather (something you can’t take for granted since Sarek is Sweden’s rainiest place) and camped in our tents. We carried with us all our food (and whisky) supplies whereas we collected water from the alpine streams around us. At some points in the beginning and end of the trek we had local boatsmen ferrying us (cash payment expected) over lakes whereas in Sarek proper we were on our own. I camped in an excellent Hilleberg tent borrowed from a friend, carried my gear in a Fjällräven Kajka 85 L backpack and cooked on a Trangia lightweight gas kitchen. All this equipment is made in Sweden and of highest quality. I marched in German Meindl boots that were excellent in dry conditions but couldn’t keep me dry marching on fens and other wet ground. I would have wanted to wear the high Lundhag boots that one of my friends wore.

Two in our party had trekked Sarek eight (!) times before and knew the territories well, knowing how to plan each stage of the trek, pick good camping spots and find safe places to cross rivers and streams. We always camped near some source of fresh water for drinking, cooking and washing. Sometimes we found cloudberries that we enjoyed for dessert. Most days we hiked about 5-6 hours, sometimes making small excursions to nearby peaks with daypacks only, leaving our main luggage in camp. Two great places to visit are the peaks Låddepakte and Skierfe, both with fabulous views of the river Rapa and the Rapa Valley.

There is plenty of wildlife in Sarek including reindeer and moose as well as predators such as bear, wolf, wolverine and lynx. Most of the animals are shy however and will avoid hikers. We saw mostly reindeer and various birds. Surely a lot more animals, that we didn’t see, saw us.

The Swedish guru of hiking is Mr Claes Grundsten and his guidebook to Sarek is in almost every hiker’s backpack. The book has been translated to at least English and German. Good maps can be bought on the internet as well as some of the mountain stations.

We didn’t have any incidents, just some minor scratches and bruises. Fortunately there were hardly any mosquitoes that could be a nuisance earlier in the summer.

We left Sarek and returned to Saltoluokta Mountain Station by means of the popular Kungsleden trail from Aktse and on. There are staffed cottages, accomodation and so on along this trail. Please see the website of the Swedish Tourist Association (limited content in English).

Last but not least a word of warning. Sarek is a very remote area of genuine wilderness without any trails and cell phone coverage. Unless you are used to hiking in such places, reading maps, crossing streams and bring the proper equipment as well as all supplies you should opt for more tourist friendly national parks in Sweden. There are plenty of such.

Good luck!


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