reindeer tent

Autumn Walking in Sweden

As we come to the end of summer in the UK, I’m aware that in many parts of Sweden Autumn is already well on it’s way (although I understand that Stockholm is having a nice late summer this year). It’s at this time of year that I always loved to go walking in Sweden, especially in the mountains up north, as although it’s much colder, most of the mosquitoes are long departed and there are some beautiful autumn colours to be seen. The pictures here are of a camping trip in Storasjöfallet which is an amazing national park in the north of country. It’s well worth a trip if you can find the time, although it is a fair way off the beaten trail. We took the train the Gällivare (which is a direct night train) and then we had to drive for about 2-3 hours from there. We went with a guide and a small group for the trip and it was utterly fantastic. We walked for 6 days without seeing another person, just reindeer, as you can see in the picture, and the most glorious mountain scenery.

reindeer in sweden

Reindeer in the forest

We walked in the first week of September and it was frosty at night, so you needed to be well prepared (early snow could easily have come), and you needed to carry all your food as there were no mountain huts or anything along the way. There a plentiful supply of 2 things though: crisp clear mountain water and blueberries, both of which we indulged in heavily.

The guide we went with can be found at http://www.pathfinderlapland.se/ although at the time of writing he’s not actively running tours as he has another role. However his website says that he can put people in touch with Sami guides. I think we were extremely lucky to work with Lennart on that week, as he owned many reindeer and knew the mountains extremely well which is why we were able to get such excellent photos as these and be around the reindeer all week.

Åre Björnen

Christmas Skiing in Åre

Åre Björnen

Looking east down the lake from the top of the runs above Björnen

I was in Sweden last week with the family for some Christmas skiing in Åre. It was a fantastic trip and was the first time I’d tried going so early in the season to Åre. I’d been to Vemdalen a couple of times in the first week of the new year, but here we arrived the week before Christmas on the 23rd December.

For once though we didn’t come via Stockholm. As I’ve written elsewhere it’s wonderful train journey up from Stockholm to Åre (although it’s a long long drive). Since we were coming over from London we were flying in, but I noticed that you can now get a direct flight from London to Trondheim. Although in Norway, Trondheim is very well connected to Åre by both road and rail. It took us less than 2 hours to drive across the border and it’s a spectacular drive right along the mountain pass between the 2 countries. I’d thoroughly recommend the trip just for the scenery along the way!

We checked into the Vargen group of apartments which are right next to the nursery slopes in Björnen as we were skiing with our children for the first time (well they were old enough to take lessons themselves for the first time would be a better descrption). This accomodation is booked and managed through Skistar, so it was easy to have everything pre-booked and ready to roll when you arrive. I absolutely love the service Skistar give, they just make everything so easy from start to finish and I’ve had many happy holidays arranged through them.

The lifts were open throughout the week as normal, although obviously there wasn’t much light with it being the shortest week of the year. There’s a snow guarantee from Skistar from the 23rd onwards, so although there was no huge amounts of snow cover, they were making snow whilst there and ensuring that there was skiing for everybody. Add to that a selection of Christmas activities and all in all you’ve got a great break.

Moose safari accommodation

Moose Safari near Stockholm

Moose safari accommodation

back to nature accommodation before you go in search of the Moose

One of my earliest experiences after I moved to Sweden (before I had my children even) was going on a Moose Safari near Stockholm. When I say near, the place is about 2 hours either by car or public transport, which in Swedish distance terms is fairly near. We arranged this through a small firm called Wild Sweden and I’m pleased to see that they are still going strong today. They are also affiliated with the Swedish youth hostel association, which is worth considering if you are a member there.

We drove up there for a weekend and stayed in the fantastic little huts you can see in the picture. This was just my type of place, no running water, no electricity, a great campfire, look after yourself in the forest for the weekend. It’d be an amazing place to go even if there wasn’t the promise of loads of wildlife to go and see, particularly the Moose. I’m certainly planning to go back there, maybe with the children now, as it’d be a fantastic time for them to live in the cabins in the forest for a few days.

It’s the type of trip where you need to be prepared to muck in and help out around the site, fetch water, clean up etc, but I love this type of thing. The night in the cabins though is truly amazing. There are little wooden beds raised off the ground that you can put your sleeping bag on, there’s a stove to have a fire in to keep you warm in the colder months and it’s a generally lovely camping experience. As they say on their website, you wake to the sound of the forest and nothing else.

wood chopping before the moose safari

Chopping some wood for the fire

In terms of the safari itself, the guides were very experienced and knowledgeable, and spoke English quite happily and easily. To see the Moose the easiest time is at dusk, so we put on all our waterproofs and warm clothing (and some insect repellent) and set off walking round the local area. The guide knew all the good places to observe the Moose and we saw several. At times it’s fleeting glances and then at others if you’re lucky you catch them feeding and can pause for a minute or 2 to watch these majestic creatures.

The guides also run other courses there such as beaver safari and various other wildlife watching. I’m hoping to take the kids back there as soon as I can. Obviously the moose are rather hard to capture on film, especially at dusk, but hopefully these photos give a good impression of the experience around the site itself.

You can book the Moose Safari direct with Wild Sweden or through the Activity Booking section of this site.

Åre ski women slalom 2012

Visiting Åre by train from Stockholm for a weekend of skiing

Stockholm is undoubtedly a great city to visit, but one of the other great things about it is that it’s the travel gateway to the rest of the country. My favourite form of transport is train, and Sweden is a great country to get around by train, with Stockholm unsurprisingly being the hub for most routes.

In March 2012 I was in town doing some work for my good friends at Basefarm AB (who I sometimes blog for as well), and I decided to take a trip up north to ski for a long weekend in Åre. This is Sweden’s largest ski resort, with by far the biggest vertical drop and a large and varied piste and lift system. You can tell that it’s Sweden’s largest resort as this is where all the international competitive skiing is held, when the circuit comes to Sweden. The photo here is taken whilst I was watching the women’s slalom that week.

take the train to Åre to watch the skiiing

Womens slalom at Åre in March 2012

It’s all very well and good being a great ski resort but the thing that makes it truly my favourite ski resort in Sweden is that you can travel there by train, including for real luxury, by sleeper train. When I say you can travel by there by train, I don’t mean to nearby stations that then require a transfer, I mean right into the centre of village, where you’re less than 200 metres from the main square and all the hotels and amenities.

It’s an extraordinary journey, especially the last hour, as the train climbs into the mountains heading west towards the Norwegian border and you see the approaching resort. Being as you can travel by night train it makes it all the more possible to nip up there for a weekend from Stockholm and I can thoroughly recommend the experience. Sometimes I don’t know what I prefer most, the train journey itself or the great skiiing!

You can book train tickets through www.sj.se and you can book lift passes and accomodation and anything else you might need through www.skistar.com/are .