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Swedish Lapland

Exploring Swedish Lapland has always been a dream for me and a destination I have been interested in and inspired by for many years. As a keen Geographer and lover of extremes, it is a landscape I've always wanted to see and be part of. Continually captivated by its wildlife, remoteness, quietness and of course the overarching natural beauty that this area displays. 

For many visitors, the winter months provide the biggest draw, with skiing, other snow sports and the magnificent Aurora Borealis providing the main reasons why most individuals visit.

During the summer months its appeal is equally as high, with the Lapland region offering many outdoor pursuits like hiking, fishing and of course opportunities to witness the midnight sun, another phenomenon that is well worth seeing.

This summer was my chance to enjoy and fulfil a lifelong dream. One that has grounded me, allowed me to reconnect, collect my thoughts and inspired me to follow and plan for further adventures.

In this travel article, I will endeavour to share some of my recent images and thoughts on this awe-inspiring wilderness. 

 
 
A traditional Fishing Boat stands by the waters edge. These boats are used by the local fisherman to take on the rapids and catch a great crop of White Fish and Salmon. From the rive Torne.

A traditional Fishing Boat stands by the waters edge. These boats are used by the local fisherman to take on the rapids and catch a great crop of White Fish and Salmon. From the rive Torne.

Each year the local fishermen erect the wooden pier in order to use it as a platform to fish from. These platforms usually stand in place from summer through to autumn, before the cold period sets in and they are dismatled again.  The materials may appear to be old and rickety, but their design withstands the flowing rapids and allows the locals to catch their fish.

Each year the local fishermen erect the wooden pier in order to use it as a platform to fish from. These platforms usually stand in place from summer through to autumn, before the cold period sets in and they are dismatled again.

The materials may appear to be old and rickety, but their design withstands the flowing rapids and allows the locals to catch their fish.

The stunning Torne river meanders its way through the wondrous Swedish landscape. Clinging close to the Swedish, Finnish border. It was incredible to follow this along our journey, with many memorable spots found along the way.

The stunning Torne river meanders its way through the wondrous Swedish landscape. Clinging close to the Swedish, Finnish border. It was incredible to follow this along our journey, with many memorable spots found along the way.

 

Kukkola Forsen

Visiting this fantastic setting was high on the list of things to do and places to visit. Kukkola Forsen is a picturesque spot and is actually two villages with the same name, located on either side of the mighty Torne River. 

One side of the river you have the village in Sweden, and the other side their is the village in Finland. On the Swedish side the conference and tourist centre forms a big part of the village. Here you have a unique opportunity to stay in traditional Swedish accommodation and also enjoy looking across the beautiful river into Finland.   

It is an extraordinary location, not only due to its appealing landscape, but it also proves that the mighty Torne Valley is a world of its own, filled with unique tastes and experiences for any visitor to enjoy.

The fast-flowing rapids around the village of Kukkola and the relatively shallow waters mean that they’re perfect for a unique fishing method – catching by hand net. Here the local fishermen will cast their nets from the temporary wooden piers, which are constructed only for fishing during the summer months. 

During this period the river is teeming with fresh Whitefish and Salmon. Once caught the fresh fish is grilled and smoked, then sold to the guests. It is delightful past time and provides the locals and toursits with freshest fish you can eat.

Traditional wooden buildings form an integral part of the fishing museum. It is an impressive place to visit and look around. A great deal of heritage can be found here and exploring the musuem is well worth an hour or two of your time.

Traditional wooden buildings form an integral part of the fishing museum. It is an impressive place to visit and look around. A great deal of heritage can be found here and exploring the musuem is well worth an hour or two of your time.

One of the many traditional recipes served at  Kukkola Forsen . Wonderfully tasty and beautifully presented. The restaurant and accommodation is really wonderful and eating here was a great experience.

One of the many traditional recipes served at Kukkola Forsen. Wonderfully tasty and beautifully presented. The restaurant and accommodation is really wonderful and eating here was a great experience.

A beautiful local starter dish. Made from locally sourced Reindeer and Fish.

A beautiful local starter dish. Made from locally sourced Reindeer and Fish.

The late evening light provides many wonderful opportunities to get outside, explore and find some wonderfully natural locations. Here is a local lake, hidden in the woods.

The late evening light provides many wonderful opportunities to get outside, explore and find some wonderfully natural locations. Here is a local lake, hidden in the woods.

 
Rugged rocks and the lower valley in the Abisko National Park. You can hike all around and across the river, in some of the finest scenery you will find in Northern Lapland.  It was hard to capture and describe the real beauty of this place.

Rugged rocks and the lower valley in the Abisko National Park. You can hike all around and across the river, in some of the finest scenery you will find in Northern Lapland.

It was hard to capture and describe the real beauty of this place.

At the start of the Kungsleden (The King's Trail). It is approximately 440 kilometres (270 mi) long, between Abisko in the north and Hemavon in the south. It passes through, near the southern end, the  Vindelfjällen Nature Reserve , one of the largest protected areas in Europe. During the winter months the Ski trail follows the same route. More information can be found  here.

At the start of the Kungsleden (The King's Trail). It is approximately 440 kilometres (270 mi) long, between Abisko in the north and Hemavon in the south. It passes through, near the southern end, the Vindelfjällen Nature Reserve, one of the largest protected areas in Europe. During the winter months the Ski trail follows the same route. More information can be found here.

The easiest way to the top of the mountain and then down again is by chair lift. It was a great experience, just hanging in the air. One that I will remember for a long time.

The easiest way to the top of the mountain and then down again is by chair lift. It was a great experience, just hanging in the air. One that I will remember for a long time.

Traffic congestion...  The only time the traffic stopped was when the tourists slowed down to take a picture of the reindeer blocking the road. For me, this one of those simple, but precious moments in life.  It definitely made me happy!

Traffic congestion...

The only time the traffic stopped was when the tourists slowed down to take a picture of the reindeer blocking the road. For me, this one of those simple, but precious moments in life.

It definitely made me happy!

 

Abisko

Abisko and the Abisko National Park are truly stunning and it is again, a location I have long since wanted to visit. For me, this area optimises wilderness and nature at its best. A magnificent landscape that continues to do battle against the elements, yet is so rich in flora and fauna. Together with a wide range of animals, living amongst the landscape, it makes for the perfect place to visit. Especially for anyone who loves the outdoors and utilising the natural world.

Abisko is a small village in Sweden and is found some 300km north of the Arctic Circle. The village is very small and if you blink, you will miss it. Beyond the village and just beyond its boundary, extending from the southwestern shore of the spectacular Torneträsk Lake, is quite remarkable Abisko National Park. An amazing place to wander and explore.

Surrounded by high mountains all around, it shelters lemmings (a small rodent) and reindeer, plus the quite stunning Lapp orchid that grows in the marshy conditions of Lapland.

At the STF Abisko Mountain Station you can enjoy a really comfortable stay and also be located right amongst many great outdoor activities. In fact, right outside the grounds of the STF Abisko Mountain Station starts the King’s Trail. A popular mountain hiking route that begins in the national park and winds its way through some of the worlds finest natural landscapes to Hemavon, towards the south of Sweden.

Not only is this area popular with all types of outdoor enthusiasts it is also home to the Aurora Sky Station, which can be found on the summit of Mount Nuolja. It is an impressive observation centre, where the views are very appealing. To reach the summit, you can walk or let the 2 seater chair lift take you there. This is a great experience in itself, as it slowly climbs up the mountain side and leaves you to revel in some of the finest views you will see anywhere in the world.

Once at the top you have the option to take a hike along a variety of different trails that weave north into Norway and also south, into some of finest looking valleys you could possibly find. At the station itself there is a small cafe and a rooftop area for enthusiasts and photographers to observe the phenomena that is the Northern Lights.

The Northern Lights are something I have wanted to see for a long time, but during this visit, that wasn't going to be a possibility. Mid to late August provides opportunities, so I have put dates in my diary and will continue to seek every possibility to see them sometime in the future. It might be in a different location, but I'm sure my determined self will make it happen.

The views at the top were simply quite stunning, with great 365 degree views all around. I found the conditions for taking photos to be quite difficult, so this is the best I could do.  Nevertheless, the experience of just being here, far out ways my skills in photography.

The views at the top were simply quite stunning, with great 365 degree views all around. I found the conditions for taking photos to be quite difficult, so this is the best I could do.

Nevertheless, the experience of just being here, far out ways my skills in photography.

I really enjoyed reading the  Fjalljournal magazine . Even despite my Swedish being totally non existent I thought it was a really creative magazine, with great photography, styled around the outdoors.

I really enjoyed reading the Fjalljournal magazine. Even despite my Swedish being totally non existent I thought it was a really creative magazine, with great photography, styled around the outdoors.

To hike freely in this beautiful open space was really magnificent and something I enjoyed. At the top of this rocky outcrop I could see a group of Reindeer far in the distance, tracking their way from right to left of shot. Of course, my determination took hold and I proceeded to chase them. Only to find some 1.5 miles further along the trail, they had moved behind me.  Oh well, a lesson learnt!

To hike freely in this beautiful open space was really magnificent and something I enjoyed. At the top of this rocky outcrop I could see a group of Reindeer far in the distance, tracking their way from right to left of shot. Of course, my determination took hold and I proceeded to chase them. Only to find some 1.5 miles further along the trail, they had moved behind me.

Oh well, a lesson learnt!

The STF Abisko Mountain Station have a great website and it provides the perfect starting point for all of your adventures.

The STF Abisko Mountain Station have a great website and it provides the perfect starting point for all of your adventures.

 
The main corridor inside the Summer Ice Hotel. Impressive and perhaps leading me into the world of the unknown.

The main corridor inside the Summer Ice Hotel. Impressive and perhaps leading me into the world of the unknown.

The main meeting area and the impressive Ice Bar. A great place to mingle, enjoy an iced drink and play musical statues.

The main meeting area and the impressive Ice Bar. A great place to mingle, enjoy an iced drink and play musical statues.

Just me, trying to acclimatise to the cold temperature inside the Ice Hotel. It did seem slightly strange to move from the relative comfort and warmth of the outdoors, but it was one of life's great moments and one that I really enjoyed.

Just me, trying to acclimatise to the cold temperature inside the Ice Hotel. It did seem slightly strange to move from the relative comfort and warmth of the outdoors, but it was one of life's great moments and one that I really enjoyed.

Reindeer is a staple food source in these parts and really very tasty. I had mine served on ice of course.

Reindeer is a staple food source in these parts and really very tasty. I had mine served on ice of course.

 

Ice Hotel

The impressive Ice Hotel is located around 200km above the Arctic Circle. A place where the northern lights dance in the wintry sky and the midnight sun shines for 50 consecutive days and nights throughout summer months. Well, if it is not raining...

Its location is the beautiful village of Jukkasjärvi. A small village found on the banks of the mighty Torne River. Each year, during the winter months snow and ice is extracted from the surrounding river and the Ice Hotel is then carved from out of natures finest materials. Snow and Ice.

The natural materials are harvested from the river and cut into blocks, which weigh around 1 tonne each. These blocks are crystal clear and form the main structure of the hotel. They can be carved into impressive structures, by a variety of inspiring artists, who are keen to create their own designs. These artists are invited from all corners of the globe and really add their creative flair to this already impressive structure.

Once the main outline structure is put in place. Fresh snow is then blown, from the river and carefully packed all around the main ice columns. This helps to create this marvellous wintry wonderland. 

Of course, the winter Ice Hotel doesn't last forever and during the spring melt, the ice water can flow freely back into the river, only to be then recycled once again during the following year.

During my stay, I was lucky enough to sleep in the summer version. The summer Ice Hotel is housed in a giant building, with grass on the outside. This acts a lot like an insulator or a giant refrigerator, but still derives from the same vision as the winter version.

It is certainly a impressive place and one that I thoroughly enjoyed visiting. This is most certainly a unique and original destination, where all visitors can enjoy this amazing experience for 365 days of the year.

The entrance into the unknown. This is the boardwalk that leads to the summer 365 days a year Ice Hotel.  The river where the ice comes from is in the right of the shot.

The entrance into the unknown. This is the boardwalk that leads to the summer 365 days a year Ice Hotel.

The river where the ice comes from is in the right of the shot.

A great opportunity to create some Ice Sculptures on the banks of the river it came from. It certainly wasn't easy creating an ice masterpiece when it's 20 odd degrees outside. Melting all the time...

A great opportunity to create some Ice Sculptures on the banks of the river it came from. It certainly wasn't easy creating an ice masterpiece when it's 20 odd degrees outside. Melting all the time...

Staffan is preparing the blocks of Ice that come directly from the river behind him.  Obviously, these blocks cannot be cut during the summer months. They have been chilled since being harvested in the winter.

Staffan is preparing the blocks of Ice that come directly from the river behind him.

Obviously, these blocks cannot be cut during the summer months. They have been chilled since being harvested in the winter.

A short video clip of the actually rooms.

Just to prove I did it and survived.

Just to prove I did it and survived.

The guide, Staffan. A great guy, who spent his valuable time inspiring a bunch of amateurs.  Staffan works at the Ice Hotel as an activities guide. Delivering many outdoor activities like wilderness exploring, wilderness cooking, canoeing, trekking etc.  He was a great host, very friendly and explained a lot about the local area, life in Lapland and the history of the Ice Hotel.  It was a pleasure to meet him and spend sometime in his company.  You can follow him here  @rakepang

The guide, Staffan. A great guy, who spent his valuable time inspiring a bunch of amateurs.

Staffan works at the Ice Hotel as an activities guide. Delivering many outdoor activities like wilderness exploring, wilderness cooking, canoeing, trekking etc.

He was a great host, very friendly and explained a lot about the local area, life in Lapland and the history of the Ice Hotel.

It was a pleasure to meet him and spend sometime in his company.

You can follow him here @rakepang

A master at work. Here is Staffan doing his best to make my feeble attempt look a little bit like an Ice Sculpture.  Who'd of thought it did look like Donald Trump...  After a concerted effort, he gave up and threw it back into the river.

A master at work. Here is Staffan doing his best to make my feeble attempt look a little bit like an Ice Sculpture.

Who'd of thought it did look like Donald Trump...

After a concerted effort, he gave up and threw it back into the river.

Thank You for reading...

My most recent travel article and I really appreciate all that do. These travel articles are always composed around my honest thoughts and use of very amateur photography.

Undoubtedly, this was an amazing travel experience and one that will live long in the memory. I loved having the chance to visit Sweden and I thoroughly enjoyed my travels through the northern parts of Swedish Lapland. It provided an opportunity to not only visit somewhere new, but also meet and talk to many locals. Experiencing their unique culture, customs and immerse myself in a landscape that is so unique, precious and beautiful. 

For me, the trip was also enlightening and very humbling. It made me appreciate what I have, furthered my love of the outdoors and highlighted just how lucky I am. It also demonstrated (as humans) just how much we all still have to do, to make sure we continue to allow environments like Lapland to flourish and not diminish, due to our arrogance, ignorance and stupidity.

Before visiting this wonderful place it is very clear that 'outsiders' have a tendency to just pay lip service to areas like this, but now having visited, it has made me realise the full effects and dangers of Global Warming and further highlights, that we all have a responsibility to preserve what we've got. So that the future generations can continue to enjoy!

 
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