Tag Archives: forest

View of Rapadalen from Skierfe

Must Visit in Sweden: Sarek National Park (Part 1 of 2)

There are 29 national parks in Sweden. Though I want to go to every single one of them, I don’t think I can make it by the end of my study. I only been to 6 out of that 29. Not even close, I know. Each of those have their own specialty. Fulufjället has the third oldest tree in the world (Swede like to think it’s the oldest), Gotska Sandön has plenty of wild seals for us to see, and Skuleskogen is the most rapid land growth in the world (1cm rise every year). But I have to point at Sarek if people is asking me “Which one is the most beautiful?”

part 1: About Sarek National Park, Getting there, Stay in Sarek
part 2: Hiking Trails, Other notes, Links

About Sarek National Park

Speaking about national park in Stockholm, people usually mention Tyresta (as it is the closest, easiest access from the city) and Abisko (for being the northern and starting point of the most famous hiking trail in Sweden: Kungsleden). Sarek is a bit uncommon for those who doesn’t go out to nature often. Having visited some national parks in Sweden, I still don’t know about Sarek until last year when a friend mentioned about it on our discussion. Hearing the name, researching on the net, I quickly decide that I want to visit Sarek. I need to.

View of Rapadalen from the mountain side

View of Rapadalen from the mountain side

Four of us pose in Skierfe

Four of us pose in Skierfe

I mentioned Kungsleden above, as the most famous (and longest) hiking trail in Sweden. This trail goes down to Sarek as well. Though it’s only passes small part of Sarek, but I can say this part of Sarek is one of the most beautiful part. There is a high cliff overlooking a valley (called Rapadalen) with several rivers in the center of it. Since Sarek contains several tall mountain and located in northern Sweden, these mountains are covered in snow all season. A beautiful view of the green valley plus the white mountains in its background will impress you.

Information on the internet about Sarek and its detail (trail options, length, entrance, topography, etc) is not so clear, so I will add a bit about that in this article.

Getting to Sarek

Located in the north side of Sweden (Jokkmokk municipality), I can understand that Sarek is not a popular destination. It is a bit hard to reach the park. If you are flying to cut some distance, some of the closest big airports are Kiruna, Luleå (both are about 250km away from any entrance) and Skellefteå (380km). From these airports, you can take trains and buses (yes, “-es” because it will be more than one connection). Moreover, these connections can take long time as each train or bus usually only run twice a day. Oh, and they are not cheap (sorry, bus and trains). Like around SEK120 for one way before you change to next connection. My suggestion is to rent a car from the airports (or train station) and park in Sarek’s entrance.

Badly drawn map (by me)

Badly drawn map (by me)

Laitaure river. Photo by Steve Darmadi

Laitaure river. Photo by Steve Darmadi

From my small research, there are two common entrances: northeast entrance (Saltuokta) and southwest entrance (Kvikkjokk). Kungsleden passes these two spots as well therefore usually hiker enter from one entrance and exit from another. Then I found third entrance in the southeast (Sitoälvsbron). This third entrance is the closest to Rapadalen and don’t require any boat crossing like the other two entrances. Boat crossing is not free and schedule are not so often.

Stay in the national park

Like the usual hiking accommodation options, there are only 2 choices: cabins or tents. Along Saltuokta to Kvikkjokk, there are 4 STF (Swedish tourism association) mountain cabins. They are around SEK200 per person per night. The facility varies, but mostly dry toilet, beds (bring your own bedsheet), running water, small shops, and kitchen. If you bring your own tent and want to camp in the cabins area, it is also possible but you will be charged some fee as well (almost as much as stay in the cabin). It is free to stay anywhere in the national park (outside of the cabin area). There will be some river (as clean water source) if you decide to camp in the trail.

STF Aktse cabin

STF Aktse cabin

Camp with beautiful view

Camp with beautiful view

(Continue to part 2 – end)

Lakes in Swedish forest

9 Differences of Forest in Sweden and Indonesia

This month is summer in Sweden and people go to the forest even more often. The lake is warm enough to swim and that is a good additional feature of the forest. Nature in Sweden is beautiful, but comparing it with Indonesian forest, there are quite a difference. Friends sometimes asked me about, so let’s list it down. Everything I wrote here is based on my experience, and it might vary for people living in Stockholm and Indonesia.

  1. Seasonal feature vs all season

Sweden is a four seasons country, so it is expected to see big difference when you go to the nature in different season. Trees in Autumn will be colorful, while during winter the forest will turn all-white. If you ask me which season is the best to visit the forest, I would definitely say: every season. It is worth it. Did I mention that will be very cold during winter? Don’t forget to dress properly 🙂

While Indonesia consist only rainy and dry seasons. We Indonesian used to be able to tell which months will be rainy and which months is dry, but these days it’s a bit difficult to tell. Anyway, both season is good for trekking in the forest in Indonesia, though during rainy season, the tracks is a bit slippery.

Swedish forest during winter

Swedish forest during winter

  1. Mild vs heavy rain

In Stockholm, I rarely expressed “Whoa, heavy rain!”. Based on my experience, the rain is always mild and you can just walk in it without umbrella. Trees in the forest will take care of them while you walk. Nothing to worry about. As for the snow, well, it is a different story. The snow shower can be heavy, though you can still walk on it.

Indonesian rain? The opposite: never so mild. It can change from cloudy to heavy rain in 10 seconds. Raincoat and good boots is always advised when you get in the forest.

  1. Invisible animal vs company everywhere

I kind of like and dislike the quiet of Swedish forest. Sometimes we like to see hare, birds, squirrel, or even deer. Definitely not bear and moose (yes, they exist in Swedish forest). But it is a bit difficult to spot them even if you went to national park that is far from the city. I think it is due the temperature. During summer, it’s moderately easy to see more animals, including the annoying one like flies and mosquito. For mosquito, I am super happy that they are only around during summer. Even today (summer), I still did not see them.

Indonesian forest is on the contrary again. “You never walk alone” will be appropriate here. Birds are easy to spot. Butterflies are easy to spot. Monkeys. Including the not-so-cute families like snakes, caterpillar, and mosquitoes (way faster and more difficult to kill, compare to Swedish mosquito). If you camp and spend the night, you probably hear owl or tiger’s voice.

  1. Drinkable vs not-drinkable water

Water in the lakes and river in Sweden is very clean. Make me feel safe with the unlimited drinks wherever I walk. While in Indonesia, it is not advised to drink water from the lakes or rivers. However, sometimes we can find open pipe on the side of the path (mountain water to be transferred to villages) and I drink that sometimes.

  1. Swim-able lakes vs swim-able waterfalls

There are not that many waterfalls in Sweden. At least, not the big one, nor if you compare it with amounts of waterfalls in Indonesia. Sweden have more lakes and these lakes are swim-able. Except if it is located in the highland and become source for people (you will see sign). Oh, these lakes got very cold after summer and even got frozen during winter. So, we only got like 2 months top, to swim in the lakes in Sweden.

Indonesia’s lakes are seldom swim-able. Sometimes they are used as hydro power plants. Most of the time they are not that clean. But, the waterfalls are easy to find. And they are mostly swim-able. All year around.

Lakes in Swedish forest

Lakes in Swedish forest

  1. Clean vs not super clean

A bit embarrassing to write about this. But it is fact and I encourage everyone to change this to the better.

Swedish forest’s cleanliness? Not a problem. The national parks have people taking care of this, but I doubt they really have to pick trash on the ground. People (kids, youth, old) have this value in their blood, to never leave trash on the ground and put them in the proper trash can (separated by their kind, for recycling purpose).

Indonesian forests? We still have long way to go for this matter. There is this video about “How to find trails in the forest in Indonesia? Follow the trash footprint.” I am guilty as charged. Uneducated parents still tell the kids that it is okay to throw trash on the ground, because someone will pick it up and clean it, that it is their work, so that is fine. Hopefully, this will be changed soon!

Skuleskogen national park in Sweden

Skuleskogen national park in Sweden

  1. Well-marked trails in Swedish forest

The national park in Sweden, not only they have well-marked paths, there are also number of paths we can choose. The path usually color-marked. There will be good sign in every cross-road, including the length to reach certain area. Cabins are also available in bigger national park. Half of them are free. If it is full, we are welcome to sleep on the wooden floor (with our sleeping bag).

Indonesian forests have not got that advance yet. There are marks on the trail but most of the time it is not obvious. If we are not careful enough, we might get lost. But if we are not in a very remote forest, we will see people while we walk.

cross-road sign in Swedish forest

cross-road sign in Swedish forest

  1. Medium hills vs very tall mountains

When a friend asked me about the comparison of Swedish and Norwegian landscape, I always say, “Swedish landscape is just like Norwegian’s, except there are no mountains in Sweden”. North side Sweden have these mountains, though they are not that high. The highest peak in Sweden, according to Wikipedia, is 2104m (a mountain called Kebnekaise).

Indonesia is known for its volcano and high mountain. Making the landscape (forest included) is difficult to track. The 10th highest mountain in Indonesia (Gunung Slamet) easily defeat Swedish peak with its peak of 3428m. The highest is called Puncak Jaya (located in Papua) with its 4884m high.

Gunung Rinjani in Indonesia (3726m). Photo by Philipe Gunawan

Gunung Rinjani in Indonesia (3726m). Photo by Philipe Gunawan

  1. Free vs paid entrance

One of the best feature of Swedish nature: Allemansrätten. Literal translation would be “Everyone’s right”. It means everyone can access the nature at all times, everywhere in Sweden. Including camp anywhere as long as it is not a privately-owned land. This also means all nature reservation and national parks are free to enter.

Indonesia requires visitor to pay a bit of entrance fee to enter a national park. For some of the most famous national park, the price is even felt a bit too much. For example, Komodo National Park entrance costs IDR225,000 (or USD15). However, the fee includes a ranger to walk with you in the national park. As Komodo dragon roams around and can be dangerous if visitor walk around freely.

Landscape in Komodo National Park in Indonesia

Landscape in Komodo National Park in Indonesia

Conclusion

Difference is wonderful. You get something good out of one, and another good thing from another. I will not try to win one, this time. This article is just for people to be able to know what it looks like in Sweden (where I study) and in Indonesia (where I am from). Probably to learn from them too. I like nature. If I go back after the study, I will do what I can to improve Indonesian forests as much as I can.

What do you think of this comparison?

Fulufjället Entrance

Finding Old Tjikko: World’s Third Oldest Tree

First of all, allow me to say happy birthday to our beloved Earth. Happy birthday, Earth! I don’t really know how old he is, but I am happy that we declare April 22nd as Earth Day. Now to celebrate it, I will write about the best tree I’ve ever met. His name is Old Tjikko. He lives in Fulufjället National Park, Dalarna, Sweden. He is 9550 years old. Continue reading

Forest in Sweden

How Forest Changed Me

I was born and raised in the big city of Jakarta, a city with population more than 10 million. You see building everywhere. Cars, roads, skyscraper, you name it. It does not really sleep even during the midnight. I thought Jakarta has almost everything a city should have. Until I move to Sweden. One of the very easy thing to spot: it does not have forests. Today is Forest Day so let’s talk about it! Continue reading

Why improvised plans are THE BEST plans.

Today I went to Slottsskogen (the big park in the middle of Gothenburg) with some friends with the idea of playing mini golf, we did not plan ahead this but we thought it would be fun to go there. As soon as we arrived we found out it was closed…what a bummer.

But we didn’t let that affect us, at the other side of the park there is a place where you can play “disc golf”, so we went there. First of all, whaaaaaaaaaat? “disc golf” you said? what the hell is that?

Slottsskogen_Disc_Golf_1

What is disc golf / frisbeegolf?

Disc golf is actually played like traditional golf, but instead of having clubs and a ball you have a flying disc, commonly known as a frisbee (feels so weird when I use the word “disc”, so let’s stick to frisbee from now on). The rules are very simple. A frisbee is thrown from a tee area to a target, which is the “hole”, in this case the target was an elevated metal basket.

Slottsskogen_Disc_Golf_2

Slottsskogen_Disc_Golf_3

Just as a golf course there are 18 metal baskets spread across the forest, some of them are very hard to reach because of the trees and rocks, or maybe I’m not very skilled when it comes to throw a frisbee. For me it was very fun, and at the same time I got to explore a little bit the park (I saw some seals in the distance, I’ll go to that part of the park another day so stay tuned).

When I woke up I never thought I would end up playing disc golf, which is the interesting part of improvised plans you never know what is going to happen. Finished in 4th place but it didn’t matter, because it was SO much fun.

 

Slottsskogen_Disc_Golf_6

For those of you who want to try this as well this is the location of the frisbeegolf course. The price is 40kr for playing and 10kr for the disc. Also here is the website where you can get more information about it (it’s in Swedish tho).

So if you are looking for a weekend activity, I strongly recommend playing frisbeegolf!

Winter Wonderland in the middle of nowhere

It started snowing again on the day I arrived in Sweden 3 days ago. Everything is white again. Ain’t complaining because IT WAS SO BEAUTIFUL!

Älmhult is immersed in nature, surrounded by forest and lakes. Many have not heard of this small town. My Swedish friends like to joke that Älmhult is in the middle of nowhere and yet, I think it is one of the most diverse town in Sweden. Älmhult international school is actually Sweden’s largest international school!

Let me now take you through a visual tour of winter wonderland in the middle of nowhere.

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Nature therapy is everywhere in Sweden. Living so close to nature is a free luxury.