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Reindeer in Sarek

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

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


Hiking Trails in Sarek

There are plenty of trails available, however I only research small part (that I visited this summer). Kungsleden trail from Saltuokta to Kvikkjokk is well marked and can be followed easily. I divide area in Sarek into two categories: bottom area of the mountain, and the mountain side. In the bottom, it is full of trees. If you are walking Kungsleden, the mark will be on the tree. If you are not, it is still easy to see and follow the trails. On the mountain side, the trails get a bit tricky. It is mostly open with just stones, grass and small trees. Kungsleden is marked on the stones. But other trail will have no marks. Sometimes there are stack of stones as marks, but most of the times there are not. Bringing a compass and knowing which direction you should go is important.

As I mentioned before, Saltuokta and Kvikkjokk entrance requires you to take a boat to cross the trails if you are going towards Rapadalen. Make sure you know if the boat is available, as well as the cost and their schedule.

Badly drawn map (by me)

Badly drawn map (by me)

Steve and Ela from Indonesia, and Tuan from Vietnam

Steve and Ela from Indonesia, and Tuan from Vietnam

Laitaure river with Skierfe top as the background

Laitaure river with Skierfe top as the background

Kvikkjokk to Aktse cabin (STF cabin in Rapadalen) is almost 40km. Saltuokta to Aktse is also about the same distance. We came in through Sitoälvsbron and it is only 16km to Aktse. The foot of the mountain is mostly flat. Mountain side is a bit wavier. I think the difficulty of the trails are medium, due to the height of the mountain side. The famous top Skierfe is off Kungsleden 6 km away. Aktse cabin is 560 meters above sea level (masl) and Skierfe is 1179m tall, that could mean 3 hours of walking uphill non-stop. Even so, Skierfe is a must visit spot in Sarek. Grip yourself!

Other notes on hiking in Sarek

Last month we hike for 4 days with the near entrance (Sitoälvsbron), and walked about 52km in total. Most of other blog I read about trip to Sarek is more than 5 days. My point is, 4 days is the possible, and it is better if you can stay longer. I think it’s good to have spare days and more relaxed walk. Summer would be the perfect season, though mosquitos are on rampage at this time of the year.

As for the preparation, other than the usual camping gears, I would suggest dressing for colder temperature. In the mountain side, the temperature plus the wind can be bad combination. Warmer sleeping bag is good.

I also would like to remind everyone about rules of every national park in Sweden. That you can camp everywhere for free, but please keep things clean. Do not litter (especially on the water source), do not take anything from the park (not even stone or wood), and do not disturb wild life. Oh, speaking about wild life, you will be greeted by many reindeer in the mountain side. They are cute!

There will be bonus feature if you decide to rent a car. As our group experienced, we get to see cities on our way. And if we have time and the city is nice, we can stop to enjoy it for a bit. One city that we find really nice is Arvidsjaur.

Boat parking in Laitaure river

Boat parking in Laitaure river

A lake in Arvidsjaur

A lake in Arvidsjaur

Links

National park website: www.nationalparksofsweden.se/choose-park—list/sarek-national-park/
STF cabins website: www.svenskaturistforeningen.se
Resrobot (transportation finder) site: reseplanerare.resrobot.se/index.html

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)