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
Today’s episode in the series on the wild but kind Swedish human, the Homo Sverigus, is set in his/her second nature, … nature! In my personal quest for integration insights, I will venture on an expedition through Tyresta national park and provide you with 5 outdoor activities to do in the Swedish forest.
No better place to go then Stockholm’s closest national park, Tyresta, right down south. This is the ultimate place to spot the Homo Sverigus on a Sunday afternoon at the end of the summer, as it is perfectly reachable from the city centre by public transport in a respectable time. So off we go, deep into the woods!
It doesn’t take long to find the first traces of the Homo Sverigus. The smoke is still rising up from a neat fire pit, visibly regularly used.
We then follow the strong smell of banana filled with chocolate, on a stick. Finally… between the branches of some pine trees I can see the first triumph of the day! Five brave campers in a row, deeply reconnecting with their basic instincts and biting their tongues while pushing a stick through a banana scavenged in the supermarket earlier that day.
You and I are a tiny bit disappointed when we take a better look, only to find that the campers are part of our very own expedition squad, better known as the Homo Belgius, Nederlandius & Indius. No giving up just yet! The winding roads are promising, as around any corner a Swede can be hidden.
Finally, we arrive on the highway of power walking Swedes marching on the clear cut paths through the wild, wild forest. For the next few hours we will observe them carefully and document what they do and what gear they use.
5 outdoor activities in a Swedish forest
In the Swedish woods you can get so much food, for free! The most popular items in the end of Summer and the beginning of Spring are definitely the lingonberries and blueberries. (Check out my delicious movie on lingonberry pie, all the way from forest to fork!)
Mushrooms are another delight that you can find if you make the effort to get up early. That’s right, if you come later in the day the chances are much lower of finding eatables, because the other Swedes have already done their round of foraging. Many Swedes also have incredible knowledge on what mushrooms you can eat, because you can’t just go picking out the pretty ones! The gnomes will thank you for it 🙂
What to bring?
- A bag or box for all the wild food
- A knowledgable Swede or book on edible mushrooms
2. Take pictures
Of course the modern human brings its digital memory to nature. There is no better way to get through the 5 next days at school or at work then staring at your Instagram posts. Just make sure, you don’t end up like this:
Aaaaah, Swedes make me chuckle.
What to bring?
- Your smartphone with camera
- The real deal; a DSLR
3. Make a campfire
What to bring?
- Fire starters
- Any food that suits a campfire (but empirical evidence suggests banana’s and chocolate work great)
4. Walk it out
The national parks are really comfortable and easy to walk, some tracks are even wheelchair friendly! In most places you will find wooden planks, bridges or gravel marking your path. And on the more adventurous trails over the rocks and through the trees there are painted stripes alongside the path to guide you, so as long as you keep your eyes open you will not get lost. (Says a lot, coming from me)
- Raincoat & sunscreen, because you literally never know.
- Your super cute babies if you have any, wrapped in big puffy coats.
- A good conversation partner.
- Your sporty, yet sort of sexy hiking clothes. As long as you fit on the cover of a #wanderlust YouTube track, you got this. Here’s some inspiration to get you started:
5. Take a rest
Find a good spot a little higher up where you can watch the birds fly by, the fish jump up and listen to the trees swing dancing in the wind.
What to bring?
- Your work/study stress, to dispose of at any tree in the forest. Between the bites of all our CO2, they gladly leave some room for all our worries. Trees are awesome!
- Swimsuit for daredevils
When to go?
Any season works great, in fact you should go once in every season of the year. In Sweden there are four, and the transformation in the landscape is huge each time. Winter is all white with snow covering the frozen lakes and the bare trees, Spring is sunny but chilly and everything feels fresh, Summer is warm and perfect for dips in the lake. However, I definitely love Autumn the most. When the leaves start to bleed it’s like you walked straight into a big painting with so many colours you never knew existed outside of an instagram filter.
I am so in love with forest. Walking in it get me a little happier and I can think about lot of stuff. In Sweden, forests are everywhere. Even in big city like Stockholm, we can easily find it. Sweden actually made me realize that a developed country should preserve nature. And I finally get to write about my most favorite national park in Sweden: The Tyresta National Park.
I have walked inside it like 9 or 10 times. During winter to see it turns white and to see the lake got frozen, during summer and enjoy the sunshine and green grass, also during autumn and watch the leaves turn red and yellow. I been to most of the trails inside the park. The round track of 5 kilometers, the longer 12 kilometers, the long lake, the big lake, the burned forest. I even lost my house key in it and have to return the next day (I found the key under some snow layers, really lucky!).
According to Wikipedia, Tyresta was established on 1993. It is really close to Stockholm, only 20 kilometers away. The park area is 20 square kilometers wide. Consist of 8 lakes and dams. Tyresta is more like a big round forest, where the entrance begin in the south west, and there are several exits. I like the one in the north, so that got me like 12 kilometers of walk. In August 1999, 10% of the area got burned and the source of fire was unknown. But it creates a scenery when walking on the burned area.
There are few cabins inside the park for people to rest and enjoy the nature, since most of them located by the lake. There are also spot to start a bonfire. In summer people always come here to make grill with family and friends. Near the main entrance, there are one main building and gallery if you want to buy map or souvenirs.
Some animals we might encounter are horses (in the ranch and fields), squirrels, rabbits, and birds. I have not seen any dear so far.
Trails in Tyresta
One of the best thing in forest in Sweden: they have marked trails. You wouldn’t worry getting lost, unless you are doing random trail. In Tyresta, there are some circular trails ranging from 3 kilometers to 6 kilometers. And also few longer trail that ends up in other exit. One famous local hiking association Sormlandsleden have one walking trail in Tyresta and that is the 12 kilometers path that I like.
If you go by car, I believe the only car park is located in the main entrance. If you go by bus, search for a bus that goes to bus stop “Tyresta By”. There should be one bus from Gullmarsplan station and one more from Handen station. It will take you to the main entrance. The last bus leaving Tyresta back to those station on weekend is around 6pm. But if you plan to exit to the north, the bus from Nyfors (the name of bus stop) leave until 9pm-ish.
Best time to visit Tyresta
I think most of the time will do. I mean, in summer the weather is so nice and you can swim in the lake. In winter, I call it White Forest, because everything is covered with snow and you can find stalactites and stalagmites. During autumn, find a high ground and you will see the colorful leaves.
I will close this blog with a video of me and my Indonesian student friends hanging out in Tyresta. What I have told them is that Tyresta is beautiful and there are cool lakes and stuff. However when they asked, “How far is the trail?”, I answered with, “Well, not that far”. That is the day I realized that my “not that far” can be “really far” to other people.
Oh and here is more pictures of our trip that day