The Outdoor Academy of Sweden is a concept created by VisitSweden, the Scandinavian Outdoor Group (SOG), and SAS where tour operators, journalists and outdoor retailers are invited once a year to discover Sweden as an outdoor country. As well as getting to experience the delights of the outdoors of which Sweden has plenty to offer, participants also get to test out various clothes and equipment from well known Scandinavian brands. This year it was in Swedish Lapland, and I was lucky enough to be invited along to what I can say was a truly inspiring experience!
Macs Adventure have recently started offering The Kungsleden as one of their self-guided walking holidays, so this was the perfect opportunity for me to come and experience what has often been referred to as Europe’s last wildnerness, and see what all the fuss was about – I wasn’t disappointed!!
Here are five things I learnt/took away from my “academy” experience!
On arrival in Swedish Lapland, our lovely hosts gave us one very important bit of advice. That was to “to stop, to feel, to breathe…and to turn off the phone!” And I have to say I have never heard wiser words. Swedish Lapland is an incredibly magical place with incredibly warm and kind people, and I will not forget my experience here for a long, long time!
The weather does change – A LOT!! – and i’m from Scotland! In our 3 days of trekking we experienced rain, hail, sleet, freezing rain, snow, sunshine and rainbows. Preparation for this type of weather is key!
And luckily we were very well kitted out in our Scandinavian outdoor gear for exactly this. Warm baselayers, comfortable and waterproof boots, breathable waterproof jacket and trousers, good socks and warm hat and gloves meant I was fully equipped for everything the Lapland weather threw at me!
The key is to be able to strip off layers as you walk and access other layers easily. However, this changing weather also brought about some of the most memorable moments of my trip including beautiful rainbows appearing over the valleys (which actually felt that magical that they might, just might lead to a pot of gold at the end!) and waking up after a night in a cosy mountain hut to the first snowfall of the season!
The Sami culture is very much alive in Swedish Lapland. During our trek we were lucky enough to walk with a Sami reindeer herder who taught us the importance of taking the load off your back at every rest opportunity and of the importance of storytelling as you walk! We also learnt that every word in Sami describes where you are on the land and there are also 8 seasons based on the annual behavioural patterns of the reindeer..!!
Despite feeling very much in the wildnerness out in Swedish Lapland, the paths are well signposted. However, you do need to pay attention to make sure you are not folloing the snow mobile trails rather than the hiking trails, as our guide pointed out to us on the first day.Wilderness
Coming from Scotland, I couldn’t help compare Swedish Lapland to our own beautiful mountains, as they do feel very similar. However, there is definitely something magical about Lapland – perhaps it’s my childhood connections with Santa Claus! – but one thing is for sure, I cannot wait to get back and spend more time hiking in this beautiful part of the world!