Trip report OAS 2013 – Linda from the Nature Travels Team
Dates: 12-16 September 2013
Location: Sälen – Dalarna Region of Sweden
Outdoor Academy of Sweden is a short visit to promote an area of Sweden, this is organised in conjunction with Visit Sweden and a collective of various local providers and suppliers such as outdoor activity companies, specialist equipment brands, accommodation, leisure venues and restaurants.
Journalists, Retailers and Tour Operators from a range of countries and all with an interest in promoting Sweden within their working portfolios.
Why Dalarna Region?
Dalarna means “The Valleys”.
Dalarna was the chosen area of Sweden for the Autumn 2013 OAS expedition. Dalarna is where the Swedish like to holiday (all year round). The surrounding cottages have a typically traditional red and white theme with awesome forests overlooking scenic lakes. We were based in Sälen which is a beautiful area with outstanding natural landscapes and although very popular during the winter months for skiing and snow based family activities, Dalarna is still much undiscovered for outdoor activities during the summer season. We sampled a few mini adventures on our visit: hiking in the Sälen mountains, mountain biking in Rörbäcksnäs and canoeing on the Görälven river. Fantastic activities for all levels.
Where is Dalarna?
Dalarna is located in the central area of Sweden, bordering Norway in the western mountainous area. Dalarna covers an area of about 31,351km² (including water). The province is approximately the size of Belgium, so plenty of freedom to roam around. Dalarna county has a population of around 300,000 people.
What is Dalarna famous for?
Vasaloppet – the world famous 90km cross country ski race (15,000 participants). Excellent Skiing
Vasacycle – 90km cross-country mountain bike trails
Dalarna Horse – famous hand painted wood craft
Njupeskär Waterfall – Sweden’s tallest waterfall at 93m
Svenska folkdräkter – traditional Swedish dress and Maypole dancing.
What do we love about Dalarna?
A fabulously friendly welcome
The many activities available for all abilities:
Summer – hiking, biking & paddling – or just relaxing
Winter – skiing, snowshoeing & sledding (fun either with or without huskies)
The richness of nature, forest and fauna – bears, elk, moose & berries a plenty
The cleanest fresh air and the crystal fresh water
So what happened on the trip?
After very excitedly counting down the days to this adventure, departure date had finally arrived:
A bit of an early start to catch the 05:15 bus to Heathrow, but it was a smooth journey and after a strong coffee and slightly unhealthy muffin we (that is Elky and I) made it through SAS check-in and boarded with ease for 10:30 flight to Oslo.
Arrival at Oslo:
Flying the flag for the UK tour operators (just me), I met with a group of international outdoor enthusiasts participating in the tour, 40 or so in all, tour operators, journo’s and retailers. I must admit I felt a pinch overwhelmed at all the outdoor kit on show! However…. I had a travel bag with a stuffed Elk in it!
After the introductions and warm welcome from our hosts from Visit Sweden and cosy 3hr bus ride to Sälen, we made it to our hotel Sälens Högfjällshotell.
First stop – kit check… (for the following days hike up the mountains) Häglofs, Primus and Hillberg all sponsoring fantastic clothing and equipment for a testing on the trek!
After a quick bag drop & refresh, it was a short bus trip via the Häglofs store for a debrief outlining the visit and of course discounted shopping. Oh and nibbles on bear, cheese & reindeer bits and well of course a glass of wine.
This was followed by an evening meal at the 11th century restaurant, ‘Gammelgården’, the cuisine was lovely, the service friendly and the company of course was great! Many stuffed creatures on display but an olde worlde ambience with a slight resemblance to a Tolkein’esque a hobbit house. Very cosy indeed and very popular with guests in winter and summer seasons.
An early awakening from a comfy bed and a scrummy breakfast to start the day. It was time to ponder the art of packing that great gert 70litre backpack that was basically the same size as me. Thankfully experts were on hand and knew exactly how to repack my shoddy effort, cramming equipment, food and a toothbrush into the abyss that I will shortly be stomping up a mountain with strapped so seamlessly to my torso. Well, thankfully I can say it worked out ok with the remodelled weight distribution. My goal was to make it till lunch with the hefty load and then swap packs with my Dutch buddy. 13.00 – Goal achieved and outdoor lunch with the best view in Sälen not to mention gathering a glut of wild blueberries for the most organic dessert ever, washed down with fresh water from the free flowing brooks – a true gift from the mountains.
Hmmm.. fresh mountain blueberries!
Walking the plank!
Moss is sooo… !
Late afternoon….Setting up camp was an interesting affair, firstly finding a
flat area of ground and secondly attempting to erect our humble abode for the
night. Easier said than done…Whilst we (Renate and I) were still trying to
figure out the yurt angles, simple calculations told us, that just maybe, we
needed more tent pegs for this monster. Some time later…All other teams seemed to have
successfully completed the task, we were now surrounded by perfectly fine
outlines of dome shaped Hillberg tents. Fortunately, after much amusement the
other teams came to the rescue and our challenge was complete. The
architectural marvel of the newly named ‘circus tent’ was the pride of the camp. No ground
sheet – no worries! We were cosy enough with Haglofs 2S sleeping bag and spongy
floor mat. Although maybe the ground we slept upon could have been a little
more ergonomic. Rooky campers!!!
Our Hilleberg home for the night.
The open air kitchen – cookin’ on gas!
Primus stove in action. Photo: Henrik Trygg/VisitSweden
Photo: Henrik Trygg/VisitSweden
A beautiful end to the day!
Dalarna is the most amazing place to have a mountain bike adventure, this can be a relaxed or as challenging as you so desire. Wonderful scenery and great terrain be it winding trails through the awesome pine forests or if you fancy a challenge, you can take on some gnarly downhill routes at the specialist centre in Sälen.
Our group took bus to Rörbäcksnäs, where we sampled some of the best single-track cross–country cycling in Sweden. We were well equipped with safety hats and a great set of wheels and the all important guide for instructions. Great fun was had by all on our 15km trip with a few thrills ‘n’ spills en route.
A little fatigued at this point (and nursing a few small bruises) we ended the day with a visit top the Moose Park and a very welcoming cultural and traditional Sami dinner in a Tipi.
Hej….Has anyone seen my antlers???
Our agenda for the morning was to get some expert advice and tips for canoeing on the Görälven River. Bouyancy jackets and waterproofs on, we negotiated our orange canoes down the slope and smoothly onto the water. Our guide carefuly instructed us on the do’s and don’ts of paddling, fully prepared and confident, we floated off down the Görälven. This was truly a relaxing way to spend a morning, taking in the beautiful surroundings, paddling with the flow, of course with a small cuddly stowaway Elk onboard! Also, I have never seen a riverside lodge so cleverly put together as that of a Beaver abode – it’s a first!
This is a great area for photography with the trees reflecting their images in the calm and very clear water. There were also some areas of faster running water to negotiate but not at all taxing, however, I am told there is plenty of white water if you would like a more challenging option. Overall the whole group were enjoying the peace and quite and drifting with nature.
Canoeing really was a wonderful way to finish a brimming itinerary of various outdoor experiences. You could never be stuck for things to do in Dalarna.
Canoeing on the Görälven River
After a BBQ lunch it was back to the hotel for the workshop, well you have to do some work on these trips!!
This isn’t Elky’s normal diet.
Sälens Högfjällshotell put on a superb culinary feast for all participants, along with live music and a bit of dancing of course!
Party on Elky!!
We even have a certificate of completion and lest we forget… thank you to Jonas and Henrik who blogged and photographed every step….
Another hearty breakfast and fond farewell, our transfer had arrived to take us back to Oslo for departure flights home.
Check-in again soon for the next Nature Travels adventure!
Best wishes – Linda and Elky
Nature Travels does not (yet) offer activities specifically in Dalarna, but there are excellent options for canoeing in Rogen in Härjedalen a little to the north and canoeing and timber rafting in Värmland just to the south.