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Winter for many of us here in the UK is largely snow-free, but in Sweden it’s a very different story. In many areas of Sweden, the snow typically arrives in December and stays until the spring thaw around April. Throughout the winter months, Sweden’s vast areas of forest and mountains are covered in a thick blanket of snow and the lakes freeze over, with ice which may be several feet thick.
All of which make Sweden an ideal destination for a winter holiday, whether you would like to experience the challenge and adventure of dog sledding, combine Sami culture with the beauty of the Northern Lights on a reindeer sled safari, or take the children away for a traditional family-friendly snow adventure.
As an ecotourism company, Nature Travels does not offer downhill skiing or snowmobile safaris. But there is no shortage of excitement, as anyone who has commanded their own dogsled on an extended expedition into the mountain wilderness can tell you! We offer a wide range of dog sledding holidays and possibilities for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in Sweden throughout the winter season for independents, families and groups.
For the young, the romantic and the young at heart, here are a few more ideas for ways to make the most of the snow and enjoy the beauty of the Swedish winter landscape:
Take a horse and sleigh ride
Our popular Winter Wonderland on a Forest Farm experience is ideal for families. Your hosts Lasse and Åsa will delight in taking you on a horse and sleigh ride through the magical forested winter landscape of Hälsingland.
Sledging is a time-honoured way to enjoy the snow, with or without the kids! It is often said that the Inuit have many words for snow – in Swedish there many words for things to sit on when going through snow, including “pulka”, “kälke”, “toboggan”, “snowracer”, “släd”, “stjärtlapp” (which translates as “bum patch”) and “ackja” (a traditional sled used by the Sami people in Lapland) .
Sweden’s gentle slopes provide the perfect terrain for sledging. Just don’t forget to brake!
An unfamiliar piece of apparatus for UK guests, kicksleds are perfect for getting around in the winter on slippery surfaces such as ice or hard-packed snow, and have been used in Sweden for centuries for everything from ice fishing on the frozen lakes to transporting the weekly shopping! Some people even use the family dog for a home-made dog sledding experience!
The combination of ice, snow and light always produces beautiful results. Snowlights are a simple but magical way to light up the Swedish winter evenings. Simply take a tealight, make some snowballs and build a pyramid around your candle. Then step back and enjoy the show! If you would like to try your hand at something more ambitious, visit the International Ice Sculpture Festival at our Country Manor Multi-activity Getaway experience between 9th and 21st February 2009.
Dive in and make a snow angel
One of the easiest ways for artists to express themselves in the snow, but their simplicity and beauty means that snow angels have a timeless appeal!
Build a snowman
There is nothing which reminds us more strongly of the traditional, Dickensian Christmases of our childhood (real or imagined) than building snowmen, and the activity is no less popular today. For a “classic” snowman, take three large balls of snow of decreasing size and stack them vertically. Complete the effect with a carrot or tennis ball nose and stones for the mouth and eyes. If there’s an old scarf and hat about, you can really bring your snowman (or snowwoman) to life!
Have a snowball fight
Sometimes the temptation is just too hard to resist, and an all-out snowball fight is a marvellous way to complete a day in the Swedish outdoors. As well as developing hand-eye coordination, reflexes and arm muscles, it’s also a great way to warm up when you’re getting chilly. Just remember to play fair, or the next snowball may be down YOUR neck!
A winter holiday in Sweden provides endless opportunities for fun in the snow, whatever your age. Let the games begin!
The Nature Travels Team
Sweden’s western archipelago is a marvellous area for sea kayaking – a sparse, other-wordly landscape of granite rock islands floating on a quiet blue sea. The final activity of this year’s academy was a 2-day sea kayaking tour, taking us between some of the larger rock formations and camping wild overnight on our very own uninhabited island.
We started by Land Rover, bouncing along the narrow coastal roads heading north to a shallow beach where we would launch off to begin our trip. After the kayaks had been laid out on the sand, our head guide Ulrika got us together for some instruction on efficient paddling technique, some safety considerations and, most importantly, advice on how to enter and exit our kayaks without falling in!
Photo: J. Hermanson
Then the food and camping supplies were distributed and magically stowed away in the bowels of our boats before we took to the water, beginners in double kayaks and the more experienced paddlers taking singles.
An hour or so’s paddling brought us to our lunch stop, a smooth and gently sloping slice of rock with a wonderful view over the surrounding coastline. Once again we’d expected to be served camping rations, and once again we were pleasantly surprised, as Ulrika opened a series of bags and boxes to reveal a delicious selection of fresh tortillas, smoked mackerel and “skagen röra”, a kind of Swedish prawn cocktail.
Photo: J. Hermanson
Sea kayaking is eminently suitable for novices, but that’s not to say it doesn’t take some technique. As the afternoon wore on and we progressed further up the coast, passing small picturesque fishing villages, gliding between narrow sounds between the rocks, and watching cormorants and herons go about their business, our paddling became more efficient and our steering more accurate, and gradually we came to concentrate less and less on the act of kayaking and more and more on the beauty and tranquility of our surroundings. Even the occasional common seal popped its head above the water to say hello.
As dusk approached we came to our camping spot for the night, a small island deserted apart from a small cemetery dating back to the First World War. We were surprised and interested to find that the island was the final resting place of a well-known German poet, Gorsch Fock, who died in May 1916 in a great sea battle out in the Skagerack Sea, a battle which claimed the lives of 10,000 soldiers. It may sound spooky, but far from it – the island had a wonderful atmosphere of calm.
Photo: J. Hermanson
After pitching our tents, anchoring the guy ropes securely to prepare for the windy night that had been forecast, we broke out the stoves and began to make dinner. Ulrika once more had everything planned to perfection – bottles of red wine appeared mysteriously from her kayak and were set upon gratefully, and we were divided up into cooking teams and given a recipe sheet from which to prepare the best fish soup I’ve ever had, a local recipe from Bohuslän incorporating fresh shrimps, vegetables and chunks of succulent salmon steak.
Camping doesn’t get any better than this, a thought that was expressed frequently and with enthusiasm later in the evening as we collected around a roaring campfire fuelled by driftwood to reflect on the day’s adventures.
The windy conditions which had been promised arrived with a vengeance in the early hours, our tent sides flapping crazily and noisily in the darkness, and we awoke a little bleary-eyed and sleep-deprived the following morning. It was just a short paddle to our pick-up point and the trip was soon to be over, just a short taster of the possibilities this area has to offer for paddlers. Our mini-expedition may have been short, but the memories of paddling and camping in this beautiful region will last a lifetime!
Bob from The Nature Travels Team
The area in which we were paddling features in our Sea Kayaking in Fjällbacka Archipelago experience. Just to the north of this region, we also offer Sea Kayaking in Koster Archipelago, a region shortly to be designated Sweden’s first Marine National Park.
Nature Travels also offers sea kayaking holidays in the eastern archipelago as well as guided and self-guided canoeing holidays in Sweden.