Timber and Teamwork: Rafting on Klarälven

The Klarälven river in Värmland has the longest history of use as a professional logging route in Sweden, and was used for this purpose right up until 1991. Today you have an opportunity to keep this old tradition alive by building and piloting your own timber raft.

But floating peacefully downstream Huckleberry Finn style is only part of the story – this is a voyage of adventure, a challenging journey of discovery and an exercise in teamwork.

raft4.jpg
Photo: Hipfel/Starck

The experience begins as you are taught how to construct your own Swedish log raft using nothing but logs and ropes. Building your timber raft is a challenge, but it is not necessary to be especially strong – many “normal” families take part in this tour – more important is the ability to work together and help each other. Once assembled, your raft will weigh around 2000kg, and you will need to keep an eye on what’s up ahead as you steer her towards your destination.

raft11.jpg
Photo: Hipfel/Starck

Along the way, there will be sandbanks and log traps to negotiate, and you will learn to know the moods of the river as you navigate your way down the wide and gently-flowing Klarälven.

You will need to keep a check on the pace of the river, observing the contours on the map and letting the raft follow the flow of the water – and you will need to use your pole and paddles to stay clear of backwaters, sandbanks and overhanging branches.

Steering with paddles takes determination – the current is strong and the raft heavy, but if you do get stuck in a backwater, there is only one thing for it: paddling is the only way out! If you find yourself stuck on a sandbank, it’s time to use the pole – but don’t forget to push off in the same direction you came from!

raft3.jpg
Photo: Hipfel/Starck

As you scan the river up ahead to anticipate a turn or keep watch for obstacles, you have an excellent chance of spotting one of the many beavers that inhabit the Klarälven river – this area has one of the highest densities of beaver in the country. If you wish, you can go ashore and take some time to explore on land for a while before continuing your journey, and there is a chance to stop off and stock up with provisions at certain points. Alternatively, try your luck fishing from the raft, take a swim, or untie your canoe and head off for a paddle!

raft2.jpg
Photo: Hipfel/Starck

After the day’s rafting, choose a suitable spot, head for the river bank, moor the raft and pitch camp for the night. Sweden is an excellent country for camping as you are permitted to camp wild, though this of course comes with some responsibility.

At the end of your voyage, you will dismantle the raft, leaving nothing behind but ripples on the water, and knowing that you have achieved something unique that was only possible with the help and cooperation of your fellow raft-mates.

Best regards

The Nature Travels Team

Find out more about our 5 or 8 day Timber Rafting on Klarälven experience

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