Last week, the Nature Travels team packed their raingear and their suncream (you never know at this time of year!) and headed to Sweden to visit some of our existing providers and research new experiences for our portfolio.
It was a hectic week, but a memorable one, and in the end we made good use of both the rainclothes and the suncream. Travelling from the beautiful and cosmopolitan city of Gothenburg up to the wild forested expanses of Bergslagen, we mixed business with pleasure, making sure we scheduled a little time between meetings to participate in some of the wonderful experiences on offer.
We began our tour visiting Lars and Monica, just to the north of Gothenburg, the providers of our Western Sweden Cycle Explorer experience. A beautiful rural area perfect for cycling on quiet country lanes and forest tracks, and home to one of Sweden’s rarest breeds of sheep. Thank you to Monica for her excellent fish soup and delicious cakes, and to Lars for his enthralling tales of local history.
Our journey took us next to the famous Göta Kanal and one of Sweden’s most environmentally friendly youth hostels. We spent a warm and friendly evening in the beautiful candle-lit dining area before retiring to the most spacious youth hostel rooms we have ever seen! Our warmest thanks to Jonas and Margareta for looking after us so well and for regaling us with tales of the canal’s past.
After a brief stop in the attractive county capital of Karlstad, the journey continued to visit Uta and her husband Oscar at their country manor. Uta is an excellent chef renowned for her knowledge of Swedish cuisine, and will be hosting this year’s Wilderness Chef contest in Sweden at the manor. After a wonderfully peaceful afternoon exploring the fascinating bird life of the area, including the magical red-throated diver, we retired to the manor dining room to feast on a selection of local specialities and admire the sweeping view down to the lake. We had binoculars at the ready in case the osprey nesting on an island just out in the lake should show itself, but as the evening darkened we began to pay more and more attention to the food and the wine, so perhaps we just missed a glimpse! Thank you very much to Uta and Oscar for their hospitality and welcoming accommodation, and to Aulis for his knowledgeable guidance and keen eyes during our afternoon of birdwatching.
Finally a chance to stand still for a while came when we visited IngMarie and Anders, who run our extremely popular canoeing and timber rafting experiences. Värmland is a wonderful place to be on the water. There is certainly no shortage of lakes and rivers in the area, and a wide variety of experiences are available to suit young and old, novice paddlers and experienced adventurers. IngMarie was ready with advice and assistance as we carefully selected our logs and then stood knee-deep in the river puzzling over knots and assembling our raft. Building and piloting your very own timber raft is a unique experience and a very good way to practise your teamwork skills! Our heartfelt thanks to IngMarie and her team for making our days on and around the water so very enjoyable.
The call of the wild was very much in evidence as we visited Björn at his beautifully situated forest lodge deep in the woods. Björn operates our Log Cabin Escape in Värmland experience and has received an award this year for his commitment to ecotourism. As well as fishing, the area is ideal for hiking and canoeing, a welcoming oasis in the wild woods. Thank you, Björn, for looking after us so well and for showing us one of the local beaver hides!
Finally, as the sun shone gloriously from a clear blue sky we had the opportunity to explore the rocky archipelago off the west coast of Sweden and view some of the 3,000 or so common seals living around the islands. A wonderful day both on the water and exploring some of the islands, and a big thank you to Einar for showing us around (and to the seals for obligingly showing themselves off so beautifully)!
And so, rather tired but with hearts and minds filled with wonderful memories after a week of warm hospitality and stunning scenery, we made our way back to Gothenburg and so once more to the UK, already looking forward to our next visit to the wide open spaces of Sweden.
The Nature Travels Team