Finally the last of the chanterelles were cooked and eaten, and it was time for bed. But once again a little surprise was in store. As we drifted back to camp in ones and twos, we were instructed to put on our headtorches and directed off up into the forest for a late night “reflector walk”, finding our way through the woods only by the reflective markers attached at intervals to branches.
It was a peaceful and meditative experience, best if done alone. The sense of quiet and thick darkness of the woods cleared the mind and I arrived back at camp relaxed and thoughtful.
Retiring to a warm sleeping bag with a tummy-full of freshly-cooked wild mushrooms on a crisp starry night is a wonderful feeling, and we slept soundly until morning. The only blight on an otherwise perfect day was waking with a crashing headache the next morning. I quickly found I was not alone in this as there were one or two other campers wondering zombie-like through the morning mist clutching their heads. The general concensus as we stood huddled in the morning chill discussing our woes was that we’d all underestimated how warm it had been the day before and, with the exertions of the orienteering exercise, hadn’t drunk nearly enough fluids. But half an hour, a dose of aspirin and a litre of water later and we were all feeling ready for action once more…
Photo: Tommy Sollén
Today was to be a break from outdoor activities, with a programme of workshops from the manufacturers whose equipment we had been testing for the last few days – Lundhags, Bergens, Helsport and Didriksons. Swedish and Norwegian outdoor clothing is not particularly well-known in the UK (with the possible exception of Haglöfs), but is consistently of very high quality, and as always I had been impressed with the comfort and functionality of the gear we’d been testing. Today was a chance to learn more about the products from the companies themselves. The morning passed in a relaxed series of informal workshops, mostly conducted sitting on the rocks gazing out across the lake as the mist lifted and a surprisingly hot September sun shone down on us.
The afternoon saw us heading for Nordens Ark, one of Sweden’s most unique wildlife sanctuaries and internationally renowned as a centre of excellence for the breeding of endangered species. I learned a great deal from our inspirational guide and was particularly interested to see that the Ark concentrates not only on breeding international “superstar” endangered species such as the Snow Leopard and Amur Tiger but also lesser-known species of woodpecker and owl that are locally endangered in Sweden.
Photo: Lory Poly
The highlight of the day for me was a chance to step inside the enclosure with the wolverines, my personal favourite Swedish animal and one which is much misunderstood. The day ended in the company of another of Sweden’s exotic yet little understood predators, the wolf, as we settled down to a marvellous dinner in the Ark’s restaurant with panoramic windows looking out into the wolf enclosure and adults and cubs padding back and forth just the other side of the glass as we ate.
All in all, a hugely enjoyable and very educational day. Tomorrow it would be back to the water to explore the western archipelago by sea kayak, but for now I was content to enjoy the comforts of good food, great company and some of the world’s most incredible animals.
(concludes next week)
Bob from The Nature Travels Team
We offer a number of dedicated wildlife experiences, including moose watching, howling with wolves, beaver safaris and birdwatching in Sweden.