Kayaking in West Sweden – Stroking the Cliffs Around Fjallbacka

Stroking the Cliffs Around Fjällbacka

Sofia from Nature travels went sea kayaking in Fjällbacka in the end of September 2012. Here is her story:

It was towards the end of September and already an autumn chill in the air, I had been keenly looking at the weather forecast for the coming days as we were off paddling for 3 days/ 2 nights in the archipelago around Fjällbacka as a part of this year’s Outdoor Academy.

The Outdoor Academy is an academy for tour operators, journalist and outdoor retailers, to get a chance to get to know the Swedish outdoors and test Scandinavian-made outdoor equipment in its natural environment.

Photo: Sofia Carter

On the first day we got divided into smaller groups of around 10 people of mixed levels and mixed professional background. The mixed level groups were mostly for safety, as if you put all the beginners in one group the guides for that group will have difficulty giving appropriate help to all the beginners. We now had a few beginners, some more advanced paddlers and a few at a medium level. We had two guides per group, our guides were Nigel and Christina. Christina was the local guide, while Nigel was from Seattle but has kayaked a lot in these waters.

Photo: Sofia Carter

The first thing we did was to load our kayaks. As part of this trip also is to try out equipment, there were a lot of things to fit into our Point 65 Kayaks, if you add to that all the nice food Christina had brought, our kayaks were fully stuffed when it was time to launch!

Photo: Sofia Carter

Before leaving the shore Nigel gave us some quick tips on good paddling techniques. Then we all helped out to get everyone out on the water. Once on the water we started with Nigel teaching us some different kayaking techniques, how to work with the kayak when paddling and not against it, how leaning in the kayak in different directions can help you turn from or towards the wind, that is, how the construction of the kayak can help to make your paddling easier.

After everyone had mastered the tip for the day, we then slowly headed off. The weather was cloudy, but hardly any wind at all. Perfect conditions for the beginners we had with us.

We paddled for an hour before we stopped for a short lunch break and then continued to our night spot. During my time on the water I took a chance to get to know the other participants in the group a little better. We were a mix of nationalities, two from France, three from Sweden, three from the UK, one from Russia, one from China and one from Seattle.

Photo: Sofia Carter

For our night camp Christina had chosen a beautiful bay where we unpacked our Tentipis and pitched the three of them on the shore next to the kayaks. We now were all hungry for dinner and Christina had planned a festive dinner for us.

We also lit a fire to warm us when the evening chill started to roll in…

After dinner we did the washing up and sat around chatting around the fire until we slowly drifted away, one by one disappearing into the warmth of our sleeping bags.

Photo: Sofia Carter

The next morning we woke up to sunshine, the wind had picked up a bit but the sun was shining from a clear blue sky.

After breakfast we quickly took down our Tentipis and loaded the kayaks, soon we were back on the water. We soon got back into the rhythm of the paddles and even the beginners were picking up a bit of speed. At one point we could see the Väderöarna (Weather Islands) in a distance and they looked like a mirage where the islands where floating in the middle of the air…..

We continued our journey gliding past cliffs, small red cottages and lighthouses.  At one point, Christina asked if there was something special anyone would like to see, and I said seals. Her reply was she couldn’t promise anything, but we could always hope. And after an hour’s paddling suddenly the others called – “Sofia! Look!” and there in the middle between our kayaks a seal head had popped up, looking at us inquisitively.

At one point during the tour we passed Fjällbacka, the village where the author Camilla Läckerberg was born and grow up and where her books are set. So suddenly this was the topic in between us. I have never read one of her books myself, but after this trip I certainly will!

Photo: Sofia Carter

We continued on to our lunch spot, a nice bay where we could sit in the sunshine sheltered from the wind under the beautiful rocks.

In the afternoon we had a longer distance to cover to get to the night spot Christina had chosen for us. It needed to be close to the start/end point as we needed to be back for 09.00 the next morning.

We paddled and paddled and as the light slowly started to fade the wind picked up. Tomorrow was going to get rough. We made it to our night camp just as the dark fell. We quickly set up our Tentipis and starting cooking our dinner. This night the temperature had dropped and with the wind it was really quite cold. We finished our dinner and did the washing up together…and even though we sat around talking for a while, we didn’t linger…The warmth of our sleeping bags was calling…

The next morning was an early start, we were up before the sun… Packing up in the dark in our tents and then quickly putting it all in our kayaks before it all got too wet. ‘Cause it was wet and windy out there!

Photo: Sofia Carter

We then took the tent down and ate a quick breakfast and were off back on the water. It was harder paddling today, mainly because of the wind and I was glad for the beginners’ sake that we didn’t have this weather on the first day. They had by now managed ready to get a few hours’ ‘ paddling under their belts, so even if it was a bit of a struggle they manages. The more experienced of us doubled up with one beginner each to help, if only with moral support…

After 1.5 hour’s paddling we reached the end of our trip…Time to unload the equipment and hit the warm showers. It was a great few days with some amazing paddling. 🙂

Nature Travels offers both guided and self-guided sea kayaking in the West Sweden region, as well as a variety of options for kayaking on Sweden’s east coast.