Kayaking in Bohuslän, Sweden

Julian Rohn 1
Photo: Julian Rohn

Bohuslän county, on the west coast of Sweden, is perfect for sea kayaking. Few places offer waters that are so suitable for paddling as Bohuslän and with its unique, smooth granite cliffs and thousands of islands, it’s a wonderful experience to paddle here.

You can go ashore on the islands and spend the night in the tent you brought with you, as long as you do not interfere with the environment and follow the local guidelines of the Right of Public Access (see http://www.swedishepa.se/Enjoying-nature/The-Right-of-Public-Access/This-is-allowed/). The opportunity to experience quiet solitude and camp where there are no other people is a wonderfully relaxing experience. However, protected areas such and bird sanctuaries are off limits.

Bohuslän is a beautiful location with its thousands of islands. Kayaking on a quiet morning can be paradise, paddling through calm water in the summer dawn’s pale pink light – or in the evening, seeing the unbroken horizon and the big orange yellow evening sun slowly sink into the Skagerrak .

The soft smooth rocks of this area are ideal for sunbathing on lazy summer days and if you get too warm, enjoy the feeling of a refreshing swim in the ocean.

Julian Rohn 3.jpg
Photo: Julian Rohn

For more experienced paddlers, a tip is to make the most of the peace and nature during the long periods before and after the peak summer season – this time is amazing in Bohuslän. It’s always nice to paddle in the archipelago in spring (April-June) when nature is green and the birdlife is awakening. This is a very sensitive time in nature and it’s important to take care not to disturb breeding wildlife, but with consideration and planning as well as a good pair of binoculars both humans and wildlife can enjoy this period. Recommended! Note however that at this time, the water is also colder and it’s important to have more kayak experience/knowledge when paddling at this time of year.

The Bohuslän archipelago offers the joy of paddling, wonderful nature experiences and a sense of freedom and simplicity.

Please see the following tours offering sea kayaking in this area.

Sea Kayak Tour with Skills Course in West Sweden
Self-guided Sea Kayaking in Bohuslän

Canoeing in Skåne, Sweden

Arkipelag Ivösjön - Tobias Delfin073
Photo:Tobias Delfin

Skåne County is the southernmost county in Sweden and one of north Europe’s most productive farming districts.

The Skåne landscape is characterised by farmland, deciduos forests and lakes. It was a strong seat of pwer during the Viking area with many relics from this time.

In Skåne you find many open fields and broad horisons. In the south, dramatic coastal cliffs and long sandy white beaches typify the landscape, with rolling hills and green forest in the west.

The main season for paddling in Skåne is mid-May to end of September.

Paddling in Skåne offers both calm river waters and lakes with an archipelago feeling.

Holjeåleden, where our canoe tour runs, is a waterway that stretches from Östafors in the north to Lake Ivö in the south and offers paddling through unspoilt countryside. It lies at the base of the valley and gives you the feeling that time stands still. n a deep furrow, the river meanders on its way towards Lake Ivö.

Along the stretch from Västanå Mill to Lake Ivö, there are no rapids, just calm water all the way. Along this section the countryside consists of fertile fields. You can glide along at a leisurely pace, enjoy the chirping of birds and the beautiful, varied landscape surrounding the river.

Arkipelag Ivösjön - Tobias Delfin076
Photo: Tobias Delfin

Then you’ll reach Skåne’s largest lake, Lake Ivö. It has an archipelago feel to it, with a large number of islands, around 40 in total. The islands can be reached by canoe and most of the islands are completely uninhabited – perfect places to stay overnight and camp wild. Take some time here to discover the tranquility of the islands.

For more information on our canoe tour in Skåne, please see:

Canoe Getaway in Skåne (Sweden)

My stay at the Wilderness Camp.

In May 2015, Sofia from the Nature Travels team travelled to the provinces of Bohuslän  in West Sweden and visits the Wilderness Camp in Bohuslän .

I drive slowly up the hill on the small gravel road and I’m wondering if I really took the right turn, but then I see another sign that leads me onto an even smaller gravel road with grass growing in the middle. Then I’m there! I park on the small grass with a sign saying “parking”. I step out of the car and walk up to the small building with a big sign saying “reception”. There’s no one there, I look up towards the traditional red and white Swedish cottage I can see, which I assume is my host’s home and there I see him coming out onto the porch with a big smile.

Toilett 7

Mats takes me into the reception cabin and give me maps of hiking trails in the area, a layout of the camp and other essential information. He also gives me the bedding and towels I’ve arranged. We then walk down to the camp together. When we’re closing up to the camp we pass the loos. There’s one composting toilet for when you need to sit down and one “men’s room” for those who want to stand. I’m very used to the Swedish style outdoor toilet, but this one gets high marks even in my book. It has a radiator and electric lights, it consists of two rooms one private area and one room for hand washing etc. and because it has a system where it separates the urine, it doesn’t smell at all.

DSCF8260Anyway, soon after that we reach the main area of the camp. It’s not big, it’s actually a lot cosier than I expected and from my impression from photos. There are six small accommodation buildings with two beds in each, and in the evening sun, they look like they’re standing to attention in their neat row. In the middle of the area is a hut for socialising. Inside there are tables and benches along the walls and in the middle an old iron stove that gives out a pleasant warmth.

Mats also shows me the kitchen hut, shower room, the sauna by the stream and the smoke house were you can have barbecues. There’s a relaxing “away from it all” feeling over the whole place. I thank Mats for showing me around and head for my little cabin, I’m staying in cabin number one. I make myself at home and think “This is nice!”

DSCF8222The camp is quite empty – at the time of my stay it’s only me and one other couple staying at the time – but I can never imagine it as feeling crowded. There are only 12 beds.

I spend a very nice evening enjoying dinner and reading my book on the porch outside my little cabin. I also go for a stroll in the forest up to a viewpoint. It’s a long time since I follow such clearly-marked trails, with the little map Mats has given me combined with the markings it’s an easy walk with no chance of getting lost. When I come back, I try out the shower and toilet facilities, but skip the sauna this time.

When it is time to leave the next day I really wish I was staying longer. I feel real at peace and feel like I had a break from modern life for a while. But I must move on and off I drive soon back with in the civilisation, but with a calmness inside and a smile on my face.

My First Adventures in Stockholm

I started working for Nature Travels in September 2015 and had never really thought about travelling to northern Europe. As a girl who likes the sea and sun I had usually headed to a hotter climate for my travels. Last month I travelled to Sweden for the first time to explore their capital Stockholm and all the delights it has to offer!

Stockholm panorama

After a very early start, I headed to Gatwick with my friend Kat who I was travelling with for the weekend and flew to Stockholm Arlanda to begin our first day in Stockholm (you can read about her Five things I loved about my first visit to Stockholm). I picked up our Stockholm Card from the tourist office at the airport. I would highly recommend getting one if you were visiting Stockholm for the weekend. Basically, you can choose to have a card for 2, 3 or 5 days and it covers entrance to over 75 museums and attractions, public transport, sight seeing by foot, bike and boat and you also get a handy map.

Arlanda express

Stockholm Arlanda airport is just outside the city centre but it’s easy to travel into central Stockholm. We took the Arlanda express for our journey there and by train standards this is one stylish train. Not to sound like a train geek (not that that’s a bad thing!) I was very impressed with this simple but elegant train, as well as standard seats (which were like posh office chairs), some carriages had seats lined facing out the window along a bar table with little table lamps at each place so you could work at them, a change from the train travel I am used to in the UK. This train runs on 100% green electricity which means that renewable source are used to generate the electricity, such as hydropower, wind power or biofuels.

metro art

Stockholm has a brilliant public transport system, the underground metro is beautiful having been decorated with sculptures, mosaics, paintings and engravings by over 150 artists. It easy to negotiate and as a person who still struggles with the London underground system, this was a piece of cake!


Talking of cake, I must mention fika! Fika is sort of our afternoon tea equivalent and is the name for having coffee and cake in the afternoon so if you’re invited for fika don’t eat a big lunch as there are a lot of cake and pastry shops to choose from. The Swedes also like their Asian cuisine, there are a lot of sushi restaurants which I found a personal treat and it surprisingly was a very cost effective option for eating out, plus you usually get miso soup and green tea as standard with your meal.


Once we arrived in Stockholm and dropped our bags at the hotel, we took a bus tour of the town to get our bearings and made a plan for what we would like to visit. The next day, we started with a wander around Gamla Stan, the old town of Stockholm, full of cobbled streets and little boutique shops. It originally housed the merchants based in Stockholm and has some beautifully impressive buildings, including the Royal Palace and Cathedral.

Gamla Stan 2

We took the metro to Södermalm and walked down the main high street, full of interior designer shops and people dressed in black. Stockholm is an interior designer’s paradise and has many shops dedicated to make your home look chic and sophisticated. We stopped for spot of lunch in the trendy Sofo area and then took a slow stroll back to the Stortorget square, in Gamla Stan for some fika. Although we had not long had lunch the chocolate brownie was hard to resist, (hence the recommendation of not having a big lunch before a spot of fika, unless of course you have more will power than me!).


The rest of the afternoon was spent on a boat tour of Stockholm, it’s a great way to see the town and you can get on and off wherever you want and just hop back on later if you like the look of anywhere and want to explore. We had decided to jump off at Fotografiska, one of the world’s largest exhibits for contemporary photography, coincidentally showing an Englishman’s exhibit of seaside resorts, including Weymouth, the home town of my friend Kat.


The following day we decided to spend the whole day at Djurgården, a royal National City park, originally created as a hunting ground for King Carl XI. This green island in Stockholm also has some of the main museums and attractions of the city. Possibly the most famous of which is the Vasa Museum, a brilliant museum that is home to an incredibly well-preserved 300 year old ship that sank just 20 minutes into its maiden voyage. Stockholm is set between Lake Mälaren and the Baltic Sea which has a very low saline content and accounts for the preservation of the ship and why many divers visit Sweden to investigate a wealth of unspoiled wrecks.


Back in Djurgården, we also visited the Biological Museum, Noriska Museum and Skansen, home to the world’s oldest open air museum and Stockholm zoo. The beginning of May was a great time to visit as it is home to many native animals to Scandinavia was full of very cute new arrivals. We then stopped at the Spritmuseum which is a surprisingly fun and interactive museum for grown ups, exploring our relationship with alcohol, but sadly we had miss any tastings! We ended our day with a walk around Djurgården, enjoying the tranquility of this oasis in the capital city.


Our final morning was spent on a boat trip to one of the archipelago islands for a short stop and explore, Kat and I went for a walk around the island which wasn’t our cleverest idea. We had managed to walk half way round the island and then scrabbled up some rocks to get the other side of the small island, however we came across some rather disgruntled geese that were nesting in the rocks and the ganders were protecting their new families. We managed to find our way to the other side after some careful negotiating around the rocks, which is tricky when there are hundreds of geese (might be a slight over exaggeration), hiding their nests around corners and behind bushes but they let us know very quickly if we hadn’t seen them and got too close.


After our adventure with the aggressive ganders, we headed back to the centre and spent an afternoon shopping for tourist goodies before taking the Flybussarna back to the airport to travel home.

Gamla Stan

Stockholm is an ideal city break before or after exploring the wilderness of Sweden on one of our outdoor experiences.


Niki at Nature Travels

The Stockholm Archipelago

For me, the Stockholm Archipelago is a little bit of paradise, but I grew up there. My family lived in one of the archipelago towns during winter and school terms and then moved out to live in our summer house on an island in the middle of the archipelago over 10 weeks during the summer each year.


The archipelago begins just a few minutes away from the city of Stockholm. It stretches roughly 60 km (37 miles) in a north–south direction, and mainly follows the coastline of the Södermanland and Uppland counties.


The exact number of islands depends on who you talk to, but something in between 24,000-30,000 seems to be the agreed consensus.


There are uninhabited islets as well as islands with just a few summer houses and bigger islands with new communities and historic villages, where large houses and small cottages stand side by side. Islands with stores, pubs, restaurants, youth hostels and bed and breakfasts. However, keep in mind that most of the island villages are very remote, with limited options for dining and groceries.


My family belongs to one of the large archipelago families and many on the surrounding islands are some kind of distant relative – maybe my Mum’s cousin’s cousin! In 1719, the archipelago had an estimated population of 2,900, consisting mostly of fishermen. Today the archipelago is a popular holiday destination with some 50,000 holiday homes. The Stockholm Archipelago Foundation, dedicated to the preservation of the nature and culture of the archipelago, owns some 15% of its total area.


Like most inhabitants of the archipelago between the mid-1400s and the Second World War, my great grandma and grandpa were farmers and fishermen. Spring and autumn fishing was quite intensive in the outer archipelago from 1450 until the mid-1800s, and many fishermen lived for long periods on the outer islands because of the long distances back to their permanent homes in the inner archipelago. The combined farming and fishing culture lasted until around 1950–1955 when the younger generation, born during and directly after the war, started to leave the archipelago and look for jobs in the cities on the mainland. Today ,most of the small farms on the islands are closed and the fishing industry has almost disappeared.


The Stockholm Archipelago is really unique. Not so many people live in the archipelago permanently nowadays, but very many people from Stockholm and other areas have their summer houses out on the islands and spend their weekends and summer holidays there.


You can visit the inner, middle or outer archipelagos. The natural beauty of the archipelago is outstanding and on a nice summer day, absolutely incredible. It’s a mesmerising wonderland of rocky isles carpeted with deep forests and fields of wildflowers, dotted with boats and little red wooden cottages.


The best time to visit is during the spring and summer months from May to September. If you have the time and possibility, please visit one or several of the islands and not only enjoy the scenery from a boat deck,


We offer many different options to explore the Archipelago – by kayak, under sail, and by bicycle, so why not make it a goal for this summer to explore one of the worlds hidden beauty spots – The Stockholm Archipelago, so close to the city, yet a world away!

Sofia – part of the Nature Travels Team

Kayak through the archipelago:

We offer both guided and self-guided options for sea kayaking, camping wild along the way, quite probably on your own private island!

Guided Sea Kayaking in the Stockholm Archipelago
Self-guided Sea Kayaking in the Stockholm Archipelago
Stockholm Archipelago Self-guided Kayak Explorer

Go sailing in the archipelago:

A wonderful adventure for couples or families with your very own local skipper!

Sailing in the Stockholm Archipelago

Hiking and Biking:

A multi-activity adventure with luggage transfers and accommodation in local guests houses and hostels along the way

Hike and Bike in the Stockholm Archipelago
Hike, Bike and Paddle Stockholm’s Lakes and Islands


Explore some of the jewels of the archipelago on foot and by boat:

Island Hopping and Hiking in the Stockholm Archipelago

What to do when in Stockholm?

Sofia from Nature Travels shares her top tips for enjoying Sweden’s capital, the “Venice of the North”.

I grew up in a small town Waxholm (also spelt Vaxholm), 45 minute bus ride from Stockholm, and have spent many days shopping, meeting friends and hanging out around the capital. These are my tips for what not to miss when spending a few days there.

Boat trip

The fact that Stockholm is built on 14 islands connected by 57 bridges makes a tour by boat something of a given. There are many sightseeing boats that will take you on a guided tour around the waterways of the city.

If you have some more time on your hands, it’s worth taking one of the archipelago boats and exploring some of the 30 000 islands that make up the Stockholm Archipelago. Strömma Kanal Bolag has different cruises in the archipelago.


Another option is to take a day tour to Waxholm (the town where I grew up). It’s an idyllic archipelago town with many well-preserved wooden houses from the turn of the last century, painted in the archipelago’s typical delicate pastel tones. Waxholm has numerous charming restaurants, cafés and shops.

Waxholm is easily accessible year-round, by Waxholmsbolagets boat traffic or by bus, If you take the bus, the trip is covered by Stockholm’s public transport service and so is also included in the Stockholm Card. Why not take the boat one way and then the bus back?


Another thing to do in Stockholm is to visit the green island of Djurgården. It is beloved by both Stockholmers and tourists. Djurgården is a calm oasis. There are fine areas to stroll in and to have a picnic. Djurgården is also home to several of the city’s top museums and attractions (including Skansen and the Wasa museum described below), as well as enjoyable cafés and restaurants.

is an open-air zoo and museum. Here you can stroll through five centuries of Swedish history, from north to south. As a zoo, Skansen is primarily devoted to showing Scandinavian animals. Some 75 different species and breeds of Scandinavian animals are represented.

As an open-air zoo and museum, it’s probably most enjoyable in summertime, but is open for visitors all year around and in early December the site’s central square is host to a popular Christmas market.

Vasa museum

The Vasa Museum is a maritime museum located on the island of Djurgården. The museum displays an almost fully intact 17th century ship, the 64-gun warship Vasa, that sank on her maiden voyage in 1628. The showpiece is the ship itself, which is simply magnificent. To look up, or down, at a ship that is almost 400 years old and is essentially in its original state is a fantastic experience.


Södermalm is the old working class area of the city, which has turned bohemian chic. Södermalm has a lot of cafés, restaurants, bars and rows of boutiques with a mix of vintage, independent labels, and Swedish mainstream designers.

The vibe in the streets of Södermalm is relaxed, creative and trendy, especially in the Sofo area (South of Folkungatan). SoFo is a play on the acronym SoHo (South of Houston Street, in Manhattan).

In the warm months, Nytorget Square is a bustling social scene. The last Thursday of every month is called SoFo night, where retailers are open until 9pm and offer free entertainment and refreshments to shoppers.


Gamla Stan

Gamla Stan, the Old Town, is one of the largest and best-preserved medieval city centres in Europe, and one of the foremost attractions in Stockholm.

All of Gamla Stan is like a living pedestrian-friendly museum, full of sights, attractions, restaurants, cafés, bars and places to shop. The narrow, winding cobblestone streets, with their buildings in so many different shades of gold, give Gamla Stan its unique character. Even now, cellar vaults and frescoes from the Middle Ages can be found behind the visible facades, and on snowy winter days the district feels like something from a storybook.


Västerlånggatan and Österlånggatan are the district’s main streets. In the middle of Gamla Stan is Stortorget, the oldest square in Stockholm.

Drottninggatan – Sergels Torg

The City area of Stockholm is where the big department stores are and a lazy shopper’s paradise. Sergels Torg is a sunken pedestrian plaza with a triangular pattern (colloquially referred to as Plattan, “The Slab”) and a wide flight of stairs leading up to the pedestrian street, Drottninggatan. Drottninggatan (“Queen Street”) is a major pedestrian street. The majority of the street is car-free and lined-up with numerous stores and shops.


Kungsträdgården (Swedish for “King’s Garden”) is a square/park in central Stockholm. It is colloquially known as Kungsan. The park’s central location and its outdoor cafés makes it one of the most popular hangouts and meeting places in Stockholm. It also hosts open-air concerts and events in summer, while offering an ice rink during winters.

I think that covers it! Those are my my tips – writing this makes me want to go strolling around the streets of Stockholm – hmm, I think a trip to Stockholm might be on the cards for me this spring!


Nature Travels

Blue Skies in West Sweden

Bob from Nature Travels travelled to Gothenburg and Bohuslän in West Sweden for 5 days in September 2014, and came home with a suntan!

Any opportunity to travel to the beautiful coastal region of Bohuslän in West Sweden is always welcome, so despite a brutally early start of 2am to catch the bus from Dorset up to Heathrow, I arrived at Gothenburg Landvetter airport feeling buoyant and optimistic for the days ahead.

The trip started well with a chat with the world’s friendliest taxi driver on the short ride into town, during which we skipped through subjects as diverse as English football (he was a Man Utd. supporter), his original home of Montenegro and the Swedish welfare system. He dropped me off at the Clarion Hotel Post right opposite the station, an imposing but nicely-converted hotel in the old city Post Office building which retains much of its original charm.


The first 24 hours were eat-eat-eat, as we sampled the fantastic herring at Gabriel’s in the “Fish Church” (Feskekôrka), the traditional welcoming atmosphere of Styrsö Pensionat (I loved the cardamom-flavoured meringue!), a little oasis of calm on the island of Styrsö just a short boat ride from the city, and a delicious veggie risotto at Palace.


We attempted to burn off just a little of our excess calorific intake with a kayak tour of the city under the guidance of the lovely Ulrika from Point 65, though didn’t make much of a dent.


Kayaking is a great way to see Gothenburg – from gliding along beside the battleship and submarine floating museums to exploring the canal running through the city centre.


Getting to drive a lovely old Volvo around town on the “Time Travel Sightseeing Tour” was also great and reminded me of my old Morris Traveller!


Next day it was out of the city and north to the coastal region of Bohuslän, where we spent the next four days glorying in some fantastic late summer sunshine. Barely a cloud in the sky for days, temperatures into the 20s and the sunlight painting beautiful shadows and reflections on the granite and gneiss formations of the coastline.


The water and its rich bounty of seafood were an ever-present companion during our time at the coast – sumptuous lunches of freshly-caught crayfish and cod-related fish varieties, consumed at leisure while watching the ever-changing tapestry of coastal life.


We explored the coastal towns of Strömstad and Smögen, very popular in the summer especially with Norwegian visitors, and the beautiful small village of Fjällbacka, home to and setting for the crime novels of Camilla Läckberg, now one of the world’s top-selling authors (we even met Camilla’s mum!).


No trip to West Sweden would be complete without a visit to the stunning islands of the west coast archipelago. The Koster Islands, Sweden’s first Marine National Park, are great for exploring by bike, provided free at the harbour and making it easy to get to the lovely café and organic garden at Kosters Trädgården.


We also liked the new network of “snorkelled” (snorkelling trails), self-guided underwater information boards linked by a rope trail to teach visitors about the rich marine life of the area.


The Weather Islands (“Väderöarna”), Sweden’s most westerly point, have a real “frontier” atmosphere and make a great base for kayaking day trips, where you can end the day’s paddling with a warm welcome at the comfortable guest house and a hot tub on the jetty!


While West Sweden itself is rich in wildlife, from harbour seals to seabirds, the endangered species breeding centre at Nordens Ark provided a fantastic opportunity to get up close and personal with some of Sweden’s harder-to-see animals from elsewhere in the country, including the mysterious wolf and charismatic wolverine.


The centre focuses on endangered species from outside Sweden too, and we had wonderful views of the Amur tigers and (a special treat for me) a chance to get unbelievably close to the snow leopards (never felt a snow leopard breathing in my face before – wonderful!) while learning about the valuable work of the centre from head guide, Pelle.


After squeezing in a short hike along the varied shoreline of Bohus-Malmön (the very last section of the the 3-day IceBug Experience walking/running event, taking place for the first time this year), our last little adventure was a kayak tour from the town of Lysekil, well-placed to offer great kayaking right from the shore – we spent a happy couple of hours exploring the gorgeous smooth rocks and islands which pepper the coastline before returning to land for fresh mussel soup! And just before the bus left, a lightning tour of Havets Hus, a small but very interesting aquarium focussing on local marine species, including a rare blue lobster!

Then all too soon it was time to head south once more to Gothenburg for our journey home. I dozed on the plane with my mind full of impressions and snapshots from the trip – the tang of the salty air, the slap of the waves on the side of my kayak, the succulent softness and rich flavours of the fish and seafood, and the seemingly endless sunshine glinting off the rocks.


The Boshuslän region has its own very special atmosphere and its proximity to Gothenburg makes it very easy to discover. One of the real attractions of the area is that it offers something for everyone – if you want challenging, world-class sea kayaking with wild camping on your own deserted island, it’s there in abundance. If you just want to chill out with a bowl of crayfish soup and a glass of wine and watch the sun go down, you can do that too!

Nature Travels offers a number of activities in the Bohuslän area, including self-guided sea kayaking, guided sea kayaking (including tours in the Fjällbacka, Koster and Weather Islands regions) and self-guided hiking.

The Icelandic Horse

Icelandic Horses are not large in stature (around 12-14 hands in height), they may resemble a slightly oversized Shetland pony in appearance, however, these wonderful equines are indeed and most definitely to be referred to as a horse rather than a pony (horse on short legs), especially in their native homeland!

They arrived in Iceland during the 9th century via the Vikings and have played a major part within the history and culture of Iceland ever since. They are a hardy, stocky equine and have adapted very well to their sometimes harsh and unforgiving environment. They make up the very tapestry of the land and can be seen grazing in herds during most of the year. 


Most significantly the native Icelandic Horse is a very much preserved and ancient breed and a prized part of Iceland’s heritage and was largely helped by the ban placed on importing any foreign horses into the country set in the 13th century. Still in place today, this has continued to keep the breed pure and of course free from equine diseases.

We love them because…
These endearing chunky little chaps have larger than life characters and an abundance of free flowing mane and tail, they traditionally have a rather short neck and sloping hindquarters. Stocky, hardy and very sure footed, naturally they are extremely woolly in the winter months to cope with the Icelandic winters, however, when the spring arrives, their coats begins to change and reveal a wonderful shiny summer attire in a variety of colours.

There’s an old Icelandic saying – “A Good Horse Has No Colour”


The Icelandic Horse has grown in popularity worldwide and many have indeed been exported to different countries not least of course here in the UK. Today in the UK, the IHSGB (Icelandic Horse Society of Great Britain) which was founded in 1986, provides a host of help and information for enthusiasts (http://ihsgb.co.uk).

Renowned for their good nature and versatility and ideal for the novice rider to experienced rider, they are the most comfortable of equine transport, this is largely due to their unique extra gait the “tolt”.

What is this “tolt” thing I hear you say?
Of course the Icelandic Horse can do the norm of walk, trot, canter and gallop, but they are of course they are very much known for their “tolting” gait. This movement is a 4 time beat (same footfalls as a normal walking gait) but can excel to a much greater speed such as that of the average cantering horse. This free flowing movement is actually very comfortable as there is no moment of suspension in the pace and therefore less bouncy


Personally I have been very lucky to expereince riding Icelandics on my various travels over the years and I would never need asking twice if the opportunity came round again, they are extraordinary little horses. If you (like me) love everything that is horsey, then I can highly recommend that you should tick this off your horse riding bucket list!!!

You can experience spending time with Icelandic Horses (among other breeds) with one of our wonderful equestrian getaways in beautiful Sweden, for details please see our ‘Horse Riding’ category:

I hope you enjoyed this mini equiblog, do let me know your thoughts – we love feedback. We would love to hear about your adventures too!

Best regards


The Nature Travels Team



Outdoor Academy of Sweden Dalarna 2013

Trip report OAS 2013 – Linda from the Nature Travels Team

Dates: 12-16 September 2013

Location: Sälen – Dalarna Region of Sweden


Outdoor Academy of Sweden is a short visit to promote an area of Sweden, this is organised in conjunction with Visit Sweden and a collective of various local providers and suppliers such as outdoor activity companies, specialist equipment brands, accommodation, leisure venues and restaurants.

Who attends?

Journalists, Retailers and Tour Operators from a range of countries and all with an interest in promoting Sweden within their working portfolios.

Why Dalarna Region?

Dalarna means “The Valleys”.

Dalarna was the chosen area of Sweden for the Autumn 2013 OAS expedition. Dalarna is where the Swedish like to holiday (all year round). The surrounding cottages have a typically traditional red and white theme with awesome forests overlooking scenic lakes. We were based in Sälen which is a beautiful area with outstanding natural landscapes and although very popular during the winter months for skiing and snow based family activities, Dalarna is still much undiscovered for outdoor activities during the summer season. We sampled a few mini adventures on our visit: hiking in the Sälen mountains, mountain biking in Rörbäcksnäs and canoeing on the Görälven river. Fantastic activities for all levels.

Where is Dalarna?

Dalarna is located in the central area of Sweden, bordering Norway in the western mountainous area. Dalarna covers an area of about 31,351km² (including water).  The province is approximately the size of Belgium, so plenty of freedom to roam around. Dalarna county has a population of around 300,000 people.


What is Dalarna famous for?

Vasaloppet – the world famous 90km cross country ski race (15,000 participants). Excellent Skiing

Vasacycle – 90km cross-country mountain bike trails

Dalarna Horse – famous hand painted wood craft

Njupeskär Waterfall – Sweden’s tallest waterfall at 93m

Svenska folkdräkter – traditional Swedish dress and Maypole dancing.

What do we love about Dalarna?

A fabulously friendly welcome

The many activities available for all abilities:

Summer – hiking, biking & paddling – or just relaxing

Winter – skiing, snowshoeing & sledding (fun either with or without huskies)

The richness of nature, forest and fauna – bears, elk, moose & berries a plenty

The cleanest fresh air and the crystal fresh water

So what happened on the trip?

After very excitedly counting down the days to this adventure, departure date had finally arrived:

12th September

A bit of an early start to catch the 05:15 bus to Heathrow, but it was a smooth journey and after a strong coffee and slightly unhealthy muffin we (that is Elky and I) made it through SAS check-in and boarded with ease for 10:30 flight to Oslo.

Arrival at Oslo:

Flying the flag for the UK tour operators (just me), I met with a group of international outdoor enthusiasts participating in the tour, 40 or so in all, tour operators, journo’s and retailers. I must admit I felt a pinch overwhelmed at all the outdoor kit on show! However…. I had a travel bag with a stuffed Elk in it!


After the introductions and warm welcome from our hosts from Visit Sweden and cosy 3hr bus ride to Sälen, we made it to our hotel Sälens Högfjällshotell.

First stop – kit check… (for the following days hike up the mountains) Häglofs, Primus and Hillberg all sponsoring fantastic clothing and equipment for a testing on the trek!

After a quick bag drop & refresh, it was a short bus trip via the Häglofs store for a debrief outlining the visit and of course discounted shopping. Oh and nibbles on bear, cheese & reindeer bits and well of course a glass of wine.

This was followed by an evening meal at the 11th century restaurant, ‘Gammelgården’, the cuisine was lovely, the service friendly and the company of course was great! Many stuffed creatures on display but an olde worlde ambience with a slight resemblance to a Tolkein’esque a hobbit house. Very cosy indeed and very popular with guests in winter and summer seasons.


13th September

An early awakening from a comfy bed and a scrummy breakfast to start the day. It was time to ponder the art of packing that great gert 70litre backpack that was basically the same size as me. Thankfully experts were on hand and knew exactly how to repack my shoddy effort, cramming equipment, food and a toothbrush into the abyss that I will shortly be stomping up a mountain with strapped so seamlessly to my torso. Well, thankfully I can say it worked out ok with the remodelled weight distribution. My goal was to make it till lunch with the hefty load and then swap packs with my Dutch buddy. 13.00 – Goal achieved and outdoor lunch with the best view in Sälen not to mention gathering a glut of wild blueberries for the most organic dessert ever, washed down with fresh water from the free flowing brooks – a true gift from the mountains.


Hmmm.. fresh mountain blueberries!

Walking the plank!

Moss is sooo… !

Late afternoon….Setting up camp was an interesting affair, firstly finding a
flat area of ground and secondly attempting to erect our humble abode for the
night. Easier said than done…Whilst we (Renate and I) were still trying to
figure out the yurt angles, simple calculations told us, that just maybe, we
needed more tent pegs for this monster. Some time later…All other teams seemed to have
successfully completed the task, we were now surrounded by perfectly fine
outlines of dome shaped Hillberg tents. Fortunately, after much amusement the
other teams came to the rescue and our challenge was complete. The
architectural marvel of the newly named  ‘circus tent’ was the pride of the camp. No ground
sheet – no worries! We were cosy enough with Haglofs 2S sleeping bag and spongy
floor mat. Although maybe the ground we slept upon could have been a little
more ergonomic. Rooky campers!!!

Our Hilleberg home for the night.

The open air kitchen – cookin’ on gas!

Primus stove in action. Photo: Henrik Trygg/VisitSweden

Photo: Henrik Trygg/VisitSweden

A beautiful end to the day!

14th September

Dalarna is the most amazing place to have a mountain bike adventure, this can be a relaxed or as challenging as you so desire. Wonderful scenery and great terrain be it winding trails through the awesome pine forests or if you fancy a challenge, you can take on some gnarly downhill routes at the specialist centre in Sälen.

Our group took bus to Rörbäcksnäs, where we sampled some of the best single-track cross–country cycling in Sweden. We were well equipped with safety hats and a great set of wheels and the all important guide for instructions. Great fun was had by all on our 15km trip with a few thrills ‘n’ spills en route.

A little fatigued at this point (and nursing a few small bruises) we ended the day with a visit top the Moose Park and a very welcoming cultural and traditional Sami dinner in a Tipi.

Hej….Has anyone seen my antlers???


15th September

Our agenda for the morning was to get some expert advice and tips for canoeing on the Görälven River. Bouyancy jackets and waterproofs on, we negotiated our orange canoes down the slope and smoothly onto the water. Our guide carefuly instructed us on the do’s and don’ts of paddling, fully prepared and confident, we floated off down the Görälven. This was truly a relaxing way to spend a morning, taking in the beautiful surroundings, paddling with the flow, of course with a small cuddly stowaway Elk onboard! Also, I have never seen a riverside lodge so cleverly put together as that of a Beaver abode – it’s a first!

This is a great area for photography with the trees reflecting their images in the calm and very clear water. There were also some areas of faster running water to negotiate but not at all taxing, however, I am told there is plenty of white water if you would like a more challenging option. Overall the whole group were enjoying the peace and quite and drifting with nature.

Canoeing really was a wonderful way to finish a brimming itinerary of various outdoor experiences. You could never be stuck for things to do in Dalarna.

Canoeing on the Görälven River

After a BBQ lunch it was back to the hotel for the workshop, well you have to do some work on these trips!!

This isn’t Elky’s normal diet.

Who ate all the snags?

Sälens Högfjällshotell put on a superb culinary feast for all participants, along with live music and a bit of dancing of course!

Party on Elky!!

We even have a certificate of completion and lest we forget… thank you to Jonas and Henrik who blogged and photographed every step….

16th September

Another hearty breakfast and fond farewell, our transfer had arrived to take us back to Oslo for departure flights home.


Check-in again soon for the next Nature Travels adventure!

Best wishes – Linda and Elky :)

Nature Travels does not (yet) offer activities specifically in Dalarna, but there are excellent options for canoeing in Rogen in Härjedalen a little to the north and canoeing and timber rafting in Värmland just to the south.

Late summer getaway ideas for a holiday in Sweden

Need something to take your mind off the British rain and cheer yourself up?  How about booking one of our experiences in Sweden for late August or early September before it’s time to start the school term?

Photo: Kate Bohn

The latter part of August is often a lovely time to be in Sweden – as the Swedish schools start back around the 3rd week of August, it’s an exceptionally quiet period to visit, with temperatures normally still  feeling summery and the waters of the lakes and archipelagos at their warmest for swimming, having had the whole summer to hear up!

We’ve got plenty of ideas to choose from:

What about taking the children on a self-guided canoe trip down the Klarälven river? Our Canoe Tour on Klarälven is the perfect family adventure. The Klarälven is a wide, meandering river which flows at a stately 2km per hour – a wonderful way to experience the beautiful landscape of rural Sweden and watch the world go by!  Accommodation is wild camping so you can spend your nights round the camp fire cooking the fish you have caught along the way.  There’s plenty of time for exploring the area and going on day hikes etc.  What better way for the kids to experience the outdoors!

We also have a wide range of other canoe tours suitable for different levels of experience. If you are looking for a “lads’ trip” away from the kids and are happy with a challenge, how about Discover Wilderness Canoeing in Rogen, which is suitable for those comfortable with travelling independently in a remote wilderness environment.  It’s a real get-away-from-it-all experience. If you’re not sure which tour is right for you, read this article comparing our different canoe tours in Sweden.

Photo: John Hartshorn

For families with older children who are into their cycling and paddling, try our Hike, Bike & Paddle Stockholm’s Lakes & Islands experience.  It gives you the chance to explore the clear lakes, cool forests and shimmering islands of Stockholm with comfortable overnight accommodation along the way.

We also have a number of log cabin holidays to choose from – such as Back to Basics in Cosy Cabin,s where you stay in a grass-roofed cabin in a secluded forest location, there’s no electricity and cooking is over an open fire.  The children can bathe in the cool clear lakes and drink ice-cold water from the well.  There’s even a tree house called the ‘Cuckoo’s Nest’ that’s suitable for couples – a romantic getaway with a difference with the other half?

Photo: Ben Irons

If you like things a bit more advanced and up-to-date, then one of our log cabins in the beautiful area of Värmland could be just the thing your looking for.  With a sauna and your own boat included as standard,you can explore the area by day and relax by night.

So let’s not be beaten by the weather, make some plans to enjoy the later part of the summer with a visit to Sweden – there’s something for everyone!  We can’t promise perfect weather but we can promise something different. We’re here to help if you have any questions…

Best regards

The Nature Travels Team