Wild SwedenIn Sweden, it is your “Right to Roam.” Hiking, biking, canoeing, camping (even on private land) is your constitutional right as a Swede or even a visitor, as long as you follow a few common-sense rules and utter respect for the land. This concept (Allemansrätt in Swedish) seemed unbelievable at first, but after spending five days in Sweden’s pristine wilderness, their deference to mother nature is unquestionable and awe-inspiring for everyone who explores it. As part of our invitation to attend the ATTA World Summit, we had the opportunity to join a five-day Pre-Summit Adventure. There were 23 multi-day excursions on offer, everything from via ferrata to forest bathing, abseiling, timber rafting, wild foraging, to Arctic hut-to-hut backpacking. My mind raced with the possibilities…but when my mouse scrolled to “Wild Sweden: Wolves, Moose & Beaver Safari with a stay the country’s most primitive hotel,” I knew I had found my Swedish calling!

 

Wild Sweden

Wild SwedenTraveling 100 miles north of Stockholm, I met my group in the forests of Skinnskatteberg. Marcus, the founder of Wild Sweden, walked us to lake lined with granite boulders and tall pines and instructed us to close our eyes for five minutes. After taking in mother nature’s song, running my hands over the mossy ground, and breathing in the earthen air, he explained “Our mission at Wild Sweden is quite simple…Make Sweden a wilder place. How are we accomplishing this? By creating stunning nature experiences, we are encouraging and inspiring people to appreciate and spend more time in the wilderness. Our tours generate income for local guides, restaurant staff, and hotel owners, and when nature provides a sustainable income, it is more likely to be valued and protected.”

 

Färna Manor & Spa

Färna Manor & Spa SwedenAfter our morning exploring the forest and trying our hand at wild foraging (which included me eating no less than a pound of wild mushrooms and at least 200 wild berries), it was time to head to our digs at Färna Manor & Spa. There is something about the juxtaposition of going from complete raw wilderness to a stately hotel. Dating from 1776, the grounds were straight out of a fairytale, and the food…oh man, the food was out of this world. As head chef and sommelier Inga-Lena Eriksson says, “We are passionate about slow food and base the menu on sustainable and seasonal local ingredients” and it came across in every bite of our five-course meal.

 

Beaver Safari

Wild Sweden Beaver SafariDinner was just a prelude to the evening’s adventures…our safari was about to begin! Note these two beaver-viewing rules #1. Be as quiet as you possibly can, and #2. Never be the first group to head home. It started with a few sightings from a distance, one of a beaver swimming about 30 yards ahead of our zodiac, followed by one sliding off the shore as we approached. After another hour searching without any more action, one boat decided they wanted to head back to Färna Manor (enter Rule #2). Within 10 minutes we had a beaver swim directly towards our boat, roll onto his back, then do a deep dive with a heavy tail slap (so close it got us wet). We thought that was the final goodbye (and we would have been thoroughly satisfied), but a moment later our friend lumbered onshore, 5 yards from our boat, and began to gnaw through a sapling. We sat in wonder, admiring his webbed feet and huge scaly tail, for what felt like an hour (although my photos peg it around 4 minutes). What a night!

 

Moose Safari

Moose Safari Wild SwedenNext up on this wilderness photographic safari…the moose! To increase our odds of a sighting, we went out when they are most active (an hour before and after sunset). Though with 400,000 of these guys roaming Sweden (the densest concentration of moose in any country), we didn’t think it would be too hard to spot them…and it wasn’t! Before our safari vehicle hit cruising speed, someone spotted movement and we were breaking out the scope. A bull that must have been 7-feet tall and 1,000 lbs was lumbering through a meadow, and his friends weren’t far behind. Over the course of the evening, we saw 12 moose, including two more males and a few families out for dinner.

 

Kolarbyn Ecolodge

Kolarbyn EcolodgeHaving just written Comfortably Wild; The Best Glamping Destinations in North America, we’ll be the first to say Europe has long been leading the charge when it comes to creative, sustainable outdoor accommodations. Kolarbyn Ecolodge, often referred to as “Sweden’s most primitive hotel”, is a perfect example of how beautiful rustic can be. While the structures were basically wood and earthen huts, the in-room fireplace, animal pelt blankets, and gorgeous natural setting made it top-notch. Honestly, if I had to pick my favorite hotels in the entire world (and Anne and I have reviewed over 300 to date), this would be in my Top 10!

 

Wild Sweden Bushcraft 101

Jonas Landolsi BushcraftWhen mealtime came, we needed to channel (and re-learn) our primal cooking skills. Thankfully, we had Wild Sweden’s bushcraft expert, Jonas Landolsi, to show us how it’s done. He taught us how to start a fire in a survival situation, chop firewood with a pocket knife, and purify water. Then we took our knife-wielding skills to the outdoor kitchen where Malin showed us how to prepare our forest finds for a feast.

 

Floating Swedish Sauna

Canoe to Floating Sauna in SwedenThe next day our crew headed down to the lake where we canoed to the floating sauna (so dreamy!). Our guide Simon had told us that the proper way to Swedish Sauna was to get really really hot inside, then go jump in a cold lake…then repeat this cycle three times. Challenge accepted!

 

Wolf Symphony

Wild Sweden Wolf SafariOn our final night Marcus had a surprise in store. He drove us to a clearing deep in the wilderness, and we built a fire (using our newfound bushcraft skills) to enjoy some tea and hot cocoa and admire the starry night. It wasn’t until we heard the first wolves howling that we realized why he brought us to this spot. We followed Marcus’ hand signals and tip-toed closer. He brought us to the top of a rocky hill (those are our streaking headlamps in the photo above) and invited us to find a secluded seat for the symphony. About 20 minutes went by without hearing a word, just the entrancing sound of pups yipping and adults bellowing, then someone in the group said: “Guys, do you realize these wolves are howling at a full moon, and it just struck midnight…on Friday the 13th?” I think a few of us scanned the woods a bit closer after that (for the record there won’t be another full moon on Friday the 13th until 2171) but Mother Nature’s dramatic finale was only fitting.

 

What we can learn from SwedenWhen you eat delicious food, see majestic creatures in the wild and stay in one-of-a-kind accommodations…that is a vacation. When you also learn new ways to appreciate nature and are inspired to protect it wherever you go…that is a trip of a lifetime!

12 thoughts on “Exploring Wild Sweden

  • January 10, 2020 at 5:41 am
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    I loved going into the wilderness when I spent some time in the summer months in Sweden a few years back, going hiking, picking berries, taking in all the nature. However I did do two moose safaris and didn’t spot any. I was gutted as moose is my favourite animal. One day I will spot moose in the Nordics. 🙂

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  • January 10, 2020 at 8:41 am
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    I am sure that spending time in the wilderness in Sweden was awe-inspiring. I agree that the Farna Manor and Spa was such a contrast from the wilderness. And from the Kolarbyn Ecolodge. Looking for moose under the full moon looks like a great adventure. But getting a wolf serenade would be a memory of a lifetime. What an amazing experience this was 😵

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  • January 10, 2020 at 9:04 am
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    The moose safari looks incredible! That entire area looks perfect for hiking and kayaks. Of course there is a Swedish Sauna to relax, unwind, and warm up in after all that activity!

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    • January 12, 2020 at 1:10 pm
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      Yeah, the Moose were EVERYWHERE…hahah…so many it almost became a moose avoiding safari so we didn’t hit them on the roadway. Such fun and majestic creatures…and Sweden has more of them than any country on earth. So if you love moose as much as I do, get over there 🙂

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  • January 10, 2020 at 11:16 pm
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    Beautiful! Very much like my homecountry, Finland. We do have the same law about being able to pick berries and mushrooms in forests, walk around and use lakes. And the floating sauna with a dip in the lake… very Finnish thing actually. I just love seeing these photos from the Swedish forests because they could as easily be from Finland. They looks so same. And now I got homesick.. ha ha.

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    • January 12, 2020 at 12:34 pm
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      Awwww…so glad we could bring you “home” through our blog Paula. We have been to Norway, and now Sweden…so it sounds like you are saying we definitely need to add Finland to the list. What is your favorite part of Finland? And how are the prices compared to Sweden and Norway, similar?

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  • January 11, 2020 at 7:44 am
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    The more I read, the higher Sweeden is pushed up higher on our bucket list. The more pristine the land is the better we like it and always leave it. Mongolia was like that when you left the cities. Another bonus was the ability to see, really see the stars at night. Thank you for the amazing post and photos.

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    • January 12, 2020 at 12:15 pm
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      Thanks for the lovely comment John. Sweden was such a beautiful country…so peaceful, so many animals…and just a wonderful way of cohabitating with the land and ALL of it’s inhabitants. Hopefully you make it over there soon….can’t wait to hear how you like it! Make sure you get up north!!!

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  • January 12, 2020 at 5:25 pm
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    Sweden has been on my bucket list since I met one of my friends who’s from there. I love the concept of roaming being a right vs a privilege. I haven’t heard of ATTA, will have to check it out. If all camping were like the ecolodge I’d do more of it.

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  • January 13, 2020 at 2:56 am
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    Wild Sweden is tremendously magnificent! I always love to see the wild side of a beautiful country like Sweden, which I am close to it already from my location-based now. And I think that Kolarbyn Ecolodge has got it all! Anyone would be delighted to sleep in this one of a kind. But this is my most favorite part that struck me the most – When you also learn new ways to appreciate nature and are inspired to protect it wherever you go…that is a trip of a lifetime! That is super!

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    • January 16, 2020 at 12:21 am
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      You totally get it! Wild Sweden made me appreciate nature even more and savor every bit!

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  • January 13, 2020 at 8:45 am
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    What a wonderful experience. This is my first time hearing about a Beaver Safari but it sounds so exciting and unique! I have been fascinated with these little creatures and would love to see them up close.

    Reply

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