In 2013 I went on a 6-day packrafting and hiking tour in Sarek with a colleague and here are a few impressions from this trip.
We traveled from Vaasa on the Wasaline ferry to Umea and then on the “hikers train” (it seemed that the only people who traveled north were hikers) to Gällivare. The train from Umea to Sarek only runs a few times a day and therefore it is possible that you will have to stay in Umea for one night if you miss the last train.
From Gällivare we took a bus (Bussgods) to Suorva. The price of the bus ticket was just over SEK 300 per person. If you are planning the same trip, you should make sure that you have enough cash with you for the ticket, as unfortunately, you cannot pay by card. We also needed cash to later pay for a boat trip or a flight with a helicopter.
At 12 noon we started our journey from Suorva by crossing the dam and walking a short distance along the Jiertajavrre on a path that led us through a dense birch forest full of large stones, boulders, and swamps.
We prepared our meals with a Jetboil Sol Ti gas cooker. Although I’m not a fan of dehydrated camping food from the camping shop, I was able to survive in Sarek National Park for a week.
After lunch, we wanted to reach the Vuosskeljavrre lake, which was behind the Hallji fell. To reach the lake, we had to climb over 500 meters. When the trail ended, we had no choice but to try to navigate the wild terrain.
Walking through the woods was almost as exhausting as walking uphill or jumping from one rock to another. After we left the forest it became easier to navigate as we had a clear view.
When we reached some altitude, we enjoyed a fantastic view over the fells and took a short break to soak up the tranquil beauty of this area. On the way up we found a lot of blueberries, cranberries, some cloudberries, and mushrooms. But of course, the whole area is only covered with berries if you are there at the right time.
For the first time in my life, I also found reindeer antlers. And of course, the reindeer themselves weren’t far away. We could also approach them to take pictures.
The terrain was very uneven and we saw the first bouldering fields that we had to cross. We had to walk very carefully, as a wrong kick would certainly end up with an injury and since there was no network coverage for my cell phone, it would have been difficult to call for help.
My windbreaker and walking sticks were especially useful, especially in areas covered with boulders where you had to jump from one rock to another. In a windbreaker, you don’t sweat as much as in a rain jacket and the hiking sticks help you jump and run up and downhill.
When we reached Lake Vuosskeljavrre at 9 p.m., we decided to pitch a tent and have dinner. It took some time to find a flat and dry place for our tent as there were a lot of swamps and the ground was very uneven. We didn’t want to pitch our tent on a sandy beach either, as there was no protection from the strong wind there.
We pumped fresh water from a river and heated it to prepare our dinner. After dinner, we enjoyed a beautiful red sunset that we thought would bring us friendly weather the next day.
We also wanted to go swimming in the lake, but because of the cold wind and cold water in the lake, we decided not to go swimming and instead crawled into our sleeping bags.
We were also packrafting in the Sarek National Park. We crossed a couple of lakes and paddled down a river. At this point, however, we were still beginners when it came to packrafting. We didn’t wear dry suits and didn’t know how to behave properly in the water if we were to fly out of the packraft. Fortunately, nothing happened to us, but we definitely wouldn’t do it again.
There were only a few artificial constructions in the national park, such as a suspension bridge under which we paddled. If you see such a suspension bridge, you have to be particularly careful if you want to paddle, as there is often a small waterfall nearby. It is best to inquire about the river from the land before paddling through it.
At the end of the trip, we had planned to cross Lake Akkajaure by ferry. There was a sign with a number that we called the day before to make a reservation for the boat. Instead of a ferry, however, we got a helicopter the next day. It was the first helicopter experience in my life and the cost was the same as the boat.
However, due to environmental regulations, it is now forbidden to use a packraft in Sarek National Park.