Life is different in Swedish Lapland high above the Arctic Circle. This is a place where a herd of reindeer strolling down the highway will be the likely cause of any traffic jams you encounter. It’s a place where traditions matter and are passed down for generations and where saunas are almost mandatory.
If you’re looking for fish, you’ll find them in abundance plucked fresh from the river via a long handled net and cooked on a stick over an open flame in a smoke hut. In summer the sun rarely sets and in winter the skies are ablaze with the wonder of the Northern Lights. Here are just a few of the experiences you won’t want to miss.
For five generations the Spolander family has been offering tourism opportunities in Swedish Lapland at Kukkolaforsen Tourism and Conference Center providing dining, accommodations, sauna experiences and fishing in the Torne River Valley.
Using a technique that dates back to the Middle Ages, fishing in Kukkolaforsen is done with a long handled net—and by long handled, I mean longer than I am tall! With the help of an instructor, I tried my hand at fishing for whitefish in the raging Torne River. While he made it look easy, I can assure you it wasn’t. And although I had no luck, thankfully there were freshly caught whitefish on hand for us to grill.
The fish are grilled over an open flame in smoke huts. Sitting around the crackling fire in a 500 year old timber hut watching the fish cook and listening to the tall tales of the fisherman is an experience I won’t soon forget.
The Torne River serves as a natural boundary between Finland and Sweden. In fact, as I was working that long handled net, I could look across the river and watch the Finnish fisherman catching the fish that were eluding me. And as the light changed (one of many times) a rainbow appeared to frame Finland right before my eyes.
When the river freezes in winter, ice fishing takes over. Of course, if you decide you want to visit Finland in the winter months you can just walk right across the river.
Arriving at Guesthouse Kangos you’ll be greeted by an entertaining Swede (most likely dressed in leather) and his lovely wife. Johan and Eve operate the guesthouse on the banks of the Lainio River. The accommodations are comprised of a collection of 100-year-old wooden cottages that have been impeccably maintained and decorated with an unmistakable Scandinavian touch. If you’re seeking a place to get away from it all, this is that place.
Amid tranquil natural beauty you can relax in the riverside sauna, soak in the hot tub under the midnight sun or you can learn something new. Johan and Eve offer courses to learn photography, painting, jewelry making, knife making and a leather workshop.
For our summer visit, Johan and his business partner, Peter, introduced us to the adventures of off-roading on a Land Rover designed course. The setting was perfect with deep blue lakes reflecting towering evergreen pines and reindeer grazing just out of sight. Our adventure began with a ride along before I took the wheel to tackle the course. Be prepared for steep embankments and boulders large enough to derail a train. It’s a rocking, rolling, screaming and gasping good time.
In the winter, the focus turns to ice, snow and the Northern Lights. Supplying all the winter gear you’ll need, Johan leads guests on snowmobile safaris in search of the Northern Lights. Expect to encounter reindeer as you cross the frozen rivers into the wilderness.
It’s difficult to define what makes the Swedish Lapland so special. The mountains, the swiftly flowing rivers, the dense forests and the archipelago are a part of it, but it’s more than that. Swedish Lapland is a place of traditions, a place where people live in harmony with nature—a place you’ll want to return to time and time again.
Have you visited Swedish Lapland?
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Terri Marshall is a New York City based freelance writer whose work includes travel, spirits, and all things chocolate. Terri's work appears in several publications. She has been a featured guest on Peter Greenberg's Worldwide Travel radio program and Denver's KZKO Radio Morning Express show. Terri will not hesitate to go to the source for great chocolate - even if that means hiking through the jungle and picking cacao pods herself.
Happiest when she's globetrotting, Terri has covered destinations all over the United States, Europe, and into Central and South America. Favorite adventures include reindeer driving in Norway and fishing for piranhas in the Amazon jungle of Peru. You can keep up with Terri's adventures on her website www.TrippingwithTerri.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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