Although you won’t find ‘Gold of Lapland’ on a map of Sweden, it’s the unofficial name of a region rich in cultural and natural attractions. Once a sparsely populated part of Northern Sweden, it started to flourish when gold was discovered. The mines eventually closed and many people moved on, but the area’s stunning natural beauty was left intact.
If you’re looking for outdoor adventures, then Europe’s last great wilderness is surely the place to have them. Rafting, dog-sledding, hiking and moose-spotting are some of unmissable outdoor activities in the Gold of Lapland. Whether you travel in the winter or the summer, it’s an incredible place to relax or get active.
Outdoor Activities in the Gold of Lapland:
If you visit the Gold of Lapland during winter, dog-sledding is one of the most exciting ways to enjoy the snowy wilderness. There’s something special about gliding over frozen lakes to the sound of the paws crunching in the snow. It’s the quintessential Lapland adventure.
Local operators offer dog-sledding tours of varying distances, from short runs to multi-day rides. But at Granö Beckasin, dog-tours aren’t confined to the winter. During the warmer months, dogs pull a light cart on wheels that holds 2-3 people. Visitors drive the carts themselves, but go out along the forest paths with a guide. It’s a great way to experience the beautiful countryside of Västerbotten and trips take up to 3.5 hours.
2. White-Water Rafting
Sweden is known for having some of the best rafting in Europe, which isn’t completely surprising. If you want to explore some of the wildest parts of the Gold of Lapland, taking a white water rafting trip is an exhilarating way to do it. At almost 500 km long, the Vindelälven is one of Sweden’s four unregulated rivers. Winding through incredible wilderness, it’s considered one of the best rivers in the world for white-water rafting.
Wilderness Adventures offer various rafting trips along the Vindelälven. The experienced guides don’t hold back when it comes to having fun, but safety is still paramount. Rafting trips last from 2-4 hours and range from easy to tough, depending on the experience of the group. Our wonderful guide, Patrick, switched from shouting instructions during the rapids to telling us stories during the calm stretches of the river. He made sure that everyone in the group felt comfortable, making him an ideal guide for anyone new to rafting.
If you like your rafting trips to be a bit more leisurely, drifting down the Umeälv river on your own log raft might be just the thing. At Granö Beckasin, you can build your own raft, before floating down the river in utter tranquility. A guide will help you to build it and you’ll end up with a large, steady raft, that’s capable of carrying six adults.
Drifting under the midnight sun is a magical experience. No matter how impatient you usually are, log rafting is all about relaxation. Confined to the raft, you can read, swim, fish or just stare at the surrounding wilderness. The raft drifts along at the speed of the current (unless you attach a motor, which is kind of cheating) and it’s steered slowly using poles and paddles. Some visitors take their rafts out for up to seven days, camping along the way.
4. Moose Safari
The moose is undoubtedly the king of the forest in the Gold of Lapland. Going on a moose safari with an experienced guide is an excellent way to get close to them in the wild. At Svansele Vildmarks Centre, the winter moose safaris involve getting on a snowmobile. After being given warm clothes and appropriate outerwear, guests are taken into the forests to find moose. Usually followed by a session in the outdoor hot tub, moose safaris are one of the most fun ways to get outdoors on a snowy day in Lapland.
At Granö Beckasin, you can try finding moose on foot. Roger Olofsson, self-proclaimed ‘man of the forest’, takes guests with him as he tracks moose in their natural habitat. You sleep in a cabin deep in the forest and then spend the day walking over hills, marshlands and through forest to catch a glimpse of a moose or two.
Huge stretches of rugged wilderness in the Gold of Lapland mean lots of opportunities for walking and hiking. Mårdseleforsens Nature Reserve is made up of nearly 40 islands of varying sizes. A primeval forest stretches down the valley to the Vindeläven river and long suspension bridges cross the rapids. Post-hike, stop at Mårdseleforsens Café & Restaurant. The restaurant overlooks the river and serves mostly organic and locally grown food.
If you feel like heading to the mountains, Vindelfjällen Nature Reserve is worth exploring. It’s a mountainous park, criss-crossed with ancient paths that have been used by the Sami people for generations. The Tjulåleden path leads hikers through some of the most interesting sections of the park. Just don’t forget to bring mosquito repellant during the summer months.
Many thanks to Gold of Lapland and Visit Sweden for hosting my trip. As always, all opinions are my own.Stay Here: Granö Beckasin