Swedish Lapland Attractions
This is the most northerly province in Sweden, the largest in area (120,000sq.km/46,000sq.mi) and the most sparsely populated. It extends from north to south for some 600km/370mi, with an average width of 250km/150mi.
The land rises from east to west in a series of plateau-like steps. Towards the Norwegian frontier is a wild mountain region, largely untouched by man, which reaches its highest point in Kebnekaise (2,117m/6,946ft:). A number of rivers (Umeälv, Skellefteälv, Piteälv, Luleälv, Kalixälv, Torneälv, etc.), well stocked with fish, rise in this area and flow southeast towards the Gulf of Bothnia. Most of the area is covered with bog and forest; towards the east and north the forests become increasingly sparse and finally end in a scrub of stunted birch trees.The inhabitants live mainly by timber-working, with some arable and stock farming. In addition there are the iron mines of Gällivare and Kiruna. There are numerous hydro-electric stations on the rivers; among those best worth seeing are Akkats, Porjus and Vietas. The area is traversed by a number of roads and by the mineral railroad from Luleå to Narvik.
Jokkmokk, originally a Sami village, is now the chief town of the commune of the same name, the second largest in Sweden with an area of 19,500sq.km/7,530sq.mi (half of it above the tree-line) and a population of 3,400. The village, on Lake Talvatis, was established by Charles IX as a winter meeting place for the Lapps, where a Lapp assembly, a church festival and a fair were held every February. Some of the old traditions, including the fair, have been preserved. The old church (1753) was burned down in 1972 and replaced by a new one in 1974-75. The modern Ajtte Museum has an interesting collection of material on the culture of the Sami and of the Swedish settlers; displays of Sami handicrafts for sale. There is a Sami secondary school, established in 1942, as well as a school for nomad children.The Great Sami Winter Fair has been an annual event in Jokkmokk for hundreds of years and celebrates the history of the Sami people.Jokkmokk experiences the midnight sun during June and July, and the aurora borealis from November to March.
From Jokkmokk a road and a footpath run up Storknabben, the "Hill of the Midnight Sun". To the north are the Kaitum Falls. The Arctic Circle passes 7km/4.5mi south of the town; on Road 45 is the Arctic Circle Fishing Camp, with services and holiday chalets. To the east of Jokkmokk are Muddus National Park and the Siemi nature reserve. 12km/7.5mi south is Kåivovallen, an old summer settlement of the Sami and their reindeer.
Jokkmokk Autumn Market is held each August.
43km/27mi south of Jokkmokk on Road 97 at Vuollerim archaeological finds have revealed the existence of a settlement dating back 6,000 years (interesting modern museum).
Riksgränsen (alt. 552m/1,811ft) is a tourist center and the last Swedish station on the Lapland Railroad. It is Sweden's leading summer skiing resort (chair-lift), which has frequent temperatures of 15-20°C (60-70°F) when the temperature of the snow is at freezing point. The midnight sun is visible here from May 25 to July 17.
Transit: Lapland Railway.
Near Riksgränsen is the tourist resort of Björkliden, on Lake Torneträsk, with good skiing country and a chair-lift up Njula (1,199m/3,934ft) from a height of 750m/2,460ft. Lake Torneträsk, at the head of the Torneälv, is surrounded by high crags. Along its north side are various Sami settlements.
Kungsleden, the 500km/310mi-long Royal Trail (22-25 days; experienced walkers only; proper equipment, including maps, compass, rubber boots, etc., essential), crosses the mountain world of Lapland, with huts providing overnight accommodation at regular intervals. It extends from Abisko in the north by way of the Kebnekaise massif and the Padjelanta National Park to Hemavan in southern Lapland. Features not to be missed are the Abisko National Park, with its unusual vegetation, and the Njula gorge (reached by a chair-lift).
Padjelanta2,010sq.km/776sq.milesPadjelanta is a national park in northern Sweden with hiking trails, beautiful lakes, rich flora, and interesting geological formations. The park has reindeer grazing land and numerous wildlife species.
Stora Sjöfallet National Park
The Stora Sjöfallet National Park, with a waterfall on the Stora Luleälv, is Sweden's third largest nature reserve. This is the source area of the Stora Luleälv, a hilly region slashed by valleys with the highest peak in the area, Akka (2,015m/6,611ft). The National Park, established in 1909, extends from the coniferous forests in the east over a mountain region of varying height and with varied flora and fauna. The nature reserve originally covered an area of 1,500sq.km/580sq.mi, but after 10 years the central area round the lakes (120sq.km/45sq.mi) was excluded from the National Park to permit the construction of a dam pounding water for the Porjus hydroelectric station. The waterfall from which the park takes its name was formed by water plunging down from the mountain lake of Kårtjejaure into Lake Langas; the falls have now been reduced to a trickle. The Royal Trail runs through the National Park. Shooting and fishing are prohibited.
Sarek, between the Stora and the Lilla Luleälv, is a typical mountain region, with a National Park (area 1,950sq.km/750sq.mi). Within this area are something like 100 glaciers, 87 peaks over 1,800m/5,900ft and eight others over 2,000m/6,500ft, with plateau and valleys between the hills.
The best known valley in Sarek is Rapadal, on Lake Laidaure. Shooting and fishing are prohibited; sleigh dogs may be used from January to April, but otherwise dogs are banned. Through the Rapadal flows the Rapaälv, which receives melt-water from some 30 glaciers and deposits sediment in its delta on Lake Laidaure. There is a remarkable contrast between the barren world of the mountains and the rich plant and animal life of the valley.
Sarek Nature Reserve
The Sarek nature reserve was established in 1909 in order to preserve this characteristic mountain region in its unspoiled state. A mountain walk through the National Park takes more than a week, and should be undertaken only by experienced hill walkers, with proper equipment, a tent and adequate supplies of food. This is regarded as one of the most difficult walking areas in Scandinavia, and prospective visitors should beware of over-estimating their capabilities.
To the west of Rapadal is Alkavare, where silver was still being worked in the late 17th century. Remains of silver mines are available to visit. The chapel was completed in 1788 and restored in 1960.
Tärnaby lies in a magnificent mountain setting, 38km/24mi from the Norwegian frontier, on the southern slopes of the Luxfjäll (824m/2,704ft). In the little town, which is equipped to cater to skiers, there are a Lapp Museum and a school for nomad children. Tärnaby is the starting point of the Kungsleden hiking trail.
Västensjö and Gieravardo - Views
12km/7.5miles west of Tårnaby on a marked path or a road are the Västensjö and the hill of Gieravardo (views). The neighboring village of Hemavan also offers good skiing and has developed into a tourist center. From Hemavan there are good views extending to the hills of Jofjäll and Okstinder on the Norwegian frontier. In summer canoes and gliders can be hired. Fishing is permitted in the lakes below the village.
60km/38mi northeast of Tärnaby (road only from Sorsele) is the village of Ammarnäs, with an old Lapp church. Popular activities in Ammarnäs include fishing, cross-country and downhill skiing.
Vilhelmina, in southern Lapland, is the headquarters of the body officially representing the Lapp community and has an interesting Lapp Museum. The town is noted for its wildlife and untouched nature. 95km/60mi northwest by way of Laxbäcken (school of agriculture) is the village of Saxnäs, in a grand mountain setting on the southern shore of the Kultsjö (alt. 540m/1,770ft), with good walking, fishing and skiing.