Lapland is a truly unique place. For many reasons. For me my first visit in Lapland was totally overwhelming and since then I visit Lapland at least once a year.
There is a short funny story about the whole idea. A story that is known by all my friends too well (sorry guys, it looks like there are more than 200 people following this blog so let’s made it public. Besides, even if it was told hundred times, I still LIKE IT!). So, on a plane to the US I read an article that was advertising an ‘interesting alternative to spend your holiday’. This article had amazing photos of wildlife in autumn colors and a story about an owner of a reindeer herd.
The idea was simple: you could get your own reindeer on a leash to make a 5-day walk. Everything was brilliantly organized. A group of 10 people and 10 reindeer were suppose to depart every week from a defined location. The idea seamed to me just PERFECT! I even snatched the page with this article (yes, I really did it!). After months of not thinking about this the day to decide about annual holiday finally had arrived. And I miraculously found this snatched page in my notebook.
Gosh! I really, really wanted to take part in this crazy trip. Until I got known the other participants. No offence, but the group departing in a suitable date was made of 8 German 50+ man. The moment I thought about snoring was a turning point. I just knew I would regret it forever. BUT quitting this particular activity didn’t mean I had to resign from my first visit to Lapland. I had a quick look in Internet and found amazing websites on something called The King’s Trail (in Swedish: Kungsleden). THIS WAS IT! From the first moment I saw the pictures made on this trail I knew I have to go there. And I did.
The track has about 440 km, it starts in the north in Abisko and ends in Hemavan in the south (or vice versa, depending where you start). It is managed by the Swedish Tourist Organization and every couple of kilometers there is a mountain hut (lodge might be a proper word). Along my way through Sweden I was using an excellent travel guide written by James Proctor and published by Bradt. You won’t find a better guidebook on Lapland.
Why I loved Lapland so much? Because this is a rare combination of safety and wilderness. The track in swampy places is equipped in wooden footbridge to keep you away from water. At the same time you meet wild living animals and listen to the real silence. I totally admire Swedish organization and perseverance: I have never expected so far to the north such a well kept track! The huts’ interior is excellent to keep you warm when it’s cold outside. It is also very cozy and user friendly even if simple and mainly wooden made. This is a model balance between human and nature. Just as it should be.
After my first trip to Lapland words ‘silence’, ‘infinity’, ‘wilderness’ and ‘peace’ got totally new meaning. It crushed many of my previous beliefs. I would even say this was one of this journeys which ‘unmade me’, just as Nicolas Bouvier said.
Lapland was included to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1996.
And now you can listen to the story on Amateur Traveller, episode #456 here: