Press trip was organised by Visit Sweden in March 2017.
March passed by in a fleeting moment. For me, the highlight of the month was definitely a return to Swedish Lapland after 1,5 years. In September 2015, I travelled to a little mountain village of Björkliden as a guest of Visit Sweden. I still consider that trip as one of the best adventures I’ve ever experienced.
In early September, the bright colours of autumn foliage had slowly started to dominate the landscape. Together with a few fellow bloggers and journalists, we got to admire the autumn colours on a mountain hike. We also visited two beautiful waterfalls, Syndafallet and Silverfallet.
During the trip, I got to dive deep into a limestone cave and experience an unforgettable glacier hike on the Kårsa mountain glacier. I also learned an important lesson about how living in the mountains requires a certain type of character. After our helicopter ride suddenly changed to a blind hike on the misty Swedish mountains, I had a little taste of how you sometimes need to yield to greater forces.
Forces of nature.
March press trip was no exception to the rule. Heavy snowstorms and road-blocking avalanches had been troubling wintry Swedish Lapland for some days already, and they also turned our travel itinerary upside down. We missed heliski, we missed the powder slopes of Riksgränsen, and we also missed a snowmobile adventure in the mountains. But we had greater forces against us. Forces that shouldn’t be threatened.
Luckily, wintry Swedish Lapland gives more than it takes.
Camp Ripan, Kiruna
We spent our first day and night in the cosy cottage resort of Camp Ripan in Kiruna. Camp Ripan is conveniently located just a 15-minute drive from Kiruna Airport which felt perfect after an early morning and long hours of travelling.
The best ski slopes of wintry Swedish Lapland are located a bit further north from Kiruna, but for fans of cross-country, Camp Ripan is a place to be. You can access the World Cup level ski tracks directly from the resort, and after sweaty skiing, you can relax away in Aurora Spa.
Instead of wild waterslides, Aurora Spa in Camp Ripan is designed for relaxing and pure pleasure. The variation of hot and cold, refreshing vegetable snacks and cold water flavoured with fresh lemon and mint create the foundation of after-ski indulgence.
We were given a pail full of natural and ecologic skincare products that are made at the hotel. Coffee scrub for face, foot bath with salt spiced up with lemon and juniper berries and massaging iron ore pellets from the Kiruna mine, together with scrubbing skin oil made of birch leaves definitely took the ache away.
The highlight of the Aurora Spa was a heated outdoor pool. Add some northern lights, and you’re guaranteed to forget the tiring skiing trip and travelling.
Return to Björkliden
On the second day, we drove to Björkliden, the small mountain village of less than 30 year-round inhabitants that I’d been missed so much for the past 1,5 years. I couldn’t wait for seeing Björkliden in its wintry outfit. There’s only one road from Kiruna to Björkliden, and only a day earlier, the road had been closed due to heavy snowstorms. Just like ordered, the road had been reopened and we were able to safely reach our destination.
Snowstorms had left their mark on Björkliden. I’m from Finland, the great white north, and yet I’ve never seen this much snow in my life! And the snowfall wasn’t easing up in wintry Swedish Lapland. Combined with strong and gusty wind, the weather forced us to skip heliski that I had been dying to try for. Instead of heliskiing, we had a short snowshoeing hike on the snowy mountains.
To compensate for the heliski loss, the local mountain guides already familiar to me, Merja and Anders from Arctic Guides, gave us a brief presentation about mountain safety. I will return to this important lesson a little bit later together with other topics.
Return to Låktatjåkko Mountain Lodge
On our third day, we were supposed to visit Låktatjåkko Mountain Lodge with snowmobiles. The afternoon and evening we were meant to spend in Riksgränsen snowboarding down the powder slopes and having another relaxing after-ski in a spa. Do you want to guess what happened?
Due to previously mentioned reasons, thanks to snowstorms and gusty winds, there was no chance for driving snowmobiles up in the mountains. We had a little taste of snowmobile fun, though. Instead of the mountains, we had a little ride around the hotel.
Revisiting Låktatjåkko succeeded with a snowcat. That was definitely something I haven’t experienced before!
It was an interesting ride. We couldn’t see anything out of the windows covered with snow and ice, so we had absolutely no idea where we were exactly, and what kind of bumps were ahead of us. For a person suffering from carsickness, this experience might have felt even a bit extreme. Despite a few challenges on the way, we finally reached our destination, Låktatjåkko Mountain Lodge, which features the highest bar in Sweden.
During our 2015 press trip, we stayed in Låktatjåkko overnight. During our last visit, the visibility was zero due to dense fog. This time, we couldn’t see much of the lodge either. Not so much because of the fog, but the enormous snowdrifts surrounding the lodge.
Wintry Swedish Lapland tests you first, rewards well after
How about, how did our trip to Riksgränsen go? Honestly, not too well.
Access to Riksgränsen, a ski centre located on the border of Sweden and Norway, was blocked due to avalanches. The tourists were stuck in their holiday destination, and we weren’t able to continue our way from Björkliden as planned.
Also in Björkliden, all ski slopes stayed closed during our trip, excluding the family slope. As we had travelled to wintry Swedish Lapland for the last active snow break before the summer, we threatened the snowfall and hit the only slope that was open. Nonexistent visibility and freezing wind made us give up after three times. As much as I had been waiting for the powders of Northern Sweden.
Luckily, wintry Swedish Lapland has its way to comfort the slightly disappointed travellers. Just a few minutes after we closed the door of our cottage for the last night in Sweden, the sky above burst in flames. We quickly changed our nighties to full winter outfits and, for the next hour, we stood outside admiring the beautiful northern lights dancing in the sky.
Wintry Swedish Lapland really knows how to say goodbye.
The winter break in Sweden was over, and as always when travelling, the day of departure was sunny as ever. Also, the slopes stayed open for the rest of the week. How typical.
At least I had another important lesson about how living – and travelling – in mountains require a certain type of attitude and ability to adapt. Even the most awesome travel itinerary might suddenly change completely. Luckily, Swedish Lapland will always have some cards up its sleeves. A countless backup options to choose from.
There are so many of them that I’m currently working on a post with closer to 20 reasons why you SHOULD travel to Swedish Lapland. Despite the season – or the weather.