World-Class Canoeing in Sweden and Finland
Sweden and Finland offer a variety of world-class wilderness and rural canoeing opportunities for canoeists of all experience levels…
Nature Travels, based in England, has been helping canoe lovers paddle the lakes and rivers of Sweden and Finland since 2006. The good folks there have generously offered their expertise and photos about canoeing in the Nordic countries:
Why Canoe in Sweden and Finland
The Nordic countries are absolutely littered with lakes and rivers ideal for paddling. While Norway is best suited for other outdoor activities like hiking and sea kayaking, Sweden and Finland are ideal for canoeing, including extended canoe trips.
As you can see by the photos here, the canoe landscape is very similar to what we see in the Boundary Waters and Canada—networks of lakes and rivers and boreal forest. In fact, some of these photos could have been taken in North America.
One of the big differences of canoeing there (besides language and culture) is the Nordic concept of “Right of Public Access” or, in Swedish, Allmansrätten—“everyone’s right.”
This idea of free access dates back to the Middle Ages and makes outdoor experiences there very attractive. The underlying assumption is: “Do not disturb, do not destroy,” It’s essentially a Leave No Trace policy, but it goes even further.
Individual adventurers are allowed almost anywhere in the country except on cultivated land and near private homes—even when camping. You’re trusted to use your best judgment in taking care of the environments you pass through and being considerate of others.
What to Know about Canoeing in Sweden and Finland
Similar to the northern US and Canada, canoe season in the Nordic countries runs from May through September. You can expect similar weather, too.
The Nordic countries have a reputation for their high prices, so a canoe trip there is a very affordable holiday option. In fact, as Nature Travels’ co-owner, Bob Carter, comments: “The cost of a canoe holiday in Sweden or Finland would in many cases be rather lower than equivalent equipment hire, etc, in the UK.”
Bob goes on to say:
“The landscapes and possibilities for canoeing are in some ways similar to those, for example, in Canada, but for guests travelling from Europe at least, Sweden and Finland are of course much more easily accessible. We have many guests who have canoed in Canada for previous trips travelling with us for our tours.”
While canoeing is accessible all over these countries wherever water is found (which is almost everywhere), Nature Travels sends their customers to the locations on the map below. There’s a route for everyone, from families with young children and beginners to serious wilderness canoeists:
Wilderness Canoeing in Rogen, Sweden
If you’re an experienced wilderness canoeist looking for a challenge, you’ll want to head to the Rogen area of northwest Sweden.
“This is a wonderful wilderness area which has the potential to offer long and challenging tour options, but also has the flexibility for more moderate (though still moderately demanding) trips.
"As a protected area, the Right of Public Access does not allow as many freedoms as in some other areas—you are free to camp wild in any part of the reserve, but lighting of camp fires is restricted to a network of designated spots which have fireplaces and wood provided.” (Bob Carter)
Wait—firewood provided? That’s certainly different from wilderness canoeing in North America! Sounds like a great perk.
A couple tours Nature Travels offers in Rogen are:
- Discover Wilderness Canoeing in Rogen: Suitable for durations of 5-8 days (a 2-week tour is also certainly possible), this takes place completely in Sweden. Beyond the requirement to complete the core route, this tour offers flexibility in the distance covered and the level of challenge you want, depending on your timeframe and level of fitness and experience. More details here.
- Rogen Wilderness Canoe Expedition: A minimum of 8 days is needed for this tour, but they recommend 10 days or more. This is a more challenging option that crosses the border into Femundsmarka National Park in Norway and ends at Lake Feragen. There are challenging portages through this very remote area. Advantage: There’s a network of wind shelters throughout. More details here.
Sounds wonderful! Now if I just could get some first-hand experience…
For a lot more information about canoeing in these beautiful Nordic countries, visit Nature Travels’ website.
Want a basic gear list for a wilderness canoe trip? Download our “Basic Canoe Trip Checklist”—it’s free!
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