KUNGSLEDEN: A Journey Through Northern Sweden | Kungsleden hiking documentary | 4K
This is the story of Kungsleden. A story which starts here, in Hemavan. Kungsleden, or the king's trail, is a trail running through the mountains of northern Sweden. Starting in the southern terminus of Hemavan, the trail moves northbound towards Abisko. The 443 kilometer route lies mostly within the arctic circle and runs through some of Europe's last wilderness.
This is the story of hiking through the beautiful Swedish nature. Of wild camping in the mountains. And the story of the interesting people I met along Kungsleden. Let me take you along this journey through northern Sweden. Showcasing the beauty of untouched nature... and the stories of the trail. My hike started with the stretch between Hemavan and Ammarnäs.
A popular stretch of Kungsleden and I could see why. Walking mostly over open mountain the views of the surrounding mountains are incredible. And with the comfort of STF mountain huts close by, this stretch is particularly accessible. With blue sunny skies my three week long
solo hiking adventure was off to a great start. I hiked in august in swedish summer. Summer up in the north is very special as the sun never really sets: that means 24 hours of daylight. One downside to the arctic summer is the fierceness of the mosquitoes: they are absolutely terrible. Luckily the views are worth it the mosquitoes required firm measures like a head net but eventually only keeping on the move helped. So even lunch wasn't a break from walking. but on the open mountain the mosquitoes were in smaller numbers and the views amazing on the fourth day it was just a short descent into Ammarnäs. Time for resupplies and a bit of rest After four sunny days I left Ammarnäs in the pouring rain luckily there was a little hut to shelter from the rain. Here I met Klaus from
Denmark while we chatted over lunch. As he was hiking in the opposite direction, I asked him about his favorite parts on the trail so far. I think it was the part between Kvikkjokk and Jackvikk, because a very large part of it were on the mountains... there were not so much birch
forest. I think birch forest is a bit boring.. and there were some surprises along the road: one there was a boat ride, where the was some very nice lady that took me over and further on I had to row - for the first time in my life - row a boat to get where I wanted to go! And I was very lucky with the weather the weather is very important. I also asked him about his encounters with other hikers.
You meet many wonderful people along the way. I have the feeling that everybody is very helpful when you walk the Kungsleden. If you have a problem you can always... then somebody will help you deal with it or if you need directions, if you somehow got lost - it's not very likely because the trail is very easy - but every time you meet somebody you just stop for a few words like where are you going and how's the road further on and things like that, so I feel, I think, hiking makes people happy somehow! They're more responsive to others. Finally I asked him about his thoughts on hiking the kungsleden. Well I suppose you could say that, well that doesn't only go for Kungsleden, but just the feeling of independence you get when you go hiking like this. I mean I have every... I have my backpack. That's all I have. I know I have a house back home and a lot of things,
but out here you need nothing but what you can put in your backpack. That's a wonderful feeling. I continued my hike in eager anticipation of the open mountains Klaus had told me about. This feeling of independence was definitely something I could relate to and I was looking forward to what Kungsleden had in store for me next. After a wet start of this second stretch and a rainy night it was dry but windy when I woke up.
On this day I crossed into the northern province of norbotten as the markings turned red from here onwards. Just before Bäverholmen, I set up camp and met two swedes out fishing. I joined them for tea as they cooked their freshly caught trout over a wood fire. [it is phenomenal. I want to catch
some more!] From then onwards it was mostly birch forest, as Klaus had warned me about. after a long day on the trail I set up camp at a sunny lake. But it wasn't long before the dark clouds rolled in Nice spot but unfortunately it's raining. So no swimming in the lake tonight. But after a short shower the sun came out again.
From the lake it was just a short hike to Jakkvik my second resupply point a local delicacy I first encountered on this stretch were cloudberries. Let's try a cloudberry It's good! And like nothing I ever had before... In Jakkvik I took a rest day at this delightful place, which was a combination of a hostel and a church. A true meeting ground for hikers and backpackers, flocking in from all directions. And with a giant supermarket next door this meant pizza! It was here I met Elliot and Zina from Australia and I asked Zina about her favorite part on the trail so far. Um.. there's been two favorites. The first two favorite parts: Abisko to Saltoluotka.. and that was good there as well. Um but between Saltoluotka.. Abisko and Saltoluokta it was like
beautiful vast, like scenery.. it was amazing. And one white reindeer. It was kind of the first time we saw reindeer, so it was like really exciting. But it was rainy and horrible? Like the weather was terrible but it was still somehow magnificent. So, that part. And then this part was also amazing between Kvikkjokk and here was beautiful.
I asked her why she liked hiking. I like hiking: one it's great exercise. But I like being out in nature and it's like my blueprint? It's like you come back to what what... what is necessary? Like basic survival: water, food, shelter and just like that meditative process of walking it's very relaxing.It's a nice detachment of your regular life. So yeah, I love it. We left delightful Jackvik for the third section towards Kvikkjokk. What Zina said about coming back to
what is necessary, was something I was hearing from other hikers too. For me just thinking about where to camp, when to eat and where to sleep, is certainly a big part of the magic of hiking. A few kilometers out we encountered our first lake crossing. It is quite harder than it looks!
There are multiple lake crossings on Kungsleden, but this was the only one we had to row. On this stretch i started to hike together with Marcus, who I met just before Jackvik. It was great company but practical as well as we both had to take the same lake crossings.
As we had a couple of hours to kill before the second lake crossing of the day, I sat down with Marcus for a chat. My name is Marcus, I'm from Germany, North Rhine Westphalia area and i'm hiking the Kungsleden. I asked Marcus: why Kungsleden? I did a day hike in the Vakkotavare area, so back and forth, and this was the time when I had the idea it would be really nice to do a long hike and I heard about it's called Kungsleden, this little stretch. And yeah, so this idea was in my head. Then nothing happened for some years but over time
the idea came up more and more and so someday I decided: so now do it. We also talked about his highs and lows on the trail so far. The highs... let's say, um... The high areas when the landscape began becomes vast and you can see the surrounding mountains. So this is really really beautiful. Especially if the weather then is good. Uh yeah... and my personal low has been trying to summit Norra Sytertoppen, which, ja, was kind of bad because it was ..uh.. heavy covered in snow and when I was up there the weather turned bad, with extremely bad visibility. So, I got stuck on the summit in an emergency shelter, so this was really
bad.. I did not feel feel good there. Lastly we talked about the people you meet along the way. Especially when I stayed in the hostel in Jackvik, where there is time to talk to people, it's really interesting to see all the different backgrounds of the people. So, personally where they come from, the professions they have, and so on. That was a really really a very diverse group of people, which I think is very interesting that they all have this common interest to head out to nature, rather simple life on the trail, yeah that is very interesting.
The story about Norra Sytertoppen was one I would be hearing many times in the coming days as a response to the holes and tears I spotted in Marcus's gear. A story for the books and luckily with a happy end. As we cross the Riebnes lake together, little did we know we would be walking together on and off all the way to Singi. During that time I really noticed how Marcus had planned his trip for a long time and was enjoying his dream hike to the fullest. On arrival we pitched near the dock as a storm was expected. We met some
friendly guys walking southbound; together we enjoyed our dinner at the still peaceful lake. As the clouds rolled in and the wind picked up, we prepared ourselves for a wet and windy night. The next morning we woke up to blue skies, but the stormy wind was here to stay for the next few days. As we said goodbye to the group crossing the lake, we headed northbound.
On this day we cross the arctic circle, somewhere around this wooden sign. As if nature was bound to this circle, rainy weather moved in. But besides some drops we kept it dry. This part of Kungsleden is the so-called remote part. On this stretch there are no facilities, so it can only be done camping. Even though, we would still encounter a handful of hikers every day and every now and then we were joined by a herd of reindeer.
I will also remember this stretch for all the boggy areas. The paths are definitely less traveled. This is probably one of the most scenic parts of Kungsleden. The vast scenery on the open mountain, especially in the evening light, is so incredibly beautiful. We woke up early to try and catch the early boat to Kvikkjokk, our next resupply point.
A couple of hours of easy walking as we caught our first glimpse of the Sarek mountain range. The boat was driven by Helena a Kvikkjokk local. During the very pleasant boat ride she told us all about the surrounding mountain ranges and local hiking trails. Helena: Just around on the left, eh right side, that's where you have Rapadalen In Kvikkjokk it was time to pick up our resupplies and rest a bit. I left Kvikkjok Fjällstation for the fourth section to Saltaluokta.
The trail here looked more like a dried up riverbed, as i scrambled over the rocks. The forest was quite mosquito infested, so I pushed on to the open mountain to camp. It was just past Parte that I crossed into the famous Sarek national park. Here I met Samuel from Austria, who was doing an overnighter back and forth from Kvikkjokk. We talked a bit and set up camp together near the river. After setting up camp I spotted Tomas and Paniz, a Swedish couple I had seen a couple of times before. I hiked up to ask them why they were hiking Kungsleden. Well it started with me,
asking him, if we could do Abisko - Nikkaloukta and he said he would never go Kungsleden it isn't the whole. It's uh it's an old joke from with my friends that uh it's cheating to walk on Kungsleden, unless you walk the whole thing. I also asked them what is the best thing about hiking Kungsleden? The best thing is when you come up on the mountains and you see the views. Then you think it's all worth it. Because sometimes, you know, when the bag is too heavy and it's warm or it's raining and you're just walking... but when you come up to the mountains you're like okay: this is why I'm hiking. I was curious if they had seen any wildlife. Uh yeah we
saw a moose and a lot of reindeer. We've seen quite a lot of birds.. Maybe a king's eagle, but it might have been a buzzard as well. I'm not [sure], it was far away. A lot of mosquitoes.. and then a squirrel today! Yeah yeah exactly yeah. [Me]: where did you see the moose? It was actually in Bäverholmen, before Adölfstrom. [Me]: Yeah really? I saw one just before Bäverholmen,
in the birch forest! Yeah yeah yeah! It was probably before or after.. like I don't remember that day so much because we walked so much! yeah yeah and it was kind of warm. Probably it was! Probably right before Bäverholmen. Yeah it was. It was before the bridge, right? As we talked further it seems we might have seen the same moose.
Lastly I asked them what they liked about hiking on the Kungsleden. Yeah everything kind of gets more back to the basics. Yeah it gets easier because you have to like care about walking, sleeping, eating, and taking a dump haha. It's a simpler life basically. I really like the reason behind Tomas and Paniz hiking the whole Kungsleden.
For me it's fascinating to see how the outdoors is so much more part of life in Sweden or at least here up north. For the rest of Kungsleden I would be hiking together with Tomas and Paniz on quite some days, and it was fascinating to see how they both enjoyed the outdoors and wildlife they saw. For me, this was the part I was looking forward to the most before setting off... as I caught a first glimpse of Skierfe. As we crossed the lake towards Aktse, Marcus and I convinced Tomas and Paniz to join us up Skierfe.
A peaky rock in Sarek national park which promised spectacular views over the Rapadalen delta down below. After a short stop in lively Aktse for some candy and the latest weather report, we started our climb up to the tree line. Above the tree line, we left Kungsleden and headed for Skierfe. Along the way we saw other hikers camping to summit in the morning.
But we wanted to hike up with our packs and camp just before the final summit. After climbing most of the way through rain and wind we pitched around 10pm in the evening and went off to bed. The next morning we woke up early to a golden sunrise.
However by the time we started our final ascent at 5 a.m, the clouds were moving in. Even though it was clouded, the views over Rapadalen were incredible. As were the views over the mountains in Sarek. After enjoying the beautiful views, we headed down to our tents to get our morning coffee. We packed up and then continued cross country towards our next lake crossing. From here it was just one day to Saltoluokta, my last resupply point.
Saltoluokta Fjällstation was a delightful place. A great place to take a shower, resupply and meet other hikers. I was especially looking forward to the dinner buffet, which was recommended to me by many hikers along the way. And it didn't disappoint. The next morning the wind had picked up and the morning boat crossing was cancelled. As the wind died down, the ferry made the afternoon crossing... but there was no
connecting bus. We had to wait by the side of the road for four hours. The bus drove us over a 30 kilometer road stretch to the northern section as it started to rain heavily. It wasn't until Tessajaure that I got my camera out of my pack again. Since we left the bus, it started raining for almost two consecutive days. Halfway Singi, the heavy rain finally stopped. And as the clouds lifted, the first signs of winter became visible. The next day I was off to Singi. This [Northern] part of Kungsleden is served by STF mountain huts.
I stopped in Singi for lunch and talked with the hut warden. I asked him what the STF huts mean for Kungsleden. So.. the role for the STF cabins on the Kungsleden, it's to welcome people and make them feel like they have a secure spot to go in and warm themselves a bit and.. after a long
day's walk. And also it's a really social thing: they can meet a lot of other hikers and if you're walking yourself, it's quite beautiful to see people in the huts in the afternoon.. when they turn up the fire a little bit, and yeah you can meet people from all kinds of places.. all over the world. And yeah it's a really nice meeting spot. I also asked him about his guests so far. So I've been up here for one week now approximately, being a new host, and something that... uh.. that I really found is that hikers are super nice people.
I mean uh I have just in one week - I mean - met so many different but uh really really kind and uh funny and helpful people. Super nice actually! Finally I asked Per about his experiences as a new STF cabin host. So I've only been here one week.. It's pretty hard to tell how it will be in six weeks after when we're closing here, but I think.. uh something that's really astounding is that even if i'm at the same spot, every day looks really different. I mean ..uh
you would think that get bored by the mountains around you, but the weather... the conditions... uh how high the clouds are: are they low... and the lights: it's just different every day! And i'm hoping that, since i've been doing this for every day, I go out of the cabin and I'm just amazed how beautiful it is and say it's like: 'wow damn it's actually pretty nice out here!' And hopefully i'm gonna say that in these upcoming weeks as well, actually. Because it's still really really nice.
I left Singi for the scenic Tjaktja valley. Here I said goodbye to Marcus who left Kungsleden to summit Kebnekaise. It was very interesting to hear a hut warden's perspective on Kungsleden. Although he didn't move through the landscape as we did, hiking Kungsleden, his experiences were quite similar to ours with regards to nature and the people you meet along the trail.
The STF cabins are a great meeting point in my own experience as well, and a great place for snacks, a chat, weather information ,and a wealth of knowledge on local trails and detours. I left the beautiful valley with a short but steep climb over the Tjaktja pass. With just three days of walking until the finish line in Abisko, I was already starting to miss hiking the Kungsleden. For one, the largely untouched nature had really impressed me and i never felt so connected to nature. Going to bed and waking up with the light, reading the clouds for rain, camping in the middle
of nowhere and eating my weight in blueberries and cloudberries. Summer up in the north is kind of a mix of spring, summer and fall in one. I saw flowers bloom and snow melt, had hot and sunny days, and at the same time fall colors started to appear, mushrooms to pop up. Moving up north over the lakes, forest and mountains of Kungsleden is an unforgettable experience. Hiking and wild camping for over 450 kilometers and three weeks, had also been a great experience. Life gets easier and more manageable. You just need to worry about your basic needs and walking.
There is not a lot of stuff in your pack and that is kind of liberating. I also found that my body was up to more than I expected: pushing 30 kilometer days over the highest passes. It is great to feel connected to both nature and your body at the same time. That in combination with the freedom and independence of solo hiking, has been incredibly satisfying.
Lastly the people. I met so many kind and warm-hearted people along the way. From brief chats with other hikers, helpful and friendly Swedes in the huts and villages, to the people I walked with. I had a great time with Marcus, Tomas & Paniz, and many others I met along the way. Their stories added a lot of color to my hike. And then the last day. Hiking through the Swedish wilderness has been the most rewarding experience. Kungsleden, with its views high up the mountain, little supply points with gems like Jackvik, varied landscapes and lake crossings, is definitely a journey of a lifetime.
Even when the going gets rough, through rain and wind, there is always some wild scenery to lift your spirits. Lastly I would say go: go and explore Kungsleden yourself. As I reached Abisko, my Kungsleden adventure had come to an end.