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Hiking, Biking & Travel

Hiking in Lapland: Kungsleden and…

Eight days of hiking in Swedish Lapland. Superb: outside all day, walking until we drop and pitch our tent in the middle of nature!


Enthusiastic by our walk on the Padjelantaleden we walk part of the famous Kungsleden (about 4 days) from Nikkaluokta to Allesjaure. Then we walk another four days via Unna Allakas to Katterjakk. About 125 km in total.

The general information.

  • Start and end point: Nikkaluokta, Katterjakk
  • Mileage: about 125 km (the maps and signs are not all exactly accurate)
  • Map / guide used : Abisko Kebnekaise Nikkaluokta – outdoorkartan nr 1, scale 1: 75000, Trekking in Sweden by Sander van der Werf
  • Huts: the huts of the Svenska Turistfóreningen can be found throughout the route, after every 12, 14 km, except on the last stretch to Katterjakk. It is worthwhile to become a member of the STF, because then you get a discount on the stay and you can use the cabin during the day between 11 am and 3 pm. The site has a handy overview of the many products they have for sale in their shops, some cabins have a very extensive range. All products are considerably more expensive than in the Netherlands.


Last time, we took a two day trip to get to our starting point, this time we’ll take it a bit differently. We fly to Stockholm and then directly to Kiruna. We spend the night there at the local Camp Ripan campsite and take the bus to Nikkaluokta the next day. This way is more expensive but a lot more relaxed.

Tropical warm


We leave at the end of July, it is tropical warm, about 30 degrees. In Swedish Lapland, temperatures for Swedish standards are also extreme. It is not exactly weather for hiking …. We are happy that you can tap water everywhere in Sweden, because we will need it badly.


Start of the hike in Nikkaluokta


At ten o’clock we are at the bus stop in Kiruna to take the Nikkaluoktaexpresses. We booked the tickets online. The bus leaves neatly on time and only hikers get in. Also at the starting point in Nikkaluokta, it is busy with hikers preparing to start or arriving at the hut fairly exhausted. Everyone is busy arranging things, changing shoes and doing the last shopping in the shop. Here you can read more about food here.

 
Light packing

We weigh our backpack. Joost has 22 kg, I have 13 kg. Too much. We have to think again about light packing …. It turned out to be very difficult to leave things at home because after this trek we also go camping and hiking in Lofoten for a week
We start around 12 o’clock. We take it easy. It is very warm, there are many insects and I left with a pain in my back. The environment is not (yet) spectacular, mainly birch forest. After 15.5 km we stop and find a spot for the tent.

Kebnekaise Fjallstation

The first goal for the next day is Kebnekaise Fjallstation. Here we take a break and we see that the number of hikers who turn here to climb the Kebnekaise or take a different route is quite large. We enjoy the sun and the welcome cola and snickers. The first 19 km are done. Yeah!


We walk into the valley. Giant mountain sides on both sides, it is a beautiful area. We arrive at a wetter part, with many bridges, but there is also a part where the path has almost disappeared. While we are there in a pretty dry period ….
The path is quite difficult, there are a lot of stones and we have to ascend and descend a lot (slightly), it is less pleasant. We immediately left the crowds behind at Kebnekaise and have the pleasant feeling of being alone in nature.


Stop at the right time


During the next break Joost dives into the river and I cool off by bathing my feet. I’m not that tough to take a full bath. We continue hiking through the valley. After 12.5 km we are tired and we decide to pitch the tent in this beautiful spot

We have not yet walked our day distance, but sometimes you have to follow your feelings. It is so beautiful here! Beautiful view, running water nearby and a flat spot to pitch the tent. What does a person want more?

A very beautiful spot for a tent..

The Kungsleden path


The next morning the weather is beautiful again. We realize that we are very lucky! We pack and once on the path we almost immediately take a turn to the north.
The path continues to the Singi hut, but since we do not necessarily have to pass it, we decide to go via this path. It runs smoothly and it is nice and quiet. After about five kilometers we are on the Kungsleden.


Search and find the right tent place


We walk on to the Salka hut. We are surprised during a short break over the tent field near the hut. If you are an STF member you can pitch your tent on the field here and use the cabin. Which certainly has its advantages, because Salka has a sauna … but the field is really super sloping!
So we walk on and find a place just a couple of km before the Tjaktapas . That is not easy, because there are many stone fields, but in the end we have a great spot. Not too sloping and without stones under the tent.

The Tjaktapas


The next morning we climb the Tjaktapas. The hikers we encounter look tired and wonder how far it is to the Salkahut. Would it only be so heavy we wonder … We take the pass in stages, it is quite steep but not very long or heavy. When we see the Tjaktahut on the pass we have had the worst.


We have lunch at a lake and have a view of the Tjakta valley in front of us and a waterfall with eternal snow. To the right is also a piece of snow with the first reindeer! Later we will see more reindeer on the snow plains. They are very hot!


While we eat we watch the walkers who meet us. They are really having a hard time, the rise on this side does not seem that strong at all, but there is a lot of cold wind and they have headwind. We are happy to walk from south to north.


We descend through the valley. Difficult with all those stones, luckily there are wooden boards, but you always have to be alert. It is a beautiful environment. Especially at Tjaktastugan it is beautiful and varied. Rough but also with lovely lakes. We pause at the suspension bridge. A nice place to put your tent, but we hike about 3 kilometers further (to the reindeer stugan

Antlers of a reindeer


Here we find a nice spot, close to water and with a beautiful view. We wash, cook, I write my diary and Joost makes a detour through the area. He comes back with a beautiful reindeer antler that we take home


On the way to Alesjaure


The next morning the weather turned. There is a strong, fresh wind. We have breakfast and pack quickly. We are on the road at 8.30 am. The first obstacle is the river near our place, there is no bridge.
Eventually we manage to cross without changing shoes. Do the oncoming hikers suffer from cold and wind, we walk almost whistling and hurry up. We can already see the Alesjaure hut in the distance, which stimulates enormously. It is a beautiful part of the trail and we keep hiking smoothly.


Farewell to the Kungsleden


At the Alesjaure hut we warm up inside and catch our breath. Here, after about 70 km, we say goodbye to the Kungsleden to continue walking to Katterjakk. We are very curious if there are major differences.


We do some shopping at the friendly cabin and then go out. The path towards Unna Allakas is immediately tough, it goes up steeply. We have lunch with a view of the blue-green Alesjaure lake.

The winter path


Then we climb further, we end up in a rough stone field. There is hardly any water here and we are constantly lost. We have to follow the crosses of the winter path, but this is almost impossible to do in this part. Because we know which direction to go, we will eventually succeed
Due to the hard cold wind, it is quite difficult. I am concerned about the mileage. It is clear that our pace is slow now. And where should we pitch the tent?


Trail mix, the energy source


We stop to gain some energy. Always a good choice. After eating some trail mix I can think better and more importantly I have the energy to go on! We trudge on and then arrive at a kind of pass, with a waterfall, a river and eternal snow and as we continue, we overview the valley towards Unna Allakas.


We are looking for a suitable place to pitch our tent. In the end it works on the stones. There is a strong wind and we make a ‘wall’ around the tent so that the wind is broken somewhat. Once we have recovered from everything, we realize that we are in a beautiful spot!

Reindeer

After a good night’s sleep I feel better! The next morning we descend into the valley. We soon ford a wide river. Then we cross a huge herd of reindeer. There are 200 or 300. We take a break for a late breakfast and watch the animals. A beautiful sight.


We still regularly lose our way, but we are getting used to it and here and there there are plank paths. The area is now less rugged, with lakes and rocks. After a bit of climbing, another part follows that we descend. We do not yet see the hut, it is hidden behind a large hill. Just before the hut there is a wet part with boards, there are many insects here.


We buy some meals at the hut. Unfortunately, there is no bread. This means that we actually have too little, but we can eat a meal in need. The landlord gives the tip to go to the mining village of Shangeli …. this is exactly the place we have in mind to pitch the tent.


The mining village Sjangeli, fairytale


.After a steep rise we arrive at a plateau where we see copper mines here and there. The lake at the abandoned mining village of Sjangeli is beautiful.

We are tired and the backpacks are heavy from the extra food so we decide that this is a great place to stay. It takes a while to find a flat spot in front of the tent. There is a place near the path, but it is already occupied, so we walk along the lake and find a spot with a view of the ‘village’.
After the tent is set up, we take a look at the mining village. There are several huts and there are still mine shaf
Back at the tent and we eat the Swedish Blaband bags. We find them less tasty than the Dutch

Reindeer

After a good night’s sleep I can take it again! The next morning we descend into the valley. We soon ford a wide river. Then we cross a huge herd of reindeer. There are 200 or 300. We take a break for a late breakfast and watch the animals. A beautiful sight.


We still regularly lose our way, but we are getting used to it and here and there there are plank paths. The area is now less rugged, with lakes and rocks. After a bit of climbing, another part follows that we descend. We do not yet see the hut, it is hidden behind a large hill. Just before the hut there is a wet part with boards, there are many insects here.

No bread


We buy some meals at the hut. Unfortunately, there is no bread. This means that we actually have too little, but we can eat a meal in need. The man gives the tip to go to the mining village of Shangeli …. this is exactly the place we have in mind to pitch the tent.


The mining village Sjangeli, a fairytale



After a steep rise we arrive at a plateau where we see copper mines here and there. The lake at the abandoned mining village of Sjangeli is beautiful.
We are tired and the backpacks are heavy from the extra food so we decide that this is a great place to stay. It takes a while to find a flat spot the tent. There is a place near the path, but it is already occupied, so we walk along the lake and find a spot with a view of the ‘village’.


After the tent is set up, we take a look at the mining village. There are several huts and there are still mine shafts.


Back at the tent, we eat the Swedish Blaband dry food. We find them less tasty than the Dutch dry food we ‘re used to.

A day full of variety


When we get up, the lake is completely in the clouds, we can no longer see the other side. A little later the sun breaks through and the weather is beautiful. Joost is going to dip skinny in the lake. After breakfast we pack our backpacks.


A day with a lot of variety follows. We pass a rugged waterfall, many colorful rocks with copper and iron and a huge ice mass … but that is not all.


A rain shower with consequences


It is going to rain. We put on our rain suit and at first we don’t mind. It is warm and it seems like a short shower … and we don’t want to whine, we were very lucky with the weather.
The winter path stops here, we walk along a lake along the summer path. At the end of the lake, according to the map, we should do a river wading. It starts to rain more heavily and it gets cold.


Once at the end of the lake we immediately lose the path, if we find it again it is so badly marked that we lose it again. We walk in rocky terrain. And it starts to hail

River wading: too narrow, too deep and too fast.


Finally we reach the place where we have to cross the river. It is a narrow passage with a fast flowing and deep river! Due to the heavy rain of the past hours, the river certainly comes to our waist here. We cannot wade through here. But now what?

Exploring


We are now hungry and soaked. After some trail mix we study the map in the pouring rain. There’s another place where we may be able to wade through the river, but that’s a bit further, a few miles further.

We can’t go back, at least we don’t think that’s an option, so we decide to walk that way. But it keeps raining hard. If we both slip on the smooth rocks one after the other, I think it is a good plan to first set up the tent, warm up and plan the campaign. Let’s do that.

Rivercrossing

Joost will explore as soon as it is dry. That turns out to be quite a walk. In the meantime, I make sure that our things dry in the wind as much as possible. When he finally returns he tells us we can cross the river in the other place. Nice! We eat first, then pack up and set off. There are several waders in a row, the river is a lot wider here, but it works. Then we can also find the path again quite quickly.

After this exciting afternoon we go higher and higher into the mountains. We are surrounded by rocks, rocks and here and there a small lake. We hike a few kilometers further but we can’t pitch the tent anywhere. That finally succeeds at 9:30 PM. We drink another cup of tea and then crawl into the sleeping bag with everything on (it’s cold here!)

Cold rocky mountain world


After a very cold night we wake up somewhat sick. It is gray and cloudy. We ‘have to’ hike many kilometers today, because yesterday our pace was to slow because of the problem with the rivercrossing. It is a tough part, with lots of rocks, scrambling and climbing. When we finally get to the Stuorkarpel hut we are already done with the day … We meet two friendly trail running Swedes, they do this 32 km in one afternoon.


The Norwegian border


We walk through an impressive environment. Here and there are signs that indicate that we are crossing the Norwegian border or that we are back in Sweden.


After the rocks, a section with beautiful rivers and lakes follows. We regain energy. We encounter several hikers at a river ford, but we are actually alone all day. It is much quieter here than on the Kungsleden. A huge plus in our opinion


The last night at the Kattenjaure lake


We hike through the beautiful landscape and enjoy it to the full. When we arrive at the Kattenjauremeer we decide to pitch our tent here. We are here on running water, flat (because on the beach) and with a beautiful view! And the sun does not set

The next morning we get up on time. The weather is bright again. We leave at half past nine for the last kilometers to Katterjakk.

We hike around the lake and cross a suspension bridge. There appears to have been fought in World War II …
We walk further and pass the ski resort of Riksgransen. The indication is not so clear here, we walk into the valley and ask residents how we can get to the station. We arrive at the station well in advance.

Buy train tickets online


It turns out there is no ticket machine and you have to buy tickets online, but you have to do that in advance. Mhmm, that’s a bummer. Let’s hope we can get on the train.


Fortunately, we meet a nice conductor and we can buy tickets in the dining car. We take the train to Narvik, because we are going to Lofoten for another week. But it is also possible to take the train here to Abisko or Kiruna. Here you can read more about the hiking paradise in Norway: the Lofoten

To summarize….

We look back on a beautiful hike of 125 km. A great hike, with a fairly pleasant and easy start over the Kungsleden and a rougher, more challenging stretch to Katterjakk..

The last part is a lot calmer in terms of numbers of hikers and that appeals to us the most. Both start and end points are good and easily accessible and in general there are enough huts where you can supply.