Hike Sweden: Kungsleden trek how-not-to guide

Before a day-by-day (blow-by-blow) account, here is some practical information for those wishing to spend 7 days in the last wilderness of Europe. Maybe it will inspire a film one day, starring Reese Witherspoon. Oh wait, that’s been done. In that case, then at least a shitty Netflix film. Oh wait, that’s been done too…

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Getting there
We flew Stockholm to Kiruna and stayed in the Malmfaltens high school hostel. It’s about 1.5kms from the bus stop. It’s not luxury…or actually that cheap.

We took a bus to Abisko at 6:50am from the Stadshotell bus stop in Kiruna, which arrived around 8am.

Once finished in Nikkoluokta, we took the Nikkoloukta Express bus to Kiruna train station, and the polar circle night train to Stockholm (15 hours).

Helicopters
You can actually fly certain parts of the route, for not excessive amounts. Abisko to Alesjaure, Alesjaure to Nikkaluokta, and Kebnekaise to Nikkaluokta. These cost around 1000-1500kr per person, though don’t quote me…! And for everyone else, they are a minor annoyance as the buzz overhead all day, like Sydney but with less wankers.

Route
Our route was the same as the Fjallraven Classic, and we stayed in huts (though carried a tent): Abisko (start) / Abiksojaure / Alesjaure / Salka / Singi / Kebnekaise mountain station (2 nights) / Nikkaluokta (end). The Tarfala hut is meant to be in a stunning setting, and the Vistas one too.

We took the boat shortcut on the Láddjujávri lake on the final day to save 6kms and waste 350kr.

Accommodation
We booked as many nights in STF huts on the Kungsleden as possible in advance. For Kebnekaise Mountain Station, this was booked out beforehand. We were able to rent a tent from them in advance though. On the day, they had cancellations and we were able to stay in a 4-man bedroom in a 14-person cottage.

Their capacity is a bit over 200, but apparently, if the weather is terrible, they find mattresses where everyone (campers mainly) to sleep (corridors, tile floors, the sauna, bathroom, wherever you’ll fit!).

Getting started at Abikso
From Abisko, at the tourist station, we had a delicious buffet breakfast, and bought final supplies for hiking, including camp stove and sleeping mats, which were both unnecessary. We also and some food for lunches, as the nearest supermarket was 2kms away, and mainly sold sweets.

Gear rental/transport
You can rent gear  from Abisko tourist station (tents, sleeping bags/mats, clothes, boots, whatever!), and then pay to ship it back to Absiko.

Note 2 things however:

  • First, they add on 2 days to the time of your gear rental to cover the shipping time, which means for the standard 7-day trek, you’ll pay 9 days of rental.
  • Second, as a result, it’s cheaper just to buy the gear from them, which means you get better quality stuff anyway.

What do you do with your normal clothes?
For those who have other travel planned before or after the hike, and don’t like wearing beige cargo pants in urban environments, there is good news.

We were able to forward our suitcases/luggage with civilian clothes from Absiko to Nikoluokta, for a cost of about 200kr per 10kg bag. (Hot tip: just say your bag weighs 10kgs, as they don’t always weigh it.)

Food & drink
In terms of food, we dehydrated our evening meals before we left. It was novel having the apartment smell like a camp kitchen for a week. Unless you’re regularly camping, it’s more economic to just suck up the extra cost of buying prepackaged camping food.

You can buy such food and other items at most of the huts. However, you start to really miss fresh fruit and vegetables by about day 3. They do however sell mid-strength and alcohol-free beers at huts, and greet you upon arrival with a complementary lingon berry cordial, which is refreshing.

Saunas
Yes! It’s true! Most huts on the Fjallraven trail have saunas (bastu), with women’s, men’s and mixed sessions from about 17:30 to 21:30 each night. These are really cleansing…a great way to sweat out all the sunscreen, mosquito repellent, blood/sweat/tears from the day’s hike.

You can choose to wear bathers, as we did in one that was packed to the rafters with teenage boys…but otherwise it’s best to shed your prude and go full nude. Also, be careful when going to the watering holes to wash off afterwards…one guy twisted his ankle and had to limp the next 80kms

Animals spotted

  • Some kind of grouse (sorry, I’m not a tweeter in that sense)
  • Small birds (see apology above)
  • Lemmings
  • Frogs
  • Reindeer
  • Wolverine
  • Rabbit
  • Moose
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