(Kungsleden) Col between Kebnekaise and Vierranvarri
KUNGSLEDEN (SELF-GUIDED)   6 stages . 7 nights . Swedish Lapland   Booking

Kungsleden
Self-guided trekking holiday


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Latest news November 2019
Our 2020 dates and prices are up! Availability is great at this early point. Please ask us about a trip - thank you.

The Kungsleden Traverse is a magnificent trek through the valleys of the Lapine mountains from the grande and bustling mountain station of Abisko in the North to the Sami settlement of Nikkaluokta in the South.

The brief sub-Arctic Summer makes for superb walking, the snowmelt revealing forests, high meadows, and networks of swollen streams bearing meltwater from the highlands.

Reindeer, herded by the indiginous Sami, are shepherded into the valley for their Summer grazing ahead of the hard Winter. Wild lingon and cloudberries can be picked from the trail and the Alpine and Arctic flowers enjoy their short bloom.

The accommodation in this part of the Swedish wilds is hut-to-hut, a nod to the time honoured tradition of Swedish communal life amongst the harsh conditions and a sharing in the mountain experience. A well-stocked food store and cosy woodburning stove greet you as you arrive after a tough day.

The huts are linked by good paths, well marked and maintained. Unlike the Alps there are normally only one or two path options per day, so navigation is relatively simple and you can settle into the day.
The Northerly latitude makes for changeable weather with cooler days perfect for walking. We’ll send full details of our recommended kit. It also makes for the famous long daylight hours, with 22 hours of daylight in July, tapering to 14 in September.

The route is normally approached by train from Stockholm in Sweden’s South, a wonderful experience for anyone who enjoys rail travel. Bulging rucksacks and hiking boots fill the compartments as Swedes leave their cities to fulfill their yearning for the outdoors.

This Abisko to Nikkaluokta section of the King’s Trail is the most popular and accessible week on the long-distance route. The trail in its entirety stretches from Abisko, South beyond the Arctic Circle to a total length of 460km. We hope to extend the route to cover the lesser travelled Southern sections over the next few years.
We hope you enjoy the sense of adventure that comes from walking in the great Lapland wilderness and the sense of solidarity formed with other walkers in the unique Scandinavian hut culture.

As always, do ask us any questions at all. We’ve walked and skied the route and have good knowledge of the (not always obvious) travel connections which can be made with the rest of Scandinavia.

Map


Prices

Alpine Exploratory
KLKsg Kungsleden (Self-guided)
19 July to 18 September 2020
Prices in GBP
per person
Dorms Private rooms
(Abisko & Kebnekaise)
Popular schedules
6 stages
(7 nights)

790
Singles 40
890
Singles 40
Main Kungsleden
7 stages
(8 nights)

880
Singles 40
990
Singles 40
6 stages
1 rest day
(8 nights)
880
Singles 40
990
Singles 40
Specialised schedules
5 stages
(6 nights)

700
Singles 40
790
Singles 40
7 stages
1 rest days
(9 nights)
970
Singles 40
1,090
Singles 40
Options
Baggage transfer
Direct
Please ask us

Itinerary


Our normal schedule is 6 stages long, walking from the Sälka to Kebnekaise hut in one long day. Here we show our 7-stage schedule which breaks this day down with a night at Singi. Please ask us about the best approach to the Kungsleden - thank you.


Arrival day: Arrival at Abisko
After leaving Stockholm at 7pm, the night train arrives into the destination of Abisko at 11am the next morning, giving time for porridge and coffee in the breakfast carriage. Abisko mountain-station is an outdoor hub where you can rent equipment and stock up on supplies from their excellent shop. Enjoy exploring the grounds on the border of the national park. You will have dinner before beginning in the morning.
Mountain hut (full service)

Stage 1: Abisko to Abiskojaure
Blue3 grade, 13.5km with 160m ascent, 55m descent
This relatively short stage follows the Abiskojakka river and lake through the Abisko National Park to the first hut. Initially amongst birch trees, the route later breaks clear of the forest and gives a flavour of the Kungsleden to come.
Mountain hut (self-catering)

Stage 2: Abiskojaure to Alesjaure
Red3 grade, 21km with 380m ascent, 80m descent
An early climb into the Gárddenvággi is followed by gentler gradients through long wide valleys, with mountains on either side and lakes closer to hand. Paths are fairly obvious but often rocky, so progress is not as fast as might be expected. Enjoy more solitude today, as we are away from the realms of the day-trippers!
Mountain hut (self-catering)

Stage 3: Alesjaure to Tjäktja
Blue3 grade, 13.5km with 290m ascent, 60m descent
Today is essentially a valley walk. Drop down from the hut to cross the river, and then gently ascend the Alisvággi valley. Not long after crossing a suspension bridge, a new vista opens up towards the Tjäktja hut and the end of the stage. Most of the ascent comes at the end, and it is necessary to go past the hut to reach the access bridge.
Mountain hut (self-catering)

Stage 4: Tjäktja to Sälka
Blue4 grade, 13km with 120m ascent, 320m descent
This stage reaches the highest point of the whole Kungsleden trail, 1,141m. After climbing to the col, drop into a new valley: soon there are extensive views of the rest of this stage, and part of the next stage as well. Not always easy underfoot, this stage might take longer than the statistics would suggest.
Mountain hut (self-catering)

Stage 5: Sälka to Singi
Blue3 grade, 12.5km with 80m ascent, 190m descent
Continue the journey down the valley, generally on better paths than previous stages. Three quarters of the way along, there is the option to omit Singi and go direct to Kebnekaise Fjällstation. (This is our 6-stage trek.) Enjoy the last stage in this wide open setting: after Singi, the mountains encroach.
Mountain hut (self-catering)

Stage 6: Singi to Kebnekaise Fjällstation
Blue3 grade, 13.5km with 210m ascent, 250m descent
This stage leaves the main Kungsleden trail and heads East, bringing a change of scene. The route leads through a much narrower valley than previously encountered before opening out into the final valley of the trek. The stage ends at the well-appointed Fjällstation with its full-service restaurant and hot showers: a welcome change from the more basic Fjällstugas.
Mountain hut (full service)

Stage 7: Kebnekaise Fjällstation to Nikkaluokta
Blue3 grade, 18km with 35m ascent, 240m descent
The final stage is largely in thin birch forest, and the first half is on rocky paths. Part-way along is an option to take the ferry and miss the middle 4km. Later, a good track leads you to the trail head at Nikkaluokta: here there is a shop and restaurant where you can celebrate the end of the walk in traditional Sami style whilst awaiting the bus to Kiruna.
Hotel in Kiruna

Departure day: Departure from Kiruna
Departure from Kiruna after breakfast. The night train leaves in the early evening, South to Stockholm, or Kiruna airport offers flights to Stockholm and Oslo. Heading North, take the morning train to Narvik on the Norwegian coast.. a spectacular journey of moorland and fjord.


Our usual schedule of accommodation might not be available, especially if there is not much time between booking and your trip. We book accommodation as closely as possible to this itinerary and present a schedule for you to check before we proceed.

Where we stay


A well stocked hut store
The well-stocked store at the Kebnekaise hut


Our Kungsleden treks make use of 3 types of accommodation in Sweden:

Full-service mountain huts (Turiststations or Fjällstations)
The larger, full-service, huts at Abisko and Kebnekaise are akin to the larger DNT huts in Norway, a Youth Hostel in the UK or a larger and smarter Alpine hut. Leave your boots in the doorway, check in at the reception desk and find your room or dormitory. Dinner is served at typically one or two sittings each evening. A well-stocked shop sells snacks up to and including meals, plus souvenirs and essentials such as gloves and compasses.

Self-catering mountain huts (Fjällstugas)
Guests arrive and are allocated a bunk by the hut warden. Duvets, pillows and blankets are provided: please bring a sheet liner. The self-catered huts have a shop stocked with supplies for dinner, breakfast and a simple packed lunch. Choose your food from the store and cook by yourself or with any other guests. The self-catering huts have decent kitchens with gas stoves.

You will find the Swedish self-catering huts extremely orderly with clearly defined tasks that all must undertake to keep the cabins spotless and resupplied. If you’re ever first to arrive into the hut after a day's walk you will probably be amazed how clean they are left by the previous night’s occupants. It’s a microcosm of the Swedish culture where there is a strong sense of collective responsibility for the smooth running of society.

The warden may assign you a task such as chopping some wood or you may decide between yourself and the other guests. Some of the tasks that will be done by everyone include carrying water from the stream, emptying the used dishwater, chopping firewood for the stoves, lighting the fire, and sweeping the floors. All are taken in good spirit and everyone lends a hand so it is light work!

In Sweden the STF mountain cabins can't be pre-booked so in every cabin you are guaranteed a place to sleep and a roof over your head. A place to sleep in the STF mountain cabins means either a normal bed or a comfortable mattress on the floor with a pillow and a blanket or duvet.

Hotels
For the last night we book our hotel in Kiruna. This is the largest town local to the Kungsleden, a mining centre and a base for the local walking, fishing and hunting.

Saunas
The Swedes are huge sauna fans. Based on our experience it's worth getting into the spirit, to loosen-off your tight hiking muscles. There are 4 huts with saunas on this route. The saunas are also a welcome opportunity to wash in hot water as there are no showers on the route. It is normal for there to be one sauna for all guests (but male and female saunas at Kebnekaise) and to go in naked. In the self-catering huts, again guests need to earn their sauna, by sawing and splitting the wood and hauling the water needed to keep the sauna going!

How to get there



The train to Narvik waits at Kiruna


From Stockholm
From Stockholm you can take a connecting flight to Kiruna (KRN), Sweden’s most northerly airport, or you can take the sleeper train. Both are good options; perhaps our recommendation is the night train to Abisko and then a flight home from Kiruna.

The sleeper train to Abisko Turiststation is a superbly scenic option! It covers a large portion of the whole of Sweden. The service and the cabins work well; choose from 2, 3, 4 or 6 person sleeping compartments with an option to take a compartment for one person. The line is historic, dating to 1888 and extended to the Iron Ore mines of Kiruna and then to the Norwegian coast at Narvik. It’s worth booking online in advance at the Swedish rail website as the advanced fares can be a good saving and it is possible for the train to sell out.

There are normally two departures daily, one departing Stockholm around 18:00 and one at 21:00. The earlier departure takes 17 hours and arrives into Abisko at 11:15am the following day. The later departure takes 19 hours and arrives into Abisko at 4pm.

From Oslo
From Oslo and Southern Norway it’s best to travel via Stockholm. However, there are Oslo-Kiruna and Oslo-Narvik flights, from where it's a day train in either direction to Abisko.

Departing from Kiruna
The final night on the trail is at STF Kebnekaise. The next day you will walk and take the boat along lake Laddjujuvi to Nikkaluokta from where there is a bus to Kiruna, the nearby town. Kiruna mainly exists to house and service the mine workers of the huge iron ore mine that looms over the town. Kiruna is furnished with an airport and train station with train links to Northern Norway and the rest of Sweden.

All options start from Kiruna; chiefly these are flights to Stockholm or Oslo, or the night train to Stockholm. Heading North, take the morning train to Narvik in Norway for onward buses to Bodo or the Lofoten islands.

Our travels let us advise on these options in Sweden and Norway. Please ask us for more details.



Bodo's harbour

Route


Looking back on the Singi to Kebnekaise route

Our approach to the Kungsleden
The Abisko to Nikkaluokta section of the King’s Trail is the most popular and accessible week on the long-distance Kungsleden route. The route in its entirety stretches from Abisko South beyond the Arctic Circle to a total length of 460km.

We hope in the coming years to extend our Kungsleden coverage to the lesser-travelled Southern sections including the Sarek mountains.

Underfoot
The terrain is remarkably stark and conditions underfoot mirror the barren remoteness of the valleys. The bedrock of Swedish Lapland is hard and inporus which makes for some rocky walking and a harsh land for larger plants to take root. Tree cover ends after the first day on trail from Abisko and only returns in the day's walk-out from the Kebnekaise hut. The bulk of the trail is in the open fjells between the broad valleys. The meltwater makes for full rivers and lakes with slopes riven with smaller streams. Stream crossings are accomplished by rock-hopping and bridges.

(Not in this Northerly week but further South on the Kungsleden, rowing boats are in place for some crossings.)

The landscape itself is generally rolling with few steep ascents or descents. Day lengths are manageable and the spacing of the huts makes trips of various lengths possible. On most days there are windbreaks or small huts to shelter in for a sandwich or to escape the worst of the elements.


Options

We can adjust your Kungsleden in various ways, as follows:

Flexible tour lengths
The Kebnekaise works well with shorter or longer itineraries, albeit with some restrictions due to the spacing of huts: days tend to be either modest or very long. Just let us know how long you have and we can suggest.

Accommodation
As normal we'll book your first night in Abisko Turiststation, but we could equally book a hotel in Narvik with a train ride in the morning. At the end, we book our hotel in Kiruna but if you prefer to miss this night and take the night train (timed well after the Nikkaluokta-Kiruna bus) please ask us to skip this last night. If you prefer to stay on trail there is the hostel at Nikkaluokta, followed by the morning Kiruna bus.

No dormitories
If you'd like to stay in fewer dorms, please let us know. We can sometimes book private rooms in the huts. Unfortunately because of the way the huts operate, it's not possible to book private rooms in the huts for solo travellers.

Kebnekaise summit
Should you wish to attempt to summit Kebnekaise, Sweden’s highest mountain, please ask us to book a second night at the Kebnekaise hut. We can add to your trip the Kebnekaise hut's guided ascent. The walk is at a grade higher than we are able to offer on this self-guided trip, involving the summit snow slopes with long drops and the need for crampons.


STF membership

Your trip comes with a year's membership of the STF, Svenska Turistföreningen, the Swedish trekking and travel association.

The STF



All huts including Abisko and Kebnekaise are owned by the Swedish hiking association, the STF. Like the DNT in Norway, it’s a body that seems close to the Swedes' hearts. You will see the logo on everything from coat-pegs to kitch tea-cups in the huts as you walk the trail. The STF is responsible for trail repair and manning the huts that fall along the Kungsleden.

The STF has been running since the late 1800s and is responsible for Sweden's national parks, the network of 350 huts and hostels, and promoting outdoor life and the preservation of the Swedish natural world.

Membership gives lower prices in some huts, which we have factored into the cost of our Swedish trips, and also gives you benefits like discounts in renting any gear in the STF Abisko or Kebnekaise shops.

We are delighted that our trekkers become bona fide STF members like so many Swedish trekkers, thus supporting the maintenance of the national parks.

In the run-up to your trip we will ask the date of birth of everyone in your group, as it's required for the STF membership.


The Kungsleden within Scandinavia


Key information Summer 2020

Trip name: Kungsleden: Kebnekaise
Guided or self-guided? Self-guided
Trip code: KLKsg
Route: Kungsleden (Walking guide)
Group size: Any, from solo trekkers to groups
Length: 6 days' trekking
Start: Abisko after train from Stockholm
End: Nikkaluokta for bus to Kiruna
Typical walk: 13km, 330m ascent
Total distance: 105km or 65 miles
Highest altitude: 1,141m
Grade: Red3 (Walking grades)



Prices Summer 2020

6 stages, 7 nights, per person:

KLKsg Private rooms
GBP 890 (singles 40)
Book
Kungsleden (self-guided)



Research Summer 2020

Alpine Exploratory's 2019 research on the Kungsleden was led by:

Ollie Boyd at Alpine ExploratorySimon Stevens at Alpine ExploratoryPete Ellis at Alpine Exploratory



Ollie Boyd in April
Simon Stevens in June
Pete Ellis in August

Recces 2020

Approaching Kebnekaise Hut
Approaching the Kebnekaise hut (Photo gallery)



Alpine Exploratory's service

Accommodation
7 nights, staying in:
Self-catering mountain huts (4)
Full-service mountain huts (2)
Hotel (1)

Included
Accommodation and itinerary
3 breakfasts, 1 packed lunch, 2 dinners
Expert and unlimited advice
Routecards KLN1-7 of the Exploratory system
Maps and local information
A year's STF membership

Season for self-guided treks
19 July to 18 September 2020
Trek on your ideal dates

The view North from Singi hut
The view North from Singi hut (Photo gallery)



Find out more

About our walking holidays Our FAQs page covering equipment, weather, insurance and more about how our trips work

Walking guides Our background page on the Kungsleden route

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