The Kungsleden: A guide to the trek
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For 2022, we are thrilled to introduce our first trek in Sweden. After Norway, this is the second Scandinavian country that we bring to our clients. For now, we offer the first, most Northerly, week of the Kungsleden trail and hope to add the remaining stretches of the full trail in the coming years.
Length 6 walking days, 7 nights
Total distance 105km or 65 miles
Typical day 13km, 330m ascent
Highest altitude 1,141m
The hightest point of our Kungsleden week also marks the spot for the best views: Looking down from the Tjäktja pass, you'll get a feeling of remoteness that's hard to find these days. Think wild, rocky and wonderful, and you got it!
Alpine Exploratory offers the following holidays based on our Kungsleden research:
The lie of the landThe Kungsleden is the month-long trail from Abikso in the North – on the train like from Stockholm to the Norwegian coast at Narvik – heading South through substantial wilderness to Hemavan in the, well, still very far North of Sweden! It’s 440km. Our week starts in Abisko, following the main trail then turning off East at the Singi hut, to reach a roadhead at Nikkaluokta and thus jump off after 6 or 7 stages. There are about 4.5 days on the main trail and then 1.5 days on this side trail via the big and fully catered Kebnekaise hut, on our 6-stage trip. It’s a taste of the wilds of Northern Sweden and relatively straightforward way to enjoy the Kungsleden, without settling in for a month and needing considerations of camping, as occur where huts thin out further South!
Where to stay?Swedish self-catering huts are a characteristic feature of the Kungsleden. These are similar to the Norwegian self-catering huts. The key distinction is self-catering versus catered, and in fact our Kungsleden week (our Northern week via the Kebnekaise hut) stays in 2 catered huts (Abisko and Kebnekaise), 1 hotel (Kiruna) and a few, typically 4, self-catering huts. What are these like? Run by the Swedish hiking and travel organisation the STF, life follows a pattern. Guests have a bunk or a mattress on the floor, the chance to cook their own dinner in the self-catering kitchen, and in some places the chance of a sauna (bastu). Typically the self-catering hut runs a tiny shop selling the basics of a meal, for when guests haven’t carried in their own food. On our Kungsleden week at least, there are wardens at these self-catering huts, there to ensure people are checked-in and happy; to maintain the good running of the place. They might run a small bar, which means alcohol sales at the hut reception! (By contrast the self-catering huts in Norway are often unmanned with the shop run on an honesty basis.
The STF, the Svenska Turistföreningen, is the Swedish trekking and travel association. Like the DNT in Norway, it’s the body that 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. We are delighted that our trekkers become bona fide STF members like so many Swedish trekkers.
The STF's website
Is it for me?The Kungsleden will be a challenge in distance terms more so than in terrain. Still, we note that the path underfoot is not all the boardwalk (planks laid end-on) that stretches into the distance, as per the typical Kungleden photo. The path can be quite rocky and progress can be quite rocky and progress can be limited by this in terms of daily mileage.
In a day we might walk 16km or more, and it will take a ‘medium’ amount of time with chance to rest and explore the area at the next hut; we do not see our Kungsleden week as one of particularly long days, just those that fit the spacing of huts.
Kungsleden hikers should prepare for quite a range of terrain. Marshy sections have been fitted, in some places and not all, with generously long but quite narrow (hard to pass!) planks. Other paths underfoot can be rocky, firm, or muddy, perhaps grassy.
Some path sections are harder to follow where the path splits into various braids, in popular areas such as on the pass East of Singi and around the Kebnekaise hut. Generally what we see is one clear path through one valley, not a network of paths from which to choose.
This is quite a dramatic and wild series of hills and valleys and there can be heavy rain, which if sustained through the day can cause streams to fill up and overflow onto the path beside. Wet feet are a feature, if this is the weather. Overall, Sweden like Norway enjoys a Continental-Maritime climate where the wet weather is tempered by the more reliable warm air. There can be sustained periods of stable, warm sun.
Cities and TravelTo Abikso via Stockholm
For a full experience we recommend the sleeper train from Stockholm all the way to Abisko. The train calls at Stockholm's Arlanda airport on the way North, or take a train or bus into the city centre before the 7pm train departure. Buy some food at the central station - there is also a buffet car - and find your berth, which can be in private cabins or shared (3 or 6 bunks). See a large portion of Sweden and the extent of the forests; in the morning, the train calls at Kiruna before Abisko Turiststation later in the morning. Or, forego the sleeper train to fly direct to Kiruna (Sweden) or Narvik (Norway) and take the day train to Abisko. Overall then, our recommendation is the night train to Abisko and then a flight home from Kiruna.
To Abisko via 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
Kiruna, a mining town, is furnished with an airport and train station, with train links to Northern Norway and the rest of Sweden. Take a flight 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. Please ask us for more details.
Hike the Kungsleden with Alpine Exploratory
Alpine Exploratory offers self-guided options as well as private guided trips. We're also pleased to book shorter or longer sub-sections of the route according to your available dates. Please contact us to discuss options.
Our self-guided holidays give you what you need to complete the route under your own steam. We book your accommodation in a mix of huts and hotels and we give you our detailed routecards, the local maps, and lots of notes. Importantly we will advise on the ideal schedule and accommodation to suit your approach to the Jotunheim.
Our guided trip is similar but gives you the benefit of an Alpine Exploratory leader to show the way.
Kungsleden enquiry form
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