Timber Rafting in Sweden – a Huckleberry Finn adventure!
Love the outdoors? Looking for an out-of-the-ordinary summer holiday this year?
It could be hard to find anything more unusual that Nature Travels’ Timber Rafting on Klarälven, a 5-day or 8-day self-guided Huckleberry Finn adventure down the river Klarälven in Sweden, camping wild on the riverbank along the way. The tour is ideal for active families, couples or groups of friends.
The Klarälven is one of just a handful of rivers in the world suitable for timber rafting, and until 1991 was still used as an active logging route. Today, commercial log transport no longer take places on the river, but the tradition is still kept very much alive!
Before pushing off, your first task is to construct your own raft using nothing but ropes and logs. You will be given detailed instruction before you begin and then build your raft under careful supervision. Local guides are on hand to offer advice (though the hard work is all done by you!) and to ensure your raft is riverworthy before beginning your voyage downstream.
The time taken to build your raft depends on how energetic you’re feeling and how many hands there are to help! But when completed, your raft will normally consist of two 3m x 3m sections with three layers of logs, making each raft suitable for up to 6 persons and with room for a lean-to shelter to protect you from the sun (or rain!) along the way. If you’re a couple or three persons, you can also take the easier option to cheat a little and just build one 3m x 3m section!
The Klarälven flows at a gentle average speed of around 2kph (which varies a little up or down depend on water levels). But while many people describe timber rafting as the most relaxing holiday they have ever had, and there is no doubt that drifting downstream is a uniquely meditative experience, it’s by no means just a matter of putting your feet up and watching the world slide by! Your raft will weigh over two tonnes when completed, and one of the skills you will learn in your first few hours on the river is to plan well ahead. Seeing a lovely-looking camping spot on the riverbank a few hundred metres downstream is one thing – landing at it successfully may be quite another!
Control freaks will need to cultivate the lost art of letting go and literally get used to “going with the flow”! To navigate your way down river, you will need to be on the lookout for obstacles such as overhanging branches and sandbars and use a combination of pole and paddle to manoeuvre your raft to avoid them. But don’t worry, if you do get stuck, all is not lost – a little work and patience will get you moving again, and getting stuck once in a while is indeed part of the adventure!
You are free to plan your days as you wish, provided you complete the route in the time allocated (50km for the 5-day tour or 100km for the 8-day tour). The surrounding forests are wonderful for hiking and you may wish to spend longer on the river some days then plan in time for a rest or a walk in the woods on others. The Right of Public Access provides great freedom for wild camping in Sweden (subject to certain responsibilities and guidelines) and you will decide yourself where to camp each night. A fire beneath the stars with your timber raft moored in the water next to you and the Klarälven slipping quietly by in the darkness is a magical experience!
When your voyage comes to an end, you will dismantle your raft and set the logs free once more into the river, where they will be collected in a log trap and return upstream to begin a new adventure!
Timber Rafting on Klarälven is offered on start days between early June and late August. Price from £285 per adult, £137 per child.
For details, see www.naturetravels.co.uk or call 01929 503080.