DESTINATION – SWEDEN, JÄMTLAND, ÅRE / VÅLÅDALEN
SWEDEN IN BRIEF
Sweden is the biggest country in Scandinavia, twice as big as Great Britain, but with “only” nine million inhabitants. There is great variety; it is possible to find everything from big cities with a vibrant cultural life and ancient history, to remote and beautiful places with complete silence, crystal clear water and pristine nature. The southern parts of the country are more densely populated than the north. The landscapes in the south are more cultivated, with large and small-scale farming, while in northern Sweden there are immense forests, lakes and vast mountainous areas. The Scandinavian mountains are among the oldest in the world and, due to the many thousands of years of erosion, are not as high and jagged as the Alps, for example. In northern Sweden, particularly in the mountains, the indigenous Sámi people have continued with reindeer husbandry, as well as handing their amazing handicraft traditions down to the coming generations.
THE COUNTY OF JÄMTLAND IN BRIEF
Jämtland is one of Sweden’s biggest counties. Regional characteristics are beautiful countryside with forests, mountains and water, good food, creative entrepreneurship and a powerful expansion in tourism. 127,000 people live here – 1.5 % of the Swedish population on 12% of the country’s total surface area. The county’s industry is dominated by small businesses. Of its 7,000 companies, only 50 or so have more then 50 employees. The county has Europe's cleanest agriculture and Sweden's lowest level of reported crime.
There is only one city in Jämtland – Östersund. It is in the centre of the county and about 40,000 people live there.
In the summer, Jämtland’s countryside is perhaps most famous for its lovely walking trails and fishing waters. In the winter the great attraction are the ski fields, with Åre as the biggest resort and centre for alpine skiing.
As well as all these outdoor experiences there is also a rich cultural and musical life. For example, Storsjöyran, which is Sweden’s biggest city festival and takes place every summer.
There are a number of well-known outdoor brands in Jämtland, e.g. Hillebergs Tentmaker, Lundhags, Trangia, Klättermusen and Extrem.
You can find more information about the county of Jämtland at www.jamtland.se.
THE MOUNTAIN VILLAGE OF VÅLÅDALEN
Vålådalen is situated in Åre municipality (more information at www.are.se) in the county of Jämtland, 140 km west of Östersund and 50 km south of Åre. This little village is surrounded by the Vålådalen nature reserve – a large, protected area with ancient virgin forests, rich marshland, impressive mountains and unique waterways. River Vålån and the smaller rivers in the reserve have crystal clear water that you can drink from your hands, wherever you are.
The area has a wealth of both animals and plants. Arctic fox, wolverine, bear and lynx have fixed breeding territories and reindeer, elk, fox and grouse are very common. The flora includes many orchids and typical alpine flowers, for example moss campion, glacier crowfoot and the Alpine blue-sow-thistle. The little, humble but very beautiful black vanilla orchid, Jämtland’s county flower, grows here and can be enjoyed in bloom during the months of June and July.
There are about 30 or so permanent residents of all ages in the village of Vålådalen, of which some are active in reindeer husbandry. There is also a historic, welcoming mountain station (www.valadalen.se) and a fantastic naturum (visitor centre), that is well worth visiting (www.naturum.valadalen.se).
WHEN DOES THE SNOW COME? HOW DARK DOES IT GET?
The snow often comes in November and remains until the end of April, in the mountains until the end of May. The temperature can drop down to -35°C during the darkest period, but usually it’s around -10-15°C. There are good chances of seeing the spectacular northern lights, which can light up the night sky in greens and reds. Despite a lack of background illumination the snow, along with stars and the moon, provides enough light to be able to travel on skis or snowshoes in the evening or at night. The March-May period is called the fifth season, or spring-winter. At this time the days are long, there is still plenty of snow and the temperatures are milder. It is a wonderful time to experience the mountains – at its best you can ski in a bikini!
From the middle of June until August it is high summer. Even if the sun does drop below the horizon this is a period with plenty of light. Evenings and nights are so light that you can be out around the clock if you have the energy. Summer temperatures are usually around 15-20°C but can, when it’s hottest, reach 30°C. Even if it is unusual, there snow can fall up in the mountains during these months. If you want to pick cloudberries then August is the right month to be out on the marshes. In September it is time for picking lingonberries, blueberries, raspberries and mushrooms. During October there are often cool and clear days with fantastic autumn colours and new snow on the mountain tops.
There is more information about the weather at www.smhi.se/en.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO DO IN THE AREA?
Åre: Sweden’s centre for alpine skiing and host for the Alpine Skiing World Championships 2007. This is where Holiday Club is – a large adventure pool and conference centre with sauna world, bowling, driving range etc.
Skiing: Åre/Duved is the biggest piste system with the most vertical drop. Others are Trillevallen (closest to Vålådalen), Edsåsdalen, Storlien etc.
Walking/Ski Touring: Well signed trails in some parts of the mountains with simple cabins for overnight stays that are open during both the summer and winter seasons.
Dog-sledding: Both one and multi-day trips.
Snow-mobiles: Can be found in Åre and Björnvallen/Trillevallen, as well as other places.
Renrajd: Ride in an “akkja”, a Sámi sledge, pulled by a reindeer.
Tännforsen: Ice caves with a hotel and concert hall by Jämtland’s biggest waterfall.
Chocolate factory: Åre Choklad factory and shop.
Cycling: Mountain biking, from easier rides for children up to more advanced downhill for adults.
Water: World class white-water rafting, kayaking and river boogie boarding. Steam boats on the lakes of Kallsjön and Storsjön.
Climbing: On rock in the summer and ice in the winter.
Cave trips: Smaller ones up to Sweden’s longest, approx. 3000 m
Paragliding: From Åreskutan (the highest peak in the ski field)
Kite: Kite skiing.
Horse riding: Icelandic horses – both one and multi-day trekks.
Fishing: Fly-fishing in flowing water and ice-fishing in the winter. Char, brown trout, grayling, etc. Also casting rod and angling.
Arctic driving: Driving and rally on ice.
More information available at www.are.se and www.are.cc.
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR ON MY TRIP?
Summer: Despite the high latitude it can get relatively warm, so light but durable clothing is recommended. It should be quick drying if you are going to be out for several days. Proper rain clothes that breathe and boots that keep the water out are important for your comfort; they should be suitable for walking in. Something warm, e.g. a thick fleece jumper, should be in your rucksack, as well as a hat and thin gloves, as it can get cold up in the mountains.
Winter: Jacket and trousers in wind and waterproof material without padding, as a shell layer. Your insulation should instead come from good thermal underwear in wool or synthetic material, with a thick jumper to put over it. A warm coat, e.g. down, which can be pulled on over all your other clothes is invaluable. Boots with enough room for at least two pairs of thick woollen socks are a must. Gloves and hat should be suitable for your activity.
CAN PEOPLE SPEAK MY LANGUAGE?
Most Swedes speak at least some English. All of our guides speak both Swedish and English. French and German-speaking guides can be arranged.
CAN I BE EATEN BY WILD ANIMALS?
Large carnivores, bear, lynx, wolverine and sometimes wolf, are present in the area, but they a naturally very shy. To see these animals is something very special. No deaths have been recorded here. The few incidents that have happened are when hunters with dogs have come into contact with a bear. There has never been an accident involving an “ordinary” person in the outdoors. The most dangerous carnivore, man, has a naturally sparse population and if you meet one in the forest or in the mountains there are rarely any problems…
WHERE CAN I STAY?
Vålådalens Fjällstation. Old, historic mountain station with a high standard and different types of accommodation. Very cosy and pleasant. www.valadalen.se .
Executive Skiing. If you want exclusive accommodation in a house or cabin, in or close to Åre. www.executiveskiing.se
More accommodation tips can be found at www.are.se.
WHICH MAPS DO I NEED?
Z6 Storlien - Ljungdalen. Fjällkartan. Lantmäteriet (Sweden Survey). 1:100.000.
Z7 Åre -Vålådalen - Bydalen. Fjällkartan. Lantmäteriet (Sweden Survey). 1:100.000.
6 Östersund. Röda kartan. Lantmäteriet (Sweden Survey). 1:250.000.
Flights: Fly me
Vearneslufthavn (Værnes airport)
Nabotåget Trondheim (Værnes airport) - Undersåker
Travel time to Åre by train:
- From Trondheim: approx. 2.5 hours
- From Sundsvall: approx. 4 hours
- From Gävle: approx. 7-8 hours
- From Stockholm: approx. 8 hours
- From Göteborg: approx. 12-13 hours
- From Malmö: approx. 13-15 hours
Distance to Åre:
- Trondheim 160 km
- Sundsvall 285 km
- Stockholm 630 km
- Göteborg 890 km
- Malmö 1,120 km
Weather: SMHI Click on Forecasts & Observations – Mountain and then find Åre/Björnänge
Accommodation: Vålådalens fjällstation
Holiday Club Åre
Equipment: Lundhags Local manufacturer of high-quality outdoor equipment.
Get Out This site has everything, and a little bit more besides!
Other information: Are.se You can find most things here - activities, accommodation, taxi, tourist information etc
Fjällsäkerhetsrådet Lots to read before you head out into the mountains.
Naturum Vålådalen Information about the mountains and the natural world.