The vast pine woods of Sweden, that cover as much as two thirds of the country, is home to “the big six”, Sweden’s equivalent of Africas “big five”. Moose can be found wherever you go, even close to the big cities, and in the northern parts of the country, brown bear, wolves and wolverines roam the land. The shy lynx and the shaggy musk ox can be spotted in the wilderness of Härjedalen, in the northwest of Sweden. Bird watching is popular in both Sweden and Norway and can be done everywhere from the flatlands of Skåne, in the south of Sweden, to the desolate wilderness of the northern parts of Scandinavia.
In the wilderness of Scandinavia you feel far away from modern civilization. The only sound you can hear is that of the whispering wind, and the meltwater is so pure you can drink it. If you want to come close to the wildlife of Scandinavia, try going for a safari. Norway’s Lofoten offers fabulous killer whale safaris that bring you right next to the huge whales. Or meet the Swedish King of the Forest, the moose, on a moose safari, while staying in tents in the wilderness. You also have the opportunity to go bear watching on a bear safari in the north of Sweden.
Scandinavia has a strong tradition for hiking and in both Norway and Sweden there are trekking cabins all over the mountains. There is an abundance of clearly marked trails, ranging from the mountainous wilderness of the northernmost parts of Scandinavia, to the less demanding trails of Swedish Södermanland. If you want to enjoy Sweden’s spectacular scenery to the fullest, you should try the north section of the famous King’s Trail, or Kungsleden. Starting out in Abisko, Lapland, you walk through a valley surrounded by mountains, staying in mountain cabins, where you cook your evening meals together with fellow hikers.
Pike, pearch, trout or salmon. Whatever your fancy, you find it in Scandinavia. Norway and Sweden have a strong tradition for fishing and most types are available here in the clean, unpolluted waters. Go salmon fishing in the mighty fjords of Norway or try pike fishing in one of the deep silent lakes of southern Sweden, where you can catch huge perch on the days when the pike won’t bite. Norway borders to the Barents Sea, where you find saltwater fish like cod, haddock and saith. Going out with a fishing boat at dawn, to come back late in the afternoon with a fresh catch, is an experience you will never forget.
In the woodlands of Scandinavia, there are large numbers of moose, wild boar, grouse and hare. No hunting is allowed without the permission of the landowner, and you will need a hunting license before starting out. Once these details are taken care of, there are plenty of adventurous tours to choose from, ranging from moose hunting in Swedish Lapland, to capercaillie stalks where you stay in tents far out in the wilderness.
Sitting on the back of a horse, you can go deep into the forests to catch sight of moose and wild boar, ride along rural paths and meadows, canter along sandy beaches or go up into the steep mountains where the air is crystal clear. Nothing brings you as close to nature as horseback riding and you could choose from shorter tours to long treks that last for up to a week. There are several Scandinavian horse breeds that are ideal for long tours in the wilderness. One of the most famous is the sturdy Norwegian Fjord Horse, that has a mild temperament and is both strong, agile and surefooted, making it a wonderful companion on long mountain treks.
Take an old steamboat to the sunny archipelago of Stockholm and swim in the clear water, catch a ferry to Helsinki and enjoy the setting sun from the front deck sauna, or explore the Norwegian fjords in the most magnificent way by taking the classic Hurtigruten. The possibilities are endless if you want to experience Scandinavia from the water. The many lakes, rivers, fjords and seas that surround Norway and Sweden make these countries ideal for all kinds of boat trips. The most peaceful tour is to go on Göta Kanal in Sweden, a canal constructed in the early 19th century to provide a route from Söderköping on the east coast to Gothenburg on Sweden’s west coast.
Few countries in the world can offer canoeing and kayaking visitors as much as Sweden and Norway. Scandinavia’s long coastlines, thousands of lakes, rivers, fjords and waterways make this an ideal destination for those wishing to spend their days paddling, in close contact with the stillness and charm of the northern countryside. If you choose to go canoeing in the north, you will be surrounded by steep glaciated peaks, while on the lakes of the southern parts, you will be in the stillness of the woods and maybe, if you are lucky, catch sight of a beaver as it swims by you in the water.