The following text is provided by the National Environment Protection Board of Sweden
"I want to go hiking in Sarek", you say. We, the administrators of the national park, hope you know what this involves.
Sarek is a magnificent untouched alpine area with sharp peaks and glaciers. Between the mountain massifs there is a network of deeply cut valleys with swift streams.
In other words, the terrain is physically demanding for the would-be hiker.
Sarek is a wilderness without roads. The central sections of the national park are many kilometers from inhabitated areas. There are no touristic facilities established, no trails or cabins here. The hiker is in serious trouble if a major accident occurs.
We want to warn you for hiking in sarek if you are inexperienced. You should always have successfully accomplished a fair number of mountain expeditions before you set your sights to Sarek.
Sarek - one pearl among many
A lot of people go to Sarek with unrealistic expectations. Hiking there has become a status symbol. We want to eliminate the myth about Sarek without depreciating the worth of this national park. It is true that this area is both one of the country`s most valuable natural areas, as well as one of the most inaccessible. It is also true that Sarek contains beautiful sharp mountain massifs - but there are other Swedish mountain areas of equal value, such as the Kebnekaise mountains. The peaks there are also stunning. The surface area of Sarek is larger and is one of the reasons why the area became a national park.
Although Sarek is a wilderness area of impressive dimensions, if you really want to be alone you should go to one of the lesser known mountain areas. During the tourist season it is hardly desolate in Sarek. Around 2,000 people hike in the area during the summer months. You may meet several other hikers certain days. Wilderness and desolate country are not the same thing. Many people haven`t realized that. Wilderness implies untouched nature in its original state; whether there are other people or not doesn`t enter the definition.
It is true that there is a great diversity of wildlife in some of Sarek`s valleys - but the chances of seeing many of the larger wild animals are minimal.
At least as far as four-legged predatory animals are concerned. On the other hand your chance of seeing moose and predatory birds are considerably better. This situation is not particularly unique to Sarek, however.
The fact is that as whole the fauna is richer in a number of other mountain regions - eg the Vindel mountains.
For the botanist the flora in Sarek is unremarkable. The florae of both Padjelanta and Abisko are significantly more interesting.
Perhaps by now you`re feeling a little deceived by the mystique surrounding Sarek. The Swedish mountain region is large. Sarek is only one of its many pearls. But one thing is true, if you want to experience untouched wilderness in alpine surroundings then Sarek is a class by itself. And if you want to do this you have to manage entirely by yourself. We, the representatives of the national park administration will gladly answer your questions, but the fact is if you can`t manage on the information offered in books about mountain-hiking, or specifically about Sarek, from mountain- and or vegetation maps then you are really not experienced enough for hiking in Sarek. In so, then why not consider other fine mountain areas which are less demanding, such as Padjelanta, the Vindel mountains, Kebnekaise or the Jämtland mountains.
Conditions in Sarek demand that you can read a map, have the right equipment and not least the right attitude towards difficulties like bad weather, flooding streams, fatigue e t c, which can never be eliminated despite good planning. You must be able to make changes in plans during the hike, Sarek is to remain an area where nothing is done to accomodate mountain hiking. This passage is part of the maintenance plans for the national park.This unique untouched environment is to be preserved intact. You are free, of course, to visit Sarek at your own risk. Our aim is briefly to give some general advice to those considering a visit to the area. If you fee ready to meet the conditions posed in this wilderness area then we would like to welcome you to Sarek national park.
Sarek is large and one needs at least one week to hike through the area. You should consider carefully the equipment you will carry with you. A good tent is essential on a hike through Sarek. Make sure it can weather storms.
You must have a warm sleeping-bag and extra warm clothing as sweater, scarf and gloves. Even during summer there can be raw days and snowfall is not that unusual.
Rainproof outer clothing is absolutely necessary. The precipitation in Sarek is very high. Count on rain or overcast skies two out of every three days. Sometimes with a little luck the visitor may see the sun for longer periods, but this can never be taken for granted.
You must also take along a good campstove and sufficient supplies. Though making open camp-fires is not prohibited it is not encouraged, either. The scars left after campfires are not pretty. Moreover, the need for fuel in the form of wood comes up and this depletes the park vegetation. Make camp-fires only when clothes have to be dried.
Regular preparation of food over an open fire is absolutely not to be considered. You should have respect for Sarek, birch bark should never be taken from living trees.
It`s unavoidable the gear necessary for hiking in the Sarek is going to be fairly heavy. If your complete gear weighs less than 20 kilograms then you`ve probably forgotten something essential. The above calculation assumes that you are hiking alone, with two the load would be somewhat lighter.
A hiking stick is useful - but don´t cut one from a living tree.
During the winter Sarek makes even more stringent demands on the visitor. Many narrow valleys, eg Lullihvagge, are subjected to avalanches which reach even the bottom of the valley. Snow storms are menacing and the lack of overnight cabins means that only highly experienced mountain specialists can frequent the area with a reasonable degree of safety during this reason.
There are no hiking trails in Sarek except where an interregional trail known as the "Kungsleden" (The King`s Trail) passes through the southern section of the park for a short stretch. Paths have been beaten, however, along several popular routes.
We are neither able nor inclined to give out in detail suitable hiking routes. No one is capable of giving totally infallible tips on Sarek. Snow conditions and the ware run-off situation varies from year to year. You must make your own choice of routes out in the terrain with the help of a map and good judgement.
The Rapa valley
The Rapa valley is magnificent but hiking there is no Sunday stroll. The valley is covered in dense vegetation and even if one follows teh well-worn paths on the north side the willow thickets are difficult to pass through, especially if it`s raining.
The path crosses over long stretches of marsh which are wet and muddy. Planks have been put out in places recently to protect them against wear. Nevertheless, the path through the valley is difficult to traverse.
We recommend mountain hikers to avoid the lower Rapa valley and to travel north of Skierfe and follow the valleys northern slope (you`ll often have to use the sides of your feet) up to Alep Vassajajakatj, which can be followed downwards to Rapaselet. This route offers very majestic views which outclass what can be seen from the lower part of the valley.
The Lapp settlement of Parek in the national park can be reached from Kvikkjokk in the south. The first ten kilometers are on the Kungsleden Trail and the last the along a path covered with planks.
From Kvikkjokk it is also possible to hike along Kungsleden for two days as far as Aktse, whereupon the visitor enters Sarek. Boat transportation is available from Aktse, which goes to Nammatj by the Rapa delta.
Suorva in the north is also a suitable straing point. After one day of hiking the visitor reaches the park boundary at the bridge over the Kukkesvaggejakka river. Njabbejakka river can be a hindrance. This port of entry is normally the easiest.
In the north another variation includes following Kunkgsleden trail from Saltoluokta to Lake Sitojaure and from there taking a Lapp boat shuttle service to the west end of the lake by the park boundary and then into the Pasta vagge valley. Further to the north-west Änonjalme on the Padjelanta trail es also a common starting-point . The visitor then follows the trail southward turning off into unmarked terrain below the Akka massif. One must subsequently wade through the Snjuftjutisjakka. As an alternative one may follow the trail to the Kisuris cabin whereby he crosses the aforementioned stram via a bridge.
Scheduled buses go to Kvikkjokk from Jokkmock. The starting points north of the national park can be reached by bus from Gällivare. There is a regular boatservice between Ritsem and Änonjalme in the north during the summer.
There are no tourist cabins in the Sarek. All the same several houses have been built for the purposes of patrolling, reindeer husbandry and research. Alka and Njatso cabins in the western sections, though actually only small huts, are unlocked and may be used by tourists in need. All other cabins are locked. The few Lapp huts which exist in the area are more or less ruins. Only the one at Tielmaskaite is usable.
It's possible to find good tenting sites nearly everywhere except the highest alpine tracts. High altitude areas with poorer possibilities for camping include the Luttalako plateau and such valleys as Lullihavagge, Jeknavagge and Neitarieppevagge.
Crossing Sarek`s glaciers is strongly discouraged unless the individual is very knowledgeable about glacial conditions. No glacier is completely safe, crevices and glacial pits comprise a mortal danger. It is particularly risky when the surface of the glacier ist covered by snow which conceals the holes in the ice. If the tongue of the glacier is free of snow then it is easier to have better control, but the rest of the glacier is covered with snow the whole summer. When passing over a snow-covered glacier it is necessary to have a good safety margin by using a rope. A stud which can be attached to one's boot and an ice-axe are also required.
Difficult river crossings
Many of Sarek`s streams and rivers are impossible to cross during high water periods. Even small easily-waded streams can overflow their banks and create a strong current. The flow of water in the glacial streams varies greatly depending on the melting rate. They are often narrow, steep and with powerful rapids. Rolling boulders are a particular risk in these streams, a number of Sarek`s rivers are considered difficult at the best of times. They include the Rapaätno, Njatsosjakka, Katokjakka and Kukkesvaggejakka rivers. These are large waterways which the visitor should not tackle. However, the last two do have bridges which can be used for passage. Below mount Laddepakte there is a well-known wading crossing on the Rapaätno, Tielmavadet. Regardless of this it is still arduous to cross the river which even in a normal state is wide and fairly deep here. Other strategically situated rivers which are often crossed but should be approached with care include:
Sarvesjakka difficult in the lower sections during high water but can be jumped over at a narrow canyon below Ritatjakka river, particularly the section of the canyon further upstream.
Kuoperjakka at the end of the Alkavagge valley, wide and stony, moderately difficult wading.
Tjagnarisjakkatj at the Pielaslätten (plateau) which is sometimes covered by snowdrift, but even otherwise should be approached with great caution.
Palkatjakka in the Njatsosvagge river which is a treacherous stream depending on the flow of water.
For your own safety try to keep the number of wadings/crossings at a minimum. During the late summer the flow of water is usually lower in most rivers as long as bad weather hasn't added extra precipitations.
There are 12 bridges in Sarek. They have been erected primarily for the sake of reindeer raising. A few are there in connection with the Kungsleden trail, which passes briefly through Sarek. The bridges are marked on the most recent mountain maps. It is possible that one of them may be damaged during the winter or spring thaw but the occurrence is rare. The Skarja bridge in the centre of Sarek is taken away just before the onset of winter and is subsequently flown back when conditions permit, usually in June. To get reliable up-to-date information you can call the Mountain Unit (Fjällenheten) in Jokkmokk.
The lofty peaks of Sarek often attract mountain climbers. Many peaks are nearly inaccessible., however, because the are surrounded by glaciers. Anyone lacking alpine experience should not attempt to these peaks. On the other hand, many mountains are easy to climb. A few examples which also provide a fine view are Naite, Laddepakte, Skarjatjakka, Nammath and Skierfe.
New regulations. You are not allowed to use a canoe or any other water craft in the Rapa valley further downstream on the Rapaätno river than the Sarvesjakka tributary.
For further information please call
The Mountain Unit (Fjällenheten) Tel 0971 127 80
The County Nature Conservation Unit (Länsstyrelsen) Tel 0920 96000
The National Environment Protection Board (Statens naturvardsverk) Tel 09 799 1000