Aqua Bound Ambassador Caj Koskinen and his wife Katja are avid packrafters in the Scandinavian wilderness areas of Sweden, Norway and their home country of Finland. Here Caj shares his favorite packraft destinations in Sweden.
Sweden has a national park system of 30 parks throughout the country, including several above the Arctic Circle. Bordering these polar parks are vast areas of wilderness. It’s in these wilderness areas where Caj enjoys packrafting the most.
Packrafting Sweden’s Arctic Wilderness
Caj explains, “We have strong everyman's rights in Nordic countries: Finland, Sweden and Norway. I live in Finland and we have different rules than Sweden and Norway. But it gives us the right to hike and paddle practically everywhere.
“Usually, we don't go just to some national park to paddle—we choose a route, river or lake system and go there. I can go through a national park or two but the best places are outside the national parks actually.”
“My favorites are the Kaitum River and Sjaunja Nature Reserve. They are located in the middle of Sweden's biggest wilderness. These areas are rescued from the logging industry and one can find old forests and real wild nature.”
[See and read about the award-winning film “Earning a River” about a packrafting expedition down the Kaitum River. Caj and Katja were part of the team.]
Katja Koskinen packrafting a lake in Sjaunja
The nature reserve Sjaunja (or Sjávnja) is the third largest in Sweden. Its 2,851 square kilometers are part of the Laponia World Heritage Site. From mountains to huge marshlands, forests, lakes and rivers, Sjaunja is difficult to access and demands a high level of wilderness skills for its visitors.
The Arctic offers a short paddle trip season:
“There are two things one wants to check: flow on the river and snow on the mountains, if you have those in your route,” said Caj. “Usually the best time starts in June or July—it varies a lot in different years. August is usually warmest and nice weather, but flow starts to lower and these rivers get too shallow.”
What Skills are Required for these Wilderness Areas?
“These places are not for beginners,” said Caj. “[They] are located above the polar circle. You need to have strong outdoor skills for this environment and also you need to be an experienced paddler.”
“You need to know that help can be impossible, so you need to be able to make rescues and evacuate yourself. You need a good team, and there needs to be experience with the team. You need to know your skill level.
“If you go to a river where there are rapids, you can portage the bigger ones, but usually you need to be at least a strong Class II paddler. That means you can take every eddie on a Class II river, paddle the most difficult lines and do the rescues.”
What’s Your Next Destination in Sweden?
“I will revisit the Sjaunja area. It is a long time since the last visit and my skills and gear are much better now. I would like to guide some new people to the area and give them the same adventure that we had,” said Caj.
Caj Koskinen in Sweden’s far northern wilderness
Caj and Katja are both nature and wilderness guides and offer whitewater courses. Their guiding company is called Hutkai. You can find them Facebook and the website (if you speak Finnish!).
(All photos courtesy of Caj Koskinen. They were taken in Sjaunja Nature Reserve.)
Do you have paddle questions our friendly Customer Service Team can help you with today? Contact them: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]
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