Wednesday, November 23, 2016

ATVs & Northern Swedes: The Wilderness Adventure

The schedule said we were going on a wilderness tour. The photos said we were looking at a bunch of taxidermy animals. Honestly, this didn't sound super thrilling to me.

As soon as our guide presented us with a fleet of ATVs, though? That changed everything.

The Svansele Wilderness Centre lets you experience wilderness according to your own tastes and timeline. During the summer, you can drop in and take advantage of their hiking trails, exhibit, kayaks, bikes, ATVs, and so much more. In either summer or winter, though, you can rent one of their five cabins, the largest fitting up to 116 people, or stay in their on-site hotel.

Thorbjörn, the founder and owner of the camp (in cabin photo below), showed us all of the cabins (and their accompanying saunas!) during our ATV tour. I had never driven (or ridden) one in my life, and I was pretty nervous about getting on one. However, I knew that I'd completely regret it if I didn't give it a shot, and I made the right decision.

The wind blasted through my hair and numbed my hands, and I felt so free. Sure, I thought I was going to die as soon as I landed in a ditch, and whenever I veered off the trail for that matter, but I never toppled over. ATVs bumble around much more than you would think, but I still felt like a badass riding it.

Even though you can go off-roading and kayaking in the summer, I think that a stay at the Svansele Wilderness Centre would be best in the winter. The traditional saunas will feel that much more relaxing, the Northern Lights are easy to see, you can go on a moose safari (!), and you can even go dog sledding (!!), but the Christmas village is what makes it so special. I only have photos from the summer, of course, but just imagine this space decorated with Christmas lights, complete with Santa's cabin and his collection of reindeer.

At a wilderness camp, you can expect to eat wilderness food--in this case, reindeer, trout, moose, crispy bread, homemade jam, vegetables, and more. Even as a vegetarian, I delighted in the options! (And you really haven't lived until you've drunk coffee out of a wooden Sami mug while munching on gingerbread cookies.)

So would I come back to Svansele? Absolutely.

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Thank you to Visit Skellefteå for providing me with this opportunity! All content and opinions are my own.

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