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Single Trail in Five Days

Posted September 12th, 2018 in World

Single Trail in Five Days

Hiking Sweden’s Kungsleden is a long and arduous journey, but you can just do a small part of it and still get a good experience.

MOSS-green plains, crystal-clear streams, gazing reindeer: This is the Kungsleden, or King’s Trail, which seems to fulfill every cliche about Sweden. Divided between a southern and northern part, Sweden’s longest hiking trail covers some 800km. It winds along the border with Norway, through pristine birch forests, across glistening fields of snow and the mountainous regions. The following is a five-day camping trek covering 78km.


Day 1: On the northern Kungsleden

The northern part of the Kungsleden is about 440km long, divided into five sections. This trek covers the southernmost section, from Arnmarnas and proceeding in a south-westernly direction through the nature preserve of Vindelfjaellen and finishing in Hemavan, 78km away.

To get started, take one of several trains of the Swedish railways SJ running daily from Stockholm to Ostersund. From there, a rural bus takes travelers to Sorsele and then to the starting point, Ammarnas, some 500km north of Stockholm.

This journey alone takes about 14 hours, past forests and lakes and remote villages with their bright-red wooden houses and barns. One arrives late in the evening in Ammarnas. It is much
cooler here than in Stockholm, and jackets and trousers are in order.

Even in August, the night temperatures can dip to as low as 3°C, while daytime temperatures can occasionally go beyond 20°C. A long jacket offers some protection against the many mosquitoes in the evening while searching for a camping spot.


Day 2: Reindeer, rain and the first sauna

Shortly after leaving Ammarnas, the trail leads upwards above the Tjulan Valley through a forest and then to the first of five managed tugans, or huts, where for RM80 to RM100 per night, a hiker can spend the night. At an elevation of 800m, the Aigerstugan but is on the boundary to the treeless mountain tundra landscape.

Aigerstugan is only about 8km from Ammarnas, yet for families and sauna fans, the brief hike appears to be a popular destination. “The best sauna is here,” a man calls out. “There is another one 18km away, but this one here is the best.”

Soon afterwards, the Swedish national mascot appears; a herd of reindeer is grazing just a few feet away. Soon we pass the highest point of this stage, the juovvatjahicka hut.

At around 1.200m. the alpine zone begins here, and one notices the much cooler weather. Its windy and foggy. Then a heavy rain sets in. But even in poor visibility, the large red trail markers of the Kungsleden are easily recognizable.


Day 3: Moraine landscape

On the third day, the trail leads to the Tarnasjostugan but located on the rock-lined Tarnasjo Lake. A few moments later, an older Swedish man with nothing but a towel over his shoulder appears.
“Very soon a great many naked people will be coming here and jumping into the lake,” he warns, pointing to a sauna next to a dock.

On the way to Syterstugan, the most interesting landscape of the trail opens up. It first leaves the lake behind. Soon afterwards, it enters a moraine landscape of tiny lakes, islets and ponds linked with each other by seven bridges. This stretch of the northern Kungsleden is definitely more hiker-friendly when compared with some sections of the southern route, where one must reckon with getting wet feet.

After a brief upward stretch, the Syterstugan is ahead, a place framed by two small rivers.

Meanwhile, the sun has come out again and the stony shoreline offers a place for a welcome nap.


Day 4: Romantic nature in Syterskalet valley

On the evening before the final stage, the tent is pitched alongside scenic valley stretching like a long corridor through the Norra Storfjallet mountain range and leading to Viterskalsstugan, about 12km from Syterstugan.

Follow the trail through the valley. In the evening, there is a warm breeze as the sun shines down on the vegetation, making the deep-violet slopes glow. Later, the sky turns pink behind the snow-capped mountain peaks.


Day 5: Mountainous panorama of the Urstrom Valley

After Viterskalsstugan, a further highlight awaits towards the end of our trek: A magnificent view of the deep-green tundra vegetation and the broad U-shaped valley.

The descent down to Hemavan, by contrast, is less spectacular. Proceeding through the birch forests and small paths, the nature museum of a small ski resort town appears.

After five days in a tent and no shower, the one overwhelming desire is this: a nice warm sauna!

Name | Area in square km Area in square miles Location
Sahara > 8,400,000 3,242,400 Algeria, Chad, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Sudan, Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco
Australian Desert > 1,550,000 598,300 Australia
Arabian Desert > 1,300,000 501,800 Southern Arabia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen
Gobi > 1,040,000 401,440 Mongolia and China (Inner Mongolia)
Kalahari Desert > 520,000 200,720 Botswana
Takla Makan > 320,000 123,520 Sinkiang, China
Sonoran > 310,000 119,660 Arizona and California, USA and Mexico
Namib Desert > 310,000 119,660 Namibia
Kara Kum > 270,000 104,220 Turkmenistan
That Desert > 260,000 100,360 North-western India and Pakistan
Somali Desert > 260,000 100,360 Somalia
Atacama Desert > 180,000 69,480 Northern Chile
Kyzyl Desert > 180,000 69,480 Uzbekistan-Kazakhstan
Dasht-e Lut > 52,000 20,072 Eastern Iran
Mojave Desert > 35,000 13,510 Southern California, USA
Desierto de Sechura > 26,000 10,036 North-west Peru

Take a trip off the beaten path in Scotland, and explore these less crowded destinations

SCOTLAND has a lot more to offer than just the Loch Ness Monster and Edinburgh Castle — travelers can combine a few of its more famous attractions with some lesser known destinations.


Here are three top tips for an unforgettable trip:

Dunnottar Castle

Perched on a rocky peninsula on the North Sea coast, the ruins of Dunnottar Castle are truly spectacular.
Visitors must walk down almost to sea level before climbing back up an almost vertical path to reach the cliff-top ruins of the fortress that was once home to the Earl Marischal.

William Wallace, whose story was told in the 1995 film Braveheart, captured the castle and destroyed it in the 13th century, and Mary, Queen of Scots visited in the 16th century.

Almost all of the buildings are missing their roofs, but since a restoration project began in 1925, the castle’s deterioration has been halted. In summer, visiting hours are between 9am and 5.30pm, though the carpark fills up quickly. It’s worth going at the end of the day to catch the fantastic light.


Loch Muick

The land around the River Dee – rolling green hills and forests transforms abruptly right before you reach Loch Muick. Around an hour’s drive west of Aberdeen, travelers are already in the Scottish Highlands.
Loch Muick, which is in Cairngorms National Park, is actually part of Queen Elizabeth’s Scottish estate – Balmoral, where the monarch traditionally spends her summer holiday, is only 9 miles away.
There is a 7.8 miles walking trail around the lake that leads directly past Glas-allt-Shiel, a rather sombre greystone hunting lodge that was built for Queen Victoria in 1868.


Inverewe Gardens

Crimson, orange, blue, yellow:
Countless colors meet the eye as you stroll along the flowerbeds of Inverewe Gardens in summer.
The variety surprises many visitors because the gardens are located in north-west Scotland, a landscape better known for its sparseness.
But species that are usually more at home in tropical climates thrive here, thanks to the Gulf Stream and the gardens’ sheltered location on the south end of Loch Ewe.
Lily ponds, a rock garden, eucalyptus trees from Tasmania and huge rhododendrons — there’s lots to see here.
The gardens, now managed by the National Trust for Scotland, were built by Osgood Hanbury Mackenzie. From 1862 he ordered trees from all over the world — from Japan, the Himalayas, Chile, South Africa and New Zealand.
The house he built has been open to the public since 2016 and the inside still looks as it did when his daughter, who also helped create the gardens, died there in 1953. – dpa

More than gastronomic delights and the joys of sumptuous settings, vinyards in France eager to attract wine tourists are increasingly offering well-being, spa, and beauty services. A chance for travelers to enjoy great wines on a short break that leaves them restored both in body and mind.

Bordeaux Region

Les Sources de Caudalie: Hotel – Restaurant & Spa

The officially recognized “palace” hotel is only 20 minutes from Bordeaux. You will have the chance to taste the great Graves AOC wines. Also, to revitalize the skin, you can embrace the grape-seed treatments in the “vinothérapie” spa that provides polyphenol.


The producer of the eponymous beauty products range, Sources de Caudalie is behind this health and well-being destination amid the grand-cru vineyards of Château Smith Haut Lafitte at Martillac, in the Gironde.
Travelers can choose to soak in baths of vine leaves or grape marc, or opt for the purifying benefits of a merlot wrap. This range of treatments is also available in another hotel managed by the Cathiard family, Les Etangs de Corot, located in Ville d’Avray not far from Paris.

The producer of the eponymous beauty products range, Sources de Caudalie is behind this health and well-being destination amid the grand-cru vineyards of Château Smith Haut Lafitte at Martillac, in the Gironde.

Travelers can choose to soak in baths of vine leaves or grape marc, or opt for the purifying benefits of a merlot wrap. This range of treatments is also available in another hotel managed by the Cathiard family, Les Etangs de Corot, located in Ville d’Avray not far from Paris.


La Cueillette Hôtel & Spa

In the heart of the prestigious Meursault designation, the historic Château de Cîteaux is home to the Cueillette Hotel, which offers more than just an opportunity to savor the area’s excellent chardonnays. Wine tourists can also take advantage of the hotel’s 500 sq m spa with its innovative “fruitithérapie” treatments, which are based on the moisturizing and antioxidant properties of berries and red fruits, most notably the local Burgundy blackcurrant. Body treatments on offer also make use of raspberries, strawberries and redcurrants, and well-being equipment at the spa includes a steam room, a jacuzzi, a sauna and a solarium with a view on the Meursault vines.


Royal Champagne Hôtel & Spa

Recently re-opened on July 15, 2018, the newly renovated wine country retreat figures high on a short-list of destinations offering exfoliating treatments with a view over the vines. The recent upgrade of the Royal Champagne included substantial work on its 1,500 sq m spa, which offers signature organic treatments. Guests can also make use of indoor and outdoor swimming pools, with spectacular views on the hillsides of the Montagne de Reims. The spa also offers a steam room, a sauna, nine treatment cabins, a yoga studio and gym.


Coquillade Village

Located in the heart of the Parc naturel régional du Luberon, this five-star hotel is surrounded by vineyards of the Aureto sub-region. Travelers come to this retreat amid the vines for a relaxing break in a 1,500 sq m space entirely devoted to well-being. The Spa & Wellness Center features Kneipp baths, ice baths, sensory showers, steam baths and saunas. No detail has been overlooked — there is even a pedicure service and a hair salon. One of the luxury suites is equipped with its own private spa.

Villa La Coste

Adding to the attraction of its famous art and architecture park, the Château La Coste, close to Aix-en-Provence, has become a restorative break destination since the early 2017 opening of the Villa La Coste, a hotel composed of 28 villas, some of which are equipped with their own swimming pools. The Villa La Coste Spa makes use of local Provencal products, notably jasmine, lavender and olives.

Château de Berne Hotel & Spa

In the Châteaux de Berne with its 143-hectare estate in Lorgues, visitors will be delighted by the gastronomic variety and the wellness center built around an infinity pool with stunning vineyard views.

Inside, the 800 sq m spa offers a swim and message jet pool and a range of “Cinq Mondes” revitalizing treatments. Yoga and relaxation packages are also available.


Château de Pizay

The medieval chateau has long-been a destination for Morgon lovers on tours of the Beaujolais region, and now the four-star hotel established on an 80-hectare vineyard also seeks to attract health and well-being tourists. Equipped with a swimming pool bordered by vines, the Château de Pizay spa offers a hydrotherapy pool and multisensory space with a waterfall shower, cold plunge pool, ice fountain steam room and sauna. The treatments on offer, which are based on Thalgo products, are perfect for a moment of relaxation in the wake of a vigorous match on the hotel’s tennis court.