Sarek National Park. National Park in Sweden, Europe

Sarek National Park

National Park in Sweden, Europe

Sarek National Park Photo © Quo Vadis2010

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Sarek National Park

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Rapadalen. Photo by J. Oetinger
Located in Sweden’s Norbotten (Wikipedia Article) province, Sarek National Park is a mountainous landscape of turbulent streams and impressive glaciers. It is one of Europe’s oldest national parks, protected in 1909, and is comprised of, roughly, 2,000 square kilometers of untouched wilderness. With no marked trails or accommodation, it is for experienced trekkers only who are fully equipped and sustainable.

North of the Arctic circle, it is 50 km from the Norwegian border and adjacent to Padjelanta National Park from the west and Stora Sjöfallet National Park (Wikipedia Article) to the north.

With 19 summits higher than 1,900 meters and the 2nd highest summit in Sweden, Sarektjåkkå, just outside the boundary of the park, is the most mountainous landscape in the country. The main mountains are Sarektjåkkå at 2,089 meters, Pårte at 2,005 meters and Piellorieppe at 1,978 meters.

Apart from the impressive mountains, the park is also home to high plateaux and large valleys, with the largest and most famous being Rapadalen. It covers 40 square kilometers and branches out through Sarvesvagge, and Ruotesvagge.

Ivarlako is the largest plateau at an altitude between 660-850 meters and is situated to the east of Pårte. To the west sits Luottolako plateau at a range of 1,200-1,400 meters and covering an area of 45 square kilometers.

The Rapa River disperses into one of the most stunning deltas in Europe exhibiting brilliant tones of green, blue, and grey. The lowest peak of the park is located near Lake Rittakjaure at 477 meters.

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Rapa River Delta in Sarek National Park. Photo by unknown


The park was formed in 1909 and declared part of the Laponia World Heritage Site in 1996.
Located within Lapland and home to the Sami (Wikipedia
	Article) people, many names within the park are derived from the Sami language. For example tjåkko meaning “mountain”, vagge meaning “valley”, jåkkå meaning “stream”, lako meaning “plateau”, and ätno meaning “river”. The Sami people have the right to use the resources within the national park with the exception elk hunting.

In the early 1900s, an observatory was built on Pårte mountain at 1,800 meters with all material carried on the backs of laborers. It is one of the very few structures within the park.

The dramatic landscape of the park has been carved by thousands of years of glacial activity and geologically, is thought to be similar to that of Torngat Mountains National Park in Canada, providing some evidence of continental movements.

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Nijak Mountain in Sarek National Park. . Photo by Rob Orthen


Gisuris waterfall
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Gisuris waterfall - Sarek National Park. Photo by Rob Orthen
Late spring, summer, and early autumn are the best times to visit with milder temperatures suitable for camping. Outside of these times you may be sleeping overnight in sub-zero temperatures and require crampons (Wikipedia
	Article) to traverse extensive snow coverage. At least a week is required within the park and wet weather gear is essential. Camping stoves are required for cooking and open fires using native vegetation is greatly discouraged. All hikers must be experienced trekkers and carry all their own camping equipment and food. Water can be collected from several streams throughout the park but always carry adequate amounts. A detailed map and excellent map-reading skills are also an essential. This is a highly remote alpine landscape with difficult terrain and assistance is limited. Weather is also highly unpredictable with warm weather accelerating glacial melting and dramatically increasing river flow and turbulence, while winter can result in avalanches and snow storms are not uncommon.

Trails are unmarked and limited information is available to discourage trekkers due to the extreme conditions of the park. Despite this, around 2,000 adventurers explore the park each summer and do so at their own risk.

The most popular route is along Kungsleden(King’s Trail). You can start at the mountain station of Saltoluokta and skirt the eastern edge of the park or through the Tarra Valley from Kvikkjokk in the south. This route enters the park at Aktse after two days trekking and a boat is available from here to Nammatj near the Rapa delta. Suorva in the north offers another starting point with access to the park after just one day of hiking across a bridge over the Kukkesvaggejakka River. Saltoluokta is a mountain station equipped with beds and a restaurant – the only luxury within the park – and is another starting point. This route goes to Lake Sitojare from where a boat shuttle takes you to the western edge of the lake and into the Pastavagge Valley. From the north-west, the Padjelanta trail starts at Änonjalme and heads south into the Akka massif, crossing the Snjuftjutisjakka River.
North of Lake Akkajaure at Ritsem you can also take a boat to the northern border of Sarek.

Sarek. Photo by Philip Johannessen

Flora and Fauna

Rapadalen's valley and its green glacial river exhibits the greatest diversity of flora and fauna with mountain birch, osier, and herbaceous plants providing food for bears, wolverines, lynx, and large elks, although chances of seeing the bigger mammals are limited. Outside of these areas vegetation is minimal with only hardy alpine plants surviving in the harsh conditions.

Getting there and away

From Jokkmock there are buses to Kvikkjokk and the start of Kungsleden trail in the south. From the north a bus from Gällivare (Wikipedia Article) is available while a regular boat service between Ritsem, and Änonjalme also runs during the summer months.

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Author: Pip23. Last updated: Aug 16, 2014


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