In the summer of 2018 we hiked two sections of the Kungsleden hike in Sweden: from Ammarnäs to Hemavan and from Kvikkjokk to Saltoluokta. The latter is one of the least walked sections, but certainly not one of the least beautiful. Because of the various lakes that you cross by boat, this particular section is a bit more complicated than the other sections. That’s why I’ll tell you all about it in this article so that you are well prepared for your journey. Enjoy reading!
Table of Contents | Inhoudsopgave
About the Kungsleden hike in Sweden
The Kungsleden Trail (the “King’s Trail”) is Sweden’s most popular multi-day hike. The more than 400 kilometer long trek starts in Abisko above the Arctic Circle and runs south to the mountain village of Hemavan. You can roughly divide it into five sections:
1. Abisko – Nikkaluokta
2. Nikkaluokta – Vakkotavare
3. Saltoluokta – Kvikjokk
4. Kvikkjokk – Ammarnäs
5. Ammarnäs – Hemavan
There are hikers who do the trail in one go as a through hike, but you can also hike the Kungsleden in separate sections. During our road and hiking trip in Scandinavia we hiked two parts of the Kungsleden. Next summer I’m going to hike another section. This article is about the section from Kvikkjokk to Saltoluokta, because we walked it the other way around than people usually do. If you want to hike this section, I can truly recommend this order. The first part of the hike that starts in Kvikkjokk is the least interesting from a landscape point of view. In other words, you save the best for last!
The Kungsleden hike is not an extremely difficult trail, but you are highly dependent on the local conditions and the weather. We hiked both sections in one of the hottest summers that Sweden has ever known, so there was a ban on fire and (gas) stoves on the entire trail. However, there are also stories of hikers who end up in a snowstorm in the summer. So be prepared for weather types when planning to do the Kungsleden trek!
At the end of the blog I will give you detailed tips about transportation, the mountain huts that you will find along the way, the boat trips and more.
Arrival in Kvikkjokk and hike to Pårte
It is once again a warm day when we board the bus from Jokkmokk to Kvikjokk. We spent the night at Hotel Jokkmokk and enjoy a large breakfast. After breakfast it’s a 15 minute walk to the bus station for the ride to Kvikkjokk, which takes an hour. The first part of the route is fairly flat, but not much later the landscape becomes hilly and panoramas are opening up around us.
Kvikkjokk is one of the oldest settlements in Swedish Lapland and is surrounded by a rich fauna, Sámi culture and ancient remains of the Vikings. Unfortunately, we don’t have much time to look around here, because there is still a long hike on the program for today.
After a short stop at the Kvikkjokk Fjällstation where we stock up on some last supplies and buy a hiking map, we start our second section on the Kungsleden hike. The first part of the hike leads through an ancient forest and the mosquitoes are basically everywhere. We try to keep a swift pace pace to keep the mosquitoes behind us as much as possible.
About two hours after our departure from Kvikkjokk we arrive at the first lakes. In the meantime, a dark sky has taken over the air and we can hear the rumble of thunder in the distance. Once at the water’s edge, the path is rocky and uneven. We try to move as fast as we can, because we want to stay ahead of the storm at all costs, given our experiences on the section from Ammarnäs to Hemavan where we camped in a severe thunderstorm.
Towards the end of the afternoon we arrive at the Pårte hut, where we are greeted by a friendly hut warden. We ask her if there are nice camping spots further on, but she says that after the hut there are mainly a lot of forests and swamps. Because the cabin is beautifully located at the lakeshore, we decide to set up the tent here for a fee. And that is a good thing, because just after we have taken a dive into the lake, the thunderstorm is has arrived and makes up for a restless night.
Tip: this hut only accepts cash. Because of this we ran into problems during the rest of the trip. You can read more about that later!
From Pårte to Aktse
The next day there is a long section ahead of us, the map indicates 24 kilometers from one hut to the next. Because we are camping we are of course free to choose a distance ourselves and to be honest we don’t feel like staying near a hut for another night. So we decide to look for a place to stay before Aktse.
It’s once again a warm and humid day and the first part of the hike indeed goes through the forest and through swamps. The trail is rocky and full of challenges. Because I slept badly last night and the mosquitoes are flying around me, it all seems to go much slower than planned. After a steep climb, we rise above the tree line and happily hike in the wind. The mosquitoes we have left behind, at least for the time being.
The trip over the mountain is really gorgeous. We have a wide panorama and enjoy the beautiful landscape intensely. On the map we see that we descend from the ridge into the forest again, before we reach the shores of Lake Laitaure. What follows is a track through the woods and above all: through swamps. The planks are rotten in many places, so that sometimes you have to be really careful, but with the help of my walking poles I remain standing. After about 20 kilometers we decide that it has been enough for the day and we pitch our tent.
Boat across Laitaure
We know that the best part of this Kungsleden section is still ahead of us and therefore decide to get up early and leave. About an hour after our departure from the campsite by the river, we arrive at the shores of Lake Laitaure.
This section of the Kungsleden is characterized by various lake crossings. Because we impulsively used up part of our cash on the first night, it turns out that we do not have enough money to pay for the two crossings that follow by boat. And so this means that we’ll have to row across!
The crossing over Laitaure is approximately 4 kilometers and takes an hour. There are rowing boats on each side that you can use for free, provided there is always at least one rowing boat on each side. When we arrive, there is only one. In other words, we’ll have to row three times. Once to the other side to pick up a boat, once to go back and pick me up with the second boat, the third time together in the rowing boat. David decides this is a nice challenge. He takes a bottle of water, some snacks and sets off to go and pick up a boat for us.
During the first part of the crossing I still have him in sight, but after half an hour he has disappeared from my view and I can only hope that everything goes well. In the meantime, another lady has arrived and she keeps me company while I wait. She actually wants to wait for the motor boat (explanation, times and rates can be found here) but she eventually joins us in the rowing boat.
An hour later I see two rowing boats approaching in the distance: David has company of another guy who is hiking in the opposite direction. Not much later they are at the shore, they tie one boat and we use the other rowing boat to cross Laitaure.
The crossing is beautiful. To our left, the mountains of the undulating Sarek National Park get in sight: a place that appeals to the imagination because this area can only be reached on foot or by boat. It is one of the largest wilderness areas in Sweden and it receives very are few visitors.
Hike to Skierfe in Sarek National Park
From the shore it’s a short walk to the Aktse Hut. Here they have a shop and we can buy new mosquito repellent and some beers for tonight. We decided to spend the night inside Sarek National Park and to leave the trail behind us for a while. The guy in the other rowing boat gave us the advise to walk towards Skierfe, a mountain and viewpoint in Sarek National Park. He made it sound great and since we are not in a hurry anyway, we decide to make a small detour.
The first hour after the cabin is steeply up. Because of the heat we are not very fast, but that does not matter. At the top of the climb we have to turn left towards Skierfe and with this we leave the Kungsleden trek for now. On our Kungsleden hiking map we can see that there are a few small lakes further down where we want to set up the tent.
The first part of the trail to Skierfe goes through low vegetation and a large boggy area. The hiker from the rowing boat advised us to keep as much uphill as possible to bypass the swamp as good as possible, but that turns out to be difficult. We are in the mud and I literally have to pull myself from one tree root to the next to ensure that I don’t sink into the swamp.
Once past the swamp, the trail becomes easier and rockier. An hour later a thick cloud cover has gathered above us and it seems that it can start pouring any moment. Skierfe is a famous viewpoint in Sarek National Park and a mountain that you can climb. We decide to pitch the tent about an hour before the summit, hoping that it will clear up tomorrow morning and we will have a fabulous view. We pitch the tent with a view of the glaciers that cover Sarek National Park and, just as we crawl into the tent, the rain starts to pour down.
From Skierfe to Sitojaure
We have to get up on time because today we really don’t want to miss the boat. A crossing is planned again, but we were told that it is not really easy to make a crossing with a rowing boat on this section. It’s three times as long as the previous one and because of shallow water, hikers are often trapped. The boat trip is conducted by a Sámi family and only goes upon request.
Unfortunately, for the first time on this trek, the weather is not really good for us because we wake up in a huge cloud cover. Unfortunately we have skip the Skierfe climb. A pity, but we will probably come back here in the future anyway because just seeing the wilderness of Sarek makes us want to go back.
After we have packed all our stuff and tent we hike back to the Kungsleden route. We pick up the trail again and hike a little further up the plateau. We should come across a sign somewhere with the mention that we have mobile coverage here and can therefore call that we’d like to catch the boat that afternoon. And indeed, halfway the plateau is a sign that we can contact Lars Blind. We call and book for the only departure of that afternoon.
I quickly turn off my phone again because I don’t want to be connected to the rest of the world at this moment. It is dark weather, the wind is blowing like crazy and the clouds ensure that we do not have beautiful views today. After an immensely steep descent, a flat stretch takes us to the shores of the lake at Svine. Here we have to wait a good hour and a half for the boat. There are a few other hikers who join us on the same crossing and we are waiting for the crossing in the old boathouse.
The crossing is smooth and fast. On arrival we thought we were already at the hut, but it appears to be the settlement of the Sámi family. We buy some fresh food with the money that we have left after the crossing and then continue towards the Sitojaure hut.
We also decide not to camp here, but to walk up the plateau, hoping that we have a nice view instead of standing at the lakeshore. We climb for an hour and then pitch our tent behind a bunch of rocks, away from the swift wind that is howling.
Onwards to beautiful Saltoluokta
In the Sitojaure hut we checked the time of the scheduled boat from Saltoluokta to Kebnats which is the public road. This is because we have parked our car here and you cannot get there otherwise. Although the boat only departs at 3:15 pm and we therefore have all the time in the world, we get up in time because … the sun is shining again!
As we were not near a stream, we hardly have any water left and because of the drought, the lakes on the plateau are mostly empty. So we intend to take a break at the next river that we see so that we can get water there, with which we can make coffee.
However, that appears to be further than planned and suddenly we are already halfway through our hike of today, which is about 15 kilometers. The trail is again stony and relatively flat, so we can hike pretty fast. That’s fine and necessary, because despite the sun, the wind is unrelenting and we are almost blown over at times.
We eventually take a break at an old cabin where can hide from the wind. We chat with an older couple that hikes in the opposite direction and share some thoughts about the beauty of this area. To our left are the peaks of Sarek, and in front of us are the glaciers of Stora Sjöfallet National Park. Together with the Padjelanta National Park south of us (west of Kvikkjokk), this is one of the largest contiguous nature reserves in Europe. The vastness of the landscape is enormous and the panoramas leave a deep impression.
An hour before Saltoluokta the descent to the village starts. We are well on time and once again enjoy the magnificent view of the snow-covered peaks on the other side of the valley. The descent is not difficult, but our legs are tired from the trek. After arriving at Saltoluotka Fjällstation we book the boat to Kebnats and treat ourselves to a beer. We once again finished a beautiful hike!
What you should know about this section of the Kungsleden hike
The Kvikkjokk – Saltoluokta section is one of the least popular sections of the Kungsleden, but certainly not less beautiful. It requires some preparation and attention to be able to hike this section without problems. So last but not least I have some useful additional tips:
– If you travel by public transport, you can take the bus from Gällivare to Kebnats / Saltoluokta and from Gällivare via Jokkmokk to Kvikkjokk. During the period that we were traveling, it was not possible to go by bus from Gällivare to Kvikkjokk in one day, we had to spend the night in Jokkmokk. Because we were traveling by car, we brought our car to Kebnats where we parked it at the pier. Here we took the bus back to Gällivare and then to Jokkmokk. Here we slept, took the bus to Kvikkjokk, and walked back to the car. You can find the bus times here.
– In this section there are a number of boat crossings which cannot be avoided. We did the first by rowing boat, the second and third by motor boat. The boat to Aktse over Laitaure goes twice a day and must be “ordered” by hanging up a white flag. Exact procedures can be found near the jetty. The boat from Svine to Sitojaure also runs twice a day and you need to reserve by phone. You can only pay these boats in cash. The boat from Saltoluokta to Kebnats (parking lot) goes three times a day and you can pay with a credit card. You’ll find all times and prices on this website. In the mountain huts can also help you to figure things out on the spot.
– You cannot pay all overnight stays with a credit card on this part of the trek, so bring enough cash if you want to sleep in the huts or camp near the huts. Camping in the wilderness is also possible, but it is sometimes difficult to find a suitable place, there were fewer than in the other sections. Nights in a hut cannot be booked, but they ensure that you always have accommodation. Have a look here for more information about spending the night in Swedish mountain huts. Tip: buy an STF membership, which is much cheaper than always paying the full pound.
– If you hike this section from south to north (instead of the other way around, like most people do) you will save the best part for the last. The part from Kvikkjokk to Aktse I found relatively boring as you walk a lot through the woods, however the last part between Sarek and Saltoluokta is beautiful!
Curious what food we pack on our multi-day hikes? Check our post about that here!
Conclusion and disclaimer
Hopefully you found this article useful and we inspired you to hike this section of the Kungsleden hike. For more information about Sweden, visit our Sweden page. This article contains affiliate links, if you make a reservation through such a link, we will receive a modest commission without additional costs for you.