Wild camping and Kayaking in Sweden

A crackling campfire, starry skies, aching arms, jokes with friends and a plastic beaker of wine. Going off-grid and switching off from everyday life for a few days. A full system reboot.

As always, it started over a beer. The chat turned to holidays and adventure: let’s do something a bit different, a sport we don’t usually do. I’d seen pictures that looked enticing and thought why not camp and kayak. We all camp regularly, and have been in kayaks, but not for many years. Quickly, a plan was hatched: flights were booked, an Airbnb found for a couple of nights in Stockholm, and kayaks reserved for a few days paddling in the archipelago.

It started off easy enough, once we’d been briefed on how to paddle and had managed to fit five peoples’ camping kit and food & drink for three and a half days into our three single and one double kayaks. We paddled off with grand plans of where we’d head for the night and how much we’d see and do.

Kayaking action

By the mid morning snack break, distances were reassessed as we quickly realised we were not as proficient on kayaks as bikes. But round every corner was another stunning island, cute summer home or welcoming beach, we didn’t need to get distance under our belts, it was about the experience.

Each day played out in much the same way. Gentle paddling along, snack and lunch stops then finding a welcoming and empty little island for the night. Pitching camp, fetching wood for the fire, drinks and dinner. This was interspersed with swimming and a lot of unsuccessful fishing; and finished off with stories around the campfire and lots of laughter; and of course bemoaning our wine rations for not being enough. We were more thankful for the overbuying of whiskey. Then we settled down for a good night’s sleep before it all started again.

Camping downtime

As for the kayaking, it was definitely not an adrenalin sport, but I found it somewhat meditative. The rhythmic turning of the paddle and pulling it through the water, the slow movement forward, and the beautiful vistas at every turn. My mind couldn’t have been further away from the everyday grind.

The only hairy moment turned out to be a frantic paddle to cross a channel before cruise liner plowed us down. A last minute decision that we could get across before it reached us turned out to have been cutting it fine, but luckily not too fine.

The camping offered the same incredible switch. Idyllic spots looked out to the water. One night we watched the cruise liners go by, but most nights it was just us. The peace and simple actions of making camp, tending the fire and cooking emptied my mind of all worries and calmed my usual hyper self.

For an experience to take you far from the city in just a few days, and return to work as if you’d had a three week holiday, there can’t be much better.

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