Kayaking the Stockholm archipelago

I booked this trip one year ago, so you can imagine I had been excited about this for over 365 days, talking about a build up! Back then I already knew that writing a thesis would demand the better half of my body and soul, and that I would need a big fat energiser to recover from that. So I called up my just-as-crazy friend Juju, who immediately agreed to jump into kajaks in Stockholm’s archipelago two days after the hand-in.

For a whole day, us two, our guide Morgan, and two other explorers braved the Swedish waters. We were only the second trip of the season, because beginning June the sea is still very cold, the weather isn’t usually that warm either (although we had a lucky draw) and chances of falling overboard are pretty high. It’s all more than worth the risk though, it’s crazy to think that a 45-min bus ride from Stockholm and one taxi boat later, we were welcomed by this incredible seascape of scattered islands.

We left from the island of Runmarö, which forms part of the middle archipelago to paddle towards the borders of the outer archipelago. Whenever there was a spot that was relatively wind still, our guide Morgan would gather us all and tell us stories about the nature and the history.

Let me tell you some of the most remarkable facts I have remembered from these talks:

  • the archipelago is still growing! Each year the islands rise around 3mm above sea level! So in a few hundreds of years there will be many more islands…
  • An island is officially an island if there’s a tree growing on top of it.
  • The archipelago is ‘dying’. Originally, it was inhabited by farmers who claimed several islands for the bad but cheap farm grounds. (They even moved the cattle by boat from island to island!) When the city of Stockholm started expanding and getting smellier however, the interest in this cheap land grew for richer citizens to move out there. Nowadays, the houses on the islands are mainly holiday homes and not actually inhabited anymore year-around. The actual island community is shrinking and original butcheries or bakeries are slowly disappearing.
  • The children living on the islands have to go to school every day, and the government has to make sure transport is available. When the hovercraft was in repair during winter last year, this meant the children were brought to school by helicopter!
  • There are lots of foxes on the islands, that are actually quite sneaky creatures who come up to you at night and steal all your yummy foods. If you’re doing an overnight trip, you better pack everything up!
  • Although most of the islands are privately owned, the allemansrätten (the freedom to roam, or public right to access privately owned land for recreation and exercise) allows everyone to explore all islands and even camp on them, as long as you leave the in the state you found them.

We then pulled our ships on land for a lunch with a magnificent view. Our guide had prepared a fish soup with bread, cheese and butter to fuel our arms for the next few hours.

We had some time to roam around the island and explore the forest and one (and only) holiday home that was there. Once we discovered the softness of the moss, of course we had to proceed horizontally. My friend made the most accurate caption to describe the next photo, so I will just quote him directly:

“A very rare picture of the famous moss-eating elk-moose. It only comes out after theses, hides on remote islands and likes to lay among soft moss in sunny spaces. It needs to be fed everyday or else it will go extinct. #savetheelk-moose”
(Fröhlich 2017)

He then navigated exactly where we were, like only a true German can, so we could set our course back to the motherland.

That and a fika further, we had already finished a full day adventure of kayaking the archipelago!

Luckily all the anticipation was so worth it (What thesis? I don’t know of any?) that I’m now thinking of already planning an overnight trip for next year!
If you ever get the chance to go on a kayaking adventure, no need to think twice 🙂




Written by Elke

07 Jun 2017