Archive for February, 2014

February 23, 2014

Sarek National Park – this year’s wilderness adventure

by backpackingbongos

The following is taken from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency Website:

The mountain landscape of Sarek National Park is the most dramatic in Sweden, and the least affected by human activity. There are jagged mountain peaks, immense glaciers, deep valleys and turbulent river rapids. Nowhere else in Europe is there such a vast expanse of monumental, uninterrupted wilderness.

 Sarek is strikingly alpine for Sweden with magnificent mountain ranges and narrow valleys, glaciers and wild rapids. It is a splendid piece of unspoiled wilderness. The park contains over 200 mountains over 1,800 metres. Six of Sweden’s 13 highest mountains are found here, as are about 100 glaciers.

 Sarek is not recommended for beginners. Those wishing to visit the park must have considerable alpine experience and the correct equipment and should be used to spending time outdoors. Sarek is an extremely inaccessible wilderness with no facilities whatsoever for tourists. Here, you are on your own.

Well if that does not excite a backpacker then nothing will!

In August 2012 I hiked the northern most section of the famous Kungsleden Trail.  After a walking for a couple of days I got a bit fed up with the crowds and took a side trail.  The following three days blew me away.  The scenery was spectacular and the feeling of remoteness was tangible.  I wrote about that section here.  Since then I have been keen to return to Arctic Sweden and Sarek looks like an area that will not disappoint.

I have been super efficient and have already booked my flights in and out of the country, keen to get the cheapest deals.  The train tickets for the sleeper train have not yet been released, so that is something that I will have to organise nearer the time.  Between the long journey there and back I will have ten full days in the wilderness.  This will hopefully be enough to explore the National Parks wildest and remotest reaches.  It will take a day or two of hiking through adjacent national parks just to reach the border of Sarek.

The last week of August and the first week of September will hopefully give me Autumn colours and lack the scourge of the mosquito.  I’m also hoping that winter does not come early!

With a map now in my possession it is time to plan a suitable route.  Unfortunately there are no guidebooks written in English to refer to.  Recently after a Twitter request a fellow blogger wrote ‘Hiking Sarek (an Englishman’s guide)‘ which has been of great help.  Mark the author has been great at answering various questions I have fired his way.

I’ll do another post once my route has been planned.  In the meantime I will be exploring the following 1:100,000 map.

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February 16, 2014

South Goa

by backpackingbongos

It can’t always be freezing mountains and boggy moors.  Sometimes you have to kick back and relax whilst feeling the sun on exposed flesh.  We got back yesterday from two weeks in Goa, vitamin D levels suitably topped up to keep us going until summer.

A few photos and words:

Colva beach is a popular spot for Indian tourists, the local cows also appear to enjoy it.


Betalbatim beach was the nearest stretch of sand to our hotel, nice and quite on week days.


You can’t go to Goa and not take several hundred sunset photos.


Farmland between the beach and our hotel, teaming with brightly coloured birds.


We decided that we should give this place a miss……………..


If you look towards the sky anywhere along the coast of Goa you are guaranteed to see a raptor circling overhead.


We splashed out and spent twenty four hours at an exclusive tented resort on Cola beach.  An amazing place.




Rice paddy fields just behind the beach.





These guys spent ages first blessing their boat and then hauling it down to the breakers.  For some reason they then changed their minds and hauled it back up again.




The beaches are full of dogs, you are guaranteed to have one sleeping under your sun lounger or giving you a hungry look whilst you are eating.  I wanted to take them all home.



The tents at Cola beach.  Camping does not get any more luxurious than this!



Whilst taking photographs it is easy to make an area appear to be some sort of paradise.  Goa is very beautiful but it is also covered in rubbish.  With the exception of the areas in front of the beach shacks, garbage pretty much covers every public space.  I have to admit that it really began to piss me off……………