5 Sustainable eco-tourism destinations in Sweden
Nature’s Best is a certificate that verifies ethical, high quality nature tours in Sweden. It was developed by travel associations, land owners, nature conservation associations, non-profit organisations, public authorities, tourist companies and institutions.
Sweden has great scenery which is available to everyone, thanks to the Freedom to Roam. About 70 certified small scale destinations around the country share the label ‘Nature’s Best’.
All these destinations are thriving on the almost unique Swedish right to access, walk, cycle, horse ride, ski and camp on any land—with the exception of private gardens, the immediate vicinity of a dwelling house and land under cultivation.
– We are inspired by, and have grown, our tourism in unison with the freedom to roam, says Per Jiborn, general secretary of the Swedish Ecotourism Society, that issues the certifications.
Sustainability runs like a red thread through everything, from the guests taking the train to the destination instead of the car, the guides and the guests collecting their trash, companies showing respect for the local community and paying their staff reasonable wages.
Today there are 70 approved Nature’s Best destinations in Sweden. You can join eco-friendly wildlife excursions, enjoy watching moose, bear and wolves, or take part in physical activities like paddling, hiking or horseback riding tours. But you can also visit places where you just relax and enjoy the scenery.
– The destinations are run by enthusiasts who love what they do. Many of them have built everything themselves, from the activities to the buildings, says Per Jiborn.
The guests meet passionate people who knows a lot about local culture, and show them the unique scenery and the activities of the destination, with great respect for nature.
5 sustainable eco-tourism experiences
From north to south, you find great places to visit in Sweden. Please read more about Nature’s Best on their website to explore the possibilities and find your favorite.
- Ofelas Islandshästar & Guideservice
In the north, in the shadow of Sweden’s highest mountain Kebnekaise, you find a small, experienced guiding company with Icelandic ponies. Ofelas is pronounced ‘Awfelash’ and is a Sami word meaning guide. Kerstin Nilsson and Matti Berg, who run Ofelas, are both renegade Samis who have left the reindeer-herding to others.
The tiny village of Puoltsa, between the village of Nikkaluokta and the city of Kiruna, lies on the banks of the Kalix river. This area is ancient Sami country, where you are constantly reminded of the previous generations, their way of life.
– We organize authentic excursions with a great deal of consideration for the native flora and fauna. We also try to convey Sami culture to the participants, says Kerstin.
– A lot of our guests get the feeling that they stay in our home, and that’s exactly how we want it to be: close, intimate and with a respectful approach to the nature around us.
Jokkmokkguiderna is a small company owned and run by Matti Holmgren and Stina Svensson. They live in Jokkmokk, a small village just north from the Arctic Circle.
– I started this in 1992-93 to show people that you could make a living up here in the north, with respect for nature, and sustainable is an important word that describes what we do, says Matti.
Today Matti and Stina have a business that works in harmony with both the local scenery and the local people. Animals are important colleagues, as Jokkmokksguiderna runs a Siberian Husky kennel with almost 50 Siberian Huskies and three Border Collies.
– The dogs are the essence of our life. We welcome guests that feel empathy for animals and all other living creatures, says Matti.
- Nordic footprints
The family business Nordic Footprints was started in 2007, and operates with a base camp in Husvallgölen, in the county of Dalarna.
– Everything we do is based on personal service, in small groups, with comfortable lodging, good food and a great experience in the nature, says Samuel Jakoby, a trained outdoor guide, who runs the company.
Fly fishing is taught in small groups, with a maximum of four participants per guide. Nordic Footprints also arrange trips to the mountains in the far north of Sweden and arrange hunting activities with mainly small prey like capercaillie and grouse.
– Being a small company means that we can be flexible, says Samuel.
- Kajak och uteliv
The archipelago north of the capital Stockholm is called Roslagen, and consists of 13 000 islands. It is perfect paddling water for both beginners and advanced paddlers.
– We love to share our passion for paddling with our customers, says the owner of Kajak och uteliv, Astrid Landgren Patterson.
The company organizes courses and excursions, lasting from one to five days.
– If you wish, you can rent kayaks and SUP-boards for your own escape to nature. Our foreign guests enjoy being able to paddle wherever they want, with the untouched wilderness surrounding them, having a whole island for themselves to camp on, says Astrid.
As she wants to attract more foreign guests the company became a Viator member, joining an international marketing and booking system.
The Kullabergsguiderna was founded in 1996 to protect the environment and to give every visitor an extraordinary but safe experience in Kullaberg in Skåne, in the most southern part of Sweden. The founders of the company were local entrepreneurs, Joachim Persson and Marcus Petersson. The company works closely with the Kullaberg Nature Reserve.
Here you can take part in cave excursions, rappelling or hiking, but the most popular activity for Kullabergsguiderna is a porpoise safari in the sea outside Kullaberg.
– We slow down and let the porpoise come to us, no stress, no driving around in circles, says David Arborelius from Kullabergsguiderna.
Principles of ‘Nature’s Best’ in a nutshell:
- Respect the limitations of the destination, with the least possible impact on nature and culture.
- Support the local economy.
- Make all the operator activities environmentally sustainable.
- Contribute actively to nature and cultural conservation.
- Promote knowledge and respect and the joy of discovery.
- Quality and safety all the way.
Read more about Freedom to roam on the website of Visit Sweden.
Photo: cycling in Kullaberg: Lars Strandberg