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Timber Rafting on Klaralven

Photo: Wolfgang Fuchs

Timber Rafting on Klarälven (Sweden)

Build your own timber raft for a Huckleberry Finn adventure with wild camping on the riverbank

  • Self-guided
  • Medium
  • From £285/adult, £143/child
  • Jun-Aug, 5 or 8 days
  • Adults, Families, Groups
  • Itinerary
  • Dates & Prices
  • Good to Know
  • Gallery & Comments
  • Description
  • Arrival
  • Following Days
  • Departure

Timber rafting is an ideal adventure holiday for adults, active families, small groups of friends or larger groups such as Scout groups and school parties. Building and piloting a timber raft is a marvellous exercise in teamwork and a unique adventure. Camping wild each night along the river bank on your voyage downstream is surely the stuff of childhood dreams.

The River Klarälven ("Clear River") has the longest history of use as a professional logging route in Sweden and was used for this purpose right up until 1991. Timber Rafting on Klarälven gives you the opportunity to keep this tradition alive. From initial construction under the guidance of local instructors to final dismantling at the end of your tour, your timber raft will be your very own creation.

The timber rafts used on the Klaräven river are straightforward to build and to dismantle after the trip. Ropes and logs of different thicknesses about 3m long are the only materials allowed. It will normally take several hours to construct your raft, and this is very much part of the experience. When complete, your raft will measure 6m x 3m and weigh around 2000kg! A raft can accommodate up to 6 persons, so if doing the tour as just 2-3 persons, you can also choose if you prefer to build just one 3m x 3m section to reduce the level of challenge during the building process.

You can choose either a 5-day tour (approx. 50km with instruction evening, building day and 3 nights on the river) or an 8-day tour (6 nights on the river). The 8-day tour can be done either over a 100km route, or alternatively you can also choose a 50km route over the same period, which then gives time to go hiking, have longer rest periods and explore more of the small villages and surrounding landscape on your way down river. The 8-day 100km route includes the option to stay at a "proper" campsite for a night if you wish at no additional charge approx. halfway along the route. For the 8-day 50km route, use of this campsite is also included if you wish to stay an extra night after your tour before departure.

For those who enjoy "living in the moment", timber rafting is the perfect way to experience the forest landscape of rural Värmland and the Klarälven valley, with good chances of encountering beavers along the way!

Timber rafting can be both a very active and a very relaxing experience in one. The rhythm of your days and pace of your tour is dictated wholly by the river - in the most literal sense, you will need to learn to "go with the flow"!

Timber rafting can also be physically challenging - you will need to keep a keen eye out for obstacles, learning to handle your log raft with pole and paddles as you steer her towards your final destination.

There will be periods of intense activity and exercise, with "all hands on deck" as you struggle to free the raft from a sandbar, manoeuvre to negotiate an upcoming turn in the meandering Klarälven river, avoid overhanging branches or work together to break clear of a backwater eddy.

These will be interspersed with periods of calm and reflection, drifting downstream, taking in the forest landscape and spending time with your travel companions and with your own thoughts. Writer Nick Thorpe said of his trip, "More than any of my previous adventures to date, the combination of simple, primal tasks in the open air, the company of my brothers, and the enforced slowness of our pace created a sense of both intimacy and contentment."

Your timber rafting tour takes you through a beautiful rural area of forests, small villages and farmland. The level of challenge of a particular tour and time needed on the water each day to complete the distance can vary greatly depending on water levels in the river and speed of flow - the river typically flows at around 1-3 km per hour. If time allows, you may have the opportunity to stop and explore some of the surrounding countryside along the route (under normal water flow conditions, we recommend the option to do the 5-day distance over 8 days if you wish to have additional time to explore along the way).

A canoe or sit-on-top kayak is included as standard with each timber raft. This gives you much greater flexibility when on the water, and also makes landing the raft much easier (as one person can paddle ahead to check for suitable camping spots and then paddle ashore with a line).

With flexible start days and a choice of distances and duration, Timber Rafting on Klarälven is a very special kind of adventure holiday suitable for those who enjoy the outdoors and are willing to "let go" and to relinquish control to nature for a while. Special rates are available for groups of 10 or more.

Arrival

Detailed information you will need for your experience, including a description of the route, is sent out once full payment has been received.

Check-in 16.00-17:00 at the timber raft centre, where you will be issued with the equipment you have booked for your tour. You will have an instruction meeting where you will go through the techniques used in building your timber raft, the timber raft route and information on camping and the Right of Public Access. You camp at the timber raft centre for this night.

The start day is Day 1 of your tour. Rafting begins on Day 2 once your raft has been built. For the 5-day tour, you will spend total 4 days/3 nights on the river. For the 8-day tour, you will spend total 7 days/6 nights on the river.

Following Days

On average, the river flows at around 2kph. Water levels and consequently speed of flow vary to some extent (normally between 1kph and 3kph) depending on rainfall, etc, and this will influence the total time on the water necessary to complete the route and also the level of challenge and number of obstacles such as sandbars encountered. During periods of high water, the river will slow slightly faster, reducing the time needed on the water but increasing the time available for activities on land, while during periods of low water, additional time will be required on the water.

In the morning, you will be transferred up river to the timber raft building site for your chosen tour. On the river shore there will be good supply of 3-metre-long logs and rope, which is all you need to build a stable timber raft. The timber raft must be constructed in the water. Capable instructors will be at hand at the building site. Building a raft is fun but can be hard work. We recommend you bring some working gloves to avoid blisters!

In the afternoon you should be ready to cast off. For the following days, an 18 square metre timber raft will be your home. The raft will go with the flow of the river, normally around 2km per hour depending on water levels. There is no whitewater. The speed of flow of the river will dictate the amount of time you need to spend on the river each day to complete your route. You may have time to set ashore and explore various attractions along the Klarälven - there is a variety of heritage centres, local handicraft shops, churches and beauty spots, oxbow lakes and sandy riverbanks. You can purchase a fishing licence for the length of the route, and the Klarälven river also offers very good chances to see beaver during your tour.

Timber rafting can be a wonderfully relaxing experience but also an adventure - the river is a living and ever-changing environment - you may encounter challenges such as sand bars and eddies - and you will need to work together and have patience to work yourselves free! You will need to keep a check on the pace of the river, observing the contours on the map and letting the raft follow the flow of the water - and you will need to use your pole and paddles to stay clear of backwaters, sandbanks and overhanging branches. Steering with paddles takes determination - the current is strong and the raft heavy - but if you do get stuck in a backwater, there is only one thing for it: paddling is the only way out! If you find yourself stuck on a sandbank, it's time to use the pole - but don't forget to push off in the same direction you came from!

Each night you will choose a suitable spot to camp along the river bank. You decide yourself how much distance to cover each day to complete your voyage, spending the nights under canvas on your own well-moored timber raft or ashore in a tent.

Departure

At the finish point, you dismantle your timber raft, setting the logs adrift to be collected by the log trap, and return your hired equipment by 17.00. End time depends on how you have planned your journey and the distance left to cover on your final day.

  • Dates
  • Prices
  • Included
  • Not Included
  • Optional Extras

Dates 2017

  • Start days Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays between 11th June and 28th August (latest start day 28th August).
  • Additional start days on Fridays between 7th July and 11th August.

Prices 2017

Prices are in British Pounds. If you wish, you are also welcome to make your payment by bank transfer in Euros or Swedish Kronor. If this would be of interest, please let us know and we will be happy to provide prices.

NB: Prices include one canoe or sit-on-top kayak per timber raft.

5-day Tour (50km)

  • Standard season (start days 11.06-17.07 and 09.08-28.08.17): £285/adult, £143/child 3-15. Group rate*** 10-19 persons £196/person, 20+ persons £187/person.
  • High season (start days 19.07-07.08.17): £319/adult, £160/child 3-15. Group rate*** 10-19 persons £206/person, 20+ persons £187/person.

8-day Tour* (50km** or 100km)

  • Standard season (start days 11.06-17.07 and 09.08-28.08.17): £339/adult, £170/child 3-15. Group rate*** 10-19 persons £231/person, 20+ persons £216/person.
  • High season (start days 19.07-07.08.17): £372/adult, £186/child 3-15. Group rate*** 10-19 persons £241/person, 20+ persons £216/person.

*8-day tours: If you wish, you can choose to do a 50km route over 8 days, giving you more time to stop and explore, go for day hikes, etc along the way. Please specify 50km or 100km when making your booking.

**8-day 50km tours: If you choose to do a 50km route over 8 days, arrangements are slightly different. You will begin at the start point for the 100km 8-day route, ending halfway down river. You will not return to the timber raft centre at the end of your tour as for 5-day 50km tours, so it is not possible to leave personal luggage, etc, at the timber raft centre. However, use of the "proper" campsite at this location is included if you wish to stay an extra night after your tour before departure.

***Groups: Prices are per person regardless of age. 5-6 persons/timber raft.

Included

  • Timber raft equipment: Logs, ropes, life ring, paddle, pole, buoyancy aids, tarpaulin, matches, plate for spirit stove, first aid kit, bucket, garbage sack, toilet paper, spade, fresh water container (5 litres), topographical map, storage box.
  • Instructor: Instruction meeting and guidance during construction before your tour begins.
  • Transfers: Transport by bus for participants and equipment from the meeting point to the raft building site.
  • Canoe or sit-on-top kayak: provided one per timber raft (additional canoes available as optional extra). This gives greater flexibility when on the water and also makes landing the raft much easier (note that either canoe or sit-on-top kayak will be provided subject to availability and cannot be specified in advance).
  • Camping: This tour features wild camping along the riverbank. For the 8-day 100km route, there is also a "proper" campsite approx. halfway along the route at which you are welcome to spend a night if you wish at no extra charge. The 8-day 50km route also ends at this point, so if choosing the 8-day 50km tour and wishing to stay an extra night after your tour before departure, use of this campsite is also included. All tours begin at the timber raft centre for instruction evening at 17.00 on arrival day. You are welcome to arrive a day early if you wish to camp an extra night at the timber raft centre at no extra charge. This is not a "proper" campsite, but does have running water and outdoor toilets. Guests doing the 5-day 50km and 8-day 100km routes, which also end back at the timber raft centre, are also welcome to stay here for an extra night after the tour. If you have hired any camping or kitchen equipment as optional extras, you are welcome to collect/keep these for the extra night(s) also at no additional charge. (NB: Please note that any extra nights before/after your tour must be advised in advance)

Please be careful with your equipment! If some part of the equipment should break as a result of misuse or carelessness, you may be charged for the damage caused.

Not Included

Please see "Optional Extras" below.

  • Food: There are opportunities to stop and shop in small stores along the way, but we recommend that you take all essential supplies with you from the start of your tour as you may arrive at local stores outside opening hours.
  • Kitchen equipment
  • Tent
  • Sleeping Bag

Optional Extras

  • Kitchen equipment*: 5 days £28/adult, £14/child, Groups £28/person. 8 days £32/adult, £16/child, Groups £32/person.
  • Sleeping bag package: 5 days £14/person, 8 days £17/person.
  • Tent: 5 days £52/tent, 8 days £73/tent.
  • Provisions*: 5 days £88/adult, £81/child, Groups £84/person. 8 days £110/adult, £102/child, Groups £106/person.
  • Extra canoe**: Please ask for details.

*If choosing kitchen equipment and/or provisions, please note that all persons travelling together must choose kitchen equipment/food packages (i.e. it is not possible to split packages or to purchase for only some members of a group). You are also welcome to bring your own kitchen equipment or provisions for your tour if you wish.

**Note that one canoe or sit-on-top kayak per raft is included as standard.

  • Kitchen equipment (see image below): Trangia hurricane stove* with fuel, mug, plate, knife, fork, spoon, carving knife, chopping board, frying spatula, cheese cutter, whisk, tin-and bottle-opener, potato-peeler, washing-up bowl, dish-sponge, washing-up liquid, kitchen roll, matches and one storage box.
  • Tent (see image below): High quality 3/4-person Hilleberg tents. Please note that, like all tents rated 4 persons, the tents are most comfortable for 3 adults.
  • Food (see image below): You can choose to add a food package for the tour. The food provided is that eaten by a typical Swedish family. At the start of the tour you will be given a provisions box with the food for the trip (if you have specific dietary requirements, please let us know so that arrangements can be made). The exact contents of the package may change depending on the season and availability. The food is purchased from small, local countryside shops. Typical ingredients include: bread, butter, cheese, juice, milk, yoghurt, muesli, coffee, tea, salami, jam, meatballs, fishballs, Swedish beef stew, ham, sausages, pork loin, mashed potatoes, onions, carrots, vegetables, beetroot, apples, biscuits, tomatoes, cucumber, rice, macaroni, asparagus soup, cauliflower soup, salt and pepper.
  • Sleeping Bag Package: Includes sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner and foam sleeping mat.

Fishing licences can be purchased at the timber raft centre on arrival.

Trangia

*Exact contents may differ from example shown

Hilleberg Nallo 4
Provisions package

Typical food package contents (for 4 persons)

  • Required
  • Getting There
  • Combine This With
  • Groups
  • Eco Info

Required

Health requirements/experience:

Swimming ability required by adults. All participation at own risk. You should be in good health and have a reasonable level of fitness and strength. A good deal of physical activity is required during this tour. The poles for building the raft must be carried to the water and assembled once in the water. This requires some effort, but above all it is necessary to help each other and work together. It is not necessary to be particularly strong - many "normal" families take part in this tour - but the work can be demanding. You should also be used to and enjoy the outdoor life.

A minimum of 2 adults (16+) is required for each raft. You should bear in mind that, while many persons participate in the tour as 2 adults, for only 2 people it can be physically demanding to build and pilot the raft. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding what is involved and we will be happy to answer your queries.

How to Build a Log Raft:

As well as logs and rope (your only building materials), you will need to bring a sense of teamwork and a sense of humour to the water's edge as you assemble your log raft. Generally the raft consists of three levels. The largest logs go on the bottom layer, the thinnest ones at the top, and a mixture of clove hitches, half hitches and reef knots will be used to secure the logs together.

Once the base is complete, all that is left is to string up a tarpaulin to shield you from the sun (or rain!), choose a pole (vital for steering), pack the raft and push off!

Equipment/clothes needed:

For information on any equipment and/or clothing included as standard for this experience, please see under "Dates and Prices > Included".

A detailed recommended packing list for personal items to bring will be sent with your booking documentation.

NB: We advise you not to buy equipment or clothes for your trip or to incur other non-refundable expenses such as flights until you have received confirmation of your booking from us in writing. Note of course that the most appropriate clothing to use as well as the level of challenge experienced during any outdoor activity may vary significantly depending on factors such as the time of year and the particular weather/temperature conditions during your trip.

Getting There

Detailed information on travel options to this experience will be provided in response to your enquiry. We are happy to advise on suitable connections and assist you with any aspect of planning your journey.

Please ensure that you make a booking with us first and wait for confirmation that your spaces are reserved before making any travel arrangements.

By Air:

You can choose to fly to Stockholm, Gothenburg or Oslo airports. From here, you travel by public transport to Karlstad (around 2.5-5.5 hours depending on options chosen). From Karlstad, you travel by local bus to Gunnerud (around 1.5 hours). You can also choose to travel by hire car.

Without Flying:

Ferry Dover-Dunkirk or Newcastle-Amsterdam. Driving time to the canoe centre is around 10.5 hours.

Map of Sweden »

Map of Sweden

Combine This With

This experience makes a good combination with the following:

Groups

Timber rafting is ideal for groups, including adult groups, youth groups/scouts and corporate activities. Group rates available for groups of 10+ and additional discounts for groups of 20+.

Eco Info

This provider has received a prestigious Swedish Ecotourism award for its commitment to high standards to cultural and environmental sensitivity.

The Klarälven river was actively used as a logging route from the early eighteen thirties until 1991. During the last years of the operation, around 6 million logs made their way down the river each year. At various points along the way, logs would be collected and stripped to make paper pulp, with around 95% of the pulp timber originating from the Norwegian section of the river. Today, although the river is no longer used to transport logs commercially, forestry and paper production continue to be a vital industry in Sweden. The very logs that you will use to build your timber raft will one day follow their "ancestors" to become paper. But what a life of adventure they lead in the meantime!

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