Our road trip had lasted for around a week already once we left Skellefteå and continued north. Skellefteå had been our third stop after Sundsvall and Örnsköldsvik, but where to go next? We had for a long time thought that Gällivare would be the turning point of our trip. In other words, that’s where we would set course south again. But due to a local corona outbreak we looked at Jokkmokk instead as the northern-most point of our trip. That would still be a long drive from Skellefteå. Our first thought was to get a hotel room in Luleå or Boden. At the end, however, while eating lunch in Piteå, we set our minds on Vuollerim.
Towards an Unknown Destination
One of the best things with our northern road trip was the possibility to plan the route along the way. If we booked any accommodation in advance, we usually did so the evening before arrival at the earliest. One of the more extreme cases happened after leaving Skellefteå. We had not yet decided how far to go, all we knew was that we wanted to continue north and that the weather forecast for the next day looked quite bad along the coast.
We stopped for our first leg stretching already in Jävre. This is one of the major rest stops along the highway, located directly at the border between the two counties of Västerbotten and Norrbotten.
One of the oldest lighthouses in Sweden has been reassembled in Jävre. The lighthouse and a few surrounding boat houses were there for us to explore. The pandemic was, of course, also visible here. There were very few other visitors and the opening hours seemed to be more limited than normal. At least we could climb the light house and get a nice view before getting back to the car.
Piteå is famous for its sea resort. We didn’t go to the resort, instead we headed to the centre for a lunch break. While enjoying a light lunch at a small café, we started to look for the final destination for the day. Should we head to Luleå and stay a night at a hotel? Knowing that bad weather was on the horizon, we decided to look at options that didn’t include the tent. Eventually we decided to save a day and drive all the way to Jokkmokk. However, options for accommodation were limited. We eventually extended our search to include the options between Luleå and Jokkmokk. In the end, we found a small camping in Vuollerim that had cheap camping cabins. Once we had made a decision, we could get back to enjoying the sunny streets of Piteå.
We explored the central streets and also made a small stop at the guest harbour. Piteå is one of those towns that we would like to return to for a longer visit.
Little A fell asleep at the doorstep of Luleå. We still wanted to see the Steel City, so we decided to take turns while Little A continued her nap in the car. Again we really missed that stroller, but we would never have been able to make room for it in the car.
Luleå was the last place for a few days where we would enjoy some proper sunshine. The city is beautifully located along the bays of the Lule River and walking along the shores was a pleasure. The central streets were similar to anywhere in Sweden. As with so many places it is the setting with nature that makes a city like this spectacular.
On our way from Luleå we visited the mosquito and horse-fly capital of Sweden. No, jokes aside, Gammelstaden is the old town of Luleå. Luleå has moved but there is still a locality here. The insects came in swarms and they were the most aggressive that we encountered during the whole road trip. The area is like a large open-air museum. Well, there is the actual open-air museum Hägnan and then there is the large church town around Nederluleå Church. The difference between modern Luleå and the historic Gammelstaden is striking.
We met the rain front in Boden, just as I wanted to get a bit more fresh air before starting the last drive through the forest to Vuollerim. I still took a short walk in the light rain. We arrived too late to explore the fortifications of Boden. This is after all one of the heaviest fortified towns in Sweden. Once back in the car I was more than happy to have stretched my legs a bit extra. It would be kilometre after kilometre of paving work.
Vuollerim Camping has probably seen better days. The shower and toilet were located in the back of the closed restaurant. The small camping cabins was simple, but well-kept. We didn’t mind the size, considering the price and the fact that we would only be sleeping here and exploring during the days.
Exploring Swedish Lapland
Swedish Lapland is huge and really diverse. It would take days before we left this traditional province and all it has to offer. Only half an hour away is the town of Jokkmokk, a centre of the Sámi culture and the region known as Sápmi.
Temperatures dropped drastically during our first night in Lapland. Warmer clothes replaced shorts and t-shirt and we were soon on our way to Jokkmokk. Our plan was to find the tourist information and from there decide where to go during the day. An excursion to the mountains was high on our agenda, but that was before the temperature drop. Calling one of the possible visitor centres confirmed our fear, the weather was far from good. So Little A got to play at the playground for a while as we looked at the maps.
Muddus National Park
We decided to continue a bit further north to let Little A enjoy some time outdoors. But our timing was just bad, to say the least. Little A fell asleep on our way north towards the Muddus National Park. She had decided to take her nap and didn’t want to go out on a walk. We had to repeat the procedure we had in Luleå, taking turns for a shorter walk. The weather might have been unstable, but the views of the Lule River and the forest were great. The stillness was even more striking. It is hard to find a place that is this quiet.
It was while we continued further north that Little A decided to wake up. At that point we had reached the small locality of Porjus, best known for its huge hydroelectric power stations. The local museum was sadly closed due to the pandemic, but we could see the large dam. We were also able to get something small for Little A to eat in the local kiosk before we continued.
The hydroelectric power station in Porjus is large, but a stop at Harsprånget will reveal something even bigger. Porjus and Harsprånget are just two of several power stations along the river. It was raining when we parked at Harsprånget and we took a short walk down to the viewing platform. The walk is beautiful in itself and the view of the ravine is quite majestic. But this is not a place where you spend hours, especially not when it is raining.
Back in Jokkmokk
We made another stop in Jokkmokk on the way back. Mainly we wanted to see if we could find any indoor activities. That turned out to be easier than expected at the large local museum Ájtte. The museum covers the surrounding nature and the Sámi history and culture. We recommend a visit if you are in the area. It is an easy way to get an understanding of the people and culture of Sápmi, of which Swedish Lapland is a part. Prior to returning to Vuollerim we also made sure to purchase some of the local smoked sausage.
Once back in Vuollerim Susann and Little A wanted to get some rest. While they were relaxing in the cabin I took a walk around the small locality. I concentrated the effort to get a good view of the lake Vuollerimselet with the mirror pond. The village might be limited in regards to sights, but as with much of Lapland there is a extra sense of tranquillity here.
Where Next From Vuollerim?
Our two nights in Vuollerim eventually came to an end as we looked for our next stop. Even with rain and cold, we had been able to explore several new spots in the area. It was also the third time I visited Jokkmokk after visits during the summer of 2018 and the winter of 2019.
But where to go next? A call in the morning of our departure and we secured a room at a hotel in Arvidsjaur. It was time to turn back south.
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