Rahul Jagtiani is an entrepreneur, running a boutique gifting & gizmos company, Plush Plaza; as well as a travel & experiences company, Plush Places. Additionally, he produces and hosts a travel series titled ‘Plush Places with Rahul Jagtiani’, showcasing trendy destinations around the globe. He can be reached on Instagram (rahul.jagtiani), Twitter (rahuljagtiani) and Facebook (jagtianirahul).
I have a confession to make. The first time I heard the term ‘Gold of Lapland’ was just a few days before I boarded my flight to Stockholm, the hip capital of Sweden where I spent a few days in summer. I’d heard of Finnish Lapland, Sweden’s more famous counterpart, thanks to the Nordic fables of Santa Claus in Rovaniemi and a popular destination to witness the stunning Aurora Borealis in the winter.
Bewildered, I tried finding this place on a map, but in vain, till an email from the Swedish tourism authorities popped in my inbox.
Gold of Lapland is a region in the northern part of Sweden and a gateway to the Swedish Lapland. An area where gold was found and mined for over a hundred years. While mining is still an active industry here, I had the golden opportunity to explore what is known as Europe’s last wilderness, with its dense forests and pristine nature, offering a plethora of activities to enjoy, irrespective of the season.
I landed in Umeå, an hour’s flight from Stockholm, and was driven to a tiny village of less than 300 inhabitants, called Granö, once an important meeting point for the local Sami tribe to conduct their affairs and trade.
Immersed in nature and home to an eco-premium lodge called Granö Beckasin along the river Umeä, the area was surprisingly placid, except for the occasional sound of the crisp summer breeze, but that was part of its charm.
The idea of disconnecting from the world, and learning to walk slowly again, albeit for just a few days, sounded appealing to me, as did the ability to truly enjoy the great outdoors in the Swedish summer.
Staying in Tree Houses
Known as ‘Birds’ Nests’ and designed in a manner to be least disruptive to the environment, 12 beautiful wooden tree houses dot the banks of River Umeå at Granö Beckasin. These delightful tree houses exude that homely warmth, and are well-equipped with cosy kitchenettes and bathrooms. A peek outside and I was surrounded by mesmerising views, where time stood still; I could easily spend a couple of days locked in! Was this for real, or was I staring at a giant-sized canvas of Monet’s work?
The Glass Cube
A Scandinavian design enthusiast’s delight, a trendy, minimalist glass cube, sits just below the tree houses. Once I was done admiring this modern construction from the outside, I was invited to step inside, close my eyes and start focusing on my breathing to channel my inner positivity. Offering yoga classes twice a week, this is really the ideal spot to enjoy the blissful serenity and tranquility of the place.
A few European friends joined in as we braced ourselves for the ultimate Huckleberry Finn adventure with this one-of-a-kind experience offered by Granö Beckasin. We could build our own raft with wooden logs (although we did have a very friendly guide make us one in this case), and lazily drift down the calm waters of the Umeå river. With nothing but lush green forests all around, and an eerie silence for the next couple of hours, it didn’t take long to melt away our stress!
Dining in Lapland
Who knew dining in the Gold of Lapland was such a unique affair? After docking our raft, we hopped onto land, our stomachs rumbling, as our expert guide directed us to a quaint cabin. Out came the picnic baskets, and the reindeer meat, a staple diet in the Nordic region, as we lit our own fire, and cooked this gamey meat ourselves! Things just got really interesting!
My trip, given my penchant for all things adventurous, wouldn’t be complete without a river rafting experience through one of the best rivers in the world for this activity. The Vindeln River, at 500 km, is one of Sweden’s longest, and paddling our way through the class 4 rapids in the incredible blue waters, was truly exhilarating! Patrick, from Wilderness Adventures, who we playfully referred to as the gentle giant, regaled us with his rafting stories during the calm stretches, and didn’t hesitate to shout down instructions and egg us on to keep going as the rapids turned rough, just as we felt our raft was about to topple over!
Nature walks and Hiking
The area around Granö Beckasin is rich in wilderness, and the two main trails are a hiker’s dream! As the sun never really sets in the summer in this region, it was tempting to go deeper and lose ourselves in the forests.
A slow-paced nature walk is another option to wind down your evening. A suspension bridge, over the rapids of the Vindeln River, overlooking pine and spruce trees, allows plenty of selfie backdrops.
Seldom does one come across a trip where so many novel experiences are packed closely into a weekend. The Gold of Lapland had left me enchanted, inspired and completely rejuvenated!
Granö Beckasin: Prices for tree house starting at 2890 SEK
Wilderness Adventures rafting: 695 SEK
Getting there: Granö Beckasin is an hour’s drive from Umeå. The closest airports are Umeå International and Lycksele.
Rahul Jagtiani is the owner of a boutique travel company, Plush Places, and a producer and host of a travel show, Plush Places with Rahul Jagtiani