Canoeists who venture out into a snow-covered Bohuslän are met by an open natural landscape that gives a genuine feeling of existing in the here and now. Kayak rental operator Fredrik Lundkvist at Stångenäs Kayak in Lysekil invites you on a journey where the barren landscape of Bohuslän with its smooth and salt-covered granite cliffs is combined with comfortable places to stay and flavoursome meals. Launch your kayak into the fresh, salty sea – and enjoy!
To paddle a sea kayak outside the summer season gives a real, raw and magnificent feeling of being at one with nature. Wind, waves and weather become noticeably and gloriously refreshing for body and soul – and in a low vessel like this, you get close to the local fauna.
What is unique about winter canoeing in Lysekil/Bohuslän?
– Lysekil is known as the Town by the Sea – and rightly so! It is located at the tip of a peninsula in the coastal county of Bohuslän, and thanks to the Gulf Stream the waters here are usually free from ice even when it is possible to go ice-skating on the fjords in the more sheltered parts of the archipelago.
– Lysekil is in other words right next to the sea, with a very sheltered archipelago to the south. There are plenty of currents in the waters here and it takes a long time for the sea to freeze over in our part of Bohuslän. To the north, the landscape is very different, with fjords on both sides offering plenty of opportunity for kayakers to shelter from the winds.
We often say that we have the wilderness around the corner and bring the town and our cultural heritage with us in our backpacks. This is kayaking close to urban life, with a wilderness-feeling “light”.
Burning mountains, birds of prey and seals
– Kayaking in the winter is very different from kayaking in the summer. Naturally, it is colder and the participants are noticeably more worried about capsizing. Once they begin to relax, the sense of being close to animals and nature becomes very powerful. The water is usually much clearer in the winter and larger birds of prey, such as white-tailed eagle and Eurasian eagle-owl seem much more impressive in this silent and barren granite landscape. In a kayak, you get up close and personal with the local fauna; eiders, swans and great cormorants are joined by little auks and common guillemots, looking for open waters while they wait for spring to arrive in the Arctic. This time of year it is rare not to spot seals. They frequently follow the kayaks, purely out of curiosity. Alternatively, they remain on their rocks and do not pay any attention to us as we quietly glide past. The sound of boat engines that is so prevalent during the summer months does not only make kayaking enthusiasts shut their ears, it also dulls the seals’ sense of curiosity.
Seafarers approaching Lysekil have always admired “the burning mountains” – our red granite rocks, lit up by the sun. In the winter, when the sun is lower, the light is extra special.
Soft adventures – packaged kayaking, comfortable accommodation and delicious local food
– How would you like getting into a wood-fired bath-tub after spending a peaceful day in the special light of an archipelago in winter? Time to let the day’s events melt into your body via the warm water. Afterwards, when you arrive at dinner feeling supple and relaxed, and are met by a table full of delicious locally sourced ingredients, the experience cannot feel more “real”.
We offer accommodation at everything from historic spa hotels to modern establishments with plenty of style and there is nearly always freshly caught seafood on the menu.
– We use stable kayaks with comfortable seats, always equipped with dry suits. You arrive in your thermal underwear and we provide everything else you need. When the water temperature approaches 10 degrees, we put our dry suits on as a safety precaution. The kayaks have been selected to suit beginners, although we also offer other types of kayaks that are more suitable for experienced canoeists.
The trips are planned based on the weather conditions. Sometimes we head for sheltered waters, at other times we steer towards the horizon. We travel at a steady pace for four hours, then go ashore on some island to enjoy warm fish and mussel soup. There is time to learn more about the different places we pass and what they mean to Lysekil and Bohuslän today. We enjoy local food from the sea – in the summer this means pickled herring and potatoes (other options available).
What is the vision of Stångenäs Kayak?
– I decided very early on that what I wanted to achieve with my kayaking was to, together with friends and guests, share a pleasant experience of something I enjoy doing and, through activities, food and stories let people know about the good life we live here in Bohuslän and in the west of Sweden. When you leave your kayak, the hotel and Lysekil it is fine if you have become a kayaking enthusiast. But what really matters is whether your time in the kayak has given you a feeling of real quality of life and a powerful experience of Bohuslän.
Can anyone – without any previous experience – book a winter kayaking adventure?
– We welcome anyone, but if you’re a seasoned year-round canoeist, you will have to be understanding and patient with those who have little or no experience. We always travel at a gentle speed – partly for safety reasons, but also in accordance with our motto: “It is more important to de-stress than to paddle far”.
Photos: Henrik Trygg, Jonas Ingman, Mikael Almse, Stångenäs kayak, Gullmarsstrand Hotell & Konferens, Vann Spa Hotel and Conference
For more information and to book:
Watch clip: Spring kayaking in Lysekil