Visit Swedish Lapland: Jokkmokk, the Sami village

We almost missed Jokkmokk, and it would have been a shame: it was our favorite place in Sweden!
Our pictures won’t give justice to the village and to the area. The weather – combined to the polar night and the two hours of daylight per day – was terrible, and left us mostly in the dark during the 3 days we spent there.

However, Jokkmokk should not be missed for any reason. Our greatest regret though was probably that the Winter market, happening every year since 1606, was cancelled for the first time this year because of the Covid-19. It is known to be the biggest gathering for the Sami community. A community we did not know much before visiting Jokkmokk, and meeting the local people there.

Jokkmokk, the Sami village

Our Aurora hut in Jokkmokk
Our Aurora hut in Jokkmokk

Jokkmokk is also one of the place in Sweden with the most snow. While in 2020, the winter had been very dry and in some places we hardly had snow by the end of December, Jokkmokk had well over a meter of snow and all the trees looked magical covered with the snow.

In the end of December, Jokkmokk days are nights. The sun is never showing up during the “day” but you enjoy instead a permanent sunset. On the non-cloudy days, the sky is tainted by pink colors and the spectacle is gorgeous. (on Cloudy day, well it’s dark to say the least!)
The day last from around 9.30-10am until 2pm, so you need to schedule your day properly.

A typical day for us in Lapland:

  • 8am: breakfast
  • 9am: going to what we planned for the day
  • 10am to 2pm: enjoying as much as possible our time
  • 3pm to 7pm: Nap and quiet activities
  • 7 pm : dinner
  • 10 pm : Nortern Lights hunting until 1 or 2 am (when the sky is clear)

Overall, this is a quite active lifestyle!

Forest and Snow in Sweden
Forest and Snow in Sweden

Where to stay in Jokkmokk?

In Jokkmokk, we can only recommend the place we stay the Quiet and Peaceful hotel, an igloo on a frozen lake, managed by Björn our host.
Located in the middle of nowhere and floating on the river, the hut is small glass igloos with all the needed amenities (but no shower).

Inside the Igloo, you will have a large bed, bathroom, and an incredible view over the river and the lake. If you are lucky with the weather, is a perfect place to observe the Northern Lights and the snow falls in the forest.

You will also have access to a small barbecue outside – eventually – we did a barbecue when it was -12C and it was amazing and very fun! You can buy some Reindeers meat, and Swedish sausage in the local shop as well as make your coffee on the warm furnace. Sit on a reindeer skin that Björn left especially for this in the Igloo, to keep yourself warm from the snowed ground.

As a fun anecdote, we also bought a bottle of wine and each time we were leaving our glasses on the side of the Reindeer skill, it froze almost instantly and we had to warm it back near the fire to keep drinking!

Björn also recommended and accompanied us to the main activities. He pretty much organised everything in Jokkmokk for him and we had a wonderful stay!

Aurora Igloo Hut in the night, Sweden
Our Igloo in the night, Sweden

What to do in Jokkokk

Dog Sledding

Like in other places in Sweden, Jokkmokk is one of the greatest place to go dog-sledding. As there is often more snow there than in the rest of Sweden, you can enjoy a proper and wonderful experience.

We did not try Dog-Sledding ourselves in Jokkmokk as we had the chance to try it with our host Barbara, in Skaulo a couple of weeks before. Although – we know it is a very special experience and definitely a must-do while visiting Sweden.

If you are interested in dog-sledding, we also just listened to an amazing book from Nicolas Vanier, a French Muscher, talking about one of his best race in the North, the Yukon Quest.

Wild herbs gathering and tasting

Our host Björn recommended to us many original activities and we were charmed by the proposition to spend some time in the forest with a Swedish herbalist, called Eva, who forages wild herbs an berries of Swedish Lapland to prepare very original meals and drinks.
With Eva, we visited the local forests and stopped by the different trees and herbs we could locate in the midst of Winter – enabling us to understand what people used to do in the past in order to survive and enjoy the local production.

At the end of the tour, we tried cakes made with all different pines and herbs and local decoction.
Overall, we definitely recommend this experience that is quite different from anything else we did back in Sweden.

Meet the Sami people with Anna and visit the Sami Museum

While in Sweden, we really wanted to learn more about the Sami, who are the first inhabitant of the wild North of Sweden. The Sami people are semi-nomadic and used to live mainly from the Reindeers breeding. They follow them in the Mountains in summer, and back to the plain in winter. The Sami lives across the North of Europe, in Norway, Finland, Sweden and West of Siberia.

The Sami history is a sad one – Sweden is a country with its North filled with Iron mines (Sweden actually produces most of the Iron used in Europe) and with industrialisation, the exploitation of the iron ores started on what were previously Sami’s land. Forced to integrate the Swedish way-of-life, and their land taken, their fate is very similar somehow to the fate of the Australian indigenous people. Sami people were not allowed to keep their beliefs, or own a proper house until the end of the XX century.
Nowadays, the situation has improved and they are allowed to live in any way they want. However, now their people and culture and endangered by the global warming. Global Warming has changed many things: weather is now more random than ever, with years with positive temperature above the Artic circle. Those changes, impacting people, impact even more the Reindeers and other artic animals, leaving them without food when the ground get frozen suddenly after days of rain as temperature are not cold enough to protect the ground with the usual snow.

While we would expect a modern government such as Sweden to protect their people, it appears that Sweden is only talking the walk to other countries but not applying their kind principles to themselves.

Anna, our host for the day, is a super bright and warm person. Delighted to hear about her culture and traditions, we listen to her for hours, and we would have loved to stay there for days, listening to her story, and the stories of Sami people. We also discover the traditional songs of Sami, the Joik, representing the soul of someone. Anna herself sang for us it was a truly magical moment!
We ended the visit with a traditional meal, which was absolutely delicious, in the tent, by the fire.

Other activities

In Jokkmokk, you can also do all the typical activities usually done in Lapland: snowmobile tours, ice-skating, ski… The nature around the city is gorgeous.

Jokkmokk was the last part of our 2 months in Sweden and one of our favourite stop. With Skaulo and Abisko, it deserved a stop in a road-trip into the North of Sweden. We visited it only in Winter, from November until the end of December. However, the nature must also look beautiful in summer, with the never ending day. Hopefully, we will be able to tell that story in the near future when we visit Sweden again!

  • Reply
    Steven Jepson
    July 13, 2021 at 2:52 pm

    What a fantastic experiential travel experience – the isolation, the darkness, the foraging, the local food, the Sami culture.

    • Reply
      francoislavie
      July 13, 2021 at 3:11 pm

      Thank you Steven! It was definitely one of our favourite stop in Sweden and we hope to come back again in summer to discover Jokkmokk in another light!

  • Reply
    Lisa
    July 15, 2021 at 8:54 am

    What an incredible part of Sweden guys! I’d love to visit here and see how the Sami people live. Peace and quiet hotel was made for me I think. This is an inspiring part of the world, I really hope I can see it for myself one day.

  • Reply
    Lannie
    July 15, 2021 at 1:39 pm

    What an incredible experience! I learned a lot about the Sami peoples in your post. Love that you had a bbq and went foraging as well!!

  • Reply
    wattwherehow
    July 15, 2021 at 6:45 pm

    What an amazing, otherworldly location. I love the idea of foraging in the low light and then hunting for the aurora at night.

  • Reply
    Vanessa Shields
    July 15, 2021 at 10:13 pm

    I love how you got nap time and quiet activities in each day! That just adds to such a beautiful and relaxing trip. I visited Alaska one February and it also only had a few hours of daylight which was cool yet odd. I’m impressed you used the grill in those cold temps! I’d enjoy trying dog sledding and seeing some reindeers of course.

  • Reply
    Travel Cuddly
    July 17, 2021 at 6:35 am

    Definitely enjoy this post, keep up the good work!

  • Reply
    John
    July 19, 2021 at 11:07 am

    Wow it sounds amazing, so distant from the rest of Europe. The activities are all brilliant. So sad to hear about the Sami people. Unfortunately minorities like this are always the victims of industrial progress.

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