But despite all these obstacles this trip turned out to be a great success in many respects. It was a very enjoyable and pleasant trip - basically I just had a very good time. But I also wanted to get more practice and learn how to deal with different situations. My route turned out ideal for that and I learned a lot from sea kayaking and navigation to portaging and wind problems. I can definitely recommend this route or any variation of it to any long-distance paddler. My route had very different stages and therefore I will write something about each stage:
|St. Anna archipelago|
Season: I don't think that the archipelago gets "overrun" anytime so paddling there is enjoyable as long as the weather permits it.
Variations: I started my trip at Valdemarsvik which is easily accessible by bus and has a campground at the water and only around 1 km from the bus stop and town. Equally accesible starting points are Gamleby and Västervik further down South which permits you longer paddling in the archipelago. It would even be feasible to start in Stockholm and paddle down South. The St. Anna and Gryt archipelagos are big and you can easily spend a week exploring them.
Season: The locks are staffed until August 20. After that until September 15 lockage for yachts is still possible but has to be prebooked and is expensive. This means that after August 20 you basically have the canal to yourself. Even in high season you are officially not allowed to go through the locks due to saftey reasons (whereas it is mandatory in Dalsland, so go figure...) but I have seen lock keepers locking paddlers through with yachts. I still would not recommend it because you are usually faster portaging around if it is a set of locks. I have cycled the Götakanal in summer and have seen that there are a lot of yachts then but the canal is wide enough that they don't really bother you. I still recommend paddling here after August 20.
|Vänern - more like the sea...|
Variant Trollhätte canal: This is a variant I have not paddled but that is rather obvious. From the Vänern you can take the Trollhätte canal from Vänersborg all the way to Gothenborg and access the sea again. A great route if zou want to paddle coast to coast Sweden. Like the Göta kanal the Trollhätte is only partly canal and mostly river, the Göta älv. The canal is 81 km long and only 11 km are real built canal. I have met Swedes who have travelled the Trollhätte with their yacht and they assured me that it is worth while paddling. There are some industrial areas along the canal but those are not very visible from the water. There is commercial traffic on the canal but not too much to bother you. Trollhätte canal maps are included in the Göta canal map atlas.
Season: As this canal is used by commercial traffic locks are operating year round.
Dalsland: I have already written an extensive conclusion for this area. Basically just keep in mind that the area is huge and offers lots of potential routes - and that the season is very important. In Dalsland you can finish a cross-Sweden paddling trip at the Norwegian border.
Variant Glaskogen: it is possible to portage boat from the Dalsland canoe area into Glaskogen Nationalpark. This can either be done by one 16 km portage or a route including many shorter portages across smaller lakes. I decided not to do this variant because the portages were too long and as Glaskogen is only relatively small area and pretty similar to Dalsland I thought it is not worth the effort. But you could connect Glaskogen with another variant:
Variant Säffle canal: With three portages of a total length of 10 km you can get from Glaskogen into the Glasfjorden and from there on into the Säffle canal which brings you back into lake Vänern. You could do one big loop Dalsland - Glaskogen - Säffle canal - Lake Vänern - Dalsland. You would only have to paddle 70 km on the rather unpredictable Lake Vänern.
|Typical take out place Göta canal|
Boat cart: Make sure you have a very good boat cart for this trip. Portages are long and in Dalsland often very steep or otherwise complicated.
Cell phone: Paddling in off season means that campgrounds and hostels are either already closed or have very limited reception hours. Check-in is then usually done over the phone. So bring a cell phone and a SIM card that allows you to make calls inside Sweden.