The history of Vildmark i Värmland

Pilgrimstur Tf


The history of timber raft tours on the river Klarälven organized by Vildmark i Värmland starts in 1978 with the statement “Something has to be done”. People were moving from northern Värmland and unemployment was high. The local authority of Torsby worked with different organisations and put together groups of people from different industries. The groups were to come up with suggestions for projects to start in the area. The most important goal of the projects was that they were supposed to generate work. Most of the ideas were never used, but from the group that was responsible for tourism came an idea that they thought was good enough to be tested.

In 1979, the tourism group decided to try the idea of timber rafting on the river Klarälven.  Timber rafts floated downstream on the river Klarälven every summer since 1953, which is when the Swedish Scouts embarked on a timber raft tour they called “the blue hike”. Anders Wiss, who had been one of the Scouts on “the blue hike” and was now a member of the tourism group, decided that he and his wife Birgitta, would arrange timber raft tours as an opportunity for economic development in Torsby. The others in the group regarded the pair as a bit mad and thought timber raft tours would never work.

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The start

After this pilgrimage, in the summer of 1980, the husband and wife team were ready to offer organized timber raft tours on the river Klarälven. In this first season, there were 200 guests, 90 journalists, marketers and people from travel agencies who embarked on the timber raft tour down the river Klarälven. A lot of publicity followed, however, the first year was not profitable.

In 1981, the first timber raft instructor was hired and during this second season approximately 800 guests floated down the river on timber rafts. The previous year’s financial loss was more than covered by the 1982 season, and from this year the company began to grow. Another instructor was hired for the third season, which saw approximately 1,200 guests find their way to the Klarälven to build a timber raft and float down the river.

Fp stänk

The business is developing

In 1983, the company changed its name to “Vildmark i Värmland”. The concept of timber rafting continued to develop in the coming years and the number of employed instructors grew. In 1987, the business expanded to include canoe packages and white-water canoeing. In 1988 white-water rafting in rubber boats in the northern parts of the Klarälven was added to the services offered at Vildmark i Värmland. The number of employees increased to about 20 people.



A lot of water has flowed under Klarälven’s bridges since Vildmark i Värmland first began its operations in 1980. The company has navigated significant changes and challenges over the decades, while remaining steadfast in its commitment to preserving the region’s natural heritage. Here are a few snapshots of the company’s history:

  • In 1991, log driving on the river Klarälven ceased as a transport route for timber to sawmills and pulp mills, but Vildmark i Värmland continued the tradition by offering log raft tours on the river Klarälven.
  • In 1993 the Vildmark i Värmland acquired Klarälvens Camping, adding accommodation options like cabins, mobile home and caravan sites, and tent sites, as well as a dedicated timber raft building site.
  • In 1995, a powerful spring flood and heavy rains inundated the campsite with water from the river Klarälven. The campsite was heavily impacted with water reaching the windows of the cabins.
  • In 2000, long-time employees IngMarie and Anders Junler took over the reins, upholding the same principles that had guided the business since its inception. Their leadership saw Vildmark i Värmland’s timber raft tours achieve the Swedish “Nature’s Best” ecotourism certification in 2002, which has since been upgraded to “Nature’s Best 2.0” in 2021.
  • In 2005, IngMarie and Anders acquired Vildmark i Värmland and continue to run the business today.

Over the years, the company has continued to evolve, introducing new products and packages, renovating the campsite, and expanding its facilities. Even through the challenges of the recent pandemic and fluctuating water levels in the Klarälven, Vildmark i Värmland has remained steadfast in its mission, adapting to the ever changing nature and innovating to provide unforgettable experiences for its guests. The company owes a debt of gratitude to all the visitors who have entrusted it with their adventures, as well as the dedicated employees who have contributed to Vildmark i Värmland’s growth and development over the decades. It is this collective effort that has transformed the business into the respected ecotourism operation it is today.

2022-Bjorn Snelders-Klarälven-3

Prizes and awards

With great joy, Vildmark i Värmland has been honoured with various awards and nominations. Some of the notable accolades include:

1986, Vildmark i Värmland received the award “this year’s Gnosjöare”. Gnosjö is a city in Sweden that is known for being full of people that can make a profit from almost anything.

1988, 1993 and 2020, Vildmark i Värmland received the award for “This year’s enterprising spirit” from Torsby municipality.

2005, Vildmark i Värmland received an award for “the third best tourism product in Scandinavia” from Scandinavian Travel Award.

2008, Vildmark i Värmland was nominated as one of the best experiences in Sweden by tour operators in Germany, Holland, England, France and Italy.

2009, Vildmark i Värmland was again named as one of the best experiences in Sweden, this year by tour operators in Germany, Holland, England, France, Italy, USA and Russia. Vildmark i Värmland received the Grand Tourism Award and Löfbergs Lila honorable mention for marketing efforts outside of Sweden.

2013, National Geographic added Vildmark i Värmland’s Timber Raft Tours to their list of “50 Tours of a Lifetime”.

2019, the owners of the company received the award for “This year’s entrepreneur/innovator” from SCR Swedish Camping.

2020, the Timber Raft Tour down the river Klarälven won the category “Best Individual Product” in Scandinavia 2020. The organisation behind the prize is Scandinavian Outdoor Award TRAVEL was the organiser of this prize. The jury consisted of some of the most important tour operators in outdoor and adventure travel in Scandinavia, as well as travel experts and destination managers in Central Europe.
The same year, Vildmark i Värmland received the tourism prize in Torsby municipality, which described Vildmark i Värmland’s contribution to Torsby municipality in the following way: “With its unique product and professionalism, Vildmark i Värmland has put our municipality on the map for visitors.”