Stockholm Day Trips: Gårdsjö Moose Park in Uppsala, Sweden
Meet Leffe “The Moose Man”
Leffe Lindh is a Swedish farmer who has turned his love of animals into a unique tourist attraction. Moose are wild animals native to most parts of Sweden. (They are also called Elk in some parts of Europe.) For thousands of years, moose have been hunted for sport as well as for their meat and hides. In recent years, conservation and an interest in the welfare of wild animals have made hunting moose for sport less popular. At the same time, there has been a growing interest in them from people who want to meet these incredible animals “up close and personal”. Moose are very shy and difficult to see in the wild. So the Gårdsjö Moose Park, near Uppsala, Sweden was born.
Leffe spends many hours every day with his moose family. When the moose calves are newly born he spends 24 hours a day with them and their mothers. This means they get to know him and trust him. They think he is one of their herd and so a great relationship is built between the farmer and the wild animals. He provides them with a secure, semi-wild environment on his farm. In return, he takes small groups of tourists to his fields and woods to see them.
In the video below, you can see Leffe sharing a bath with his moose family!
Leffe Shares His Bath With His Moose
How The Moose Man Began
The Rut and Estrus
In September and October, the female moose are in heat. The male moose become aggressive as they are only interested in mating with their females. This period of intense sexual activity is known as the rut and is common to all types of deer, elk and moose species. It is not safe for visitors to be taken close to the moose herd during the rut and so the Gardsjo Moose Park safari does not take place during these two months. If you are planning a visit you should check the farm’s website for their opening times.
The Moose Man's Story Continues
A Moose Safari Is Family Fun
The tour (or safari) of the moose park takes place via a specially adapted tractor trailer. Leffe has built a long seat on top of a standard farm trailer. It can carry over 100 people at a time. The bench has been built so that all visitors are seated facing outwards, towards the moose. Leffe makes several stops and entices the moose nearer by giving them treats. Visitors are not allowed to dismount from the trailer as the moose are only tame when handled by the farmer. They are large, heavy animals and their antlers can cause serious injury if they are provoked.
On the day of my visit, there were lots of families with children present. Before starting the tour, Leffe gave safety instructions in English, Swedish, German and French. He made sure everyone understood that these were wild animals and must be treated with respect. There were plenty of opportunities to take close-up photographs and to (gently) touch the moose when they came right up to the trailer. It was wonderful to see these huge animals in a natural environment. Some of the younger children on the trailer were a bit overwhelmed by the sheer size of the animals, but Leffe reassured them and made sure they had a good time too.
The voiceover for the video below is in Swedish. The narrator says that Gårdsjö Elk Park is an incredible experience and an adventure for the whole family. He is excited to find that you can pat and meet moose up close outside in this farm near Uppsala.
8 Marvellous Moose Facts
- The Latin name for a moose is Alces alces.
- They live for 8 to 12 years.
- An adult male moose weighs 500–1,000 kg (1,100–2,200 lbs).
- Their hide can be dark brown, almost black, tan or reddish in color.
- Their antlers grow to 120–150 cm (45–60 inches) wide.
- They have a large, long and heavy head with small ears.
- They are excellent swimmers, reaching 6 mph.
- Moose are vegetarian. They eat 73 lbs of food per day in summer and 34 lbs per day in winter.
What Is the Weather Like at the Elk Park?
Uppsala is north of Stockholm, and in general, the weather is sunny but cold. July is the hottest month with temperatures of 61o Fahrenheit (16o C). You can expect around 10 hours per day of sunshine. But when it rains, it pours. Up to 70mm of rain will fall on one day each week during July.
The coldest months are December through February when the temperature falls to 27o Fahrenheit (minus 3o C). The days are very short in winter this far north, so expect less than one hour of sunshine each day. The rainfall (often falling as snow) continues throughout the year with an average of 50mm in the winter months.
Gårdsjö Moose Park Is Near Stockholm and Uppsala
Gårdsjö Moose Park is easy to visit on a day trip if you are staying in Stockholm. There are frequent fast trains from Stockholm and Uppsala to Morgongåva which is the nearest train station for the moose park. From there you will need to take a taxi ride or walk 6 kilometers (3 ½ miles) to Gårdsjö Moose Park.
You can book a taxi before you start your trip by using a tourist information office in Stockholm (or Uppsala) to help you. As I don’t speak Swedish, I found that was the easiest way to be sure the taxi firm knew where and when to meet me. Of course, if you are a fluent Swedish speaker then you will have no difficulty making your own taxi booking.
There is also the option to rent a cottage and stay overnight on the farm. If you do this you will get a personal tour of the moose park from Leffe. You will be able to have a safari and see the moose herd when there are few other visitors. Whichever your choice of visit, this moose park is a unique and memorable experience.
Location of Gårdsjö Moose Park, Sweden
Be a Traveler, Not a Tourist
- Understand the currency before you travel. Making mistakes with currency and using the wrong coins is a sure sign you are a tourist. Do some research online so you have an idea of the cost of travel and of eating out.
- Never leave your base without knowing where you are. Carry a map or your cell-phone. Write down the address of your hotel, then, even if you cannot pronounce it, you can show someone the address if you need help.
- Learn a few words of Swedish. Most young Swedes speak excellent English, but they will appreciate your effort to communicate.
- Swallow your pride and make full use of the local tourist bureau. They will help you book train tickets etc. and navigate timetables. It is their job to be helpful and they will not mind if you ask the dumbest of questions.