Can you solve the Swedish riddle?

Are you familiar with the riddle of the wolf, the goat and the cabbage on one bank of a river? It goes like this: you have one boat and you need to transfer these three safely and each in one piece to the other bank, and obviously if you leave two of the wrong ones alone, one will eat the other. Not being a vegetarian, the wolf can safely be left with the cabbage but not with the goat; and being a vegan, the goat can’t be left with the cabbage. Only one of these three can be on the boat at the same time.

Let’s look at the Swedish version of that riddle: assume two hikers on one shore of a lake who need to cross it with two boats, each attached with a rope to each shore. The hikers can’t go around that big lake, and can’t swim as it’s too cold. They must put the boats back in that same configuration: one on each shore.

What does it take?…

Indeed, with three crossings, it works easily:

  1. Untie the first boat and step into it to paddle across the opposite shore of the lake,
  2. Once there, hook up the second boat and cross with both boats, and attach the second boat to the shore you left from initially,
  3. Then, for the last crossing, paddle with the boat and the other hiker, and tie it on the opposite shore.

Mission accomplished!

Today, we experienced a slightly more complex version on our hike in Glaskogen Nature Reserve: picture the same riddle but this time with both boats on the opposite shore…

What does it take?…

  1. 17 phone calls including only 3 going through for a total of 20 minutes of discussion,
  2. diplomacy,
  3. persuasion, and
  4. solution-thinking!
  5. knowledge of at least some rudimentary Swedish,
  6. two hours of patience,
  7. and a bit of Swedish solidarity!

Claire Lessiau & Marcella van Alphen

Travel tips:

  • Check out this interactive map (short tutorial) for the specific details to help you plan your trip and more articles and photos (zoom out) about the area!



One thought on “Can you solve the Swedish riddle?

  1. Het logisch nadenken over het vraagstuk met de boten is natuurlijk geen probleem, maar 2 uur geduld? Oeps😕

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s