Hokkaido Adventure- Richard Ryall
2 departures, July (mid summer) and September (autumn colours)
The group meets at Chitose International Airport, close to Sapporo city,
the prefectural capital of Hokkaido. Drive into the city. Early arrivals
can make their own way into the city and meet their fellow travellers
at the pre-arranged accommodation. Tired bodies will appreciate a wander
around the friendly wide open streets, stopping for dinner and perhaps
a cold beer in the Beer Gardens.
A day of exploration of Sapporo and its environs. Our city sights include
the Ainu Museum, botanical gardens, city centre, and a visit to one
of the local onsen. Stay in Sapporo city overnight.
Drive to Asahidake Onsen (4 hours) through Asahikawa, the gateway to
Daisetsuzan National Park, known as the roof of Hokkaido. Stay in Asahidake
Onsen at the foot of the ropeway, in one of the cozy lodges.
Taking the ropeway we ascend mid-way to the highest peak in Hokkaido,
Asahidake. From here keen hikers can carry on up to the peak, photographers
can try to catch its reflection in the lake, cruisers can just relax
and take in the steaming vista. We can then choose a route that suits
your wishes, the weather and your interests. We can even search for
the ‘one-man’ hot water bath on the mountain side. Return
to Asahidake Onsen for the night.
Drive north to Wakkanai, where we will probably be mistaken for Russians
(Russia is very close to here and they frequently come over for trade).
We will take a ferry across to Rishiri, the volcanic peak rising from
the ocean just off the coast. Dinner has to include sea urchin, the
local delicacy; but it can be avoided if not to your liking. Accommodation
will be at a tourist pension.
We will wander the forested slopes of Rishiri. Keen climbers can head
for the peak to get 360 degree views around and over to Russia. Others
can ramble at their own pace around the base, they may even fill up
their water bottles at the spring of one of Japan’s ‘famous
100 waters’. A day trip over to the neighbouring scenic island
of Rebun is also possible. Stay at the Rishiri pension again.
Returning to the mainland by ferry we have our biggest travel day to
the fishing village of Utoro (5 hours), at the southern end of the Shiretoko
Peninsula, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stay at a minshuku.
Day of exploring the Shiretoko Peninsula. Our day will include the Five
Lakes, Kamuiwakka (if re-opened) hot waterfall, and a look for bears
around the short walks on the pass road that crosses the peninsula.
Seeing a bear is quite common in this area of high bear population.
Those who want can tackle a climb to the peak of Rausu-dake to get a
view right down the spine of the peninsula. If time and weather permit,
a sea cruise to see the perpendicular cliff faces of the peninsula with
waterfalls cascading down the sides is highly recommended. Stay in Utoro
Drive to Akan Kohan, a lakeside resort popular with Japanese. Sure it
is touristy, but why not join the tourists for a wander through the
streets after dinner wearing your yukata and wooden sandals, followed
by a soak in an onsen? Stay in a minshuku.
Walking trails abound here, to the south is the fuming and steaming
peak of Meakan whose noises from above will keep you entranced as you
ascend to the rim of the crater. More gentle lakeside walks where you
will find bubbling mud puddles and mysterious algae balls are also closeby.
Stay in the minshuku and enjoy a ‘last night’ dinner.
Travel back to Sapporo, where the group will disband for onward travel.
This tour is suited to travellers who are keen to walk and who have
a reasonable level of fitness. There are always alternatives to the
big walks for those who want to relax more.