Day 19, September 20016,
Warm weather and we breakfast under the trees. I am happy to see a black, red headed woodpecker. We drive down to Utoro port and book a long cruise to the end of the peninsular. The boat is more crowded than expected as lots of bus tour people arrive just before we sail. I find the cruise itself disappointing as this was supposed to be one of the highlights of this part of the trip.
We cruise some way from the shore so the chance of spotting a bear is remote. I scourer the coastline with binoculars but see little in the way of wildlife. Even birds are few and far between, just an occasional gull or cormorant. That said, the scenery is spectacular, a very volcanic landscape with stark cliffs, waterfalls and the mountain rising majestic behind everything.
Small boats cruises are available which might offer a better chance of viewing interesting wild life, but we chose the larger boat because D gets sick.
*Shiretoko sightseeing cruise ‘Aurora’ 5850 yen/person
6800 yen (2022 summer)
Kamuiwakka hot falls
In the afternoon, we drive the peninsular to visit a hot spring waterfall (Kamuiwakka hot falls). On the way we stop by a steam, where an elderly lady is washing a car and a man is waiting, we find, for the evening as a bear was sited at the spot. To see it, photograph it, wrestle it? We don’t discover. The banks of the steam are strewn, but not liberally, with dead salmon.
The route to the falls, we find, entails driving down an unmade-up road for 5 to 10 kilometers, at 5 or 10 kilometers per hour, enveloped in a fine, volcanic dust and jolted all over the place. We see some deer, uninterestedly grazing, by the side of the road but the waterfall is disappointing especially after all the trouble to get there. Yes, the water is tepid and it appears the further up the stream you venture the warmer the water gets. We accept this as true and leave others to check the veracity as we return to the same camp site (Kokusetsu Shiretoko yaeijyo) as the previous night.
The author is a long term resident of Japan who has and continues to travel the country extensively. Avoiding highways where possible, the author has driven from Kagoshima in Kyushu to Wakanai in Hokkaido covering 20,000 plus kilometres and counting.