Shosanbetsu, Sarobetsu and Lake Kutcharo 初山別、サロベツ

June 4th.

Shosanbetsu – michi no eki, Onsen and Campsite

Cloudy morning and quite cold in Shosanbetsu. This is a good place to stay either down by the onsen hotel or up on the headland by the observatory and camp site.

Observatory at Shosanbetsu

Observatory at Shosanbetsu

From the headland there are wonderful sea views and a choice of campsites. The onsen has left no particular impression, though I have been there twice. It is definitely not bad, I would have remembered that.

We spend time watching a couple of hares that are not so timid, so it is possible to get fairly close to them.

Hare at Shosanbetsu

Hare at Shosanbetsu

Ororon Line, Otonrui Wind turbines オロロン・ライン

From Shosanbetsu we stop at Teshio michi no eki. We had lunch here on a previous trip. This time we opt to wander around but there is not much to see so we soon set off for Sarobetsu Wetland.
Again, on this coast road – Ororon Line (R.232), I am struck by the wind turbines rising from the flat landscape like some sci-fi fantasy. I have to stop to take some pictures, as I have done in the past, at the same spot and with the same mediocre result.

Otonrui Wind Turbines near Sarobetsu

Otonrui Wind Turbines near Sarobetsu

Sarobetsu Wetlands  サロベツ原生花園

From the wind turbines it is not far to the Sarobetsu wetlands. On that previous trip the famous expanse of flowers had given way to a vista of brown, shrivelled reeds. This time there was more a promise of blooms to come and the odd flower here and there. Nevertheless, it is an enjoyable walk. We noted some blooms and heard and eventually saw a few stonechat, a Siberian Ruby Throat and, most impressive, a Latham’s Snipe with its Stuka impersonation.

This bird, during its display flight, climbs and then dives earthwards with a whizzing, rattling roar. We noticed the repeated sound long before we placed the bird. Once heard and seen unmistakable. It quite replaced the Lapwing in my affections.

Sarobetsu Wetland

Sarobetsu Wetland

Horonobe Visitor Centre  幌延ビジターセンター

From the main site, we drive to Horonobe visitor centre in the southern reaches of Sarobetsu. Here there is an expanse of open water and the promise of a longer walk but, unfortunately, a damaged walkway meant we could walk only a small section of the whole route.

At one point, there is a place to plumb the depths of the swamp. A handy pole is provided so you can feel for yourself just how deep the water can be. Not everywhere, but certain spots have really impressively deep holes. Sadly, death traps for deer apparently.

There were no other visitors, in contrast to the main centre, so I have doubts that this walkway will be serviceable any time soon.

Horonobe

Horonobe

From Sarobetsu we drive across Hokkaido to the Sea of Okhotsk. This is a fantastic road to drive, no traffic and splendid scenery. The road surface is very uneven it is true and there is a constant danger of hitting deer. We spotted many, two of which were about to cross the road in front of us.

Kutcharo Kohan(lakeside) Campsite  クッチャロ湖畔

We took this route so as to spend the night at Kutcharo Kohan campsite. This is a good spot for shachuhaku.

The parking has a view across the water and the facilities are clean and modern. At 200 yen per head, very reasonable. It even has a coin Laundry. The only problem is the cold, damp, thin drizzle. In better weather it must be an excellent spot.

*Kutcharo Kohan Campsite ; 200 yen / adult

Lake Kutcharo

Lake Kutcharo

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