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Going around Hokkaido (13) Road to the Sky to Kamuiwakka Hot Waterfall: Watch out for Ezo deers! I enjoyed the magnificent nature of Shiretoko

This article is the series to go around the coastline of Hokkaido. The thirteenth article visits Shiretoko!

I started from Road to the Sky in Shari-Cho, visited Oshinkoshin Waterfall, Shiretoko Goko Lakes, and Kamuiwakka Hot Waterfall.
I often encountered with Ezo deers on roads and sides of roads. I felt both excited and scared. Driving this time made me enjoy the magnificent nature of Shiretoko. 

Table of Contents

- About the series: Going around Hokkaido
- About the route: From Road to the Sky in Shari-Cho to Kamuiwakka Hot Waterfall in Shari-Cho
- Road to Sky to Oshinkoshin Waterfall: Passed across the river which salmons and pink salmons go upstream to the up-country of Shiretoko
- Oshinkoshin Waterfall to Shiretoko Goko Lakes: The center of sightseeing in Shiretoko
- Shiretoko Goko Lake walk: I felt healed from great nature of Shiretoko
- Shiretoko Goko Lakes to Kamuiwakka Hot Waterfall: Watch out for Ezo deers!

紅葉の知床五湖と雪景色の知床連山▲Shiretoko Goko with colored leaves and Shiretoko Mountain Range with snow on top. 


About the series: Going around Hokkaido

This is a part of the series of articles to introduce my journey to go around Hokkaido. I will introduce my relaxing trip about visiting cities and towns, enjoying beautiful views, having delicious foods, and encountering to fascinating people.

Below are the basic rules about the project:

- Basically, drive only National Routes or Hokkaido Roads along coastlines.
- I can use municipal roads near central towns, promontories, etc. However, I try not to use community roads and private roads.
- I only drive the mainland of Hokkaido. (I’m sorry to those live in islands!)
- I drive from the sunrise to the sunset to enjoy the views.
- I divide my journey into a few times according to the coverage schedule.


About the route: From Michi No Eki Ryuhyo-kaido Abashiri in Abashiri City to Road to the Sky in Shari-Cho

今回のルートはこちら(Google My Maps)▲The route of this article (Google My Maps) 

About the route: From Road to the Sky in Shari-Cho to Kamuiwakka Hot Waterfall in Shari-Cho
Mileage: Approx. 55 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 1 hour 35 mins (except breaks, time to stop at sightseeing spots, and the detour)

Check the detailed map from the link below!
Going around Hokkaido (11) - 
Going around Hokkaido (1) - (10)

You can find the previous article of the series here: 
Going around Hokkaido (12) Ryuhyo-kaido Abashiri to Road to the Sky: To the scenic road through the lake with swans and uncrewed stations

▲Going around Hokkaido has come this much! (Google My Maps) 


Road to Sky to Oshinkoshin Waterfall: Passed across the river which salmons and pink salmons go upstream to the up-country of Shiretoko

Road to Sky to Oshinkoshin Waterfall
Mileage: Approx. 24 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 30 mins

今回のスタート地点は、約28kmの直線道路を見下ろせる「天に続く道」の駐車場▲The starting point for this article is the parking of Road to the Sky, where you can look down the approximately 28 kilometers straight road. 

Let’s go to the upcountry of Shiretoko Peninsula! 

“Road to the Sky” is a straight road which continues far far away as if it continues to heaven. 
You could reach Utoro, the center of sightseeing in Shiretoko if you turn right from the parking, but I took a detour and drove down the hill of the straight road towards Utoro. 

少しずつ下っているのですが、遠くを見ていると目の錯覚か、空へ向かって登っている気分▲I was driving down gradually, but I felt like I am driving up towards the sky when I see far away. 

坂道途中の右手には展望台があり、高い位置から眺めることもできます▲There is an observatory on the right, and you can get the view of the road up from the hill. 

If you go down all at once, you won’t be able to see far away. Instead, it feels like the straight road continues forever. 

I merged to the national route 335, which goes to the direction of Utoro when I reached the end of the hill. I took a sharp right turn there and kept driving the national route. 

海辺を走る区間が多く、シーサイドドライブを楽しめます。真冬なら流氷の海、アイスサイドドライブ!?▲I had a lot of chance to drive along the coastline in this area. If it were winter, I would be driving along ice because there will be many drift ice by the sea. 

After driving for about 15 mins from the Road to the Sky, I parked my car in the parking on the right. Take a look at the river from the bridge which crosses Onnebetsu River. 

カラフトマスが遡上していました!▲I saw a pink salmon going upstream! 

海辺に目を向けると、獲物を狙っていると思われる鳥たちがいーっぱいいました▲When I took a look toward the sea, countless birds look like hunting. 

I felt nature is very close to me. 

After looking at them for a while, I drove for about 10 mins. Then I arrived “Oshinkoshin Waterfall” on the right side of the road. 


Oshinkoshin Waterfall to Shiretoko Goko Lakes: The center of sightseeing in Shiretoko

Oshinkoshin Waterfall to Shiretoko Goko Lakes
Mileage: Approx. 20 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 30 mins

観光バスが頻繁にやってくるので、国内外の観光客で賑わいます▲There were many tourists from Japan and abroad because tour busses stop by here often. 

“Oshinkoshin Waterfall” is selected as one of the 100 best waterfalls in Japan. You can get close to about the middle of the waterfall by climbing the stairs so that you can get a very close look at the waterfall. 

階段途中から滝を眺めた様子。この先もう少し高い位置からも眺められます▲I looked up the waterfall in the middle of the stairs. You can go higher from here, too. 

There are public restrooms and shops at the parking of “Oshinkoshin Waterfall” so it is also a great place to take a break from driving. I got relaxed from refreshing water splash and decided to continue driving again. 

オシンコシンの滝からウトロ方面へ少し進んだところに「三段の滝」という小さな滝もありました▲There was also another small waterfall called “Sandan Waterfall,” after driving a while from Oshinkoshin Waterfall towards Utoro. 

I kept driving the coastline, and when I got out of the tunnel, there was a town. It was the center of sightseeing in Shiretoko, Utoro District. 

There are many houses and large hotels, etc. There is also “Michi No Eki Utoro Shirietoku” on the left side of the road. 

There will be lesser and lesser places to get foods from here, so I stopped by Michi No Eki and a convenience store to buy drinks and snacks. 
Among them, Michi No Eki has shops and restaurants and also and tourist information center, so I recommend to stop by. 

ウトロ地区にある奇岩「ゴジラ岩」。ゴジラに見えます???ジーっと見ていたら、そのうちガオーって動き出すかも!?▲A strange-shaped rock in Utoro District called “Godzilla Rock.” Does this look like Godzilla to you? It may start moving if you keep looking at it! 

After leaving Utoro District near the sea, I reached to an uphill after driving a long hill. I passed Cape Puyuni, where you can look down Utoro District and the Sea of Okhotsk, and a mountain path with hills and curves continues for a while. 

You will discover Shiretoko National Park Nature Center, the starting point of trails such as Furepe Waterfall Trails, on the left, after driving for a while. 
The national route continues to Shiretoko Pass. If you are going to Shiretoko Goko Lakes, take a left turn and drive Hokkaido Road no. 93. 

Drive the downhill with curves from top of the cliff. You will reach to the valley of Iwaobetsu River. There will be a branch road. If you take a right turn and drive for approximately 4 kilometers, you will reach to Iwaobetsu Onsen “Hotel Chinohate.” 

「ホテル地の涯」は名前のごとく、携帯の電波も入らない山の奥、山の涯にあります▲“Hotel Chinohate” is surrounded by mountains. There is almost no reception. 

You may find this article interesting: 
Hotel Chinohate - the mansion-type hotel in the up-country of Shiretoko, a World Heritage Site

After passing the branch road, an uphill appears again. Keep driving up the road with curves, and you will reach to a flat land on a hill. A straight road continues for a while, and there won’t be many up and downs from here. 

Pass the branch road which on the right is an unpaved road. You will then reach to the parking of Shiretoko Goko Lakes. 
Pay for the parking fee at the desk, park the car, and get ready for the hike. Head to the Shiretoko Goko Field House first. 


Shiretoko Goko Lake walk: I felt healed from great nature of Shiretoko

* The weather was not good on the day I visited for this article, so I use pictures from a different occasion for Shiretoko Goko Lakes. 

Shiretoko Goko Lakes is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Shiretoko. There are five lakes in the wild forest, and you can hike around the lakes, etc. 

There are two options you can take to see Shiretoko Goko Lakes. 

One of them is to walk on the elevated wooden path. 
You don’t have to worry about bears, and you can walk freely, anytime you want during their business hours, without any fees from Spring to Autumn. 
It will be 1.6 kilometers (approximately 40 mins) round trip from the parking to the endpoint so you can enjoy seeing Shiretoko Goko Lakes as if you are taking a walk. 

高架木道からの眺めは雄大!段差がないのでベビーカーや車椅子でも入ることができます▲The view from the elevated wooden path is majestic! There are no steps so people with strollers or wheelchairs can enjoy the view, too. 

Another option is to hike on ground pathways. 
The rules of hiking changes depending on the season. During some periods, hiring a guide or getting a lecture is mandatory. 

地上遊歩道は知床の森の中や湖畔沿いを歩くルート。風の音や草木の息吹など、大自然を体感できます▲The route for ground pathways lets you walk around the lakes and in the woods of Shiretoko. You will be able to feel the nature of Shiretoko closely by listening to the sounds of winds and seeing different plants. 

I visited Shiretoko Goko Lakes on October 19, 2018. 
I followed the rules: I filled in the application form and attended on the lecture at Shiretoko Goko Field House before hiking. 

このような認定証が手渡されます▲The certification like this will be passed to attendees of the lecture. 

When I left the room for the lecture, the entrance of the ground pathway was in front of me. I followed the route: Hiked from Lake Goko, Lake Yonko, Lake Sanko, Lake Niko, Lake Ichiko, then walked the elevated wooden path and then went back to the parking. 

This place is really amazing, and I would like to introduce more, but I assume it will be too long that I could make one whole article about Shiretoko Goko Lakes hike. So let me at least introduce each lake I saw with pictures. 

はじめに現れる五湖▲Lake Goko appears first. 

四湖。木々がまるで天然の額縁のよう▲Lake Yonko. Trees look like a natural frame for the lake. 

三湖では湖畔を半周以上歩くので、さまざまな角度から眺められます▲You will get to walk more than half around for Lake Sanko so that you can enjoy from different angles. 

二湖。紅葉の山々と、雲の中から現れた雪景色の山頂がキレイ!▲Lake Niko. Mountains with colored leaves and snow on the top of mountains between the clouds look beautiful! 

一湖は、地上遊歩道からも高架木道からも眺めることができます▲Lake Ichiko can be viewed from the ground path and elevated wooden pathway both. 

I took about 1.5 hours to walk approximately 3 kilometers as I took pictures. I felt majestic nature very close to me. I was delighted with just walking here! It was worth a trip to Shiretoko. 

You may also find this article interesting: 
Snow hike around Shiretoko Goko Lakes in winter


Shiretoko Goko Lakes to Kamuiwakka Hot Waterfall: Watch out for Ezo deers!

Shiretoko Goko Lakes to Kamuiwakka Hot Waterfall
Mileage: Approx. 11 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 35 mins

Leave the parking of Shiretoko Goko Lakes and drive back the road you came. An unpaved road will appear on the left after a while. 
Take a left turn here. 

この先、カムイワッカ湯の滝までは延々とダート道です▲The unpaved road continues to Kamuiwakka Hot Waterfall from here. (The way may regulate private card during busy seasons. In such case, there will be a shuttle bus to Kamuiwakka Hot Waterfall from Shiretoko Nature Center.)

The unpaved road had lots of curves and up and down. 

The road was wide enough to pass oncoming regular cars, but there were narrow parts, and sides of the road were steep. I kept driving carefully. 

Since I couldn’t see well, I was careful about oncoming vehicles. However, a car did not appear near the curve. Ezo deers appeared instead. 

I drove slowly and reencountered Ezo deers. After that, I encountered a red fox. I did not see it in my eyes, but probably brown bear must also be near here. 

It was more common to encounter wild animals than oncoming vehicles. It was like a safari park in the north! 

Well, for them it’s just a place for their daily lives. We are the one who entered their territories. 

As I encountered Ezo deers many times, I kept driving the unpaved road and arrived at Kamuiwakka Hot Waterfall. 

There is no road to reach to the tip of Shiretoko Peninsula such as Cape Shiretoko, so I could not go around the peninsula with a car. 
Also, although there is a road to the middle of the Shiretoko Peninsula, regular cars can’t enter further than Kamuiwakka Hot Waterfall. 

カムイワッカ湯の滝で折り返し。ここが知床半島のウトロ地区側の最先端です▲I had to go back to Kamuiwakka Hot Waterfall. This is the tip of the Shiretoko Peninsula on the Utoro side. 

Kamuiwakka Hot Waterfall is where hot spring from the middle of Mt. Shiretoko-Io flows into the river. It is a very rare place since the whole river is an onsen. 

手をつっこむと川の水がぬるい!そして、温泉成分のためかちょっとピリピリっとした感触▲I put my hand; the temperature was moderate! And I was not sure because of the onsen components, but I felt a little stimulation. 

I licked the water a little bit. It was very sour! It was very bitter and sour that I almost choked. (Do not ever drink the water of river!) 

強酸性の温泉が流れる川に魚はおらず、一部の微生物のみ生息。その微生物のため川の底や淵は緑色や黄色に変色しています▲There is no fish in the river with slightly acidic onsen water; only some microbes live here. The colors of the bottom and the sides of the river had changed to green or yellow because of bacteria. 

You cannot bathe here, but dipping just a hand or a foot would be interesting here. Also, the setting here in the middle of nature is more than amazing! However, you have to be careful because it is the habitat of brown bears. 

カムイワッカ湯の滝の駐車場。訪れた時は車が数台あったものの、帰る時は私の車のみ…!▲The parking of Kamuiwakka Hot Waterfall. There were a few cars when I came here, but I was the only one when I was going back! 

Without realizing, I was all alone in the mountain of Shiretoko where many brown bears live. My cellphone had no reception, and it was almost sunset. 

If I take it nicely, it was the ultimate private natural onsen (natural foot bath?). In reality, being alone here is not a very good idea. 

I was very scared, but two or three cars came after a while. I was relieved. Does this mean to miss people? What? Is it different? 

This is it for today. 

In the next article, I will head to Rausu-Cho by passing the Shiretoko Pass after staying a night at Iwaobetsu Onsen “Hotel Chinohate.” I will get to Aidomari District, the tip of Rausu-Cho side of Shiretoko Peninsula. 
  • Going around Hokkaido (13) Road to the Sky to Kamuiwakka Hot Waterfall: Watch out for Ezo deers! I enjoyed the magnificent nature of Shiretoko