The Ice Horizon and Drift Ice Walk—A Glimpse into the Ecosystem Created by the Currents of East Hokkaido
- Bird watching in the Kiritappu Marshland area and observing sea otters at Cape Kiritappu
- Ice Horizon Walk in the ice and snow field created by Notsuke Peninsula, the largest sand spit in Japan
- Observing drift ice and large birds of prey on a cruise from Rausu
- Taking a Drift Ice Walk to experience the drift ice on the shore
- Taking an untethered hot-air balloon flight to get a bird's-eye view of the East Hokkaido landscape and the Sea of Okhotsk
Kushiro area, Nemuro area , Okhotsk area of Hakkaido, Kiritappu Marshland, Cape Kiritappu, Notsuke Peninsula, Rausu, Cape Shiretoko, Utoro, Koshimizu
You will experience the harsh nature of East Hokkaido and the rich ecosystem created by ocean currents and drift ice in this tour.
In the Kiritappu area, you will visit the habitat of sea otters, which are rare in Japan. And you can experience the ‘Ice Horizon’ by walking on snowshoes in the ice and snow field created by the Notsuke Peninsula, the largest sand spit in Japan.
The drift ice cruise from Rausu, the drift ice walk in Utoro, hiking around the Shiretoko National Park Nature Center, and the seafood at the various restaurants will give you a strong sense of the diversity of the ecosystem brought about by the ocean currents and drift ice.
Birdwatching in Kiritappu Wetland, observing wild sea otters at Cape Kiritappu
We will gather at Kushiro Airport and head to Kiritappu Wetland by private car.
There we will enjoy a great view of Kiritappu Wetland from Biwase Observatory. We will spend our time bird watching at Oku-Biwase Wild Bird Park (approx. 30 min.), after which we will visit Kiritappu Wetland Center and walk along the nearby Yachibozu Boardwalk Trail (approx. 1 hour on foot).
We will make a stop at Cape Kiritappu and observe sea otters in the wild. Sea otters are able to inhabit the area because of the abundance of marine life brought by the ocean currents. We will take a private car to a pension in Kiritappu.
Ice Horizon Walk on Notsuke Peninsula, the largest sand spit in Japan
Our day will begin with a private car to Odaito (approx. 1 hour).
We will drop by Roadside Station Odaito and have lunch at Odaito Fishing Harbor.
In the afternoon, we will visit Notsuke Peninsula, a coastal landform created by powerful ocean currents and the largest sand spit in Japan. In winter the shallow sea in this area is transformed into a field of ice and snow, known as ‘Salar de Uyuni of Japan’. Here we will walk along an expanse of ice and snow, seemingly extending over the horizon. We will explore this unique seasonal offering of the region (approx. 2 hours).
We will return to Rausu by private car.
Experience drift ice, a natural phenomenon created by ocean currents, by cruise and on foot
We will take a drift ice cruise from Rausu (organized by Shiretoko Nature Cruise). We will have a high chance of seeing drift ice in the Nemuro Straits as well as large birds of prey such as steller’s sea eagles and white-tailed sea eagles (approx. 2 hours).
Next we will transfer by private car to Utoro (approx. 2 hours). In Utoro, we will go on a ‘drift ice walk’ with a professional guide from Shiretoko Guided Cruise Shinra (approx. 1.5 hours). Here we can actually set foot on the drift ice at sunset. Drift ice, carried by ocean currents, is one of the world’s rarest natural phenomena.
The presence of large raptors such as white-tailed and steller’s sea eagles is a sign that the currents that bring drift ice also bring rich blooms of plankton, which is the foundation of the marine food chain. Walking on the drift ice on the shore will further deepen the experience.
Snowshoeing and wildlife watching around Shiretoko Nature Center
We will take a private car to the Shiretoko Nature Center and learn about the nature of Shiretoko from a Shiretoko Nature Foundation certified guide. This will be followed by snowshoeing along animal trails in a pristine forest (approx. 3 hours). The rich natural environments, both land and sea, in Shiretoko will allow us to see a wide variety of wildlife in the area. The accompanying guide will provide explanations for a more in-depth experience of nature.
After lunch at the Shiretoko Nature Center, we will take a winter wildlife watching tour accompanied by a Shiretoko Foundation guide (approx. 1.5 hours).
To end the day, we will stay overnight in Utoro at the same hotel as the previous day.
Hot air balloon flight to view East Hokkaido from the sky and reflect on our trip
We will transfer by private car to Kiyosato Ihatov Hostel (approx. 1 hour). There we will take an untethered hot air balloon flight operated by Shiretoko Tourist (approx. 2 hours), affording us a bird’s-eye view of the land of East Hokkaido and the drift ice in the Sea of Okhotsk. We will look back and reflect on the richness of nature and ecosystems we experienced during the previous four days.
Finally, we will transfer by private car to Memanbetsu Airport (approx. 1 hour) and conclude our tour.
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Tour Operator / Contact
Aipine Tour Servise Co.,Ltd.
Yashima Bldg.2F, 420-3 Dainichi, Yotsukaido-shi, Chiba 284-0001 Japan
- Official web site
Alpine Tour Service is a travel agency specializing in mountaineering, trekking, hiking, and other mountain travel, as well as bird watching, flower watching, and adventure and nature observation activities. Founded in 1969, we are currently celebrating our 54th year in business. We are actively developing adventure tours not only in the world but also in Japan, as well as long trails and other projects that combine “walking” and “cultural experiences”.
- Adventure Travel Courses
- R4-03 The Ice Horizon and Drift Ice Walk