Best of Hokkaido By Bike

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World Expeditions

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A breathtaking cycling odyssey through dramatic landscapes of Japan's Northern Island, Hokkaido.

Operated by:

World Expeditions

World Expeditions is an adventure travel and ecotourism company that offers guided small group trekking and adventure holidays.


Meet in Abashiri

We meet at 17:00 at our hotel in Abashiri. After a tour briefing and bike fitting we take a stroll through the city and enjoy a welcome dinner in town. Abashiri is the largest city on the east coast of Hokkaido and is famous for the winter attraction ryuhyo, the huge ice blocks which have drifted down from the Amur River. If you are arriving at Abashiri early, we recommend you visit the Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum or Hokkaido Museum of Northern Peoples. All these attractions are accessible by bus from the hotel. Accommodation: Hotel/Ensuite bathroom

Abashiri to Lake Kussharo-Ko

From Abashiri we head south to a beautiful caldera lake called Kussharo-Ko. The ride takes us via Bihoro Pass, which looks over the lake and surrounding mountains. At the top of the pass we have lunch at a rest house followed by a pleasant ride downhill to the shore of Lake Kussharo-Ko. Lake Kussharo-Ko is the second largest lake in Hokkaido, and one of three lakes in the Akan National Park. The area is well known for its abundant hot springs, a result of the volcanic activity in the area. We have a brief stop at sunayu, a popular foot spa site on the shores of Lake Kussharo-Ko. Tonight’s accommodation is located on the lakeside of Kussharo-Ko. Cycling distance: 88km Total ascent: 688m Accommodation: Ryokan/Ensuite bathroom

Lake Kussharo to Nakashibetsu

Today we continue cycling along Lake Kussharo-Ko, passing the active volcano Iozan (or “Sulphur Mountain”), which erupted about 600 years ago but is still steaming and reeking of sulphur. After a gradual but long uphill ride we reach the lookout above Lake Mashu-Ko where the view is worth the effort. Lake Mashu-Ko, nestled in a deep caldera surrounded by high cliffs, is an amazing emerald blue colour due to its very high water clarity. It is believed the high cliffs prevent human activity on the lake which helps protect the water quality. Most of the time the lake is covered in a fine mist, but if we are lucky we may catch a glimpse of the emerald blue. The rest of today's cycling is flatter and through the Nakashibetsu farming area - one of Japan’s most productive dairy regions. Cycling distance: 84km Total ascent: 852m Accommodation: Ryokan/Shared bathroom

Nakashibetsu to Rausu

This morning we ride through farmlands, enjoying the changing scenery as we approach Shiretoko peninsula known as the unexplored region of Japan. We cycle along the east coast of the peninsula, heading to today's destination - the small fishing village called Rausu. Famous for it's sea kelp production, it's here that you can also enjoy fresh seafood and king crab. This afternoon you have the option to ride or drive a further 24km along the coast to a secluded onsen Aidomari. Cycling distance: 65km-113km Total ascent: 298m-400m Accommodation: Ryokan/Ensuite bathroom

Rausu to Utoro

Shiretoko Peninsula is a designated UNESCO World heritage Site, you will enjoy its beauty and wilderenss from todays ride. From Rausu at sea level, we cycle up and over the Shireoko Crossroad to the other side of the Peninsula. It’s about 15km to the summit of the pass at 738m, with a spectacular view of Mt. Rausu - the highest peak in the Shiretoko Mountain Range. After a leisurely downhill and lunch at the Shiretoko Nature Centre, we have optional short walk to waterfall. Here there is the chance for an optional 9km side trip to Shiretoko Five Lakes. We then cycle to Utoro where we stay tonight, with luck there will be the chance to see the sun set from our accommodation. Cycling distance: 46km Total ascent: 1200m Accommodation: Ryokan/Ensuite bathroom

Day at leisure in Utoro

This is a free day, giving you the opportunity to explore Shiretoko on your own. Half-day sea kayaking or hiking tours to Lake Rausu can be arranged. Shiretoko National Park is located on a peninsula which has very few roads. Scenic boat trips depart regularly throughout the day, ranging from 1hr (approx ¥3000) to 3hr (approx ¥8000). If you are lucky you will see brown bears foraging along the shoreline. The hike to Lake Rausu is a half day scenic walk which will require sturdy walking boots as there is still snow around in June-July. Accommodation: Hotel/Ensuite bathroom

Utoro to Abashiri

Today we jump back in the saddle and continue riding along the coast out of the National Park and back into farmland. The long straight roads travel through potato farms, which will be in full bloom in early July. We have a brief stop at Koshimizu Gensei-Kaen (Koshimizu Wild Flower Reserve), where about 40 kinds of flowers bloom in spring and summer. We finish our ride back in Abashiri, where we are free to make our own dinner arrangements in town. Cycling distance: 85km Total ascent: 357m Accommodation: Hotel/Ensuite Bathroom

Abashiri to Saromako Lake

From Abashiri, we cycle out to Notoro Cape with a panoramic view of Okhotsuk Sea. Following the road around the peninsula, we rejoin the cycle path, which takes us to Lake Notoro and then onto Lake Saroma. Saroma is Hokkaido's biggest lake, separated from the sea by a 25km long thin sandbar. At the end of the lakeside road we finish our ride at the hotel by the lake. In this region you can expect to find divine scallops and oysters fresh from the lake. Cycling distance: 84km Total ascent: 200m Accommodation: Hotel/Shared bathroom

Saromako Lake to Hinodemisaki

Today we begin our ride through local fishing villages, on of which is Monbestu, famous for it's massive drift ice in winter. The rich nutrient that the drift ice carries makes this area productive for its fishery, especially crabs. Once we reach Oumu, we get back on our bikes, continuing on our journey north all along the coastline to Hinodemisaki. Tonight we are staying at a Hotel on the cape called Hinodemisaki which is famous for it's beautiful sunrise views. Cycling distance: 90km Total ascent: 400m Accommodation: Hotel/Ensuite bathroom

Hinodemisaki to Hamatonbetsu

Today we stay close to the shore all day, taking in the gentle sea breeze from the Okhotsk Sea. We will cycle through small fishing towns, Oumu and Esashi, famous for the large production of hairy crabs, considered as a delicacy by many Japanese. As we travel further north, the road becomes very quiet with little traffic. There are a couple of nice swimming spots on the sandy beach before settling into our lodging at Hamatonbetsu tonight. Cycling distance: 95km Total ascent: 280m Accommodation: Ryokan/Shared Bathroom

Hamatonbetsu to Wakkanai

On leaving Hamatonbetsu, we cycle by Lake Kutcharo, home to thousands of swans making their winter migration from northern Siberia. Lake Kutcharo is a registered Ramsar Wetland, being the staging ground for migratory waterfowl. We continue travelling north along the coast to Wakkanai today, aiming for Japan’s northern most point, Cape Soya. On a clear day you can see the outline of Sakhalin Island of Russia only 43kms away. Cycling distance: 91km Total ascent: 210m Accommodation: Hotel/Ensuite bathroom

Ferry to Rishiri Island

This morning we take a 1.5 hour ferry journey to Rishiri Island. The island is Japan’s cycling paradise with a circumference of 55km. The quiet coastal road is all fantastic riding, with the majestic Mt. Rishiri in sight all day along. What makes the island special for cycling is the purpose built cycling paths, which last for about 25km, and include a couple of spectacular viaducts. If you wish to keep riding you are welcome to go around twice! Cycling distance: 63km Total ascent: 350m Accommodation: Ryokan/Ensuite bathroom

Ferry to Wakkanai, trip concludes

After a hearty breakfast we farewell the island and board the ferry that takes us back to Wakkanai, where our trip concludes.The ferry arrives in Wakkanai at 10:10am and there are regular shuttles and trains departing for Sapporo, and daily flights to Sapporo and Tokyo.

Additional Information

Hokkaido at the northern edge of Japan offers fantastic opportunities for adventure seekers. Hokkaido may be best known for the excellent snow conditions, but there are secrets that are revealed only in summer. The heavy snowfall in winter is what makes Hokkaido roads so wide and smooth, providing perfect conditions for road cycling. The roads are maintained regularly (virtually every summer) and built with ample space to house the snow. The harsh winter also means less population, traffic and good food, everything you wish for in a cycle touring destination! The ocean surrounding Hokkaido is blessed with bountiful seafood, attracting many food lovers all over the country, and it gets more exotic and even higher quality as we journey further north. This 13 day itinerary explores the northern most national park of Japan containing the undiscovered cycling paradise Rishiri Island. There are over six thousand islands belonging to the Japanese Archipelago, and islands are the destinations you can’t miss when in Japan! This tour is designed for stronger riders who like to ride longer distances. The route is set so cyclists can challenge themselves by cycling the whole route from lodging to lodging. In the event of bad weather or illness, you have the option to exchange your bike for the support vehicle, which will carry all equipment and luggage.


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