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Getting Here and Around
From Sapporo to Abashiri it's a five-hour express train, then a local train to Shari, and finally a 55-minute bus ride to Utoro. With connections the trip takes seven hours. Depending on the season, about seven daily bus connections go from Shari to Utoro. Buses from Abashiri and the airports in Kushiro and Memanbetsu also connect to Utoro. Kushiro and Abashiri have several car-rental companies, and Shari has only one (Nippon Rent-a-Car). Coming from Kushiro it's a two-hour drive to the ugly fishing village of Rausu on the south side of the peninsula, and then a 30-minute drive over the Shiretoko Pass (closed November-April) to Utoro.
From Sapporo the twice-daily Eagle Liner bus takes seven hours (¥15,000 round-trip), departing Sapporo Chuo Bus Terminal at 9 am and 11:15 pm. Reservations with Chuo Bus are necessary and can be made at the terminal behind the TV Tower in Sapporo, where the bus departs. Utoro and Rausu are also connected by four buses daily, although, aside from its fantastic views of Russian-occupied Kunashiri Island, a visit to the disappointing town of Rausu is not highly recommended.
From the end of April to the end of October, one-hour shuttle-bus trips link Utoro with the Nature Center and Shiretoko Five Lakes, running three times a day (¥900). If you are coming by car, park at the Nature Center and board the shuttle. The 12-km (7-mi) dirt road to Kamuiwakka Onsen waterfall is open to shuttle buses only between July 13 and September 20 (closed in winter). Be careful of wildlife when driving; Shiretoko is full of grazing deer that favor cleared roadside verges and are largely unperturbed by vehicles.
Apart from hiking, a boat is the best way to see the wildest parts. From late April to October, several boat companies in Utoro harbor offer one- to three-hour trips (¥3,000–¥8,000) out along the peninsula, beneath soaring 600-foot cliffs to the tip of the cape. Early-morning and late-afternoon trips on a small boat offer the best chances to see bears come down to the beaches to forage. On the Rausu side, boats head out into the Nemuro Straits along Russia's Kunashiri Island, and summer is the best time for whale-watching. A stay of at least one night is recommended for hiking, hot springs, wildlife spotting, and silence. We recommend CafeFox Cruises out of Utoro and Ever Green Nature Cruises out of Rausu.
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