Returned to Hokkaido for a 10-day trip from mid to late October by car. This was to time for peak fall foliage in places like Shiretoko, lakes in Teshikaga, Tokachi, Biei/Furano etc.
Sounkyo > Abashiri (層雲峽 > 網走)
Took JR express train to Asahikawa straight from New Chitose airport. Next morning picked up rental car and arrived at Sounkyo around noon. Fall foliage obviously has passed its peak as expected. Visited the dual waterfall – Ginga-no-Taki (Milky Way Galaxy waterfall) and Ryusei-no-Taki (meteor waterfall). Next day, stopped by Mt Tento in Abashiri while driving to Shiretoko. From Mt Tento, Abashiri-ko and Okhotsk Bay can be seen.
Shiretoko 5 lakes (知床五湖)
Stayed in a nice onsen hotel in Utoro town (see ONSEN page). Next day visited World Heritage Shiretoko 5 lakes. It was an easy walking trail. Fall colours were not that brilliant – peak might have passed. Bumped into wild deers so everybody around suddenly went silent. Afterwards, drove to Shiretoko-toge (Pass) for a close-up view of Mt Rausu, whose summits were already covered by some snow patches. On the way to Shari, stopped by Oshikoshin-no-taki (waterfall).
Kussharo-ko, Mashu-ko, Akan-ko (屈斜路湖 > 摩周湖 > 阿寒湖)
2nd visit to these 3 lakes we like most in Hokkaido East. Drove to Bihoro-toge (Pass) and Wakoto Peninsula for nice views of Kussharo-ko. Stayed in Kussharo-ko onsen hotel as we love the serene lakeview from hotel room. On next day we went to Mashu-ko. Unlike in May we finally had a panoramic view (clear of fog) from 3rd observatory deck. Finally, we went to Akan-ko and stayed in Tsuruga onsen hotel (see ONSEN page).
Tokachi > Shintoku > Minami-Furano (十勝 > 新得 > 南富良野)
From Tokachi we drove to Tokachigawa for our favourite onsen in Hokkaido, while stopping by Ikeda for lunch, where it produces wines from local grapes. On next day, we drove to Furano, stopping by Shintoku for famous soba produced locally when a rainbow showed up briefly. Next we drove past Minami-Furano where some colourful foliage was along the road.