- Explore a limestone cave on Iriomote Island.
- Cherry blossoms in bloom: Taking kids on a cultural journey through Nakijin Village.
Trekking Iriomote Island's Sangara Falls
post : 2017.02.28 18:00
Arriving at Uehara Port on Iriomote Island after the 40-minute ferry ride from Ishigaki Island, I was met at dock by, Mr. Yamanaka, who would be my guide to Sangara Falls. It was a beautiful day.
Iriomote Island is a place where you can enjoy many activities, among the most popular of which are the “waterfall trekking” tours. There are a variety of waterfalls on the island; one that is narrow and straight, one that is large and slower moving, and a number of others of varying shapes. Today, I will go to the back side of the Iriomote's verdant jungle by canoe and from there, trek about 20 minutes to Sangara Falls.
From the Uehara Port, it took just 10 minutes by car to get to the riverbank, our departure point!
That day in November when the north winds are usually on the strong side, is a rare windless day. The surface of the water was perfectly calm—with the reflections of clouds and trees clearly visible on the surface. From here, wrapped in quiet, we set out through the fresh morning on our journey.
Mr. Yamanaka, who is very experienced, seemed certain that the weather, the calm and all other conditions were optimal—I could tell by his comments which included many instances of “really nice weather!” and of the word, “best!”
One nice thing about riding in a canoe is how close you are to things like the surface of the water and the surrounding trees. You get an up close and personal view of all native flora and fauna, such as the mangrove trees, fish and crabs. We proceeded this way for about 30 minutes before reaching the point where we exited the canoe to begin our trek.
We hiked along a mountain path in the jungle surrounded by beautiful subtropical plants. The trail to Sangara Falls is easy to walk with very few ups and downs so it's a great course recommendation for families with small children or those who are not confident about their level of fitness. Even after the tour ended, I did not feel tired at all.
As I walked through the forest, I encountered an Okinawa tree lizard.
Mr. Yamanaka caught him. I was surprised to see that when he started petting its tummy it became very calm and looked like it was enjoying the attention. It seems that this is the proper way to greet Okinawa tree lizards.
We walked a little further and soon could hear the sound of water. We had arrived at Sangara Falls.
The sound of the waterfall brought up feelings of welcome and completeness at our arrival. Butterflies fluttered through the scene like scraps of paradise scattered into the jungle air.
The Sangara Falls enters the river's flow from the reverse side in places.
Standing in a rocky recess with the waterfall before me, I experienced several sensations at once. The power of the roaring water, the heat of the day. I imagine standing under the pounding water or swimming in the pool.
You can also go to a place up over the falls.
There is a wide space up on top where you can take a break. From here, I looked at the green of the trees around me and up at the blue sky. I heard birds singing. It was time to relax.
Water from the falls will flow through this area. It was on the low side that day but when the rains come there will be much more flowing out of the mountain.
This is such a pleasant place and I felt like I wanted to stay longer, but was time to get back on the trail. We prepared to climb back into our canoe and head back down the river toward the sea.
Treading softly through the tidal flats, I saw minamikometsuki crabs. They are a little crab with light blue bodies and very cute. There were countless minamikometsuki crabs. I watched them moving around for a time.
We returned to the starting point after about four hours. It was a casual trek but one in which I could experience the nature of Iriomote. The Sangara Falls tour is highly recommended!
Blue Season Iriomote
Sangara half-day tour 5,800 yen per person
*Sangara Falls tours are run only at high tide
Okinawa CLIP photo writer: Masumi Sasamoto