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Iriomote Island, the Galapagos of the Pacific.

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Iriomote Island, the Galapagos of the Pacific.

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Iriomote Island, the Galapagos of the Pacific.

During my stay a few days on Ishigaki island, which is the main island of the archipelago of Yaeyama Islands in southwestern Japan, about 260 km from Taiwan, and about forty minutes of flight from Okinawa, I wanted to go on the Iriomote Island.

iriomote island from deloprojet on Vimeo.

With a very charging schedule, I had only a possibility but it was the same day as the typhoon. In the morning, I decided to go, even for a few hours. The bulk of the typhoon was planned for later in the evening.

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Iriomote island

When we start sailing with the boat, I immediately understood why there were seat belts for each seat… High speed ferries depart Ishigaki for Ohara Port (35-40 minutes, 1800 yen, departures every 30-60 minutes) on the south end of the island and Uehara Port (2360 yen, 40-50 minutes, departures every 1-2 hours) in the north.

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Iriomote island

Iriomote Island is one of Japan’s most natural environments with over 90% of the island covered in thick tropical rainforests and mangrove swamps. With the Iriomote wildcat and many other rare and unique animals and plants, Iriomote is called the Galapagos of the Pacific.


Iriomote cat

Iriomote Island  has a population of only 2,000 people who are congregated in the port towns of Uehara in the north and Ohara in the south. Both Uehara and Ohara have ferry links with Ishigaki Port on Ishigaki Island, 20 km away to the east. The other main settlement on Iriomote is Funaura also in the north. Iriomote-jima has just one road (National Highway 215) on the north and east coasts that connects these small towns.

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Iriomote island

Iriomote Island  is home to a number of exotic species of flora and fauna including the rare Iriomote cat or yamaneko (found only on Iriomote) and the dangerous habu snake, a species of pit viper.

Iriomote National Park in the interior preserves over 34% of the island’s 289 square kilometer area. Mt. Komi at 469m is Iriomote’s highest peak.

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Iriomote island

So I take The Nakama River Cruises which start in the south of the island in Ohara and travel inland to a large mangrove tree where we can get off and walk around for a few minutes before catching a return boat.

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Iriomote island

The hour long cruise has Japanese speaking guides who describe the river and mangrove trees along the way. Because of the arrival of the typhoon, there was one departure and just a couple of tourists. The other boats were to go to the shelters.

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Iriomote island

Back at the port of the island, I walk a little to the village and then I came back, because the last boats to Ishigaki island was planned for noon.

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Iriomote island

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