Three sites (Hallasan, Seongsan Ilchulbong, and the Geomun Oreum Lava Tube System) were recognized for their outstanding ecological and geological importance.
The thing to remember about Jeju is that it’s a volcanic island – and that has affected every part of life here. The environment, weather, history and culture are all directly influenced by this.
When it comes to Geomun Oreum and the lava tube system which formed as Jeju did, we’re fortunate to have some of the most scientifically and aesthetically interesting volcanic formations available to us.
In fact, the Ministry of the Environment chose it as one of six top ecological tourist destinations in 2010.
Our outing included both the guided tour (reservations required) of one of the three courses through Geomun Oreum. The shortest, the Mountain Top Course is 1.8 kilometers and about an hour. We were on the second, the Crater Course (5.5 kilometers, 2 ½ hours), while the longest is the entire route of 10 kilometers taking 3 ½ hours.
The views from the summit (456 meters) were breathtaking. The entire region unfolded in front of us. Not to mention the volcanic crater itself, how it formed, and how it resembles other volcanic cones in the immediate area.
One thing we noticed almost immediately once inside the crater itself was just how lush it was. Being a protected site, the flora and fauna, and animal and bird life thrive there. Even just the sheer amount of wild bird song we could hear as we walked the trail was amazing!
Did you know? Geomun Oreum gets its shape from a quirk of timing during its violent volcanic birth. Not unlike a few other oreum on the island, at some point after its initial creation, Geomun again erupted and that magma flow move energetically in one direction. This resulted in its horseshoe shape. Another interesting fact is that the break in the volcanic cone is – not unexpectedly – in the same direction as its underground lava tube system… slightly to the northeast.
And as for the Center itself, it is located next to Geomun Oreum and is a research and conservation center dedicated to educating the public about some of the island’s world-renowned ecological marvels.
It opened in 2012 and is the base of operations for the preservation and management of Jeju Island’s three UNESCO World Natural Heritage sites — the Geomunoreum Lava Tube System, Hallasan National Park and Seongsan Sunrise Peak.
Its seven halls offer up a wealth of interesting facts, illustrations and dioramas detailing Jeju’s formation, its plant and animal life, and forest and marine ecosystems. As with Geomun Oreum itself, the Center is an excellent place for everyone to learn more about Jeju’s fascinating, and beautiful, natural heritage.
Hours for entrance to Geomun Oreum: First, you need to make a reservation by calling 064-710-8980 or going online at wnhcenter.jeju.go.kr. The hours are from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., with tours every 30 minutes or so. Please note that pets, food and hiking poles are prohibited. Please wear sneakers or hiking shoes, long-sleeve shirts and long pants. There is no entry on Tuesdays, to preserve the trails. Admission is 2,000 won for adults and 1,000 won for children.
World Natural Heritage Center hours: The Center is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is closed on the first Tuesday of the month. It is 3,000 won for adults, 2,000 won for children.
How to get there: By car, the Center is about 30-minute drive from Jeju City. If you take bus 710 or 720 from the Intercity Bus Terminal in Jeju City, the entire trip is about an hour. Note that there’s a 15-minute walk from the Geomun Oreum bus stop to the center.
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