Our People
  • Amy Waters snow biking Our Team

    Steppes Travel is made by the people who work here. Incredible holidays are made possible because of their vast travel experience and the great enthusiasm they bring to their work.

  • William Dalrymple Our Tour Experts

    We carefully select our experts based on their knowledge, companionship and influence, ensuring that you can travel with the most knowledgeable leaders in the field.

  • Liz Bonnin Heroes and Heroines

    The people who lead the way when it comes to those things which matter to us: exploration, the environment, women’s empowerment and education.

Red crowned crane, Kushiro, Hokkaido, Japan

Winter Wildlife Photography with Sue Flood

Start dateEnd dateDays
Prices from
Single SupplementTour ExpertGroup SizeStatus
19/02/23 03/03/2313 days £0 ex. flights £1,150Sue Flood10 Max AVAILABLE Reserve place

Key Highlights of this Itinerary

Sue Flood 1

Expert wildlife photographer

Travel and learn from expert wildlife photographer Sue Flood.

Hokkaido crane, Japan 2

Winter Wildlife

Photograph red-crowned cranes, the extraordinary Steller’s sea eagle, whooper swans and the Japanese macaques.

Traditional Ryokan Accommodation, Japan 3

Traditional style accommodation

Experience the best of Japanese hospitality with stays in traditional guesthouses and ryokans.

Red paper lanterns 4

Cultural attractions

Enjoy a visit to the Hokusai Gallery and Crow Castle in Matsumoto, one of the premier castles of the country.

Explore our suggested itinerary

  • Day 1


  • Day 2

    Tokyo to Senjukaku

  • Days 3 & 4

    Jigokudani Monkey Park

  • Day 5

    Kambayashi Onsen - Tokyo - Kushiro

  • Day 6

    Kushiro Marsh and Tsurui Village

  • Day 7

    Tsurui to Kawayu

  • Day 8

    Kushiro - Kawayu

  • Day 9

    Kawayu to Rausu

  • Days 10 and 11


  • Day 12

    Rausu to Tokyo

  • Day 13


Day 1


Streets at night, Tokyo, Japan

Arrive in Tokyo and transfer to your hotel, located within Haneda airport.

Day 2

Tokyo to Senjukaku

Mt.Fuji reflection on sunrise, Japan

Depart Tokyo, driving past a Mount Fuji viewpoint. Next visit Lake Suwa, home to a gathering of wintering waterfowl. Continue to Matsumoto to visit and photograph the spectacular ‘Black Crow Castle’ donjon and moat. Continue to Senjukaku.

Days 3 & 4

Jigokudani Monkey Park

Snow monkey, Japan

Spend the next 2 days photographing the Snow Monkeys at Jigokudani. By having two full days here, we hope to experience changes in the weather, including falling snow and sunshine and have plentiful opportunities to photograph monkey family behaviour.

Day 5

Kambayashi Onsen - Tokyo - Kushiro

Kushiro Wetlands National Park

Transfer by road back to Tokyo to catch your early evening flight to Kushiro, the gateway to Japan’s Hokkaido region.

Day 6

Kushiro Marsh and Tsurui Village

Red crowned crane, Kushiro, Hokkaido, Japan

You have full day wildlife viewing in the Tsurui region.

Day 7

Tsurui to Kawayu

Mount Yotei volcano, Shikotsu Toya National Park, Hokkaido, Japan

Visit Lake Mashu for spectacular scenic photography of the most beautiful crater lake in Japan, then onto Iwo-zan to photograph the steaming sulphur holes and hot spring vents. Finally, visit Lake Kussharo to photograph whooper swans in close proximity.

Day 8

Kushiro - Kawayu

Steaming waterfall cascading into a natural hot spring surrounded by woodland.

Visit Bihoro Pass for scenic photography across the volcanic landscape of Lake Kussharo. The rest of the day will be spent looking for landscape opportunities around Lake Kussharo and Lake Mashu and re-visiting the whooper swan site on the lakeshore.

Day 9

Kawayu to Rausu

Steller's sea eagle in flight with prey on a background of the frozen sea, Shiretoko Peninsula. Shiretoko National Park, Japan, Hakkaydo

Depart for Rausu on the Shiretoko Peninsula. Weather permitting have a private charter boat ride out into the Nemuro Channel for photography of sea-ice (if present this winter) and the spectacular regional East Asian endemic Steller’s sea eagle and the more widespread white-tailed eagle.

Days 10 and 11


Geta, Wooden Sandals, Japan

Take two boat rides in the morning for the eagles and the ice. The first is for sunrise and the second follows immediately afterwards with a picnic breakfast. Travel along the Shiretoko Peninsula and down to the Notsuke Peninsula to seek out eagles, red fox and Japanese deer to photo.

Day 12

Rausu to Tokyo

Chicken BBQ, Tokyo, Japan

Leave Rausu for Nemuro Nakashibetsu Airport for an early afternoon flight to Tokyo. Final dinner at the Michelin-starred Sazanka Teppanyaki restaurant.

Day 13


Tranomon Hills, Andaz Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

Transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

Hokkaido crane, Japan
Hokkaido, Japan


Hokkaido is the second largest, northernmost and least developed of Japan’s four main islands. With its unspoiled nature, Hokkaido attracts many outdoor lovers. For those seeking breath-taking scenery with National Parks, wetlands, volcanoes and mountains.

Snow Monkeys, Nagano, Japan
Nagano, Japan

Snow Monkeys at Jigokudani

Located in the heart of Japan between Tokyo and Kyoto and stretching to shores of the Sea of Japan, the Japanese Alps offers a scenically stunning area with several mountains over 3000 metres. The Jigokudani Monkey Park is one of the most visited places in this region, as it offers visitors the unique experience of seeing wild monkeys bathing in a natural hot spring. The park is inhabited by Japanese Macaques, which are also known as Snow Monkeys.

Red crowned crane, Kushiro, Hokkaido, Japan
Hokkaido, Japan

Shiretoko Peninsula

Located in the north-east of Hokkaido, Shiretoko Peninsula is one of the richest integrated ecosystems in the world. The site contains extraordinarily high productivity of marine and terrestrial ecosystems due to the formation of seasonal sea ice at the lowest altitude in the northern hemisphere. Shiretoko has particular importance for globally threatened seabirds, migratory birds and marine species.

Steller's sea eagle in flight with prey on a background of the frozen sea, Shiretoko Peninsula. Shiretoko National Park, Japan, Hakkaydo
Steller sea eagle


Winter brings a thick blanket of snow on the town of Rausu and a layer of drift ice on the sea allows for an ice-breaking cruise in search of the Steller’s Sea Eagle, the largest eagle in the world, as well as other marine life. The flexible nature of the boats we use means we can adapt our itinerary to changing local weather conditions, maximising photography opportunities.

Group Tour FAQs

Why travel with Steppes Travel to Japan?

This is a unique opportunity to, alongside wildlife viewing, take in Japan’s cultural attractions with a planned visit to Crow Castle in Matsumoto, one of the premier castles of the country and the Hokusai Gallery.

We have deliberately limited the number joining this group to 10 people plus your photographic leader, Sue Flood.

In addition to Sue, Mayumi Brazil will be the local leader for the tour. Born and educated in Hokkaido, Mayumi has many years of experience working in the field as a fixer for a wide range of wildlife photographers, naturalists and onboard cruise vessels where she has lectured on cultural matters, particularly Kimono and Japanese Cuisine.

What happens on a typical day?

There will be several early starts during this tour, as the wildlife is mostly active during the morning. So be prepared to wrap up warm. We have allocated ample time at the various locations for optimum wildlife viewing opportunities. Some days will be spent travelling between the various locations but will be interspersed with breaks at various photographic viewing spots along the way.

Is February a good time to travel to Japan?

Whilst we expect cold winter conditions and shortened day light hours, February is a good time of year to visit Japan with dramatic conditions for photography and wildlife viewing. Whilst the weather remains cold, you can expect dry and sunny days with uncrowded sightseeing spots.

Do I have to be an experienced photographer to join this tour?

Whether you have a simple point and shoot camera or a sophisticated SLR, Sue Flood will be on hand to give you tips on how to improve your photography skills. Therefore, you don’t need to be an experienced photographer to join. The maximum group size of just ten people will allow Sue time to spend time with you at the different locations to help you get the perfect shot and develop your wildlife photography skills.

What wildlife might I see?

Aside from snow monkeys, the diversity of landscapes of Hokkaido are home to growing populations of red fox, sika deer, whooper swans and a surprising number of brown bears. Perhaps most famous of all, East Hokkaido is known for its breeding population of the red-crowned cranes.

What is the standard of accommodation on this tour?

Most of the hotels will be traditional in style, simply designed with few furnishings and tatami matted rooms. They typically feature communal hot spring baths, and other public areas where you may wear a yukata (Kimono) around the hotel. You may also have the choice to opt for western style or Japanese futon beds in your room.

On our final evening, we will dine in the Michelin-starred Sazanka Teppanyaki restaurant which is also included in the cost of the trip.

Due to the remoteness of this tour, the accommodation whilst in Kambayashi Onsen and Kushiro only has 6 rooms, therefore we have to cap our single supplement to a maximum of 1 place, which has now been occupied. However, if you are willing to share, we will do our best to match you up with another solo traveller of the same sex.

Is this tour suitable for solo travellers?

Our group tours are perfect for solo travellers, as travelling as part of an organised group in faraway places does provide security and peace of mind. We handle all of the arrangements for you and there will be a local tour guide on hand throughout to provide advice and help if needed, as well as the expertise of a Tour expert.

If you are willing to share, we will always do our best to match you up with another solo traveller of the same sex so that you do not have to pay for a single room.

If you would prefer the privacy of your own room and would like this guaranteed, then the single room price supplement will apply.

Do I need to be physically fit to enjoy this tour?

Whilst you do not need to be particularly fit for the tour there will be long days on your feet in cold winter conditions in Hokkaido. In Central Honshu, walks will last up to an hour on forested footpaths to where the macaque viewing takes place. Please let us know if you feel you are not particularly steady on your feet.

Can I extend my time in Japan?

We can arrange additional days at the beginning or end of the tour if you wanted to extend your time in Japan. Please speak to one of our experts for more information.

Haven’t found what you’re looking for?


Why a Steppes expert-led group tour

1.Experience Matters

We have been running insightful and groundbreaking group tours since our inception in 1989. We have worked with institutions such as the British Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum and run wildlife tours in conjunction with conservation agencies such as Fauna & Flora International, Wildlife Conservation Society, the Orangutan Foundation, Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and the Jane Goodall Institute.

2.Size Matters

Our average group size is typically eight to ten people, smaller than other group tours typically offered – a factor which many of our clients appreciate. Travelling as part of a smaller group provides a more intimate, personalised and relaxed atmosphere.

4.It’s about who you know

We have developed an enviable pool of expertise from which to choose our tour experts, who we carefully select based on their knowledge, companionship and personality. Often, these experts can use their influence to facilitate private access to sites not typically open to the public.

3.Like-Minded People

Steppes Travellers are like-minded people – interesting, interested and curious. Our group tours aim to create an easy and informal atmosphere – we have a lot of fun on our tours and many friendships have been formed.

5.Value for money

Our tours are well-priced to ensure you get real value for money. We include gratuities on the majority of our tours and do not pass on currency surcharges. We strive to look after single travellers as well as we can, keeping single supplements to a minimum.

6.Peace of Mind

When you travel on one of our group tours, you will be looked after by our local agents and your tour expert with the back-up of our 24-hour emergency number and duty manager. All our holidays are fully bonded and protected – our ATOL number is ATOL 6495.

Includes / Excludes

Important Information

Activity Level
Moderate Activity
Single Supplement

Travelling on your own? Our group tours are perfect for solo travellers, as travelling as part of an organised group in faraway places provides security and peace of mind. We handle all of the arrangements for you and there will be a local tour guide on hand throughout to provide advice and help if needed, as well as the expertise of a Tour expert.


To allow flexibility, our group tours do not include international flights as standard. We can arrange international flights on your behalf, please get in touch with our travel experts for a quote. All international flights from the UK are ATOL protected.

What is included

  • Accompanied by Sue Flood throughout
  • Accommodation (as detailed in the itinerary)
  • English speaking guide throughout
  • Domestic Flight tickets from Haneda to Kushiro in economy class
  • Transportation throughout
  • Entrances to sites visited including Jigokudani Monkey Park on days 4 and 5
  • Boat in Rausu
  • £25 to help fund the communities, conservation agencies and NGOs that we work with
  • £25 contribution to ‘Trees and Science’ in mitigation of your carbon emissions

What is excluded

  • International flights
  • Internal flight from Nakashibetsu to Tokyo
  • All drinks
  • Visa
  • Gratuities for local guides, drivers and porters
  • Meals not mentioned
  • Personal expenses

Our future tour dates

For further information about any of these tours please call 01285 880 980

Start dateEnd dateDays
Prices from
Single SupplementTour ExpertGroup SizeStatus
19/02/23 03/03/2313 days £0 ex. flights £1,150Sue Flood10 Max AVAILABLE Reserve place

Reserve your place on this group tour

Our travel experts have a wealth of first-hand knowledge, so if you have any questions about this expert-led group tour, please get in touch. They would love to help. We hope you can join us on this tour.

01285 880 980

Send us an enquiry

Send us a message and one of our travel experts
will get right back to you.

Enquire Today

Why Choose Steppes?

Our knowledge and expertise set us apart. So too our curiosity. It is this that drives us to create a journey that is really bespoke to you, all the while ensuring we travel and operate sustainably.

Are you ready to discover extraordinary once again?

More about Steppes

Get in touch

  • This page is attached to this enquiry

  • Hidden
  • By sending your enquiry you are stating that you agree to our T&C

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.