- Travel and learn from expert wildlife photographer Sue Flood
- Photograph red-crowned cranes, white-tailed eagles, whooper swans as well as other wildlife
- Explore the wild winter in Honshu and go in search of the famous Japanese snow monkey
- Experience the best of Japanese hospitality with stays in traditional guesthouses and ryokans
This is a unique opportunity to join our Japanese winter wildlife group tour spending 13 days exploring Central Honshu and Northern Hokkaido with wildlife and travel photographer, Sue Flood. Sue will accompany the group on all excursions during the trip, with advice and workshops aimed at improving photography skills. The diversity of landscapes of Hokkaido are home to growing populations of red fox, sika deer, whooper swans and a surprising number of brown bear. Perhaps most famous of all, East Hokkaido is known for its breeding population of the red-crowned cranes.
Known as the long-life bird with folklore suggesting the birds live for a thousand years, the revered red-crowned crane can be spotted not just on aircraft emblems and sake bottles, but in great gatherings across the snow layered winter landscapes forming what is arguably one of the greatest wildlife spectacles in the world. Photograph the mesmerising, synchronized courtship dance of pairing adults or perhaps simply watch them stir from their gatherings, picking frogs and small invertebrate from the nearby streams.
Aside from the cranes, the extraordinary Steller's sea eagle is on most wildlife photographers' wish-list, with Hokkaido being one of the best places to photograph this rare species. There will also be the opportunity to get close to the famous Japanese macaques in Central Honshu.
Alongside wildlife viewing, the trip also takes 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.
Located in the north-east of Hokkaido, Shiretoko Peninsula is one of the richest integrated ecosystems in the world. The site contains an 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.
RAUSU CHARTER BOATS
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.
MAYUMI BRAZIL- LOCAL LEADER
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.
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 even have to be an experienced photographer to join. The maximum group size of just ten people will allow Sue to spend time with you at the different locations to help you get the perfect shot and develop your wildlife photography skills for future use.
WHAT WILDLIFE WILL I SEE ON THIS GROUP TOUR IN JAPAN?
Aside from snow monkeys, we hope to see red-crowned cranes, white tailed sea eagles, Ezo owls and a host of other animals that inhabit Northern Hokkaido.
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.
WHAT IS THE ACCOMMODATION LIKE IN JAPAN?
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.
HOW FIT DO I NEED TO BE?
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.
IS FEBRUARY THE BEST 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.
For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.