February 8th - 22nd, 2014

Photograph and be entertained by the charismatic “hot tubbing” Snow Monkeys (Japanese Macaques) in central Honshu. These fun-loving monkeys are curious and human-like, playing, chasing and even throwing snow balls at each other like little children in a snowball fight. We’ll travel north to the island of Hokkaido where bird life dominates the winter landscapes. The elegant Japanese Crane will dance in and out of our lens while one of the world’s largest raptors, the Steller’s Sea Eagle, preforms in the sky above us.

Soak in the onsen next to a playful Snow Monkey, photographing a pirouetting crane or just simply have tea at one of the many traditional charming ryokans. Japan will be a unforgettable experience, join us in 2014!

Meet Daniel and Tanya Cox
Travel Plan
Accommodations
Helpful Information
Explorer Testimonials
  • 2014 Japan Winter Wildlife Photography Tour II Travel Plans

    Saturday, February 8

    Depart US/Canada for Tokyo

    Sunday, February 9 (D)

    Arrive in Tokyo any time of day. Hotel shuttle. We’ll rendezvous in the lobby for a Japanese welcome dinner and briefing. Overnight Crowne Plaza Narita located near airport.

    Monday, February 10 (B, D)

    After a good night’s sleep, we’ll travel five hours via private coach to Jigokudani Spa (Snow Monkey Park). The name Jigokundani, translated to “Hell’s Valley”, is named such for its eerie atmosphere of steam and boiling water that bubbles from the frozen ground. The ominous steep cliffs and wild forest add to the mystery and magic these Snow Monkeys call home during the winter months. Overnight Korakukan Inn

    Tuesday, February 11 – Wednesday, February 12 (B, D)

    Our accommodation lies within the closest proximity (10-15 minute walk) to the beautiful Jigokudani Yaen National Park in the mountains of the Yudanaka Onsen. Daily we’ll walk and photograph the Snow Monkeys. Approximately 160 monkeys reside in this park. These intriguing primates love to put on a show for their human admirers. You’ll no doubt witness snowball fights among siblings, territory disputes among the males, babies clinging to their mothers along with other monkey antics. You can get very close to the monkeys as they walk around and sit in the trees or steamy hot springs. This park is between hills so you are walking in a very natural environment through the valley.

    For those interested, there will be an option to visit the small historical Japanese spa town of Shibu Onsen (2.5 km away). Many ryokan hotels have a history of over 400 years old. Maybe try a traditional hot spring bath, visit a Temple, Sake brewery or Origami Shop. Overnight Korakukan Inn

    Thursday, February 13 (B, D)

    Enjoy one last visit to Jigokudani observing and photographing the fascinating Snow Monkeys. This afternoon we’ll drive back to Tokyo and then fly to Kushiro, located on the northernmost island of the Japanese archipelago, Hokkaido. Upon arrival we have a short transfer to our accommodation for the next two nights. Overnight Minshuku Taito

    Friday, February 14 (B, D)

    Today is dedicated to spending time photographing the various birds in the Tsurui-mura. We’re sure to be entertained by the leaping, pirouetting and trumpeting Japanese (Red-Crowned) Cranes as they carry out their mating rituals. These magnificent birds are often considered a symbol of luck and longevity. Other feathered friends we’re sure to encounter include White-naped cranes, White-tailed Eagles and Black-eared Kites. Overnight Minshuku Taito

    Saturday, February 15 – Monday,, February 17 1 (B, D)

    Another morning of observing the Japanese Cranes before heading out after lunch for a land transfer to Kawayu Onsen. Each year hundreds of Whooper Swans winter in eastern Hokkaido, principally on Lake Kussharo, after migrating from Siberia and northern Mongolia. Although much of the lake is frozen in winter, it’s fed by onsen water, creating warm temperatures and several natural rotemburo (outdoor onsens) around its edge. The winter white colors of snow and ice make for an excellent backdrop for photographs of these migrating birds. Overnight Pension Papilio or similar

    Tuesday, February 18 (B, D)

    Today we pack up and head to the easternmost portion of Hokkaido island, the Shiretoko Peninsula, where we’ll base ourselves out of the town of Rausu for the next two nights.

    The Shiretoko Peninsula, a UNESCO world heritage site, and surrounding waters offer a prime example of the interaction of marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Many migratory and threatened seabirds make their home on the ice pack each winter. We are drawn to the peninsula to capture images of the immense Stellar’s Sea Eagle with wing spans of over two meters! Overnight Pension Rausukur

    Wednesday, February 19 (B, D)

    Early rise and shine for a 5:00am icebreaker boat ride to the edge of the ice pack. We depart from the port in Rausu followed by playful trail of various gulls and head out as the sun works its way up over the Northern Territories occupied by Russia. Once at the ice pack we’ll be greeted by numerous Stellar’s Sea Eagles and smaller White-tailed Eagles eager for their morning fish breakfast. Watch these magnificent birds quarrel and fight in the air over above you. We’ll be out on the water for approximately 2.5 hours before heading back to port. The afternoon is spent photographing the surrounding Rausu area. Overnight Pension Rausukur

    Thursday, February 20 (B, D)

    Early 5:00am icebreaker boat ride back out to the ice pack for more eagle photography. We’ll be back at port in time for breakfast and to pack up our things and slowly make our way back to the city of Kushiro. En route we’ll stop at Akan National Park for views of its crystal clear lakes, namely the large caldera Lake Mashu and natural hot springs. Overnight ANA Kushiro Hotel

    Friday, February 21 (B, D)

    Today we fly back to Tokyo. The afternoon is free to explore this bustling city. Tonight we’ll go out by private vehicle to photograph the city lights, life and markets. Overnight The Prince Sakura Tower Tokyo

    Saturday, February 22 (B)

    Fly home any time of day

    • Guest Limits

      14 Guests Maximum

    • Trip Cost

      EARLY BOOKING RATE
      $8770 per person, based on double occupancy

      Add $400 if booked after January 15, 2013

      Rate includes domestic flight Haneda – Kushiro – Haneda

      Single Supplement: $550
      Note: Single supplement is available at all locations EXCEPT at Pension Papilio. This inn is very small with limited rooms.

      Trip is priced based on the YEN currency. The approximate exchange in USD is listed but may change based on conversion at time of final payment.

    • Deposit

      $1000 Per person due at time of booking
      Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, Discover, or check accepted

      Deposits are non-refundable. If cancellations are necessary, we require this request in writing. We will do our best to resell your space. Only if we can resell your space, we will refund (minus deposit and discounts given to sell your space). No partial refunds are possible for unused services.

    • Installments

      May 1, 2013: $3500 First Installment
      October 15, 2013: Final Payment

      Please make check payable to Natural Exposures and mail to:

      Natural Exposures
      810 N. Wallace, Suite E
      Bozeman, MT 59715

    • Included

      • Private small group travel with professional photographer Daniel J. Cox
      • Hotel shuttle transfers to/from Narita International Airport
      • Entrance fees for various locations visited
      • English-speaking guide and private coach with extra room for comfort and camera gear while traveling between locations.
      • Meals where indicated (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
      • Domestic flight Haneda – Kushiro – Haneda
      • Lodging for 13 nights
      • Gratuities for bus driver and guide
      • All admission fees and planned excursion on boat for eagles
    • Not Included

      • International airfares
      • Laundry, miscellaneous personal expenses, drinks, Internet charges
      • Attractions/activities not listed in itinerary
      • Meals not listed in itinerary
      • Pre/post trip hotel nights
      • Travel insurance
    • Flights to Book

      February 9
      Arrive Tokyo (NRT) any time of day

      February 22
      Depart Tokyo (NRT) any time of day

    • Travel Insurance

      Travel/emergency evacuation insurance is not required for this photo tour, but we always recommend purchasing it for any trip. We recommend one or more of the following, depending on your needs:

      Global Rescue
      (use code natexp)

      Allianz Global Assistance 
      (use travel agency ID F203564)

      Insure My Trip

    • Terms & Conditions

      Natural Exposures cannot control nor is responsible for abnormal weather, natural disasters, or any other disaster that might affect the trip. Travel insurance should be purchased to cover any missed flights or medical problems that may affect/delay your travel. National Parks have the right to change our itinerary.

      By booking a trip with Natural Exposures, you agree to the following CANCELLATION AND LIABILITY POLICY

  • Accommodations for 2014 Japan Winter Wildlife Photography Tour II

    Hotels chosen for itinerary cannot be officially booked until mid-February 2013. If there are any changes of accommodations we will let you know in advance.

    Accommodations on this trip outside of Tokyo are very basic, traditional Japanese ryokans. Often beds are futon or mattress. Shoes are taken off before entering buildings to wear provided flip flops. Dining tables are often low and we’ll have to sit on the floor. WiFi is available at most places but never guaranteed. Meals are mainly Japanese cuisine and there will be westernized meals at times. Most breakfasts and dinners are included. Lunches are often on your own at restaurants or convenience stores depending on your budget. We have been told many use convenience stores for boxed lunches.

    February 9, 1 Night
    Crowne Plaza Narita

    Located near the airport, complimentary shuttle, bilingual front desk staff, indoor pool, sauna and fitness center.

    February 10, 11 and 12, 3 Nights
    Korakukan Inn
    Tonight we’ll stay in a Japanese ryokan. A ryokan is type of traditional Japanese inn that originated during the Edo period. You will find traditional matted floors (tatami), sliding doors, and futons. Most of the ryokan are family owned, basic accommodations.

    Korakukan Inn has 12 traditional Japanese-style rooms. The rooms are rustic yet charming and afford us the luxury to come and go as we please from the monkey park avoiding the mile long walking trail.

    February 13 and 14, 2 Nights
    Minshuku Taito
    A Japanese style bed and breakfast which is family operated. This provides an opportunity to meet a a local family and experience the traditional Japanese lifestyle.

    February 15, 16 and 17, 3 Nights
    Pension Papilio
    or similar

    February 18 and 19, 2 Nights
    Pension Rausukur

    February 20, 1 Night
    ANA Kushiro Hotel

    February 21, 1 Night
    The Prince Sakura Tower Tokyo
    Spacious garden in order to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of nature, even in the middle of Tokyo! Air bubble baths in all rooms and a Relaxation floor featuring a slow-style gym, Armour Spa Sakura Tower, Nail LA kowa, sauna, whirlpool and lounge. Free high-speed Internet in each guest room.

    EXTRA ACCOMMODATIONS PRE/POST TRIP
    If you need a hotel pre/post trip, we’d be happy to book accommodations for you at the Crowne Plaza Narita. Rates for the Crowne Plaza Narita are 9,800 yen (approximately $125) per person based on double occupancy or 11,500 yen (approximately $150) for single occupancy. This includes tax, service charge and breakfast.

  • Helpful Information for 2014 Japan Winter Wildlife Photography Tour II

    PASSPORT and VISA

    You must have a valid passport and an onward/return ticket for tourist/business “visa free” stays of up to 90 days. Your passports must be valid for the entire time you are staying in Japan.

    VACCINATIONS

    Vaccinations are not required for Japan.

    CAMERA GEAR

    We’ll send a list of suggested camera gear to bring and Dan will phone each guest to discuss gear prior to departure time.

    CLOTHING – Layer Up!!

    • Gloves
    • Warm hat
    • Scarf
    • Heavy Socks
    • Slip-resistant, waterproof winter boots/shoes (spikes/traction aids would be good for bottom of boots/shoes to walk in icy conditions)
    • Waterproof jacket/winter coat (Gore-Tex)
    • Thermal wear
    • T-shirt/long sleeves for layering
    • Fleece
    • Swimsuit/trunks for hot springs or bathhouses
    • Sunglasses
    • Lip balm
    • Hand and feet warmers (Hotties)
    • Spare batteries for cameras (cold will deplete a charge quick)
    • Plug adapter for Japan

    CURRENCY

    Japanese yen

    WEATHER

    Sub-zero temperatures in Hokkaido. Very warm inside buildings, so bring layers. Each guest must be able to walk short to moderate distances, carry their own camera gear and at times walk on icy conditions and sometimes up hills that are icy. Daylight is from 7:00am to 5:00pm. We’ll be photographing from dawn to dusk, taking breaks for meals and to warm up.

    Have a question?

    Have a question about this tour? We're happy to answer any queries you may have.
  • Testimonials from Natural Exposures' Explorers

    • "If you ever want to travel to another country and you want to go first class, travel with Natural Exposures. They are number one in showing their guests the best time ever in the classiest way. I would recommend Natural Exposures Tours to everyone. If you want to go in style, go with NE!"

      Michelle Duggan, Massachusetts

    • "Tanya and Dan’s logistic skills provide a seamless photo tour where one can truly enjoy the experience. With unlimited photographic opportunities Dan’s instruction has taken my photography to a higher level."

      Linda Henry, Oregon

    • "I just wanted to again thank you for a wonderful week of photography and relaxation away from the office. It was a really a good group."

      Sue Wolfe, Texas

    • "What a trip
      What a group
      What a fabulous everything
      To our next encounters with nature"

      Maud and Leon Soriano, Florida

For additional information please contact Tanya at photo@naturalexposures.com or by telephone at (406) 556-8212

Are you ready to start your next adventure?