My Trip to Northern Japan in winter (Feb. 2015) to photograph Snow Monkeys!!!!

I am blessed to have the opportunity to Blog my entire 16 day journey on a frequent basis, keeping you posted whilst capturing Northern Japan during winter together with two ODP award winning wildlife photographers; Wim van den Heever, Ben Cranke, 10 other experienced photographers and one of Japan’s top guides to look after our safety. Enjoy this entire journey with me as we capture Japan’s incredible wildlife and landscapes spectacles. I will post images, share all trip preparation issues, various costs, camera equipment performance as well as  ’behind the scene’ issues which is normally not made public with you frequently as this journey unfolds.  I will really appreciate your support and feedback!

  • This is a list of just a view of what we can expected to photograph whilst on this tour:
  • Snow Monkeys (Macaques) – bathing in hot springs
  • Whooper Swans at volcanic Lake Kussharo
  • Displaying Red-crowned Cranes
  • Dawn Charters out to sea
  • Ice floes off the Shiretoko Peninsula for White-tailed & Steller’s Eagles
  • Sika Deer
  • Ural Owls
  • Red Fox
  • And possibly the world’s largest owl species, the Blakiston’s Fish Owl
  • Harbour Seal
  • Orca
  • Various waterfowl such as Goldeneye Duck, Pintail & more
  • Various Sea Birds such as Gulls, Terns and more


The islands of the Japanese archipelago have nine forest eco regions, which are home to an enormous diversity of flora & fauna, boasting over 90,000 species of wildlife in incredibly picturesque mountainous countryside.  Amazing hey, because when people think of Japan, they think shopping malls, high-density living and technology.


  • Expected temperatures:
  • Tokyo:   -5C    - Light snow & rain can be expected
  • Jigokudani:   -10C - Light to heavy snowfall can be expected
  • Hokkaido:    -20C - Light to heavy snowfall can be expected
  • (Whilst photographing the Owls at night): -30C


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I have added some of Ben’s images of snow monkeys he photographed whilst on tour for you to enjoy.  Not long till I will hopefully have my own snow monkey (Macaques) images to show you.


I will really appreciate your support and feedback! 

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Wow!  You are so lucky.  I see Wim posting images regularly as he is "preparing" for the trip.  Looks awesome

Jip! his work is stunning and he is such an awesome mentor. I have been fortunate and joined them on a few very interesting trips already. They usually Blog all of their trips and I follow most of them! Its going to be such a challenge for me to Blog from Japan as most of the place will not have internet. Strange hey.,its Japan!

Sterkte met al die relings. Ons gaan beslis jou blog volg, en ek sien uit na al die foto's.

Dankie Deon! Ja ek gaan beslis my beste probeer en alles toepas wat julle my geleer het! As dit nie vir jou en Danie was nie, en ook moet ek byvoeg...ook Wim en Ben wat hulle kennis so graag met my gedeel het nie, sou ek nie hierdie geleendheid gehad het nie. Ek is nogal bang vir die koue -20 het ek nog nooit voorheen beleef nie! Ek oefen nou al om met my handskoene my kamera te kan hanteer. Nie maklik nie!! Klein knoppies en groot handskoene! you have a doctor going with you to treat things like frostbite...and who won't mind carrying your bags...i know!!


This sounds a wonderful adventure. May I add my "penny'sworth" to it.

One way around the cold and the "frozen" fingers is to make use of a the handgloves used by medical personnel and golfers. As a first layer you may consider plastic "medical" gloves used in hospitals theaters and for a second layer you use the golfers gloves(genuine leather type). This should help you yo manipulte your camera settings and adjustments and allow you to work a bit more comfortable is sub-zero temperatures.

Whilst on a shoot in Lapland (Sweden) in Febuary and chasing the aurora on a husky pulled ice sledge, the two layers(surgical gloves and golfers gloves) helped my to manipulate my camera in temperatures of -24C

Best wishes for a most enjoyable journey


Doc! we are going to need you for sure! I think we should start making plans!! Thank's Danie! - I never thought of medical gloves Frans! what a brilliant idea. I do however have liner gloves which I managed to get from Drifters as well as finger warmers which really seems to work well. But.. with the finger warmers inside the liner gloves, I cannot change settings.So, the finger warmers will have to be removed before our shoot, which means, you have to remove the liners as well as the big gloves and then your fingers are frozen again! I am going to test the medical gloves as my first layer like you have suggested,then the liners and then big gloves over that and see if that will work better when I have to remove the big gloves to change settings. Hmmm sounds like a plan, back to the cold room again -:((

This trip is costing more than anticipated! Apparently our budget for spending money is about R10,000-00 - Wow!!! Hopefully my family will give me spending money for my birthday as well as for Xmas -:((
Hi Bruna. I have commented on your Blog but again would like to say how useful it has been as I am preparing for my trip to Antartica in Feb next year. Particularly your thoughts on gloves and being able to change camera settings with thick gloves. Not so sure however if I want to test these by spending a night in a deep freeze. I will also be taking two scarves and a headlamp. Looking forward to following your Blog. Mike
Hi Mike, thank you for your comments - I have been in Botswana with no internet and would like to apologise for the late reply. Antartica is very high on my wish list believe me. I wish you brilliant photos opportunities as well as the very best with all your arrangements. Please do not hesitate to ask should you need any assistance. I am also very glad to hear that you find my input helpful. I will update the blog again with all the latest happenings as I am approaching the '80 days to' go mark! can you believe it! time is flying - getting nervous now. Headlamps are such a good idea, will add that to my list, thanks Mike. Will it make you feel better if both of us spend time in the deep freezer together? just kidding! it is important to test your gear believe me. What temperatures are you going to encounter whist on your trip?
Hi Bruna. I understand your reluctance about the freezer test but I do own a little tropical island so.... Your trip will be in much lower temperatures. The average summer max is around a hot 1 deg centigrade. That sounds ok but it is the very strong winds that often blow that will bring the wind chill factor right down. The light is the other factor of concern. There is almost perpetual grey cloud down south. Cannot change that bu hope for the best. It might sound silly but I am hoping for a storm on our return while crossing the notorious Drake Passage. I have seen some scary footage of huge waves and howling winds but that should make for great video footage. Eighty one days before I fly to Argentina. M





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