JAPAN: Snow Monkey Extension



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2024 :: February 15 - February 21



From: $4,950 (See details)
Cost is per person, double occupancy from Tokyo, Japan (HND)


2-3 Participants


2024: 4 spaces available


This tour is available as a private trip for any size group. The tour cost will vary with the number of people and any custom requests.

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Highlights of JAPAN: Snow Monkey Extension

  • Hands-on photo instruction for monkey, bird, and flower photography with Tamron Ambassador, Alyce Bender
  • Photograph the iconic and charismatic Snow Monkeys in their mountain valley home
  • Photograph urban birds and flowers in beautiful settings near Tokyo
  • Enjoy a small group size throughout the workshop
  • Partake in a traditional Japanese onsen experience (optional)
  • Visit Tokyo as winter releases its grip and plum blossoms burst forth and many species of birds become active amongst the spring foliage
  • Get an insiders look at the residential wards of Tokyo as we go off the tourist path for quieter gardens and parks and the wildlife that call this city home

Description of JAPAN: Snow Monkey Extension

Made famous by National Geographic and the BBC, this is your opportunity to visit the Japanese macaques, aka Snow Monkeys, in the mountains outside of Nagano, Japan. Tucked away just outside a small resort village, we bundle up and take a leisurely hike about 3km into the edge of the Joshinetsu Kogen National Park where the Jigokudani Monkey Park is located. Here Japanese macaque troops gather during the winter to forage at the lower elevations and to utilize the naturally occurring geothermically heated waters to help regulate their body temperatures. We will witness them as the soak in the mountain onsens created to keep them out of the ones humans use in town and be able to capture the various behaviors as troops and individuals of all ages interact with one another. Be prepared for an up close encounter or two as these monkeys know they run the show in these parts!

Tokyo, Japan – Late February brings out the plum blossoms in and around Tokyo. With the blossoms come a selection of passerine species to include the warbling white-eye and brown-eared bulbul. We will explore the urban parks seeking out small natural scenes and the birds that call the world’s most populous metropolitan area home.

Length of Tour


Brief Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive in Tokyo

Day 2 Train to Nagano – Yamanouchi

Day 3/4 Yamanouchi – Snow Monkeys

Day 5 Train to Tokyo

Day 6 Tokyo – Urban Birds

Day 7 Depart Tokyo for home

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 Fly to Tokyo or end of main tour

For those continuing on this extension, we will take a breather here for the evening. We will proceed from Haneda Airport to Shinjuku via train. This will deposit us in the world’s busiest railway station – Shinjuku Station. We will make our way from the station to our lodging for the night before taking the evening to explore the local area as much or as little as you’d like.

Day 2 Train to Nagano – Yamanouchi

We gather again in the morning to make the trip back to Shinjuku station where we will board one of the famed Japanese bullet trains bound for Nagano. Arriving in Nagano, we switch tracks to Snow Monkey Express, a direct limited express train that will take us into the historic onsen (hot spring) resort area of Yamanouchi.

Day 3/4 Yamanouchi – Snow Monkeys

We will spend our mornings taking the trail to the entrance of the Snow Monkey valley on the edge of Joshinetsu Kogen National Park. There we will be able to observe the famous Japanese snow monkeys (Japanese macaques) as they come out from their nighttime huddles to partake in the geothermic waters that run through the valley. A man-made onsen pool is located at the center of the valley and much of the interactions and play along with relaxation to warm themselves takes place here. Mid-morning we will hike back through the forest and partake in a lunch at a nearby café before returning again to the park for more photographic opportunities with the monkeys.

Day 5 Train to Tokyo/ Shibuya City

Saying good by to the old world onsen village of Yamanouchi, we retrace our train route back into Tokyo, this time taking it Shibuya City. Here we check in to our lodging before exploring the local parks through the evening or potentially braving the urban environment to visit the famed Shibuya Crossing, the world’s busiest pedestrian crosswalk.

Day 6 Tokyo/ Shibuya City – Urban Birds

We rise early to beat the crowds and take the local trains into a residential ward not far from where we are staying. Here we will find hundreds of plum trees blooming and the birds that come with the signs of spring. Brown-eared bulbuls, Japanese white-eyes, and oriental doves are just a few of the species we have the chance to photograph in this quiet are tucked away from most tourist maps.

Day 7 Depart Tokyo for home

We say goodbye to the land of the rising sun as we make our way back to Haneda International for afternoon flights home.


Cost is $4,950 per person, based upon double occupancy, from Tokyo, Japan (Airport code HND.
This trip ends in same as arrival city (Airport code ).

This tour includes the following:

*accommodations throughout the workshop

*train fees during the workshop

*entrance fees for snow monkey park

*meals from beginning of workshop until breakfast on the last day



Single Supplement

If a single hotel room is preferred, or we are unable to find a suitable roommate for you, a single supplement fee of $500 will be assessed.

NOTE: For boat-based tours, see pricing options for single cabins. Single cabin cost includes the single hotel cost above.


Minimum Number

If fewer than the minimum number of required participants are registered, we may still be able to run the trip by adding a small-group supplement fee, per person, determined by the number of participants registered.


Deposit Requirements

A $1,000 deposit per person is required to hold each space on this tour. Deposit may be made online by clicking the "Book Your Trip Now" button and using any credit card. If you prefer, you may call us at 888-875-9453 to pay by phone. You may also mail us a check, however, remember that all space is held on a first come-first served basis as deposits are received.

How to Book

In order to hold your space, click the "Book Your Trip Now" button above and complete the deposit process, including payment of the deposit through our Paypal portal using ANY CREDIT CARD. Upon completion of deposit, please visit our secure, online CLIENT INFORMATION FORM to complete your registration.

Final Payment

For all land-based tours: full payment by check is due 120 days prior to the departure date.

For all boat-based adventure cruises of 7-days or longer: full payment by check is required 180 days prior to departure.

NOTE: If you prefer to use credit card for final payment, a 3% fee may be added to cover the credit card merchant fees we incur.

This trip includes a mix of western and Japanese style accommodations.

Activity Level Rating: (Note: 1 is easy and 5 is difficult)

(Tokyo) Easy but requires lots of urban walking each day (est 6+ miles over the course of a day).

(Snow Monkeys – Extension Trip) Intermediate – must be able to carry gear and winter hike of 4 miles round trip (3km each way) on maintained trails of mud/snow/ice/concrete with some stairs and inclines.

Since this tour focuses on the wildlife specifically, telephoto lenses are going to be key to achieving the best images that require little cropping. Feel free to bring wider lenses but understand the majority of images created will most likely be between 300-600mm. Here are my suggestions:

  • Your longest telephoto for wildlife and birds – I use the Tamron 150-600mm G2 and highly recommend it if you are looking for a lens in this range. Anything 500mm or longer is going to be great for photographing the various wildlife, from cranes to fox.
  • A shorter telephoto such as a 70-300mm or 100-400mm for wider environmental shots and intimate portraits when we are with the snow monkeys – I typically carry the Tamron 18-400mm or Tamron 100-400mm for covering this range.
  • A lightweight wide to midrange variable lens (24-70, 18-400, 16-300, 18-70) would be great to have for when we come across landscape or street scene photo opportunities.
  • A Macro lens – such as the Tamron 90mm Macro – can be helpful when we are photographing the urban birds as this lens will give you the ability to also capture the delicate beauty of the plum blossoms up close.
  • Tripod/monopod for extra support of long lenses and for when we are waiting for action and want to put our hands in our pockets for warmth.
  • Microfiber towels/lens cloths for cleaning lenses – with snow prevalent you want something to wipe lenses off if we end up shooting into the wind or in a heavy snowfall.
  • Gear and trip insurance – because you never know what might happen. Working out in the elements, I always highly suggest having gear insurance as, should the worst come to pass, you want to know that at least you can replace what’s been damaged when you return home.

Purchasing Flights

Do not purchase your flights until the trip has been confirmed to go.

Detailed Trip Information

Upon notification that final payment is due (120 days prior to departure for land based tours / 180 days for boat based tours), you will receive a trip package of detailed information for your tour.

Any additional information about the trip, including lodgings, contacts, participants, meeting locations, etc., will sent about 2 weeks prior to the trip departure, or after final payment is received for late registrants.

Travel Insurance

As with all tours, we recommend purchasing Travel Insurance to help cover your investment, for covered reasons. Please see our section on Travel Insurance.

Passport & Visa

US Citizens may require a visa to enter certain foreign countries. See above for any required visa information.

Participants arriving to the USA from a foreign country may need to get a travel visa to enter the United States. Be sure to check the requirements for your country of origin.

Itinerary Changes

The trip itinerary is developed many months ahead of time. Occasionally, despite our best planning, changes may occur during the trip, or we may be forced to alter our plans. Changes may occur because of weather, road conditions, safety concerns or other circumstances. In these situations, it is the leader(s) responsibility to carefully consider and implement appropriate alternatives. Any additional costs incurred because of changes will be the responsibility of each individual participant. Refunds will not be issued as a result of itinerary changes.

Location Map