GROUP / pre-organized
  • Feb 6th, Feb 24th, 2024
    Hokkaido Winter
    Wildlife Photography
    with Paul Whitton
  • Hokkaido , Japan
  • You’ll experience some of the most amazing winter wildlife
    in the world up close

Highlights

Get up close to rare and wonderful winter wildlife
This is a special adventure for those wishing to encounter and photograph wild animals in Japan; such as Steller's Sea Eagles, White-tailed Eagles, the Ezo Sika Deer, and experiencing the drift ice of Rausu as well as the endangered Blakiston's Fish Owl, and the adorable Hokkaido songbirds. Experience the winter wonderland of Japan for an incredible wildlife spectacle at exactly the right time to capture the images of a lifetime.
    Immersive travel experiences that you wouldn’t be able to encounter in large groups
    You want the opportunity to share incredible memories, but you also want to ensure you’re never crowded out and are always close to the action. Our photography courses are limited to 4-6 participants. This small group size ensures that you will receive maximum attention and photographic tuition during your whole photography trip. However, this is not a fully-fledged photography workshop - participants are expected to be familiar with their photo equipment.

Paul Whitton

Profile

Paul Whitton was born in Australia and has lived in Japan for the past 20 years. Along with having worked professionally in many photographic genres, he has over 35 years of experience in wildlife and travel photography, humbly boasting achievements that include being published by National Geographic on several occasions. Recently he has spent years studying and gathering knowledge mainly on the wildlife rich Eastern side of Hokkaido. He speaks fluently in two languages and has successfully explored almost every corner of Eastern Hokkaido. His priceless expertise and knowledge are a great plus for customers who travel with Saiyu Travel.

Message to customers

I am absolutely bursting with excitement to be leading a tour with Saiyu Travel, and to share with you, the incredible gems I have discovered here. I have no doubt you will be amazed and enthralled at the unique birding and wildlife opportunities here, and the sheer beauty you will experience at every turn. I will do everything in my power to ensure you have a safe and wonderful wildlife adventure, as we discover this incredible winter wonderland together. Instagram page @kumakafe

Incredible Encounters with Wild Animals

Blakiston's Fish Owl

With a wingspan of about 180cm (5.9ft), it is the largest owl species. With only about 140 birds inhabiting Hokkaido, it is also one of the most endangered birds. In Rausu, fish are put in a rocky area in the river, and attracted by the fish, the Blakiston's fish owl can be seen from the observation area. The lighting is set exclusively for photography, so you can shoot even at night without a flash.

Japanese Red-Crowned Cranes

From November to mid-March, when the snow begins to accumulate, cranes will gather from all over Eastern Hokkaido in Tsurui Village's Kushiro Marsh. We will guide you to the Otowa Bridge where you can observe the Japanese cranes sleeping in the river, and the places where you can observe the Japanese cranes flying to the roost in the evening with the sunset.

Steller's Sea Eagle

The largest eagle in Japan with a wingspan of over 2m, which in the Ainu language is called "kapatcir kamuy" (God of Eagles). A majestic eagle with white wings and tail, and an orange-yellow beak. From January to March, it will come to Eastern Hokkaido from Sakhalin, the coast of the Sea of ​​Okhotsk, and the Kamchatka Peninsula.

Unwind and Relax in Yoroshi Hot Spring

**Due to the different itinerary, this lodging is not included in the tour departing on February 24th.
On the final day, you can recover and take a rest after your trip at the hot spring inn, which is highly rated for its guest rooms, hot springs and meals. The dinner will offer plenty of locally sourced sea and mountain products from Eastern Hokkaido. It is also famous for being able to observe the wild Blakiston's fish owl, sable and maybe a fox right from the lobby which faces the river.

Itinerary

  City Summary
1 Kushiro
Tsurui Village
Welcome to Hokkaido Japan, gather at Kushiro Airport at 13:30 pm. Then, be transported by private car to nearby Tsurui Village. Where we may have a chance to observe and photograph endangered Japanese Red-Crowned Cranes on the very first day. Check in, followed by a short meet and greet to discuss Day 2.
Recommended flight: ANA-741 Haneda 11:25 / Kushiro 13:00
Accom: Yumekobo | Meals Included: Dinner
2

Tsurui Village

Early in the morning, head to Otowa Bridge, where we will observe Red-Crowned Cranes sleeping in steamy warm thermal river waters, and weather permitting, bathed spectacularly in golden morning light. After that, we will visit various locations around Tsurui Village for photos and wildlife observation especially of the elegant Red-Crowned Cranes. You might even get a chance to see a Ural owl that lives in the forest nearby.
Accom: Yumekobo | Meals Included: Breakfast & Dinner
3 Tsurui Village
Kussharo
Enjoy photographing more Red-Crowned Cranes in new and different locations, then, take a drive into the nearby mountains in search of Owls and Red Foxes. After which, we will be heading to the undeniably beautiful and scenic Lake Kussharo, where we will spend time photographing graceful Whooper swans swimming in the days last light, spectacularly backdropped by distant mountains boarding the lake.
Accom: Marukibune or similar | Meals Included: Breakfast & Dinner
4
Kussharo
Lake Furen
We will spend the early morning photographing the swans on Lake Kussharo as they rest and bathe in natural steaming, thermal pools on the edges of the completely frozen lake. Buy lunch, visit an active volcano before making our way to Lake Furen, stopping for any wildlife encounters along the way.
Accom: East Harbour or similar | Meals Included: Breakfast & Dinner
5 Lake Furen
Rausu
In the morning, we will be viewing and photographing the truly majestic Steller's Sea Eagles & White-tailed eagles on the completely frozen Lake Furen, an incredible sight to behold. Then we’ll journey north to Rausu, stopping by at the unforgettable Notsuke Peninsula. Here you will be thrilled by large herds of wild Ezo Sika deer, perching birds of prey and hopefully Red foxes as we drive by frozen oceans and smooth undisturbed snow fields. Then dinner in Rausu, after which, we will observe and photograph endangered Blakiston's fish owls, (the largest and rarest owl on earth) from an observation hut.
Accom: Rausu Daiichi or similar | Meals Included: Breakfast & Dinner
6 Rausu In the morning, take a Drift Ice Cruise to See the sunrise over Kunashiri Island, and be amazed as we observe and photograph Steller's Sea Eagles & White-Tailed Eagles in flight, at very close proximity to our boat. Then back to our accommodation for breakfast. And some time to empty memory cards and re-charge our batteries. After a well-earned rest, we’ll have a relaxing afternoon exploring the local area on foot while looking for perching eagles and red foxes.
Accom: Rausu Daiichi or similar | Meals Included: Breakfast & Dinner
7 Rausu
Yoroushi
The next morning, we take one more Drift Ice Cruise for another change to capture some more images of the truly incredible Steller's Sea Eagles & White-Tailed Eagles in flight. After Lunch, transfer to Yoroushi. We’ll be on the lookout and stopping for any wildlife opportunities along the way. Then, enjoy delicious local food and a hot spring at our hotel in Yoroushi, before having chance to see and photograph a different wild Blakiston's Fish Owl, right in the backyard of our accommodation. There’s also a good chance we may see a beautiful wild Japanese Sable.
Accom: Yuyado Daiichi | Meals Included: Breakfast & Dinner
8 Yoroushi
Kushiro

Enjoy a morning hot spring bath, and then relax until check-out time at 11AM. Then transfer to Kushiro airport.
Recommended flight: ANA-742 Kushiro 13:45 / Haneda 15:30

Meals Included: Breakfast
  City Summary
1 Kushiro
Tsurui Village
Welcome to Hokkaido Japan, gather at Kushiro Airport at 13:30 pm. Then, be transported by private car to nearby Tsurui Village. Where we may have a chance to observe and photograph endangered Japanese Red-Crowned Cranes on the very first day. Check in, followed by a short meet and greet to discuss Day 2.
Recommended flight: ANA-741 Haneda 11:25 / Kushiro 13:00
Accom: Green Park Tsurui | Meals Included: Dinner
2

Tsurui Village

Early in the morning, head to Otowa Bridge, where we will observe Red-Crowned Cranes sleeping in steamy warm thermal river waters, and weather permitting, bathed spectacularly in golden morning light. After that, we will visit various locations around Tsurui Village for photos and wildlife observation especially of the elegant Red-Crowned Cranes. You might even get a chance to see a Ural owl that lives in the forest nearby.
Accom: Green Park Tsurui | Meals Included: Breakfast & Dinner
3 Tsurui Village
Kussharo
Enjoy photographing more Red-Crowned Cranes in new and different locations, then, take a drive into the nearby mountains in search of Owls and Red Foxes. After which, we will be heading to the undeniably beautiful and scenic Lake Kussharo, where we will spend time photographing graceful Whooper swans swimming in the days last light, spectacularly backdropped by distant mountains boarding the lake.
Accom: Marukibune or similar | Meals Included: Breakfast & Dinner
4
Kussharo
Rausu
We will spend the early morning photographing the swans on Lake Kussharo as they rest and bathe in natural steaming, thermal pools on the edges of the completely frozen lake. Buy lunch, visit an active volcano before making our way to Rausu, stopping by at the unforgettable Notsuke Peninsula. Here you will be thrilled by large herds of wild Ezo Sika deer, perching birds of prey and hopefully Red foxes as we drive by frozen oceans and smooth undisturbed snow fields.
Accom: Rausu Daiichi or similar | Meals Included: Breakfast & Dinner
5 Rausu In the morning, take a Drift Ice Cruise to See the sunrise over Kunashiri Island, and be amazed as we observe and photograph Steller's Sea Eagles & White-Tailed Eagles in flight, at very close proximity to our boat. Then back to our accommodation for breakfast. And some time to empty memory cards and re-charge our batteries. After a well-earned rest, we’ll have a relaxing afternoon exploring the local area on foot while looking for perching eagles and red foxes. Then dinner in Rausu, after which, we will observe and photograph endangered Blakiston's fish owls, (the largest and rarest owl on earth) from an observation hut.
Accom: Rausu Daiichi or similar | Meals Included: Breakfast & Dinner
6 Rausu
Nemuro
The next morning, we take one more Drift Ice Cruise for another change to capture more images of the Steller's & White-Tailed Sea Eagles, you should be feeling way more relaxed, confident and prepared after round one, to capture incredible images. After Lunch, we transfer to Nemuro area. With Paul’s local knowledge, we’ll be on the lookout and stopping for any wildlife opportunities along the way.
Accom: East Harbor | Meals Included: Breakfast & Dinner
7 Nemuro In the morning, we will be viewing and photographing Steller's & White-tailed Sea Eagles on the magnificent and completely frozen Lake Furen, an incredible sight to behold. Then scour the unforgettable landscapes of the Nemuro peninsula, affording possible opportunities to photograph other raptor species, like falcons, and owls, foxes and much more.
Accom: East Harbor | Meals Included: Breakfast & Dinner
8 Nemuro
Kushiro

Before heading to the airport, spend the morning in a new and exciting location to the tour, and a chance to photograph eagles fighting over fish in midair right before your eyes. Tour ends after arrival at Kushiro airport.

Recommended flight: ANA-742 Kushiro 13:45 / Haneda 15:30

Meals Included: Breakfast
** We offer other tours within Japan and can accommodate customized packages and quotes in combination with this one. Please feel free to inquire for more information from our agent.

Price

  Price per person
Departure on Feb 06th
Fully booked
JPY490,000
*For 4 to 6 participants
Departure on Feb 24th
Fully booked
JPY480,000
*For 4 to 6 participants
Single room supplement Feb 06th: JPY40,000
Feb 24th: JPY35,000

Important Notes

**Tour price listed is per person, based on sharing twin rooms.
** This tour requires a minimum number of 4 participants. Please do NOT book your airline reservations until you receive confirmation that the minimum number of tour participants has been reached.
** Some hotel (Japanese style hotel) only offers futon style bedding, where people will sleep on a mattress laid out on the floor.
** Lunch during the tour is not included. You will have a chance to buy food from the local convenience stores or eateries. Each person should prepare to pay for these individually.
**The purpose of this tour is to observe nature and for wildlife photography. According to weather reports and local information we will adjust your tour schedule as needed; based on recent sightings. However, these are wild animals and there is no guarantee of being able to see everything listed in the itinerary.
** The detailed itinerary will be sent to all participants at the same time two weeks before the tour start.

Included :

English-speaking guide | Accommodation as per above | Private vehicle with driver as per itinerary above | Meals (*) as per above | All activities participation fees as per above

Not Included :

Transportation to/from Japan | Domestic flight in Japan | Travel & Medical Insurance | Daily Lunches & Additional Snacks | Personal expenses (Souvenirs and Alcoholic Beverages, etc.)

Climate :

In this season the warmest temperatures you can expect is -1°C (30°F), and it can go to as low as -15°C (5°F) to -25°C (-13°F). It may even feel colder in early morning hours when you will be photo-hunting or taking a drift ice cruise. Make sure you have layers of extra warm clothes for upper and lower body. Waterproof ski wear winter gear, snow boots, warm gloves and thermal underwear, warm hats and ear warmers will all come handy.

Luggage :

As we use private van, and luggage space is limited, we allow everyone to bring up to one suitcase per person. If there is not enough space in the trunk for the backpack with photo equipment, you may need to keep it on your lap as we drive.

Dietary Restriction :

Hotels in remote area such as Eastern Hokkaido only accept requests for special meals to medical (such as allergy) and religious needs.

Customize Your Tour?

If you wish to extend your stay or make domestic flight arrangements, contact us to start discussing your custom tour! We'll carefully create an itinerary based on your budget, your choice of destinations, accommodations, and focus it on your interests.
  Contact us about this tour
Travel planning and implementation:SAIYU TRAVEL CO.,LTD.
3rd floor, Kyodo Bldg. jimbocho, 2-2, Kanda, jimbocho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101-0051, Japan |Travel Agency Registration No. 607

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