10 April 2008

White & Wild Japan

New Squiver Photo Trip, February 2009 - In January we visited Japan and were amazed by its stunning scenery and abundant wildlife. An experience we would love to share with you next year! We started in Tokyo where we spent some time exploring the city and then travelled to the north of Honshu, the main island, where we visited the famous and extremely photogenic snow monkeys. A troop of Japanese macaques live here permanently, and during the cold winter days they spend most of their time bathing in one of the natural hot springs - quite an amazing sight. The combination of snow, steam rising from the hot springs and monkeys bathing and interacting makes for perfect wildlife photography opportunities, but it's just as wonderful to simply watch them swimming, playing and fighting. Maybe it's the calming effect of the warm water, but the monkeys are very relaxed so you can get very close for powerful close-ups or dynamic wide angle shots of these remarkable creatures.

After that we flew to Hokkaido, the most northern island of Japan, famous for its red-crowned cranes. They were once close to extinction, but fortunately their numbers have gone up over the last decades. With an estimated 1500 cranes living on Hokkaido they are however still the rarest of all cranes and high on the IUCN Red List of endangered wildlife. The cranes are very beautiful and elegant birds and it is great to watch their graceful dances. Several times we saw big white-tailed eagles fight with the cranes over fish, a real spectacle! After the cranes we travelled to the north coast where we found a great place to take a boat and search for Steller's sea eagles. They use the pack-ice that comes floating towards Hokkaido from Kamchatka (Russia) as their mobile fishing spot. They are the heaviest of all eagles and with a wing span of up to 250cm (8,2 ft) an impressive sight. Our last stop was a visit to the whooper swans, swimming in a few open sections of a frozen lake, with dramatic snow-covered mountains in the background. Warm water from nearby hot springs mixes with the icy cold water, causing steam which adds even more to the fairytale-like scenery. The perfect place to take stunning photographs of these birds in their otherworldly habitat.

Join us next year on a new Photo Trip to Japan!
On the White & Wild Japan web page you can see some examples of shots Marsel made as well as a few video clips of the locations we will visit on this exciting trip. Truly wild places with beautiful scenery, where you will get close to the animals and where you will experience Japanese traditions, customs and their refined cuisine. Visit the Photo Trip page for more information and to reserve a place on this incredible trip. For more info please have a look at the Photo Trips page.

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