This beautiful wintery island offers great photography opportunities. Amazing numbers of very approachable birds can be found. It is almost unbelievable how many Steller’s Sea Eagles and White-tailed Eagles you can see at the same time or how close to swans you can get!
Birds are the main target in this tour but also the landscapes in north Japan are like fairytail. Imagine Swans in the misty lake, mountains in morning light or simple Japanese trees in the middle of the fields. All this makes Hokkaido very popular destination amongst photographers.
Experience also Japanese culture with extremely polite people, wonderful food and onsens. Something what you will never forget!
Highlights: Red-crowned Crane, Steller’s Sea Eagle, Blakiston’s Fish Owl, White-tailed Eagle, Whooper Swan, Black Kite, Japanese landscapes, Red Fox and Sika Deer. No hide photography!
Day 1 Arrival
This tour will start in Kushiro airport, Hokkaido on 19th of February 2019 at 8 PM. We will meet you at the Kushiro airport and drive approximately 30 minutes to Tsurui. After a Japanese dinner it’s time for a good rest. Rooms are Japanese style and don´t have showers, but here is a great opportunity to enjoy Japanese public bath (onsen) at the hotel.
Day 2 – TSURUI
Relaxed start with breakfast. We spend the whole day in Red-crowned Crane feeding station in Tsurui. In this place it is possible to take also low-angle photos of theses beautiful cranes. We continue taking photos until it will be dark. Lunch can be bought from local shop. In the evening Japanese dinner at the accommodation.
Day 3 – TSURUI – AKAN – LAKE KUSSHARO
Start with early pre-breakfast excursion to the Otowa bridge where Red-crowned Cranes can be photographed at their roosting site. Open river can be steaming in cold weather and the trees can be covered with thick frost. This is good place for Cranes in river landscape images, especially in clear mornings. After breakfast we pack our luggage and drive over the mountain to the Akan Red-crowned Crane feeding station. There are also some White-tailed Eagles visiting the site, especially during the 14.00 feeding when the Cranes are fed with live trout. Other species possible today will be Steller´s Sea Eagle, Black Kite and Whooper Swan. There is a small café in Akan crane center where it would be possible to have a lunch. Late afternoon drive from Akan to small village close to Lake Kussharo. In the evening Japanese dinner at our hotel.
Day 4 – LAKE KUSSHARO
Lake Kussharo is great place to photograph Whooper Swans! Swans like to spend the winter here because of the hot springs that keep the water open close to the shores.Optional pre-breakfast Whooper Swan photography session. Back to the Swans after breakfast for couple of hours. Break in the middle of the day at the hotel in order to empty the memory cards and charge the batteries. Afternoon photography session with the Swans until dusk. Whooper Swan photography at two different locations by the Lake Kussharo. There might be also photographable Sika Deer in the area and we have a possibility to photograph also e.g. Japanese Wagtail, Dusky Thrush, Thick-billed Crow, Japanese Bulbul and maybe also Falcated Duck or Spot-billed Duck.
Day 5 – LAKE KUSSHARO – NEMURO
Pre-breakfast Whooper Swan photography session. After breakfast we pack our luggage and make our way to Nemuro. On the way stop in lake Mashu for some landscape photography and naturally also we will stop for all possible wildlife on the roadside. Lunch from the roadside shops and dinner at the accommodation.
Day 6 – NEMURO
After the breakfast we photograph the Eagle feeding session at 9.00 at Lake Furen. Previous winters approximately 100 Steller’s Sea Eagles and White-tailed Eagles have gathered on the ice right next to a restaurant at lake Furen. There will be good opportunities to photograph flying eagles and Black Kites from the restaurant’s parking place. Birds often pass the parking place at a very short distance! Good chances for flight photography here and with long lens one can get some good action shots of fighting eagles on ice or air!
Today there is possibility to have lunch at Sushi restaurant in Nemuro (at your own expense). Very recommended Japanese experience! Afternoon we will have time to download the images and charge the batteries at the hotel. Late afternoon drive especially for the Sika Deer and other wildlife in the area.
Day 7 – NEMURO – RAUSU
After the breakfast we pack our luggage and photograph the eagle feeding session one more time at the Lake Furen. After that we will continue our journey to Rausu. On the way to Rausu it’s possible to photograph Scaups, Harlequin Ducks, Goosanders, Mergansers, Glaucous Gulls etc. in the harbors. Lunch from the roadside shop and dinner at the accommodation.
Day 8 – RAUSU
Pre-breakfast boat trip from Rausu to photograph eagles for 2-3 hours. After the boat trip back to the accommodation for the breakfast. Time to empty the cards and charge the batteries.
Afternoon second boat trip to the eagles as late as possible in the afternoon.
Day 9 – RAUSU – NAKASHIBETSU
Pre-breakfast boat trip from Rausu to photograph eagles for 2-3 hours. After the boat trip we will go back to the accommodation for the breakfast and for packing.
After breakfast drive to Nakashibetsu. At the hotel there is a bird feeder with Jays, Tits and Woodpeckers visiting and there is also a possibility for Sable and Squirrel. Also Greater Pied Kingfisher might be seen here.
This is a very nice Japanese spa-hotel with very friendly people working and excellent Japanese cuisine. Try also to find time to enjoy Japanese hot bath here. Also some local souvenirs can be bought from this hotel.
In the evening we will look for the largest owl of the world – Blakiston´s Fish Owl. There is a feeding place for the owl here and it is possible to take photos through the window with artificial lights. Occasionally Owl can be still around in the next morning light!
Day 10 – NAKASHIBETSU- KUSHIRO
Optional pre-breakfast landscape photography excursion to the nearby mountain area. Another option is to stay in hotel and photograph at the hotel feeder. After breakfast transportation to the Kushiro airport. This tour ends in Kushiro airport around midday.
Price includes: Accommodation in Japanese hotels and lodges in double rooms in Hokkaido for 9 nights (19.02-29-02 2019). Japanese breakfast and dinner. Transportation in Hokkaido with a minivans. Boat trips mentioned in the program (3 boat trips) and admission fees to the Crane feeding sites.
Accommodation: good standard accommodation. Some hotels Japanese style with Tatami and onsen.
Food: Japanese style, a lot of fish and seafood! Lunch mainly from the roadside shops and dinner at the accommodation
Distances: The key photography areas are in the same area – so there won’t be too much driving involved. During the 10 days photography tour we normally drive 1000 – 1500 kilometers in Hokkaido. Minivans for thansportation.
Leader: Jari Peltomäki from Finnature
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