Snow Monkeys & Snow Cranes of Japan with Mark Brazil

Snow Monkeys & Cranes of Japan with Mark Brazil- Premium Adventure Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Premium Adventures
Destinations:
Japan, Asia
Programmes:
Premium Adventures, Wildlife
Trip Code:
WZEJP
Activity Rating - Moderate
Moderate

You are moderately fit and possess a spirit of adventure. Some previous experience is required for most activity based trips.

18 Days Land only
Ages: 18+

Trip Overview

Extraordinary wildlife awaits on this expertly led Japanese premium adventure. As we explore islands from Hokkaido to Kyushu, you will enjoy sprawling cities, bright blue lakes, and active volcanoes in some of Japan’s lesser-visited beauty spots. The main event is of course the cranes and snow monkeys that call this wonderful set of islands home! Be immersed in Japanese culture, cuisine and tradition whilst staying at traditional ryokans and guesthouses including the sublime Senjukaku Inn in Kambayashi Onsen.

Your expert leader, Dr. Mark Andrew Brazil is a conservationist, author, and journalist, particularly noted for his work on east Asian birds.

At a Glance

  • 17 nights accommodation
  • Travel by private minibus & 4 internal flights
  • Group normally 6- 14 plus expert leader and local guide

Trip Highlights

  • Three nights at the traditional Senjukaku Inn in Kambayashi Onsen; soak in open air hot springs and enjoy Japanese cuisine & hospitality at its finest
  • Witness nearly 14,000 hooded and white-naped cranes in Arasaki, Kyushu
  • Visit the enchanting, snow-enveloped village of Shirakawa-go, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the tall, gable-roofed Gassho-Zukuri architecture, which literally means "hands folded in prayer," is unique in Japan
  • Observe the celebrated spectacle of the snow monkeys that visit and soak in the thermal baths of Jigokudani, and enjoy the therapeutic properties of the hot springs at our lodge
  • Watch magnificent Steller's eagles and graceful whooper swans at lakes along the coasts of east Hokkaido, and search for the world's largest owl—Blakiston's fish owl.
  • Led by Expedition Leader & Orthinologist, Mark Brazil

Is This Trip for You?

This premium adventure is a wildlife watching tour that involves being out in the field from dawn until dusk on several days to maximise opportunities for wildlife sightings. It has been designed for those who already have an appreciation of wildlife, or those who would like to learn more. For most activities, a moderate level of exertion is required. Participants should be in general good health, able to hike one to two miles over uneven and rough terrain, in the snow and ice, and stand during excursions. Binoculars will be essential equipment for all your wildlife observations during this program.

Several of our overnight stops will require sleeping on traditional Japanese futons, and at some accommodation en suite bathrooms are a dream of the future. At the end of the day, sleeping on futons and wrestling with chopsticks are all part of the Japanese experience and will be great fun if you are willing to embrace cultural differences.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Group

Your tour leader will be Dr. Mark Brazil, an English-speaking guide & Ornithologist throughout this tour.

Through-out this tour, Mark and the group will also be accompanied by a local Japanese guide.

Adult min age:
18
Min group size:
6
Max group size:
14

Itinerary

WZEJP- Snow Monkeys & Cranes of Japan

Land Only

Start City:
Tokyo
End City:
Tokyo

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Arrive Tokyo

    Welcome to Tokyo! Today you will meet your English-speaking tour guide at the Haneda Excel Hotel Tokyo at 7pm for a welcome briefing, followed by a group welcome dinner, and the chance to get a good night's rest before our journey to Kyushu the next day.

    Premium accommodation: Haneda Excel Hotel Tokyu, Tokyo Haneda (4 star)

    Meals included:
    Dinner
  • Day 2

    Tokyo / Kagoshima / Kirishima

    A morning flight takes you to Kyushu Island. From Kagoshima, drive through wooded hills into the Kirishima-Yaku National Park. Visit the ancient Kirishima Shrine and walk through the beautiful mature laurel forests around Lake Miike to observe resident forest birds and wintering waterfowl. Dinner and overnight at a hot spring hotel in Kirishima. 

    Standard accommodation: Ryokojin Sanso, Kirishima, Kyushu (3 star)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 3

    Arasaki Crane Reserve

    The fallow rice paddies around the coastal village of Arasaki are the site of a spectacular winter gathering of Asian cranes. The sights and sounds of nearly 14,000 hooded and white-naped cranes make this one of the most powerful wildlife experiences one can hope for, and a photographer’s dream. Overnight at Hotel Sengokutei for the next two nights.

    Premium accommodation: Hotel Sengokutei, Izumi, Kyushu

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 4

    Arasaki Crane Reserve

    Rise early to visit the main concentration of cranes to witness their mass departure from the roost at dawn. After breakfast, explore the surrounding fields to photograph adults and juveniles and search for other wintering birds.

    Premium accommodation: Hotel Sengokutei, Izumi, Kyushu

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 5

    Arasaki Crane Reserve / Nagoya / Shirakawa-go / Takayama

    Leave Kyushu on an early morning flight for the snowy mountains of central Honshu. Visit the village of Shirakawa-go, located in an isolated, steep, mountainous area of the Sho River Valley. This World Heritage Site showcases the unique architectural style of houses that resemble hands folded in prayer. Overnight in Takayama.

    Premium accommodation: Hotel Associa Takayama Resort, Takayama, Honshu (4 star)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 6

    Takayama / Kambayashi Onsen staying at the enchanting Senjukaku Inn

    This morning explore the historical town of Takayama, visiting saké breweries and miso stores, before continuing by road to Matsumotos to visit the historical castle, ending at Kambayashi Onsen. Here you have the extraordinary opportunity to watch and photograph snow monkeys. Your ryokan, or inn, Senjukaku Inn, for the next three nights features an attractive and artistic interior and a delightful garden. With its own onsen (natural thermal spring), you are able to emulate generations of Japanese people (and the monkeys!) and enjoy a relaxing and therapeutic soak in the mineral waters.

    Premium accommodation: Senjukaku Inn, Kambayashi Onsen, Honshu (4 star)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Days 7-8

    Kambayashi Onsen staying at the enchanting Senjukaku Inn / Jigokudani

    Jigokudani is a steep-sided valley set amid forested mountains. After breakfast walk along the mile-long trail to the viewing area and spend the day observing and photographing the resident troop of Japanese macaques as they feed nearby and soak in their very own thermal pool. Also keep a lookout for the shy and elusive Japanese serow, and birds such as the brown dipper and alpine accentor.

    Premium accommodation: Senjukaku Inn, Kambayashi Onsen, Honshu (4 star)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 9

    Kambayashi Onsen / Tokyo / Kushiro

    Today drive across Honshu and then fly from Tokyo to Kushiro. Arriving in eastern Hokkaido, more wildlife spectacles await—huge numbers of red-crowned cranes, flocks of whooper swans, magnificent Steller’s eagles, and possibly Eurasian red squirrels, Japanese deer, and red foxes. Overnight at a family-run hot spring hotel in Tsurui-mura for the next three nights. 

    Premium accommodation: Minshuku Taito, Tsurui Mura, Hokkaido

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Days 10-11

    Kushiro Region

    In snowy east Hokkaido, visit several areas to view red-crowned cranes. You can expect to see large flocks of these magnificent birds at ranges down to 100 feet or less. Greeting ceremonies and courtship dances involve leaps and pirouettes, posturing, and trumpeting cries. Such behavior can be infectious, spreading through the flocks in waves, and oftentimes dozens of cranes leap and trumpet together in a thrilling display. 

    Premium accommodation: Minshuku Taito, Tsurui Mura, Hokkaido

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Days 12-13

    Akan-Mashu National Park

    Akan-Mashu National Park is geothermally rich and over two days you will explore a variety of visually stunning subjects—volcanic peaks, steaming sulphuroles, Hokkaido’s most scenic crater lake, and flocks of whooper swans. In the evening, retreat to your delightful lakeside pension for a gourmet meal.

    Please note: single supplements are not available at Pension Papilio and rooming is based on twin share (single supplement guests will be sharing with another group member of the same gender on these two nights).

    Standard accommodation: Pension Papilio, Kawayu, Akan, Hokkaido (3 star)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 14

    Rausu, Shiretoko Peninsula

    Today drive to the Shiretoko Peninsula, another of Japan’s World Heritage Sites. This rugged, mountainous finger of land attracts white-tailed and Steller’s eagles, truly immense birds, half again as big as the bald eagle. Weather permitting, visit the edge of the sea ice by boat and lure these impressive raptors with fish scraps. Tonight stay at a local inn overlooking the sea.

    Standard accommodation: Rausukur, Rausu, Hokkaido

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 15

    Shiretoko Peninsula / Yoroushi

    Depart early this morning for a second opportunity to watch the eagles at the ice edge. Following breakfast continue your exploration of eastern Hokkaido, first along the Shiretoko Peninsula for more views of winter wildfowl and raptors, and to watch for foxes, deer, and seals (sightings of Steller’s sea lion and harbor seal are possible), and keep a look out for sea-urchin harvesters. Then head south to your accommodations inland at Yoroushi where you will spend two nights.

    Premium accommodation: Yuyado Daiichi, Yoroushi, Hokkaido

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 16

    Yoroushi

    Today explore the scenery of the southeast coast of Hokkaido, where there are more chances to encounter deer and foxes, as well as wintering swans, ducks, and raptors. Time permitting, learn how mochi, a type of Japanese rice cake, is created. 

    Premium accommodation: Yuyado Daiichi, Yoroushi, Hokkaido

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 17

    Yoroushi / Kushiro / Tokyo

    After breakfast drive back to Kushiro for your flight south to Tokyo. Pause for your last glimpses of cranes and views of Kushiro marsh before saying farewell to Japan’s wildest island, Hokkaido. Overnight at the The Okura Tokyo, with a special farewell dinner.

    Premium accommodation: The Okura Tokyo, Tokyo, Honshu (5 star)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 18

    Depart Toyko

    Wave goodbye to the rest of the group and board your flight home.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast

Accommodation

Premium Hotels & Traditional Accommodation

Senjukaku Inn - open air onsen

Unwind at the end of each day in our expertly curated, handpicked mix of modern and traditional Japanense accommodation on this Premium Adventure. Each property has been chosen for location, comfort and style, and its unique characteristics. 

Hotel Associa Takayama Resort (4 star), Takayama, 1 night.

Hotel Associa Takayama Resort

  • Featuring indoor and outdoor hot spring baths with spectacular nature views
  • Cosy rooms overlooking the Japanese Northern Alps
  • On site Japanese & French restaurants
  • Spacious rooms designed with relaxation and comfort in mind

Senjukaku Inn (4 star), Kambayashi Onsen, 3 nights.

Senjukaku Inn - traditional room

Senjukaku Inn - indoor onsen

  • Open-air hot spring baths & a heated indoor pool
  • Beautiful Japanese gardens featuring 100 year old sakura blossom trees
  • Japanese style accommodation fitted with traditional tatami (woven-straw) flooring and a low table with seating cushions
  •  Various seasonal Japanese dishes offered, prepared with organic vegetables and local beef

Yuyado Daiichi, Yoroushi, 2 nights.

Yuyado Daiichi

Yuyado Daiichi- Japanese room

  • Traditional ryokan surrounded by beautiful nature in a quite location
  • Featuring an outdoor hot spring overlooking the river
  • Full of character, charm with warmth with a high attention to detail
  • Serving traditonal meals focusing on local, seasonal products

The Okura Tokyo (5 star), Tokyo, 1 night.

The Okura Tokyo- prestige room

  • Premium hotel located in Tokyo's central Toranomon district
  • Refined and elegant Japanese aesthetic providing Japanese-style hospitality
  • Enjoy a drink or meal in one of the hotel's various bars, lounges or restaurants
  • Relax in the Okura Fitness & Spa; consisting of a gym, indoor pool and spa treatments 

 

On nights 2, 12, 13 and 14 we use standard traditional accommodation, which is clean, simple and in-keeping with the location.

The accommodation shown has been booked and agreed in advance, however we may need to make changes to a property of similar or higher standard after you have booked. While we will endeavour to inform you of any changes in advance which could, on rare occasions, be at late notice.

Accommodation in Japan

Accommodation is primarily of a premium standard. In some of the rural areas our accommodation is more rustic. Some of our overnight stays will involve sleeping in tatami mat rooms on traditional, Japanese futon—mattresses stored during the day and brought out at night for sleeping. Inns that use this style of bedding are traditional, often incorporating appealing elements of elegant architecture and fine Japanese cuisine.

Traditional accommodation (ryokans/minshukus/inns), whilst comfortable and full of local character, do not run along the same lines as western hotels and do all have their own unique style; some are more like Japanese B&B's (minshukus) with a homestay/guesthouse feel and guests make their own Japanese style beds up, whilst others are managed more like a standard hotel (typical ryokans) with bedding made up for guests. In addition, most accomodation throughout this itinerary will have en suite toilets and hand basins, but use traditional hot spring baths instead of en suite showers. Please be advised, whilst females and males will be have access to separate gender specific bathrooms, inside showering and bathing facilities can lack the level of privacy you would be used to in a western style shared bathroom.

Wi-Fi is available at most of our accommodation, though often only in public spaces.

Please note, in Japan, western hotel room sizes in standard hotels are normally smaller in size and if requesting a double bed, please be advised that these can be smaller in size than western double bed sizes so couples may prefer twin beds.

Additional Accommodation

It is possible to book additional nights before or after the tour, subject to availability - please enquire for details and prices

Single supplements

Please be advised single supplements are limited & subject to availability (on request). In Japan, often single supplements can be accommodated in either an actual single and/or double for sole use room in hotels. 

For 2 nights of the trip (day 12-13) in Kawayu, Hokkaido, single supplements are not available at Pension Papilio and rooming is based on twin share (single supplement guests will be sharing with another group member of the same gender on these two nights).

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single will only guarantee a room for single use. It does not necessarily mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Please note that a member of the group may be allocated a single room by default if the make-up of the group means there isn’t anyone for them to share with. Paying the supplement in advance is the only way to guarantee a single room.

Single supplements cannot be refunded retrospectively.

Single supplement from £700.00

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

All breakfasts, lunches and dinners included. Selected beverages are included with lunch and dinner.

You will be able to sample a wide range of Japanese and east Asian food through the tour.

 The world-renowned Japanese cuisine is one of the many highlights of this trip. Meals will be “omakase” (chef’s choice), and while there will be great diversity and food is presented in generous quantities, it is difficult, if not impossible, away from the major cities, for our hosts to cater to individual food preferences. (Please note that neither vegan nor Kosher food is available.) If you have any severe food allergies, it is essential that we be notified at the time of your initial booking to see if these can be catered for.

Transportation

Transportation through-out the tour includes comfortable, private coaches and 4 domestic flights (included in price of tour, usually with All Nippon Airways).

Weather & Seasonality

Weather Information

Winter weather in Japan is variable. It will be cool in Kyushu, with temperatures ranging from the 40sºF to mid-50sºF (4°–13°C). The mountains of central Honshu, where there is a chance of snow, will be colder. Hokkaido, the northernmost large island, typically has a dry, crisp, and cold winter with powder snow. The coldest temperatures we have experienced during our winter journeys in Hokkaido have been as low as -10ºF (-23.5°C). The overnight temperatures regularly fall to 3ºF (-16°C) or below.

Joining Instructions

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Transfers Details

Arrival transfers:

This tour starts at the Haneda Excel Hotel Tokyu, based at Terminal 2 of Tokyo's Haneda Airport.

 For passengers arriving at Tokyo Haneda Airport:

Please make your own way to Haneda Excel Hotel Tokyu by foot or by using the frequent (free) shuttle bus available between the International Terminal and Domestic Terminal 2, where the hotel is located on the 2nd floor.

For passengers arriving at Tokyo Narita Airport:

There is an included airport shuttle with the airport limousine bus for all passengers arriving into Tokyo Narita Airport to the Haneda Excel Hotel Tokyu at Haneda Airport. If you would like to use this included arrival transfer, passengers must pre-book and request this with Exodus at least 1 month before departure and provide flight details.

Upon arrival at Tokyo Narita Airport, please look for the English speaking representative when you exit customs and baggage claim. They will be holding a sign with your name and will assist you to the airport limousine bus stop for your independent transfer (approx. 90 minutes) to the Haneda Excel Hotel Tokyu. Please advise reception staff at check in that you are part of the Exodus group.

Departure transfers:

Please provide Exodus with your flight departure details at least 1 month before departure and advise if you wish to use either of the following.

Tokyo Haneda Airport: Your tour leader will arrange transport via taxi (including payment) to Haneda Airport on departure day if departing from Haneda.

Tokyo Narita Airport: Passengers flying out of Narita Airport will use the airport limousine buses that operate frequently. Please request this service with Exodus before departure.

 

 

Location start:
Tokyo
Location end:
Tokyo

What to Take

Essential Equipment

  • Come prepared for cold and snowy weather, as you may experience temperatures dipping to -10ºF (-23.5°C) in east Hokkaido. Your clothing must include warm, windproof outer layers, including a windproof hat and gloves (with glove liners). Bring a few pairs of pants, comfortable shirts, at least one pullover sweater, long thermal underwear, and a winter-weight parka in muted colors (so as not to disturb wildlife). Bright red or yellow Antarctic parkas are not suitable, nor warm enough. You can expect precipitation, so make sure your parka is also water repellent. Be prepared to spend an entire day outdoors in the snow in Hokkaido.

  • On the southern islands, allow for more mild temperatures and precipitation in the form of rain. Non-skid, sturdy hiking shoes are fine for our wildlife treks and walks in the south where trails may be damp.
  • Well-insulated walking boots, in combination with detachable studded ice grippers, are absolutely essential for safe walking on snow and ice in Jigokudani, Honshu, and especially in the wintry environs of Hokkaido. Ideally these should be easy to put on and take off for the fairly regular occasions when shoes must be removed before entering accommodations and some attractions.
  • Please note that many of our hotels provide Yukata (a traditional cotton robe) for meals, onsen visits, and sleeping. However, Yukata are not provided and may not be worn for dining at the hotels used on the first and last nights of the itinerary, so please bring suitable evening attire for those two occasions.

  • Binoculars will be essential equipment for all your wildlife observations during this program. In general, we recommend a modern roof prism binocular with a magnification of 8x or 10x as these will be most useful, likely compact, and most likely also waterproof.

  • Laundry service is not available during this expedition, although one of our accommodations allows us to use a pay-as-you-go washing machine. Therefore, please limit yourself to outfits that wash and dry easily, so you can hand-wash throughout the course of our journey.
  • It is highly encouraged to pack a 1-2 litre refillable water bottle. Throughout Japan, tap water is potable; jugs of water will be available at all meals, and you will be encouraged by your leader to fill your own water bottles for use during the day to save on plastic. 
  • Be sure to bring a sufficient amount of your personal medications for the duration of your journey, as few medications are available over-the-counter from pharmacies in Japan without a prescription from a Japanese doctor.

Porters are not available during this trip. You will need to personally manage your own baggage.

We recommend the use of soft-sided luggage. Your carry-on bag should include anything you may need in transit, especially your passport. We recommend that you carry essential toiletries and prescription medications on board the plane, as well as a change of clothing appropriate for the initial activities of our itinerary so that you will be more comfortable in the unlikely event your baggage is delayed in transit.

You will need to bring an overnight bag that you can personally carry for three nights during the middle of your stay in Hokkaido while visiting two accommodations with minimal storage space. This could be your carry-on bag or an additional small, lightweight duffle. Your main luggage will be sent from the first to the last accommodation in Hokkaido by road.

Internal Flights Weight Limit

  • Please be advised that domestic flights in Japan have a 20kg maximum for check-in luggage. Bags exceeding 20 kg are liable to attract additional charges.
  • Please also be advised that one carry on piece of luggage means a single bag (not two bags) plus a small purse or handbag.
Tokyo

Practical Information

Passport

Japan

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Visa

Japan

Most nationalities do not require a visa to visit Japan. South African passport holders do require a visa; but it is worth all nationalities verifying visa requirements directly at your embassy before travel.

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

Vaccination

Japan

There are no specific health risks.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

As we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

Japan's Timezone:
Asia/Tokyo JST (GMT +09:00)

Electricity

Japan's Electricity:

100 Volts. Plug types A & B; establishments often take two flat parallel pin plugs (US style). Most battery chargers function at this voltage, but do check their documentation.

Money

Japan's Currency

The national currency of Japan is the Yen (JPY), with an exchange rate at the time of publication (April 2022) of approximately 165 to the GBP, 125 to the USD, 100 to the CAD, 138 to the EUR, 94 to the AUD and 86 to the NZD.

ATM Availability

While ATMs are available in Japan, some do not accept foreign credit or debit cards. ATMs in post offices do accept foreign-issued cards, but these are only available during normal business hours. ATMs in 7-11 stores (and other convenience stores) do accept international debit cards and are usually accessible 24 hours a day. Please ensure that you know your four-digit Personal Identification Number (PIN) for your credit or debit card.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

U.S. dollars and GBP can easily be exchanged at the hotel in Tokyo and at the airport when you arrive but not elsewhere. Banking facilities in the countryside are extremely limited. Credit cards in Japan are not as prevalent or commonly used as in other parts of the world, although they are increasingly accepted in developed areas. Generally, visitors should not expect to be able to use credit cards as easily on this trip as at they can at home. Therefore, we suggest you obtain a sufficient amount of yen when you are in Tokyo to use for the entire program, as the inns outside the main cities are unable to accept or exchange foreign currency. Your leader will be able to help you retrieve yen, as well as give you an indication as to how much you may need.

Tipping

On all Exodus Premium Adventures tipping for any local support staff is included, and will normally be taken care of via your tour leader (or in some cases through our local agent). So need no for any tipping kitty contributions, or to make your own tips during the trip.

Our ‘included tips’ on this tour cover your tour leader, drivers, local specialist guides, certain hotel staff, and serving staff for included meals. Amounts will be in line with the local standard. Of course, if you wish to make a further tip for some extra special service you may do so.

Snow Monkeys

Responsible Tourism

Some sustainable travel highlights of this trip include:

We work hard to create trips which improve life for the people and places we visit, and look after the planet we explore. Find out more about our sustainable travel ethos and practice here, and find out about the work of the Exodus Travels Foundation here.

People

How this trip helps improve life for local communities.

  • The use of a local Japanese guide, (who will accompany the group and specialist leader, Mark Brazil) means our customers will be well informed about local traditions, and cultural and social sensitivities.
  • This trip brings income and opportunity to the destination community through the inclusion of locally-owned hotels and restaurants, the emphasis on eating locally produced food and support of other local enterprise.
  • Guests will have the opportunity to stay in traditional family-run Japanese guesthouses (ryokans) on many nights of the trip, where you will eat delicious home cooked, traditional Japanese meals prepared by locals.
  • Whilst there is a strong emphasis on wildlife, there is also a focus on culture and history. This trip provides plenty of opportunities to visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites, cultural sites & shrines. Our visits to these sites will benefit the locals and contributes to the preservation of their cultural assets through the money spent on entrance fees and other purchases made within the area. 

Places

How this trip helps protect and conserve local landscapes and nature.

  • Read about our commitment to nature protection and restoration here, including our rewilding commitment for every customer who travels.
  • By travelling in a small group, led by a local guide, we ‘tread lightly’ to minimise our impact on local resources and the environment. On many nights of the trip, the group stay in remote, less visited locations of Japan, often staying overnight at family-run traditional guesthouses or accommodation.
  • Our trips adhere to ABTA’s industry-leading animal welfare guidelines to ensure the best possible practices with regard to working animals and wildlife viewing. Our animal welfare policy can be found here.
  • During the trip, we visit several parks, Kirishima-Yaku National Park & the Izumi Crane Observation Centre, Snow Monkey Park(Jigokudani Yaen Koen) and the Akan-Mashu National Park. By visiting these places on the itinerary, we are directly contributing to the conservation efforts of these locations.
  • We work with our partners on the ground to proactively eliminate or reduce waste. For example, we encourage eliminating all single-use plastic water bottles and instead encourage clients to drink the tap water, which is safe to drink in Japan. We encourage all clients to take a refillable water bottle with them on the tour.
  • During the tour, our guides educate guests on how to appropriately separate and dispose of any waste, as well as encouraging clients to use reusable chopsticks and reusable bags for shopping.

 Planet

How we seek to keep the carbon footprint of this trip low.

  • Read about our climate action here, including our carbon reduction and compensation commitments.
  • Accommodation and restaurants in the itinerary mostly use locally-sourced food which has not been transported long distances.
  • Vegetarian and vegan options are available at  the majority of accommodation and restaurants. 
  • Most accommodations used on this trip adhere to strict environmental policies in order to save water and energy and lower their carbon footprint.

 Tips for sustainable travel on this trip

  • Leave no trace: We do all we can to ensure we leave no rubbish behind in the wild and beautiful places we visit; we ask that you do the same. If there are no recycling facilities in-country, we’d ask you to consider bringing recyclable materials home with you.
  • Plastic waste reduction: Please bring your own re-usable water bottle on this trip. Tap water in Japan is safe for drinking, hence we strongly encourage clients to bring their own reusable water bottles for this purpose and minimise our usage of single use plastic bottles.
  • Cultural respect:
    • Shoes are never worn in someone's home or on Japanese tatami flooring (mats). There will always be a place to put your shoes. In addition, you will be given slippers to wear. There are often different slippers for the bathroom.
    • It is highly inappropriate to stick chopsticks into food, especially into a bowl of rice. This practice of placing chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice is a funerary practice known as ‘tsukitate-bashi’. 
    • When eating soup or rice, it is acceptable to lift the bowl closer to your mouth to avoid spilling food. Generally, miso soup (which accompanies many meals) is drunk directly from the bowl, while larger soups are usually consumed by using a soup spoon.

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 14 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

 

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

TRAVEL AWARE – STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

How to Book

1. Check availability

Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.

2. Secure your place

You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.

3. Complete your booking and payment

When you're ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque. Book with confidence: Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582 issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA ‐ The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.