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JAPAN WORLD CLASS -WINTER BIRDS PHOTOGRAPHY

- with optional snow monkey extension

2024 - Feb 15-25 (extension to Feb 28)
- MIKSTURE & MOJO TOURS JOINT VENTURE

DATE                     15.02 - 25.02 (extension Feb 28) (11 + 3 days)

GENRE                  Wildlife and landscapes                  

TOUR LEADER      Morten Jørgensen (MOJO) & Michael Westerbjerg                                     Andersen. The language we speak on our tours is                                     English

FEE                       From 6,250 USD pr. person in shared DBL room 

EXTENSION FEE   From 700 USD pr. person in shared DBL room

SINGLE SUPPL.    800 USD, +250 USD for extension           

DEPOSIT               Please pay a 20% deposit (US$ 1,250. -) per person                                 when booking;

                              Please pay a further 40% (US$ 2,500,-) per person 6                               months prior to tour

                              Please pay the balance 3 months prior to tour   VISA                     Depending on country of origin. Information when                                    booking the tour

VACCINATION      (pr.03.03.2024; can change): Yes, against COVID-19                                  (If no vaccination PCR-test might be needed). Japan                                is currently (early 2023) still wearing masks in most                                situations. The expectation is that we wear masks                                  when moving about indoors (i.e., shops, hotel lobbies,                              etc.), on public transportation, on domestic flights,                                  etc. Although most Japanese also wear masks                                          outdoors, this is not a requirement. As this might                                    change, we will inform further closer to the departure                              time. Masks are readily available in most shops. 

                             Miksture will keep updating

GROUP SIZE        4-8 guests plus your 2 tour leaders Michael                                              Westerbjerg Andersen & Morten Jørgensen. The tours                              will go ahead with or more 4 guests

LEVEL                  Physical requirements include being willing and able                              to get up early and enduring cold conditions. Apart                                from that easy to moderate. Generally walking will                                  be limited, and the days are not too long (ca 12 hours                              of daylight in the south, 10 hours in the north). We do                              however expect to be out all day most days. See                                      below for further details. Should you have any                                          physical limitations, please notify us in advance of                                  departure. Non-photographing partners will also love                              this tour!

DESCRIPTION     Japan’s winter birds would be a highlight in the life of                             any ornithologist, and the photographic                                                   opportunities they offer are a gift to any wildlife                                     photographer. Whether you are an aspiring amateur or                             a full-on professional, the spectacles you will witness                            will challenge and reward you 

                           One could easily spend a week at each of a variety of                              wondrous locations. To maximize the chances for you                              to see a great diversity of species and scenes within                              the time limits of a modern-day traveler, we have                                    tailored a program with 2-3 nights at each of the four                             absolute top Japan winter bird locations (leaving you                             to decide if you wish to visit the Honshu ‘snow                                         monkeys’ as an add-on). 

                         We believe that by focusing on fewer locations, with                                longer stays at each, plus by allotting two guides and                            vehicles to such small groups, we can better facilitate                            you getting into the subject matters and finding                                      inspiration to create your very own unique images.                                  Also, this way, there is much less time and effort spent                          traveling, packing, unpacking, etc.

                        Please note that we, Michael, and Morten, are your tour                           organizers and providers, your location and bird ID                                   guides, and your drivers, but we are not photo                                         instructors

PHOTO HIGHLIGHTS AND FOCUS EVENTS

  • ​1000's of White-naped Cranes and Hood Cranes

  • 100's of Red Crowned Cranes

  • scores of 100's of Steller's sea eagles and White-tailed eagles

  • cold winter mornings with the ice crystals sparking on the trees

  • up-close encounters with species such as the Red-Crowned Cranes, White-named and Hooded Cranes, Sika Deer, Ezo Red Fox, Steller's Sea eagles and White-tailed eagles

  • scores of 100's of Whooper Swans in winter wonderland Hokkaido landscapes

  • maximum amount of time in the field, positioning ourselves for the photo opportunities of a lifetime!

  •  breathtaking landscapes and Shinto architectural, cultural photo opportunities

  • breathtaking mountainous landscapes of Hokkaido’s northwest. Comprising of Akanko, Kushiroko, and Mashuko Lakes, which are among the clearest and cleanest on our planet

  • winter wonderland landscape Hokkaido, Japan

  • lush Kyushu broad-leaf forests 

  • excellent cuisine

  • onsen - hot springs

  • hundreds of spectacular images of eagles clutching fish in their talons in flight and while feasting - eagles in strife. 

  • extraordinarily beautiful sunrises and sunsets

  • small group - flexible, with plenty of time and respect for your photographing

  • 3 x boat trips in Rausu for photographing the eagles

  • 2 expert tour leaders with 25+ years expedition experience  

EXTENSION HIGHLIGHTS

100+ wild Japanese Macaque’s up close, with all their antics on display – bathing, playing, mating, fighting, feeding, etc.; drives through central Honshu from coastal Tokyo to mountainous Jigokudani

 

ADDITIONAL NOTEWORTHY SPECIES POTENTIALLY OFFERING PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES 

Up to ca. 18 species of ducks in their finest plumages including superb specialties such as Mandarin, Falcated, Eastern Spot-billed, Baikal Teal, Harlequin, Siberian and Black Scoters and Long-tailed Duck; 3 species of heron/egret; Eurasian and Black-faced Spoonbills; Osprey, Black-eared Kite and Eastern Buzzard; a further 3 species of crane (rare but annual - Siberian, Common and Sandhill); Northern Lapwing, Long-billed Plover, Solitary Snipe; a great variety of gulls including Saunder’s, Black-tailed, Kamchatka, Vega, Slaty-backed, Glaucous-winged and Glaucous; Oriental Turtle-Dove; Ural Owl; Common and Crested Kingfisher; 3 species of woodpecker (Japanese Pygmy, White-backed, Great Spotted) with another 2 possible (Black and Japanese Green); Bull-headed Shrike; Daurian Jackdaw, Eastern Rook, Jungle Crow; Bohemian and Japanese Waxwings; 7 species of ‘tit’ including Varied, Japanese and Chinese Penduline; Brown-eared Bulbul; Japanese Bush Warbler; Japanese White-eye; White-cheeked Starling; 3 species of thrush; Daurian Redstart; Brown Dipper; Russet and Eurasian Tree Sparrows; 3 species of wagtail; Buff-bellied Pipit; Oriental Greenfinch; 5 species of bunting (Meadow, Chestnut-eared, Rustic, Elegant, Masked) with another 3 possible (Grey, Japanese Reed and Common Reed). 

 

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS Drives through the forested rural southern Kyushu. A variety of winter sceneries of central and eastern Hokkaido (coniferous forest, mountainous with volcanic plateaux, frozen freshwater lakes, volcanic caldera lakes, Pacific Ocean coastline and agricultural plains, coastal roads, fishing harbors, etc.). Japanese cuisine and Onsen (public thermal baths). Japanese efficiency, hospitality, and courtesy. The friendly and personal guiding services of Mic and Mojo.

 

Joining one of MOJO and MIKSTURE photo tours, you are going to have the very best opportunities to photograph the wildlife and pristine winter landscapes. Sunrises and sunsets are extraordinarily beautiful along with Hokkaido's coastline and glistening snow. Here, you can photograph what is commonly called ‘diamond dust,’ when the light catches the shimmer of the crystalline snow, you will have pictures that shine with the magic that only a Japanese winter can provide, but the natural phenomena do not end there. ‘Sun pillars’ and ‘light pillars' can also be seen when the ice crystals are drifting in the atmosphere above the frozen plains of Hokkaido. A final treat is the ‘snow rollers’ when chunks of snow are blown along the ground by the wind, etching a message into the pristine snow for you to commemorate with your camera. We enjoy comfortable accommodation and cuisine, but most important: We enjoy the maximum amount of time in the field, while other tour groups are slumbering or in seminars, we will be in the field positioning ourselves for the photo opportunities of a lifetime!

EXPECTED CLIMATE In Hokkaido, humid continental climate zone i.e. icy/snowy winters. Average January temperature ranges from -12 to -4 degrees Celsius (10,4 to 24,8 degrees F). In Kyushu, the temperatures will probably not drop below freezing, or only at night if they do. Daytime expected temperatures +5-15C (40-60F). In Hokkaido, expect daytime temperatures between –10 and +5 C (15-40F).  springy (Kyushu) and very wintery (Hokkaido). There is a good chance that we will not have much rain, but we may have much snow. Although high pressures are common, with blue skies and low winds, for sure we may also experience the passage of low-pressure systems with cold winds and more precipitation. The weather may ultimately alter our program (see also T&C).

 

TOUR PACE & TRANSPORT Moderate to easy. Domestic flights between Tokyo, Kyushu, and Hokkaido. Two comfortable vehicles from airports to accommodation, and every day from accommodation and into the adventure and back again. There will be ample space for everyone to have a window seat in the vehicles as well as for our luggage.

 

ACCOMMODATION Comfortable minshukus (guesthouses) and hotels

A variety of accommodation types have been chosen for a variety of reasons. Proximity to the main action – the wildlife and the photography scenes – has been priority. Location, location, location. Being close to the subject, there is less times spent in transit, at other times more freedom gained for each of you to decide what you want to do and when. The opportunity for the cultural experience of a traditional Japanese homestay or a classy Onsen (thermal spring public bath ‘hotel’) has also been taken into consideration. We will also have a few nights in a modern ‘western-style’ 3-star hotel.The fully automated and heated-seats toilets of Japan are also world famous. Don’t miss out on the experience of the ‘posterior spray’!

Generally, we will book twin doubles, but single accommodation is possible against a fee (Solo Rate) (see below for details). If you are a single traveler and are ok to share, we will attempt to pair you with a same-sex co-traveler. If that is not possible, the single supplement fee (Solo Rat) will apply (se also Terms & Conditions (T&C)). At several of our locations, there will be the option of the use of an ‘Onsen’. These are the world-famous traditional Japanese public thermally heated warm baths. A string of guidelines applies (and slightly varying from one Onsen to the next). We can discuss that further at the time. Do pack bathing suits/trunks for the outdoor/shared ones.

 

JAPANESE CUISINE is excellent. The traditional cuisine of Japan (Japanese: washoku) is based on rice with miso soup and other dishes; there is an emphasis on seasonal ingredients. Side dishes often consist of fish, pickled vegetables, and vegetables cooked in broth. Seafood is common, often grilled, but also served raw as sashimi or in sushi. Five traditional dishes from Japan. Sushi - a popular dish in Japan; also well loved in the Western world. Tempura - commonly made by deep-frying seafood, vegetables, or prawns in vegetable oil after applying a coating of egg, water, and wheat flour. Sashimi - fresh raw fish or meat sliced into thin pieces and often eaten with soy sauce. Miso soup - traditional umami-rich stock made from dried seaweed and dried fish. Miso paste, meanwhile, is a paste made by soybeans, salt and koji-rice. Soba and Udon Noodles; Hokkaido is known for it's ramen-noodle soup. We will have opportunities to try regional specialities at various locations on the tour. 

 

Your breakfasts and dinners are included in the tour (see below for details). On most occasions, these meals will be Japanese style. Japanese food is many things. At some locations, there will not be much of a choice (set menus). Expect to sample a lot of tastes, many kinds of seafoods, various soups, pickled vegetables, etc. The staple is generally white rice. There is usually no vegetarian option. You will return home, a very delightful cuisine experience richer.

 

Whereas breakfast and dinner are included, we have decided that lunches are best enjoyed ‘on the fly’. The days are relatively short, and we wish to give you opportunity to maximize the time spent outdoors and behind the camera. If we were to include lunch daily, we would have to leave the birds and head somewhere else, wait for the food to be served, and consumed, and then later drive back out again. Instead, we suggest that lunch can be a ‘snack’ type meal, which we will let you select and purchase by yourselves at one of the local kiosk-type stores (think 7/11 or similar). Grab a bottled drink or two, a couple of sandwiches, some prefab sushi, or a few tasty rice-balls, and bring it with you in the cars to enjoy in the field.


CULTURE Japanese culture is intricate; sophisticated and simple, ancient, and modern, tradition-bound, and flexible. We will mostly be focused on wildlife and wilderness, but we will meet the people and their ways as well. The Japanese do not expect foreigners to be able to fully understand or follow their customs, but a few are important to know about. In general, it is considered polite to be gentle, quiet, yielding, unobtrusive. We will appreciate this often as we meet it, but don’t forget that the locals will appreciate it from us as well. Most Japanese speak little to no English. Most foreigners speak no Japanese. Learning a few of the most common words and phrases will be highly appreciated. Sign language and the generally very friendly and helpful attitude will do the rest. Depending on where we are, there will be expectations of shoes off, slippers on, different slippers for bathroom visits, etc. Please show consideration and follow the instructions. We will help you to do the right thing.

OTHER ATTRACTIONS Spectacular scenery, hot baths in onsens at various accommodations, fabulous cuisine and fantastic wildlife

 

Internet is widely available, stable, and fast.

 

SIM cards can be purchased at the airport.

 

The power plug sockets are of the same kind as used in North America (photo), i.e., different from the European ones. Regardless, an international travel adaptor is a good item to pack. The standard voltage in Japan is 100.

PHOTOGRAPHIC OPPORTUNITIES World-class!

SCHEDULED 2024 DEPARTURE 15.02 - 25.02 2024 (extension to 28.02)

 

Tour Leader: Morten Jørgensen and Michael Westerbjerg Andersen

 

Tour price (per person): from USD 6.250

Contact: miksture@miksture.com and/or ursmar2015@gmail.com (Morten)

THE TOUR AT A GLANCE...

We advise participants to arrive a day earlier in Japan before the tour date and leave the day after the tour concludes. For hotels recommendations, we will advise participants on request. Please note that any of the below details may change. We will strive to deliver the program described here, but circumstance beyond our control may force us to change the order or events, to change accommodation, to cancel a boat trip, or similar. 

 

Day 1: Dinner included

Days 2-10 & 12-13: Breakfast & dinner included 

Days 11 & 14: Breakfast included (& dinner day 11 for extension participants)

 

Day 1. Tokyo – Kagoshima - Izumi. Meeting point Tokyo, Haneda Airport International Terminal. Place and time to be announced to participants. We shall meet in the morning, in Haneda airport in Tokyo, for our first domestic flight, to Kagoshima. Please note that we will generally use Haneda Airport as our transit and transfer place between the various parts of our tour, so you may be well advised to buy your international flights in to and out of Haneda. You are also strongly encouraged to arrive in Japan at least one day/night early. D

Days 2 and 3. The Hooded & White-naped Cranes of Izumi. BLD 

Day 4. Izumi – Kagoshima – Tokyo - Kushiro. Today, we drive back from Izumi to Kagoshima, deliver the cars, check our luggage through to Kushiro, and then fly twice: First to Tokyo, then after a short wait there, on to Hokkaido! BLD

 

Day 5. Japanese Cranes in Hokkaido’s winter wonderland near Tsurui. Your day will begin at the famous bridge, from where there are views down (and up) a frigid river, lined by frosted trees, with groups of Red-crowned Cranes dotting the waterway. BLD

 

Day 6. Kushiro – Tsurui – Akan-Mashu National Park. We may also this morning to visit a Ural Owl. In the afternoon, we shall drive inland for a couple of hours, toward the central parts of Hokkaido. Before evening, we will be installed in the luxurious comfort of our ‘Onsen’. Two nights we will spend here. BLD

 

Day 7. Whooper Swan photography at steamy springs on the shores of frozen lakes. BLD 

 

Day 8. Akan-Mashu National Park – Rausu. We can take you to the lakeside for sunrise, or you can sleep in and come our later. After a morning of swan and lake photography, it will be time to drive to our final major location of the tour: Rausu. Look out for Sika Deer, and Red Fox. BLD 

 

Days 9 and 10. Rausu eagles, owls, wildfowl, and more. During our time in Rausu, we shall focus on photographing eagles. We have planned three boat trips, and we will also drive up and down the coastline in our cars. On day 9, we intend to have two boat trips, one morning and one afternoon, to maximize our chances to photograph enough eagles. On day 10, we have scheduled a third boat trip. BLD

 

Day 11. Rausu – Kushiro - Tokyo. Our final day together will be a long day of travel. We have a long drive back to Kushiro and need to get an early start. If the weather and road conditions allow, we may have spare time along the way to stop for more photography, perhaps by the Ural Owl if we didn’t get it the first time around, or perhaps to get some final shots of Red-crowned Cranes. After delivering the cars at Kushiro, we shall fly to Haneda airport in Tokyo, where the main tour concludes. If you have purchased the extension, your dinner and your overnight stay will be included. 

 

EXTENSION day-to-day details: SNOW MONKEY

 

Day 12. Tokyo - Jigokudani. We shall get our vehicles packed early today, and head west for ca. 4 hours. Our main goal will be to get to our destination early enough to allow for us to have our first hours with the ‘snow monkeys’ already this afternoon. BLD

 

Day 13. Jigokudani – all day monkey business. From 9 am until 4 pm, you may roam among the monkeys. We may also see the endemic Japanese Serow, or perhaps the confiding Alpine Accentor. BLD

 

Day 14. Jigokudani - Tokyo. Today, we must be sure to be back at the airport in time for the first flights out. Depending on the scheduling, we may before departure from the area be able to spend a few hours with the monkeys, or we may leave early and schedule a stop along the way back to Tokyo. Once we arrive to Haneda, the tour extension concludes.

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FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS

 

Costs: We are pricing these tours according to the number of participants, based on an optimal group size of eight. This means that if we fill the tour(s), everyone will have to pay less. 

MAIN TOUR                                                                       EXTENSION:

@ 8 participants: US$ 6,250. -                                           @ 8 participants: US$ 700.-

@ 7 participants: US$ 6,695. -                                           @ 7 participants: US$ 750.-

@ 6 participants: US$ 7,290. -                                           @ 6 participants: US$ 800.-

@ 5 participants: US$ 8,220. -                                           @ 5 participants: US$ 875.-

@ 4 participants: US$ 9,375. -                                           @ 4 participants: US$ 985.-

 

Solo Rate supplement: 800 USD, -                                  Solo Rate supplement: US$ 250, -

 

 

Deposit: 1,250 USD

Group size: minimum 4 and maximum 8   

Availability: Spaces available for 2024    

Leaders: Morten Jørgensen and Michael Westerbjerg Andersen, owner and founder of Miksture Expeditions

 

Single Supplement: The single supplement cost for this tour will be charged if you wish to have single accommodation. Pls contact Miksture. If we cannot provide you with a rooming partner for these nights although you choose to share, the single supplement will become applicable. We will make all reasonable efforts to ensure that a rooming partner is found if you do wish to share.

Tipping is not customary!

 

When you make your booking, we will charge you based on the price for 8 participants. Some 3+ months prior to the tour commencement date, we will inform you of the expected final tour cost and offer you the opportunity to decide freely whether you want to maintain your booking or receive a full refund.

Payment Schedule:

 

Please pay a 20% deposit (US$ 1,250. -) per person when booking.

Please pay a further 40% (US$ 2,500. -) per person 6 months prior to tour.

Please pay the balance 3 months prior to tour.

 

The tour fee includes:

  • Guiding by Morten Jørgensen and Michael Westerbjerg Andersen;

  • Transportation according to program in Hokkaido in private comfortable chartered vehicles with driver-guide (flexible and comfortable);

  • Domestic flights: Haneda, Tokyo - Kagoshima, Kyushu // Kagoshima, Kyushu - Haneda Airport, Tokyo // Hanedea Airport - Kushiro, Hokkaido // Kushiro, Hokkaido - Haneda Airport, Tokyo (Day 11 - 14 for extension grp) 

  • Flight taxes

  • Accommodation in Kyushu and Hokkaido (10 nights) based on double occupancy;

  • All breakfast and dinners are per program;

  • Services of tour leader;

  • 3 boat trips for photographing eagles in Rausu;

  • 1 evening with Blakiston's Fish Owl;

  • Administration from Miksture;

  • Field instructions and assistance;

  • Park entrance fees

  • Driving and guiding by Mojo and Mic;

  • Activities as per program, including: Vehicle usage throughout, up to three boat trips in Rausu and up to one owl visit at Rausu

  • Local entrance fees, permits, and similar

  • Pre-departure information and post-tour report

 

The tour fee does not include:

  • International flights to/from Haneda, Tokyo, Japan;

  • Any pre-tour or post-tour expenses (flights, hotels, transfers, etc.)

  • Airport taxes, visa fees, and similar

  • Beverages & drinks;

  • Lunches;

  • Visa fees;

  • Personal expenses for eventual extra arrangements not mentioned in the program;

  • Mandatory travel- and health insurances (see T&C for details)​

  • Lunches, snacks, alcoholic and other drinks

  • Items of a personal nature (souvenirs, laundry, snacks, additional activities, etc.)

  • Unexpected major cost increases (see T&C for details)

  • Any costs not specifically mentioned above under ‘Tour Price Includes’.

Lunches, snacks, alcohol, etc. are not included in the tour, so you will be spending a bit of pocket money. Practically everywhere, you will be able to pay with major credit cards. But it can be useful to have some Yen cash, particularly when we are seemingly far from everything, yet find ourselves faced with a vending machine with warm or cold drinks. Or when you’ve just had on drink with dinner, and cash is simply faster and easier.

 

IMPORTANT NOTES: a) Due to constantly fluctuating exchange rates, we quote our tours in USD. The tour price is however fixed only in the currency printed in bold, and the actual cost in the other currencies listed will be adjusted according to prevailing exchange rates at the time of final invoicing (usually 4 months before the tour.) The same applies to approximate flight and single supplement rates, which are also quoted in the respective fixed currency. b) Rates are based upon group tariffs; if the tour does not have sufficient registration a small party supplement will have to be charged. c) Furthermore, these costs are subject to unforeseen increases in tour related costs and may have to be adjusted as a result. d) Lastly, we may be forced to change or alter the itinerary and / or the designated Miksture leader/s at short or no notice due to unforeseen circumstances; please be aware that we will attempt to adhere as close to the original program as possible.

 

Special Notes:  It is important for the comfort and domestic airport transfers of your fellow travellers that you do not over-pack. Kindly, if possible, stick to 20kg (44lb) for check-in luggage and 8kg (+-18lb) for hand luggage.

 

Warm clothes, including gloves, woollen hat, warm boots and thermals will come in handy.

ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE DETAILS:

 

This tour departs from Haneda Airport, Tokyo (ATA: HND) in the early morning of day 1. It is thus imperative to arrive the day before the tour begins. The tour will conclude after arrival to Haneda Airport (Day 9). If arriving or departing from Tokyo's Narita Airport there is a shuttle (express) bus that can be used to transfer between airports. Easy to find in the arrival hall of resp. Narita and Haneda Airport. The cost is approximately USD 50. The information in respect of arrival and departures is a guide only. Precise arrival and departure information will be send to you in your Tour Confirmation package once the tour has been officially confirmed. if you wish to arrive early and/or depart late and would like assistance in this regard, kindly contact the Miksture office.

 

Visa requirements differ by country, nationality of the traveller and duration and purpose of your intended stay. It may be necessary to obtain a visa or electronic travel authorisation in advance of your travel. It is therefore vitally important that you check with your travel agent/consulate/embassy for exact visa requirements.

 

This tour does not include any International airfares. The main tour will commence and conclude in Haneda, Tokyo. Please DO NOT book any flights until you have consulted the Miksture office for confirmation on the status of the tour.

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