Monkeys sitting in hot springs surrounded by lots of steam and lots of snow.  This is an image that most people have seen before and said to themselves “I would love to go and see that one day”.

The snow monkeys (Macaca fuscata) have become a Japanese icon and nowadays whole tours revolve around a single snow monkey visit.  And a visit to see the Japanese snow monkeys does not disappoint.  Located at the Jigokudani Monkey Park in the mountains near Nagano, tour groups have the opportunity to see these amazing creatures at close range without being hindered by bars or cages.  The area is all natural and the monkeys go about their business as usual without worrying about the throngs of tourists all taking photos of them.

A visit to the snow monkey park is a great way to practice your wildlife photography.  The monkeys have no real fear of humans and also don’t beg for food so you can get incredibly close and still catch them at their natural best.

A tele-zoom lens will make the photography easier but a shorter lens will be fine also.  The only things to watch out for are the cold, as this can affect your camera, the steam from the hot springs which can fog up your lens rather quickly, and other people.

There are quite a lot of people at the park and everyone wants to get up close to the hot springs, but don’t forget that the monkeys use the whole park.  The hot spring is only a small part of their daily life, there are also many other natural behaviors that are just as awe inspiring to shoot.  Often there are baby monkeys rolling snow balls or playing in the snow or sometimes you will come across whole family groups picking the nits out of each others fur.

Monkeys are amazing and intelligent animals that make great subjects to shoot because of their human like features and gestures.  So go ahead and book that tour, you won’t be disappointed.

Pics By Nick - Snow Monkey

Pics By Nick - Snow Monkey

Pics By Nick - Snow Monkey

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