The snow monkeys that reside in Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park at Japan would agree with me that their habitat is a winter wonderland, won’t they?
I was pretty excited as it would be my first time visiting wildlife in the midst of winter. It would be so cute to witness snow monkeys sitting and enjoying themselves in a natural hot spring!
Prior to visiting the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park, visitors could monitor the movements of these Japanese macaques online. The live camera installed by the pool would assist visitors in their decision if they would like to visit on that day. No point visiting if all the monkeys did not want to have a soak anyway.
The journey to Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park (地獄谷野猿公苑) requires about 45mins from Nagano Station and a further 45 minutes walk to the hot spring. I had my full winter gear on as it sure was freezing cold at – 10 and below degree celsius. Check out my before and after picture, braving through the icy wind and snow to the destination.
Witnessing snow monkeys in their natural habitat definitely is worth the distance across the winter wonderland.
We did in fact came across a few snow monkeys on snow covered trees and path along the way. I was definitely in awe since I rarely got the chance to see my surroundings blanketed by snow. Water bodies were frozen and every brunches were thickly coated. There were even icicles hanging from the roofs of those houses! Pardon my excitement since countries along the equator like Singapore only experience summer whole year round.
Finally we managed to reach the hot spring after almost an hour rather than the expected 45 minutes due to photo taking along the way. We were so fascinated by these snow monkeys minding their own business while we humans watched at close proximity.
Their actions include digging in the snow or sitting in the hot spring made from rocks. Some were busy catching bugs from each other’s fur while occasionally stealing glances at us. We were all trigger happy, trying to be national geographic photographer/videographer that day.
After about an hour in the cold, we would need to head back to the visitor center for warmth. Thankfully there was a Japanese restaurant nearby and we headed over for lunch. The place to fully packed with people and we straight away ordered a piping hot bowl of ramen soup.
Despite being open the whole year round, Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park (地獄谷野猿公苑) would be best to visit during winter seasons. I can’t stress enough how cute these snow monkeys were as they soak in the hot spring!
If you’re interested to know what 6 things you can also do during winter in Karuizawa, Japan… Click Here.