It is the small town of Yudanaka that many of these wonderful animals have made their home. Situated deep in the Japanese Alps, in an area known as “Hell Valley” thanks to its hot steam vents, sulfurous streams and other volcanic activity, the snow monkeys can be found taking advantage of their surroundings by bathing in the hot spring baths dotted throughout the area. Indeed, the monkeys have acquired such a reputation that one of these baths has been declared a ‘human-free’ zone and is used exclusively by the monkeys!
Japanese macaques, to call them by their proper name, bathe all year round, but it is especially amusing to watch them during the winter months, when the area is covered in a thick, white blanket of snow, which sits adorably on their heads as they attempt to warm up in a very human-like fashion. Though the animals are still wild, they have become somewhat use to the attention they now receive and photo opportunities abound as groups huddle together against the freezing air temperatures, preen each other and play. Hundreds of monkeys at a time can frequently be seen enjoying the warn and healing waters here.
This guest post and images have come from Audley Travel, an award–winning tour operator, specialising in tailor-made trips and small group tours for the discerning traveller, to over 80 countries around the world.
Katy Pannell - Online Travel Editor