| Snorkeling with Giant
| Honshu Island, Japan.
| Traditional Japanese
hotel in the mountains.
| Snorkeling experience only.
October 19-21 4 SPOTS
| $995 per person sharing a
2019 Trip Leader:
READ OUR 2019 GIANT SALAMANDER
2 days of snorkeling with Giant Salamanders
in the mountain streams of Gifu.
1 night double occupancy hotel in Gifu-Hashima
1 night's shared accommodation in a
traditional Japanese hotel in Gifu Mountain Region.
Traditional mountain-style evening feast.
Japan's most experienced giant salamander
Return transfers from Tokyo to Nagoya on
Japan's famous high speed 'Bullet Train'.
Round trip road transfers from Gifu Hashima
to the Gifu Mountains.
Personal snorkeling equipment, flights to Japan, alcohol.
SNORKEL WITH THE GIANT
Imagine this unique encounter. You don your
wetsuit and step into the river. It is not deep - maybe 1.5m
at its deepest. Wading over to a craggy rock outcrop you
quickly slip into the lea to avoid the current that is
trying to drag you down river.
Ducking your head underwater you scan the
area for overhangs that may harbor your quarry. Peering into
the shadows, you see nothing but small fishes and flattened
river rocks piled together. Disappointment starts to rise
but then one of the rocks moves slightly and it dawns on you
that the flattened rock you have been ignoring is the dinner
plate sized head of a giant salamander!
The rock monster stirs. It clambers over the
other rocks that you now realize are all actually heads with
tiny eyes. Then it beats its tail sideways and snakes
casually past you towards the river bank. You give chase.
Once in shallow enough water, it lets out a stream of
bubbles from its nostrils then raises its head to take a
much needed breath. You swim with it up into the shallows
with your camera and frame an epic shot of it moving between
the aquatic and terrestrial worlds. Now that's a shot your
dive buddies don't have!
THE REAL GODZILLA!
Japan's giant salamander is the world's
second largest amphibian, topped only by the slightly longer
Chinese giant salamander. Reaching a whopping 1.5m in
length, these gentle giants have no natural enemies other
than man. It is estimated that they live upwards of 80 years
in the wild.
Giant salamanders have no gills. They rise
periodically to the surface to breath but like other
amphibians, they can absorb some oxygen through their skin.
Consequently, they are confined to shallow, cool, well
oxygenated streams in the mountains.
They hunt for small fishes; mostly at night.
Their eyesight is very poor, but - just like sharks - they
have a lateral line system of sensory pores in front of
their mouths and running down their flanks. When a fish
strays too close to the business end of these generally
lethargic animals, they are capable of lightening fast
Be warned, every year, one or two unfortunate
swimmers end up seeking medical attention after accidentally
putting their fingers or toes in the 'strike zone'. And
although they look relatively harmless, giant salamanders have sharp
teeth and are capable of clamping down on a finger and then
spinning like a crocodile!
From tiny gobies to eels and large
salmon-like fishes, the clear mountain streams of Gifu are
full of colorful freshwater fishes. These fishes are an
important part of the giant salamanders diet.
IMMERSE YOURSELF IN A
TRULY JAPANESE EXPERIENCE
During this mini-expedition, you will have
the chance to explore the beautiful countryside around Gifu.
In the evening we will arrive at a traditional Japanese
hotel to enjoy a delicious feast that will likely seem as
delightfully unusual as the animals you are here to see.
Day 1. Meet and greet in Tokyo and catch the
bullet train to Nagoya. Book into a hotel near the station
and head out for supper (meal not included).
Day 2. After a light breakfast at the hotel, you will be
introduced to our guide Ito San; a local expert in giant
salamanders. We will then transfer to Gifu (about 1hr),
prepare equipment and immediately start looking for
salamanders. After lunch you will slip back into the river
for more salamander encounters. Early evening we will bring
you to a traditional hotel in the hills where you will enjoy
a sumptuous feast of local dishes served Japanese style.
After dinner there will be time to socialize or review
images before drifting into dreams filled with giant salamanders.
Day 3. After breakfast at the hotel we will explore the
countryside around Gifu. Then, we will return to the river
to hunt for more salamanders and other river creatures.
After a picnic lunch at the river you will have one more
chance to snorkel with godzilla until it is time
to return to Nagoya.
Once back in Nagoya, we will catch the bullet
train back to Tokyo, followed by final farewells.
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GIANT SALAMANDER MINI-EXPEDITION
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