Love hot tubs? Even the monkeys do !!!
Well the wet soaked monkey are going to steal your heats in Jigokudani Monkey Park, which is also a part of Joshinetsu Kogen National Park(also known as Shigakogen).
Astonishingly the name Jigokudani means “Hell’s Valley”, but the truth is something else. It is called Hell’s Valley because it has streams with boiling water, forming bubbles which looks extremely dangerous. The stream is covered with steep cliffs and forest with temperature going below minus. The forest is mainly heavily snowed for 4 months, keeping it away from hustle bustle environment.
This park is famous for its large population of Snow Monkeys. These monkey travels to the Jigokudani Monkey Park in winters, to take a hot bubble bath in the stream and return to the forest in the evening. The Snow Monkeys are also called as Japanese Macaques (Macaca Fuscata). Not only they are found in winters, but all round the year. The park attendants feeds the monkeys the whole year, hence they are found at the Jigokudani Monkey Park all the time.
This Monkey Park is one of the most popular onsen destination. It features a man-made onset, where the natural hot water is collected and the monkey gets soaked. They are quite at a safe distance, hence one can take photographs of them. No humans is allowed to get into water with them. A man-made onset is made for humans where one can get soaked too.
The best time to visit Jigokudani Monkey Park is between the month of December to March, the time when it snows heavily and drives the monkeys to get into hot water. They can be seen in different months of the year too but not much in hot-springs.
The bunch of monkeys in hot springs will give you the feeling of Planet Of The Apes. One must surely visit this park and experience the calm and soft side of the monkeys.
Know Before You Visit Jigokudani Monkey Park
An exact list of bus time to/from the snow monkey park at the train station can be found. You will be charged Yen 1400 in an express bus till the park entrance. The rest of journey till the main park is 1.2 km by walk. At the Information Center, one can get snow boots and jackets. The ground is very slippery, hence one needs to be very careful while walking. The Park attendants feed the monkeys in the morning and later they take bath in the hot-spring. In the evening, the monkeys heads off to the forest to sleep. Best time to visit is early to mid-day so that one can experience the feeding as well as the monkey baths.
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