In the whimsical folds of the Bandipur National Park resides many a mystery. This is a venture to plunge headlong into its treasure-chest and emerge enriched with the verdant goodness of a vivacious wilderness; to gently unveil the carpet of green to uncover the many rewarding secrets lying underneath.
How is it?
Set in the thick of the critical Nilgiri Biosphere, Bandipur is one of India's first and finest Project-Tiger reserves, and also southern India's most famous. Its priceless tiger and leopard habitat is home to three rivers and represents in part the best remaining haunt of the endangered Asiatic elephant, Indian wild dog and a plethora of life in all its sublimely understated forms and colours.
Rich in bamboo, teak, sandalwood and flame of the forest, the hallowed alleyways of the Bandipur jungle exude whimsical enchantment from every wild nook and cranny. And it's all there to see.
What you will see and photograph:
It is said that the sight of a southern Indian tiger is among the greatest rewards of the natural world, and Bandipur offers the best chance of earning it. Leopards too are present on the tourist map. But even if feline fortune doesn't shine through, there is never a paucity of things to see and photograph in this park of plenty.
While a stripe-necked mongoose digs termite mounds for tidbits and an elephant strips the bark off a tree, a Bengal monitor lizard roosting in a tree can make you raise your brows higher than ever. A big bull gaur spanning the breadth of the track will introduce you to the wilder side of cattle and once every so often, a pack of marauding wild dogs may cross your path as they seek to outrun the next lunch on legs.
Birds are aplenty and the sight of a grey jungle fowl, a changeable hawk-eagle, a shikra or a roller is almost always around the corner.
An avid angler, great raconteur and naturalist par excellence, Phillip uses his passion for wildlife to spread the joy of nature through his infectious ways to adults and children alike. Having explored wilderness areas throughout India as a photographer and naturalist, Phillip has won many laurels, including a Wildlife Conservation Award in 2009 for his report on saving the Bannerghatta National Park. And courtesy of his skill, imagination and technical mastery, his work has been used in various magazines, newspapers, journals and calendars for embellishment and education through his incisive lens.
Read more about Phillip here.
WHY GO ON A TOEHOLD PHOTO TOUR?At Toehold, we are passionate about photography just as you are, which lets us understand your travails and needs perfectly. And we use this insight to specially design our Photography Tours so they give you a toehold to excel at the art and set you up for success.
The Toehold team at your disposal will keep you tuned and geared, so you come in empty-handed but go out with bagful of images and tales of an experience that is better lived than heard.
- A clinically organized tour with utmost attention to your comfort and needs
- An open, informal environment that promotes interactive learning
- A team that will strategize and work to a plan to optimize opportunities and ensure a great tour
- Practical, hands-on assistance in photography from the tour Skippers both in the field and off it
- A wealth of subject matter knowledge
- Individual interaction with the Skippers over general or specific issues
- First-hand learning from the masters in the art and craft of photography
These exclusive, informative and interactive sessions are -
TESTIMONIALS BY OUR PREVIOUS TOUR PARTICIPANTSPhotography enthusiasts who were a part of a similar Tour previously said:
The Tiger sighting in south India of this quality was never expected by me. Exceeded all my expectations. Thanks Toehold!
- Praveen B, Bangalore
I seemed to have made the right choice to have travelled with you guys. Not just sighted great stuff but learnt so much that I will cherish for years to come. Your tours to both Kabini and Bandipur are truly fantastic for learners.
- Ajay K, Bangalore
The whole tour was organized in a professional manner. It was a great opportunity to spend time with the most experienced and enthusiastic wildlife photographers in the field, they were quick in spotting wildlife, understanding the lighting conditions and guiding the participants about the angles and the camera settings that they got to take, it was sharing of immense knowledge about wildlife and photography skills mixed with their excellent sense of humor that kept the participants in a good spirit, there was not a single dull moment with them.
- Saritha Dattatreya, Hyderabad
Had a wonderful time and hope to join you all once again soon, job and time willing. Good meeting and interacting with many of you during this trip.
- Rajiv Ramanathan, Ahmedabad
I never expected to come back with such great photographs of the Leopard in South India. Great learning experience over the weekend at Kabini.
- Ramesh Kulkarni, Chennai
Kabini's Leopards seem to have signed a pact with Toehold. Great outing.
- Pradeep Jaiswal, Bangalore
Please click on any thumbnail and use the left and right arrow keys to navigate between photos in the gallery.
- DAY 1 Sunday: Arrival and First Safari
Tour participants converge at Bandipur by noon from various destinations and check in. After a brief rest, a scrumptious lunch beckons at 1:00 p.m. More rest will follow, and at 3:00 p.m., your Skipper will chair a mutual introduction session and brief you about the park's natural history, other features and rules, set the tone for the Tour and orient you to the first ride.
At 4 p.m., we depart on our first safari of the Tour, acquainting ourselves with the geography of the park and enjoying the highlights on offer. Early fortune may produce the coveted sight of a cat and even otherwise, the bounteous floral and faunal riches of Bandipur should offer plenty of 'target practice' to prepare for more opportunities ahead.
Upon our return, tea will be served, and an hour later, we meet for the first ChaayaaChitraChaayaaChitra: Photography Techniques, Tips, Tricks, ChitraTantraChitraTantra: Photo Principles, Reviews, Critiqueor CharchaalokaCharchaaloka: Presentations, Lectures, Discussionssession of the Tour. Following a fruitful day of exploration, learning and fun, we dine and hit the sack looking forward to more.
- DAY 2 Monday: Morning and Afternoon Safaris in Bandipur
An early wake-up call and tea will set us up on time for the morning safari at 6:30.
Cleaving through the nippy air and the deep woods, we savour the opportunity of making atmospheric images of any wildlife we may encounter. Early mornings are a wonderful time to look for big cats, for it is then that they are on the move. In the event of a fortuitous encounter, your Skipper will leave no stone unturned to ensure that you are in the best position possible to watch and photograph the subject of adoration, without undue disturbance to it.
Returning from the ride at 9:30 a.m., we enjoy a rejuvenating breakfast forthwith and then retreat to our cottages for an hour of repose. We meet again as scheduled by the Skipper for an interactive session before lunch.
After lunch and an extended discussion, a cup of hot tea will warm us up for the afternoon safari, during which we will pursue sightings and photographic opportunities of elephants, gaur, birds and the other beautiful denizens of the jungle, and as always, the possibility of a feline encounter lurks behind the curtain of fortune. A combination of timing and appropriateness of location can yield a memorable experience that is likely to never abandon you.
Another of our highly insightful and enjoyable interactive sessions ensues in the evening before we put our heads to our pillows at the end of another sublime day spent roaming the southern Indian jungle.
- DAY 3 Tuesday: Last Safari and Checkout
Starting early, we embark on the last safari of the Tour, keeping our fingers crossed for whatever luck awaits us in the final draw. Your Skipper's knowledge of the Bandipur jungle is next only to the locals', which allows him to team up with the driver in chalking out the strategy, watching the signs and listening for alarm calls to track predators on the last throw of the dice.
Following hopefully a productive ride, we return to the base satiated and after breakfast and the customary group picture shoot, we return to our abodes carrying many a picture in our hard disks and a wealth of memories in our hearts.
Inclusive of taxes
Inclusive of taxes
Inclusive of taxes
Frequently Asked Questions
Who should participate in this Tour?
Anybody with an interest in wildlife, photography or both, and is over the age of 18 (unless accompanied by a parent or adult guardian) is welcome to join the Tour.
I am a newbie in nature photography. Am I eligible?
Absolutely! This Tour is meant for fledgling as well as experienced photographers. Beginners get all the advantages of learning on and off the field from Toehold's eminent Skippers. In fact if you are a newbie, you should jump on this terrific learning opportunity and sign up right away! However, to make the most of the Tour photographically, we recommend that you be conversant with at least the basics of photography. If you are not, please consider joining a Art and Science of Photography Workshop first.
I'm not into photography. Is it a good idea for me to join the Tour?
Yes! While the Tour is optimized for photography enthusiasts, nature lovers who are not into photography will enjoy the experience all the same and are most welcome.
- How sure are you about photographing wildlife on this Tour?
Considering the meticulous attention to timing we pay while scheduling Tours and the local expertise we leverage, we believe that it would be extremely unfortunate if our sightings and photography were unsatisfactory. However, since we will be in an uncontrolled environment, we do not claim that sightings - especially of big cats - are guaranteed.
What equipment do you suggest on this Tour?
Bandipur offers equal opportunity for bird and mammal photography. For bird photography, a lens with a focal length of at least 400mm is essential. For mammals a telephoto zoom lens in the range of 70 to 300mm or 100 to 400mm works very well. A wide-angle or normal zoom to capture landscapes or creative perspectives of wildlife is recommended. And since the light conditions in southern Indian jungles can often be challenging, an image-stabilized lens and a camera body that performs well at high sensitivities are boons.
- I do not have the requisite photographic equipment. What do I do?
If you do not have appropriate equipment, there is no need to fret. Toehold offers an exhaustive array of cameras and lenses for hire, so you can always hire what you need. Click here to see what we offer.
How different are your Photo Tours from ordinary tours?
Unlike travel agents who plan your holiday from a remote destination to places they sometimes haven't experienced themselves, Photo Tours offer a comprehensive toehold to experience a place through the guidance of a professional photographer. The common ingredients in all our Photo Tours are fun and a lot of learning and knowledge sharing. Besides, most or all of our Tour participants are photography enthusiasts, which keeps the group in harmony and helps make your experience focussed.
© - All Text, Photographs, Videos and Narrations are properties of Toehold Travel & Photography Private Limited.
12 to 14 February 2017
- Tour Cost:
Per person inclusive of taxes
Per couple inclusive of taxes
Per person inclusive of taxes