The Leopard's Lair
Spotted, skilled and secretive, the leopard is the Houdini of the natural world. And at most times, merely an invisible ghost in the bush.
With the beauty of a mermaid and the magnetic power of a quagmire, it weaves an inescapable web of allure, but with utmost commitment to reclusion, also escapes the prying eye.
So if the leopard has remained only in your imagination and your record of sighting one is spotlessly blank, it's time to stop dreaming and earn your spots.*
How is it?
The jungles of Nagarahole are a year-round attraction to the green-eyed. Composed of mixed deciduous forest, its environs are endowed with mystery, beauty and mesmeric charm, which seep into your veins thick and fast.
Here, the leopard's most visible lair revolves around a river that has made itself synonymous with Nagarahole. Snaking its way pristinely through the Nilgiri Biosphere, the Kabini forms a spectacular backdrop to the abundant wildlife of the region.
In its hallowed folds it harbours such riches that in the summer, its receding width draws hundreds of elephants to its banks, in the winter it attracts a spectacular variety of avian life to throng its misty surface and green shores, and in the monsoon it explodes into a bouquet of botanical splendour.
And Toehold's accomplished Skippers will keep you geared and tuned to convert prospects to results.
What you will see and photograph:
Kabini is a land of plenty but not predictable, with the exciting undercurrent of the unknown and imponderable woven innately into its enigmatic fabric.
But in recent times, it has become the destination for those seeking the smallest of India's big cats, because here, the ghost of the canopy sheds its customary diffidence to emerge from the shadows.*
When seen hanging off a tree as does an enticing fruit, the Kabini leopard adds a dash of orange panache to a dominance of green environs. There is consensus that spots seldom come in a more desirable form than on an indolent leopard in its high-rise quarters regarding the affairs below with contempt.
And on occasion, when in a more 'down-to-earth' mood, the sight of it sitting by the track or crossing your path like a poem on legs can stick to your memory cells inseparably.
On a boat ride, huge mugger crocodiles can be often seen making warmth while the sun shines, magnificent ospreys - fishing raptors that look quite splendid - perch on open tree stumps as beacons for the yearning photographer, river otters put in an appearance on occasion on their fishing expeditions, ashy wood-swallows, grey herons and large egrets pose enticingly in picturesque light; and droves of gaur, spotted deer and wild boar inhabit the shores, while a stroke of serendipity can even yield the coveted sight of a tiger.
The birds of the forest will complete the riveting act, with white-bellied woodpeckers, changeable hawk- and crested serpent-eagles, nuthatches, rollers, kingfishers and dozens of other species bringing up the numbers, while other animals, like the stripe-necked mongoose and the Bengal monitor lizard, stand up and get counted too.
So, it's just as well that you have a camera in hand, for where the verbal faculty may find it nearly impossible to describe the spectacle, the Toehold team will venture to ensure that the medium of visual expression may just succeed in portraying it in some slight part.
Behind Jayanth's awe-inspiring work are a fierce commitment to nail the composition in the field, an assiduous abstinence from digital manipulation, a nearly devotional love for quality, and zero appetite for compromise. Jayanth uses the strengths of his tools to his immense advantage, creating powerful vignettes of optical excellence designed to pamper the aesthetic corner of a nature lover.
Jayanth is one of the co-founders of Toehold and you can have a look at his work on his website www.wildlifetimes.com or keep a tab on him on his Facebook Page.
Read more about Jayanth here.
Santosh has been richly recognised, most notably as winner of the NDTV Tiger Photo Contest in 2010, finalist in the same year at the world's most coveted competition - the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year, and recipient of several Special Mentions in the annual Sanctuary Asia Wildlife Photography competitions. His photos have adorned websites, magazines, books, calendars and other merchandise both commercially and in aid of conservation.
Santosh's work may be followed on his blog, and his Facebook Page.
Read more about Santosh 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
- DAY 1 Sunday: Check-in and First Safari; Overnight at Kabini River Lodge
After a 4.5-hour-drive from Bangalore, participants reach Kabini by noon. Following a leisurely lunch and a round of introduction to understand one another better, we mull on what's in store for the next two days and embark on our first safari by 4 p.m.
Navigating through the excellent network of roads in the Nagarahole jungle, we enjoy an inaugural taste of the wild, keeping our eyes peeled for action on the ground, the air and the canopy.
After hopefully an eventful ride, we return to camp at 6:30 p.m. and relax over tea, following which a ChaayaaChitraChaayaaChitra: Photography Techniques, Tips, Trickssession will ensue. Later, we enjoy a scrumptious supper and retire for the night.
- DAY 2 Monday: Morning and Afternoon Safaris and Overnight in Kabini
An early morning wake-up call and tea will set the tone for the morning safari at 6:30. Cutting through the freshness of the morning, we pursue materialization of wildlife and very possibly try some of the tips and techniques discussed in the ChaayaaChitraChaayaaChitra: Photography Techniques, Tips, Trickssession the previous night.
Upon our return from the excursion at 9:00 a.m., a hot breakfast will await us, and after satiating our hunger we retreat to our rooms to refresh and rest awhile, meeting again at noon for ChitraTantraChitraTantra: Photo Principles, Reviews, Critique, another informative session full of interaction and fun.
After lunch, perhaps a brief nap and tea, we reenter the forest with more hope for cat luck, let our hair down and make a lot of images of the sights we encounter.
Having spent a cumulative five hours in the wild for the day, we walk into camp a happy bunch and relate our tales over tea, following which a session of CharchaalokaCharchaaloka: Presentations, Lectures, Discussionswill unfold.
We tuck in for the night after enjoying an appetizing dinner.
- DAY 3 Tuesday: Morning Safari, Check-out and Dispersal
Hoping for a fitting climax to a great Tour, we embark on the last safari at the usual hour in the morning. And since cat activity is at its peak during the early hours of the day, there is every possibility of the Tour ending on a high note.
After the safari and breakfast we gather for a final rendezvous before checking out at 11:00 a.m. and setting off for our respective abodes where our families wait to hear our tales.
Exclusive of service tax
Exclusive of service tax
Exclusive of service tax
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, we recommend that you be familiar with the basics of photography. If you're not, kindly consider joining a Art and Science of Photography Workshop first.
- How sure are you about photographing wildlife on this Tour?
Considering the meticulous attention to timing we pay while scheduling Tours, the local expertise we leverage and the experience of our Skippers, we believe that it would be extremely unfortunate if our sightings and photography were unsatisfactory. The Kabini part of Nagarahole is home to a healthy population of Asiatic elephant and of all the Indian parks, this area offers the best opportunity to photograph a leopard as well. However, since we will be in an uncontrolled environment, sightings - especially of big cats - are NOT guaranteed.
What equipment do you suggest on this Tour?
Nagarahole offers equal opportunity for bird and mammal photography. For mammals, especially elephants, a telephoto zoom lens in the range of 70 to 200mm/300mm or 100 to 400mm works very well. Telephoto lenses of greater focal lengths also can be used to good effect for leopards perched in the canopy. For bird photography, a lens with a focal length of at least 400mm is usually essential. A wide-angle or normal zoom to capture landscapes or creative perspectives of wildlife is recommended. And since the light conditions in the forest can often be challenging, an image-stabilized lens and a camera body that performs well at high sensitivities are boons. However, 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. What's more, you enjoy a 10% discount on all equipment hired on our Tours! 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 an accomplished 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.
19 to 21 May 2017
- Tour Cost:
Per person exclusive of service tax
Per couple exclusive of service tax
Per person exclusive of service tax
All fares excluding transport to and back from Kabini.