Tiger Fortress - Wildlife Photography Tour
It's summer in an ancient forest. A peacock crows his raucous call, big sambar stags stomp the ground in red alert, frogs retreat to the security of the water and chirping birds slump into a lull of silence.
A tiger walks out of the bush and strides regally across the shoreline taking your breath away.
And you have witnessed the magic of the emperor who doesn't rule merely the land but also the hearts of its inhabitants. It's a timely experience of timeless evolutionary perfection.
How is it?
Between the Aravalis and the Vindhyas in the Sawai Madhopur District of eastern Rajasthan lies the Ranthambhore National Park as a part of the greater Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve. 1334km2 in area but infinitely larger in appeal, the tiger reserve is bound by two rivers and a sanctuary, and features the terrain types of both hill systems at whose confluence it nestles enticingly.
But Ranthambhore is not just the confluence of two mountain ranges, but also a convergence of the best of man, nature and her creations. Here, history and natural history jell seamlessly to form a perpetual spectacle of endless wonder.
The ancient relics left by the human kingdoms of the past, most notably in the way of arches, gates and chhatris, dot the park almost ubiquitously, now reclaimed by the protected wilderness and embraced wholeheartedly by its rightful inhabitants.
This great setting in which the masterpieces of human industry complement the products of nature's whimsical flair, gives the reserve its unique, inimitable feel and charm that have propelled it to one of the best places on Earth in which to witness some of the world's most beautiful animals enjoying unmolested lives.
The invaluable jungles of Ranthambhore bear the distinction of being India's largest expanse of dry deciduous Anogeissus pendula forest, Rajasthan's only habitat in which a viable tiger population currently survives, a critical water catchment area, and an important bio-diversity hub supporting endangered megafauna. And with its rugged hills, steep valleys, rakish ravines and grass-covered plateaus, Ranthambhore makes tiger-watching a joy nonpareil.
What you will see and photograph:
The royal Bengal tiger, true to the prevailing ambience, is particularly royal here. A true emperor of all it surveys, the tiger makes its life much more public here than in most other reserves, offering a wealth of precious opportunities to observe and photograph Ranthambhore's most charismatic tenant and implicitly its greatest guardian in all its glorious individuality.
But the tiger is certainly not Ranthambhore's singular attraction. For where the apex of the food chain dwells, a whole healthy ecosystem thrives and thus abounds a great variety of watchable wildlife.
Felines hogging a smaller share of the limelight include the leopard, which is sometimes seen straddling the rocky cliffs and steep ridges under the perilous shadow of its larger cousin; the elusive caracal with its long, tufted ears; the fascinating jungle cat and the diminutive rusty-spotted cat.
Notable ungulates apart from the ubiquitous sambar and chital are India's largest antelope, the nilgai or blue bull and the infinitely graceful and rare chinkara or Indian gazelle, which are the kinds of subjects that make photography such a rewarding vocation.
Sloth bears, jackals and Indian foxes are in attendance and a burst of fortune can lead to explosively exciting encounters and while Indian and palm civets, ruddy mongooses and the striking striped hyena are not easy to see, their pursuit in the interests of a photographic pay-dirt will keep you very keenly interested.
And over 320 species of birds in attendance, including francolins, quails, thicknees, sand grouses and partridges in the ground to minivets, flycatchers, tits, orioles, green pigeons and parakeets in the trees, the avifaunal siege is bounteous enough to keep you riveted as you snake through its magical alleyways in the quest of the king.
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:
I had a great time on the Toehold tour. They took care of all the logistics so all I had to do was enjoy myself! The evening sessions were great fun and I got to interact with a lot of like-minded people. I'm already planning for my next trip with Toehold!
- Ritwick Sharma, Mumbai
I had never been on a photography trip before and so was apprehensive that I would feel out of place among photographers but I was proven totally wrong. The 'Skippers' made me totally comfortable and helped me with the most basic of my camera settings with a lot of patience, and the sightings made the experience even better and totally worth it!
- Sonali Sinha, Delhi
Going on this Toehold tour has been the most enriching experience in recent times. The amount of learning about photography that's possible just being around these guys is amazing. The best part was getting assistance from the Skippers in the field, to make the most of the opportunities we had. I'd greatly recommend Toehold tours to someone looking for a productive way to spend a few days!
- Dr. Ramesh Bhat, Bangalore
I went on a tour with Toehold to a destination I was so familiar with but ended up learning a lot more things than I already knew. Great bunch of young pros.
- Gopal Basu, Kolkatta
My young boys learnt so much about photography and wildlife that the dining table is full of stories and technical jargons of photography.
- Suchitra K, Kolkatta
Toehold injects a lot of interest in youngsters about photography and natural history. Wish them all the best!
- Pradeep Kenchappa, Bengaluru
Please note: The Tour starts at Ranthambhore after 12 noon on 14 June 2017, and ends at Ranthambhore after the morning safari on 18 June. Transfer from and back to the nearest airport or railway station will be at an additional, actual cost. Assistance in cab-pooling will be provided but please talk to us for further help and specific needs.
- DAY 1 14 June 2017, Wednesday: Arrival and Afternoon Safari; Overnight in Ranthambhore
You arrive at the lodge in Sawai Madhopur by lunchtime and check in. Shortly, the Skipper will facilitate a round of mutual introduction over buffet lunch and orient you to the features and the rules of the park.
Soon, it's time for the exciting first safari. A dash of beginner's luck can yield the coveted sight of a tiger early on the trip, getting the event off to a rollicking start, but even if feline fortune doesn't shine through, the beauty of the park is bound to enthrall us with plenty of time remaining on the Tour to see and photograph the principal object of our pursuit.
We return to the lodge by around 6:00 p.m. and after refreshing ourselves with some hot tea, take our seats for the Tour's first interactive ChaayaaChitraChaayaaChitra: Photography Techniques, Tips, Trickssession. These unique Toehold sessions, which are highly fruitful and great fun, are reported by earlier participants to be as enjoyable as the safaris themselves and should entertain as much as educate you.
Having spent a noteworthy day replete with exploration, photography and frolic, we enjoy a scrumptious supper before hitting the sack for the night with dreams of what lies ahead.
DAYS 2 to 4 15 to 17 June, Thursday to Saturday: Morning and Afternoon Safaris and Overnight in Ranthambhore
Over the next three days, we pursue photo opportunities and hopefully make plenty of images of many of Ranthambhore's resident wild inhabitants. Each morning we start early and spend ample time during the golden morning hours, returning for a scrumptious hot-breakfast.
After a brief rest, we meet for a ChitraTantraChitraTantra: Photo Principles, Reviews, Critiquesession before lunch and set out for the afternoon safari later. In the evening, another engaging session, which we call CharchaalokaCharchaaloka: Presentations, Lectures, Discussionsand where we review the experiences of the day and discuss all matters photography and natural-history, will call a fittingly erudite end to the productive day.
DAY 5 18 June, Sunday: Checkout and Dispersal
After enjoying a final morning's safari at Ranthambhore, we breakfast, take the customary group picture, check out and disperse with many images to show and many an enthralling story to tell to our loved ones.
Exclusive of service tax
Exclusive of service tax
Exclusive of service tax
Frequently Asked Questions
- Who should participate in this Tour? Are there any eligibility criteria?
Anybody over the age of 18 (unless accompanied by an adult) and interested in nature and wildlife - specifically tigers - and/or photography will enjoy this Tour thoroughly. There are no other eligibility criteria.
- 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 suggest you be conversant with at least the basics of photography. If you aren't, we strongly recommend that you consider signing up for a Art and Science of Photography Workshop first.
- How many people can I expect to share my vehicle with on safari?
Our Photo Tours are designed to provide you sufficient space for comfortable photography without being excessively taxing on your pocket, so you can expect a maximum of three other people (including the participants and the Skipper) apart from the driver and the mandatory forest department guide.
Why aren't onward and return journeys included on this Tour?
Since participants of our Tours travel from various parts of the country by different modes (road, rail and air) as per their individual preferences, it works best to originate Tours from the destinations. We, however, provide all the assistance you need in arranging your logistics.
- 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.
- 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?
For tigers and other mammals, a telephoto zoom lens in the range of 70 to 200mm/300mm or 100 to 400mm works very well. If opting for a fixed ('prime') lens, the 300mm focal length on a cropped sensor body with a 1.4x extender ('teleconverter') is the best compromise, although lenses of longer focal length can be used to good effect as well, especially on 'full-frame' bodies. For birds, a lens with a focal length of at least 400mm is essential. A wide-angle or normal zoom to capture landscapes or creative perspectives of wildlife is recommended. And since the light conditions in 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 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. What's better, you can enjoy a 10% discount on all equipment hired on our Photo Tours!
© - All Text, Photographs, Videos and Narrations are properties of Toehold Travel & Photography Private Limited.
- Date: 14 to 18 June 2017
- Tour Cost
Per person exclusive of service tax
Per couple exclusive of service tax
Per person exclusive of service tax
All fares excluding travel to and back from Ranthambhore
- Skipper: Phillip Ross