She emerged from the bush like a spectre, walked with the authority of a colonel and sat like a Tagore poem in earthly form.
Before this you hadn’t seen anything remotely as big that was also throbbing with aesthetic perfection and charm. Something inside you has been lit. Your life has just changed and you know you’ll never be the same again.
For you’ve just enjoyed the singular sight of a tiger in the wild.
- 4 nights and 7 safaris in open safari vehicles
- An excursion planned and executed to perfection
- Possibly excellent photo opportunities of tigers and other attractions of Bandhavgarh
- Beautiful landscape photographs of scenic environs
- Extensive photography assistance both on and off the field
- Plenty of natural history and post-processing learning with Toehold’s renowned Skippers
At the heart of Wild India, Bandhavgarh has come to be not merely one of the best havens of the national animal, but a very byword for it. It is the tiger capital of the world.
Here, the tiger is not merely a wild cat, but an obsession that dominates the psyche of the local and the visitor alike. It is the very spirit of the place, and it lives in every pore of the jungle and every heart that dwells around it.
From the resort chef to the whispering wind in the trees, on every lip is the five-letter synonym for beauty. For the tiger in these parts is not a mythical ghost around which stories are woven for vicarious pleasure, but a strikingly real creature that can be watched, observed and enjoyed firsthand, for real.
And that is why here, when a tiger spots you, it is eminently possible to spot it back.
Equal to the allure of the celebrated tenant is the splendour of its home. And in the winter, the maiden dons her best gown of the year.
Sublime misty dawns clear the fog off your mind and the nip in the air warms you up to the tingling anticipation of what lies ahead. As the first sunrays filter through the canopy and the curtain of mist raises, the Eden is unveiled in all its grandeur.
It is something of a lavishness that envelops your senses as you progress in your quest through the verdant landscape that truly encapsulates the essence of tiger-land. The grasses of the emancipating meadows, just having showered in the dewdrops that still cling to their lanky bodies, glow with freshness, while the sheltering woods throb with the promise of many a wonder that they keep in their mystical folds.
An intoxicating mix of history and natural history sings a soulful tune in this timeless land. Set around a haunting 2000-year-old fort believed to have been gifted by lord Ram to his brother Lakshman (leading to the name Bandhavgarh, meaning ‘brother’s fort’), the 437km2 park is as much an archaeological goldmine as an ecological gem.
Halfway up the eponymous fort, an astounding monolithic sculpture of a reclining lord Vishnu oversees the wild affairs unfolding on the lower slopes where the star protagonists play out their everyday roles unwittingly as they live their charmed lives.
An undercurrent of magic envelopes as you snake your way through the hallowed alleys of the tourism zone, where the great tigers Charger, Sita and B2 once reigned supreme. Presently you will be smitten by their able descendants, who grace this mythical landscape like beautiful relics left behind by a fantastical kingdom.
Although the iconic tiger is very much the main course in Bandhavgarh, the side dishes are aplenty.
Jackals and jungle cats cross paths with pleasing regularity, the now rarefied species of vultures, including the red-headed, long-billed, white-rumped and Egyptian variety, which thrive here, constitute a heartening sight overhead, and a rich variety of other avian life gladdens the keen birder, of which lesser adjutant stork, Malabar pied hornbill, blue-bearded bee-eater and white-rumped shama are notable, and Asian paradise flycatcher and stork-billed kingfisher yield particular delight, while white-eyed buzzard and honey buzzard are surprisingly common along with the nearly ubiquitous changeable hawk-eagle and crested serpent eagle. Indeed Bandhavgarh is a smorgasbord of the choicest riches.
But the park’s biggest draw is the unparalleled opportunity it offers to observe tiger behaviour for sustained periods of time. Tracking the known individuals by territory and movement, the extraordinarily skilled guides and drivers yield intimate photographic opportunities and unique insights into the private world of the enigmatic big cat, when, adorned by resplendent winter coats, they look their stunning best.
Please note: The Tour begins at Bandhavgarh anytime after 12 noon on 30 November, Saturday, and ends at Bandhavgarh after the morning safari and breakfast on 4 December, Wednesday, and will include seven safaris.
If you’re taking a flight back, you will need to stay overnight in Jabalpur (at extra cost) to take the next morning’s flight to Mumbai or Delhi (as per the current flight schedules).
Shared (or exclusive, if you prefer) onward and return road transfers will be arranged at extra cost.
30 November 2019, Saturday
You arrive in Bandhavgarh and check in to our comfortable resort anytime after 12 noon, depending on your travel schedule. Ahead of a scrumptious dinner and a round of mutual introduction, our Skipper will brief the group on the natural-history features and tourist rules of the park and set the tone for the Tour. Then we retire for the night in warm anticipation of the exciting time ahead.
1 to 3 December, Sunday to Tuesday
For the next three days, after an early wakeup call opens the day, we reach the park gate at the soonest possible, with the view of being the first to enter for the all-exciting first safari. This will allow us to look for pugmarks and other fresh signs of any tiger movement to track the big cats, and also put us in a vantage position for viewing and photography, should a tiger materialize. Tigers are at their most active during the early hours of dawn and late hours of dusk, so we seek to utilize the first hour of the ride to the most.
As we acquaint ourselves with the topographical features of the park, a dash of beginner’s luck can yield the coveted sight of a tiger early on the trip, kicking 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.
Lunch will be followed by the second safari at around 02:30 p.m. Afternoons are great for bird-watching, and while we wait for tigers to start moving, we have a great time photographing some of the winged attractions of Bandhavgarh, which may include white-rumped shamas, red jungle fowl and greater adjutant storks. Meanwhile your Skipper will constantly monitor the situation and strategize with the guides and the drivers to maximize tiger sighting opportunities.
Should a tiger encounter materialize, our Skipper will do everything in his strength to put you in the best possible position for viewing and photography.
After hopefully a fruitful excursion, we return to the resort for a cup of tea and later meet for a session of ChitraTantra followed by dinner and shuteye
4 December, Wednesday
After the last morning safari and breakfast, you will checkout and be transferred to Katni or Umaria (if you’re taking a train) or Jabalpur (if you’re taking a flight), where you will need to stay overnight before taking the next morning’s flight back home.
- Per Person on Twin Share Accommodation
- Per Couple on Twin Share Accommodation
- Per Person on Twin Share Accommodation
- Twin-sharing accommodation in comfortable rooms unless single occupancy purchased at extra cost
- All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and hot beverages (coffee and tea)
- All entry fees, guide fees and safaris
What’s Not Included?
- Any airfare
- All applicable taxes
- Transfers from the nearest airport or railway station and back
- Any kind of personal expenses or optional tours or extra meals ordered
- Lunch and dinner (except if not had on day 1) on the last day of the Tour
- Insurance, laundry and phone calls
- Bottled water, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages
- Camera fees if any (participants will be advised of the estimated fees in advance)
- Tips and gratuities
- Anything that is not included in the inclusions list
- At least 50% of the Tour fee as booking amount (not refundable)
- Remainder of the Tour fee before 10 July 2019
- 50% of the Tour fee on or before 14 July 2019
- 100% of the Tour fee on or after 15 July 2019
Please note: The date of written (email) communication of intent to cancel is the date considered for calculation of the cancellation fees.
While Toehold Photo Travel is one of our most popular offerings, we work as a travel agency without bringing the photography guide element in to your travel. In short you would be using our travel experts service to just plan the vacation and execute it.
- Unlike a Photo Travel experience, your Vacation is completely personalised
- The dates, style of travel, class of hotels and lodges, destinations everything is tailor-made to suit your custom requirement.
- A Skipper or a photography guide doesn’t travel with you to guide you unless you decide to take our customised and guided photo travel experience.
So take advantage of the immense experience and field knowledge that we bring in to your vacation’s planning without having to pay for our time and costs. Plus we don’t charge an additional fee for our time and travel planning services.
Who should participate in this Tour? Are there any eligibility criteria?
Anybody interested in nature, wildlife and/or photography and is above the age of 18 (unless accompanied by a parent or adult guardian) is welcome on this 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, in order to make the most of the Tour photographically, we recommend that you be familiar with photography fundamentals. If you’re not, we suggest you join an Art and Science of Photography Workshop before the Tour.
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 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. Of all the Indian parks, Bandhavgarh offers the best opportunity to observe and photograph the Bengal tiger. 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. 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. Visit our Rental Store to see what we offer. What’s better, you enjoy a 10% discount on all equipment hired on our Photo Tours!
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.
I wanted to express my gratitude for organizing a wonderful trip. The trip gave me much more than what i had expected. The learnings from the trip on photography was great and will help me improve my skills further.
The Bandhavgarh trip was a very enriching experience. Sachin, with his immense knowledge and his eagerness to teach, broke the ice immediately. His informal approach i think worked wonders. Thank you Toehold!
For a nature lover seeking solace in the wilderness, expectations are very high. When a person learns digital photography understanding the techniques, ideas to bring in a difference in what he visualizes and photographs, here the experience with Toehold has been by far one of the best.
This mail is just to tell you guys that it was wonderful experience with you all it was very friendly environment with you all guys as it was my journey towards wildlife and I m so happy that it was with right guys.
Tigers, Leopards and Wildldogs – all predators in Bandhavgarh made this a great outing. Learnt so much and had great fun!