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.
- A 2-night/3-day wildlife safari and photography experience delivered to perfection
- Earning an insight into wildlife behaviour and photography strategies
- Learning about ethical issues and ideal behaviour in the presence of wildlife
- Gleaning highly practical tips and techniques for making memorable images
- Achieving quality results by optimizing the tools at your disposal
- Learning to use the right settings in virtually any situation you may be faced with
- Fascinating snippets of the amazing natural history and biodiversity of Bandipur
- A fun and interactive environment that promotes inclusive learning
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.
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.
Please note: The Tour commences and ends at Bandipur. Participants may choose to drive from or via Bangalore and back in their own cars or hired cabs at actual cost. Assistance and coordination for car-pooling will be provided but please talk to us for additional help or special needs.
20 February 2019, Wednesday
Tour participants converge at Bandipur by noon from various destinations and check in. After a brief rest, a scrumptious lunch beckons at 01:00 p.m. More rest will follow, and at 03:00 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 04:00 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 ChaayaaChitra, ChitraTantra or CharchaaLoka session of the Tour. Following a fruitful day of exploration, learning and fun, we dine and hit the sack looking forward to more.
21 February, Thursday
An early wake-up call and tea will set us up on time for the morning safari at 06:30 a.m.
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 09:30 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.
22 February, Friday
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.
- Per Person on Twin Share Accommodation
- Per Couple on Twin Share Accommodation
- Per Person on Twin Share Accommodation
- Twin-sharing accommodation in comfortable non-air-conditioned rooms
- All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and hot beverages (coffee and tea)
- All applicable taxes
- All safaris and entry fees
What’s Not Included?
- All airfare and transfer expenses between your home and Bandipur
- Any kind of personal expenses or optional tours, extra meals and beverages ordered
- 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)
- Anything that is not included in the inclusions list (see above)
- 100% advance on confirmation of participation for the Tour
- 10% outside 30 days before the Tour
- 25% between 29 and 22 days before the Tour
- 50% between 21 and 15 days before the Tour
- 75% between 14 and 8 days before the Tour
- 100% within 7 days before the Tour
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?
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 not into photography at all. Do you suggest I participate?
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.
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.
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.
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.
What do I do if I do not have the requisite equipment?
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 for our Photo Tours!
The Tiger sighting in south India of this quality was never expected by me. Exceeded all my expectations. Thanks Toehold!
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.
It was a great opportunity to spend time with the most experienced and enthusiastic wildlife photographers in the field, sharing of immense knowledge about wildlife and photography skills mixed with their excellent sense of humor, there was not a single dull moment with them.
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.