Land of the Lion
Where the footprints on the sand lead to a plain, tawny cat who shuns the solitude of his cousins in favour of familial bliss, awake to the resonating cry of a king who has long locks and a big pride.
In the Land of the Lion, let the protagonist hold firm sway over your senses.
- A four-night Tour with six safaris in Gir National Park
- Memories of an exciting adventure in the world’s last home of the Asiatic lion
- Quality images under the expert guidance of your Toehold Skipper
- Extensive photography technique learning
- Highly useful practical tips on digital post-processing
- A treasure of natural history knowledge
Tucked away in a corner at the western tip of India, the Sasan Gir National Park, declared protected in the 1900s by the then Nawab of the Princely State of Junagadh, hosts around 400 of the only wild Asiatic Lions in the world.
About 1412 km2 in area, Gir is a lavish mix of deciduous forest and semi-evergreen and evergreen flora, acacia, scrub, grasslands and rocky hills. And in this arena, if the sight of a big male with a windswept mane evokes awe, the resounding roars of a pride asserting its real estate rights underline the importance of having a lion heart.
In the fauna department, the lion is merely the cherry on a very rich cake. For apart from the ‘mane menu’, Gir also offers a chance to savour the sight of many other species, including the master of reclusion, the leopard.
Other mammalian staples, apart from the ubiquitous chital, sambhar, wild boar and langur, include nilgai, chowsingha, chinkara, jackal and even hyena.
If that already sounds like a full house, the park also boasts of 250 species of birds, including attractive inmates like painted sandgrouse, paradise flycatcher, black-naped monarch, Eurasian thick-knee, long-billed vulture, red-headed vulture, and several raptors including Bonelli’s eagle, steppe eagle, osprey, peregrine falcon, laggar falcon and white-eyed buzzard. Also seen are brown fish owl, Eurasian eagle-owl, mottled wood owl and spotted owlet, and keen eyes can spot nightjars in the late evenings.
Not to be discounted, the reptiles are well-represented by 25 species, including marsh crocodile and monitor lizard, with python, cobra, keelback and vine snake being some of the other reptiles that inhabit the park.
Please note: The Tour begins at Gir on 5 February 2020 at around 08:00 p.m. Transport from and back to the nearest airport, Rajkot, will be arranged in shared cabs at extra actual cost. Toehold will coordinate the arrangements but please talk to us for additional help or special needs.
5 February 2020, Wednesday
Driving from Rajkot, we reach Gir by evening. After checking in to our comfortable resort, we gather for an interactive orientation session, which will serve as an introduction to Gir and help set expectations for the Tour, while also letting us get to know one another better. We dine and retire for the day with colourful dreams of the lion encounters to come.
6 to 8 February, Thursday to Saturday
All set to step into the Land of the Lion, we venture out early in the morning on our first safari on day 2 during which our guides will help us become familiar with the resident prides and their locations in the tourism area. If fortunate, we may always chance upon a pride of lions early on the trip. Even otherwise, the wealth of Gir’s wildlife should hold us in thrall, allowing us plenty of opportunities to hone our photography skills in anticipation of what is to come. After the morning safari, we return to our resort, breakfast and rest for some time. Just before lunch we gather for a ChaayaaChitra session and plan our action for the rest of the safaris.
After lunch, we depart for the evening safari and pursue photo opportunities, meeting for another session in the evening before dinner.
The next two days, we follow the same plan, enjoying morning and evening safaris, with ChitraTantra and CharchaaLoka sessions tastefully interspersed with the exciting outdoor activity. This will ensure that you not only enjoy a whole lot of photography learning, but also get to execute the lessons in the field.
9 February, Sunday
Having enjoyed a gratifying sojourn to the Land of the Lion, we leave for our abodes with pleasant memories and fuller hard disks.
- Per Person on Twin Share Accommodation
- Per Couple on Twin Share Accommodation
- Per Person on Twin Share Accommodation
- Twin-sharing accommodation in comfortable rooms
- All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and hot beverages (coffee/tea) for Tour duration
- All applicable taxes
- All safaris and entry fees
What’s Not Included?
- All airfare and transfer expenses
- 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
- At least 50% of the Tour fee as booking amount
- 100% of the Tour fee latest by 15 October 2019
- 30% of the Tour fee on or before 14 October 2019
- 100% of the Tour fee on or after 15 October 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?
Anybody with an interest in wildlife, photography or both and is above 18 years of age (unless accompanied by an adult) is welcome to join 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, to make the most of the Tour photographically, we recommend that you be familiar with at least the basics of photography. If you aren’t, we suggest you consider joining an Art and Science of Photography Workshop first.
What equipment do you suggest on this Tour?
For lions 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.
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, at actual costs.
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.
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 are guaranteed.
A regular travel company gives you a readily available package, but with Toehold you can be rest assured that you get your typical vacation with wildlife plugged. Also they give you the best and affordable accommodations; I think that is unique about them.
Exemplary planning, execution and handling of the Gir tour, had a gala of a time photographing lions up close.
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 the sightings made the experience even better!