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.
- An authentic wildlife experience with an excellent possibility of leopard encounters and images*
- An exhilarating time photographing elephants and myriad other wildlife in Kabini’s picturesque vistas
- Pictures of other mammal and avian attractions of Nagarahole
- Evocative landscape photographs of the Kabini and its fascinating environs
- Extensive photography and post-processing guidance and natural history learning both on and off the field
*Although chances of leopard encounters are high, since we will be in an uncontrolled environment, we do NOT guarantee sightings.
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.
Oscillating between astonishing and humbling, Kabini compels you to reexamine the small and big paradoxes of modern life and stands as a most gleaming exhibition of our invaluable and fragile wild heritage. It is not just a subject for great photography; it is an inspiration for it.
And Toehold’s accomplished Skippers will keep you geared and tuned to convert prospects to results.
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.
Rubbing shoulders with Nagarahole’s most famous penthouse-tenant is a multitude of wildlife, including a thriving population of the endangered Asiatic wild dog or dhole, whose team effort at nailing even the largest of prey is a study in planning and coordinated execution. The Kabini area is also a part of the largest refuge of the threatened Asiatic elephant and is still home to magnificent tuskers that fill your frame with ease.
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.
Please note: The Tour commences and ends at Kabini (Karapura). Travel from or via Bengaluru and back will be by sharing participants’ private cars or shared cabs at extra actual cost. Assistance in the way of coordination and arrangements will be provided but please talk to us for additional help or special needs.
After a 4.5-hour-drive from Bengaluru, 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 04:00 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 06:30 p.m. and relax over tea, following which a ChaayaaChitra session will ensue, in which we discuss photography techniques. Later, we enjoy a scrumptious supper and retire for the night.
An early morning wake-up call and tea will set the tone for the morning safari at 06:30 a.m. 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 ChaayaaChitra session the previous night.
Upon our return from the excursion at 09:00 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 ChitraTantra, 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 CharchaaLoka will unfold.
We tuck in for the night after enjoying an appetizing dinner.
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.
- 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 tents
- All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and hot beverages (coffee and tea)
- All safaris and entry fees
What’s Not Included?
- All airfare and transfer expenses between your home and Kabini
- 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 and lens fees
- Anything that is not included in the inclusions list
- All applicable taxes
- 100% of the Tour fee as advance for confirmation of participation for the Tour
- 10% of the Tour fee outside 30 days before the Tour
- 25% of the Tour fee between 29 and 22 days before the Tour
- 50% of the Tour fee between 21 and 15 days before the Tour
- 75% of the Tour fee between 14 and 8 days before the Tour
- 100% of the Tour fee 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 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 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!. Visit our Rental Store 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 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.
We had a lovely time during the trip. Thank you for all the efforts in making it memorable and fruitful! We look forward to being on another photo tour with you soon!
Thank you so so much for everything; you guys are the best skippers ever! I had an absolutely amazing time on the trip; everything was so well organised and taken care of. Can’t wait to go for the next one!
Being my first wildlife tour, I was not only enjoying the game but also the immense confidence build that Toehold influenced when it comes to photography.