A wild ass stands silhouetted against a shimmering orange hemisphere, while the piercing gaze of a short-eared owl melts you to pulp. While the might of many a raptor fills you with awe, the beauty of mammals like the desert fox and the Indian wolf among others will warm your heart by just existing.
In its deserts and marshes, the Little Rann of Kutch blooms in a myriad hues. See it so you may widen your avenues; feel it so in a land of endless possibilities, you transcend the boundaries of your mind; and picture it so you showcase the infinity that the Rann is.
- A four-day photographic fest to one of India’s best birding destinations
- A wealth of bird photography opportunities due to the inbound migration during peak winter
- A chance to strike many a rare and endangered bird and mammal off your species wish list
- Pertinent photography assistance on and off the field from Toehold’s expert Skipper
- Enriching interactive sessions on the natural history of LRK
A seasonal salt marsh in the Thar Desert, the Rann – derived from the Hindi word meaning desert – lies sprawled across a massive area on the snout of the Gujarat state lining the Arabian Sea and extends to the neighbouring Sindh province of Pakistan in a glorious sweep.
Originally an overflow lake into which water poured from surrounding rivers in Rajasthan, the enormous pan formed when the lower reaches of the river dried, leaving an endless plain of amazing spectacle and a throbbing wealth of specialised wildlife.
Composed of scrub islets and short grasslands, the Rann, a part of which is even a World Heritage Site, supports a mind-boggling variety of bird life, especially prominent amongst which are the gargantuan flocks of greater and lesser flamingo that flock its open lap in the winter.
And offering excellent visibility, the light of dreams and room to approach birds on foot, the Little Rann of Kutch is a photographer’s paradise and represents one of the most exciting areas in the amazing Indian subcontinent to add an impressive list of non-forest avian species to an image library.
The Little Rann of Kutch is a birder’s paradise anytime, but in December and January it peaks as an unparalleled hotbed of avian frenzy.
While the hoopoe-lark, Indian courser, short-eared owl and the McQueen’s bustard will make you hold your breath, the desert warbler, greater and lesser flamingo, Stolickza’s bushchat, common crane, long-legged buzzard, common sandgrouse, greater short-toed lark and the highly threatened cream-coloured courser will leave you breathless. The list of raptors is rich and may include merlin, peregrine falcon, steppe eagle, imperial eagle and several species of harriers.
Meanwhile the mammal life is far from left behind. For donkey’s years, the enduring image of LRK has been an animal that may have less grace than a horse but possesses twice its kick – the Indian wild ass, also called the khur.
Classified by the IUCN as ‘endangered’, it has a sanctuary named after it, and is the most ubiquitous and recognizable big mammal of the Little Rann. Sporting chestnut-and-white livery and a neat black mane outlining its silhouette, it feeds between dawn and dusk. Certainly no slouch like its domestic cousin is often depicted, it can sprint at a breezy 80 kilometres an hour such as when chasing rivals out of mating contention on the plains, kicking up golden dust in its wake and sending you on a direct flight to photographic heaven.
And a dose of fortune can yield the most coveted sight of an Indian wolf, while an extra dose of it can produce an elusive encounter with a desert fox.
Please note: The Tour begins on 29 November 2018 and ends on 2 December at the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK). Group transfers from Ahmedabad to LRK and back are NOT included in the Tour cost and will be arranged in shared cabs at actual cost.
29 November 2018, Thursday
Gathering at the Ahmedabad airport, we drive to LRK and check in by lunch. Shortly, the Tour Skipper will moderate a mutual introduction session and orient the group to what may be expected during the coming excursions.
Later, we embark on our first safari on the great plains, seeking what beginner’s luck may yield. We also spend time acquainting ourselves with the topography of the region and learn about bird behaviour to be better equipped to handle opportunities over the coming days.
After hopefully a productive excursion, we return to the lodge and enjoy the Tour’s first interactive session, we call ChaayaaChitra. This is a great opportunity to pick up the little nuances of photography that make a big difference, and we seek to make full use of it before treating ourselves to a scrumptious supper and retiring.
30 November, Friday
Making an early start, we venture into LRK looking for all the usual targets and seek to make portraits and habitat images of birds in glorious early morning sunlight. After hopefully a productive session, we return to camp and breakfast.
After a brief repose, we meet for another interactive session we call ChitraTantra, before lunching and setting out on an afternoon safari. Late afternoons are great for birding and we look for avian attractions as we snake around the tracks looking for opportunities to apply some of the concepts discussed during the session in the afternoon.
Upon our return and tea, we meet for another session of ChitraTantra before dinner.
1 December, Saturday
We enjoy morning and afternoon safaris in LRK, following the same schedule as on the previous day, looking to make beautiful images of several species. In the evening we enjoy yet another interactive session called Charchaaloka, which is bound to keep you riveted, before hitting the sack.
2 December, Sunday
After one last morning ride in LRK, we breakfast and check out after the customary group picture, with several memorable moments and gigabytes of images to cherish.
- 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) for Tour duration
- All entry fees, guide fees and safaris
What’s Not Included?
- Any airfare
- Transfers to LRK and back
- 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)
- Tips and gratuities
- All applicable taxes
- Anything that is not included in the inclusions list
- At least 50% of the Tour fee as booking amount (non refundable)
- Remainder of the Tour fee before 10 November 2018
- 50% of the Tour fee on or before 19 November 2018
- 100% of the Tour fee on or after 20 November 2018
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 wildlife and/or photography and is above the age of 18 (unless accompanied by an adult) can participate in this Tour. There are no 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, in order to make the most of the Tour photographically, we suggest you be familiar with at least the basics. If you aren’t, we recommend you join an Art and Science of Photography Workshop first.
What equipment do you suggest on this Tour?
Considering the nature of the subjects and shooting conditions expected on this Tour, a lens with a focal length of at least 400mm is considered necessary, with longer focal lengths being welcome. A beanbag is strongly recommended to shoot both from inside the vehicle as well as outside.
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 of specific species are guaranteed.
How many participants will share each vehicle on safaris on this Tour?
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, apart from the driver, in your vehicle.
I do not have the requisite equipment. What should 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. 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!
I have come back from Kutch with great set of images and experiences from the desert. The Desert Cat sighting was the icing on the cake.
As an amateur photographer, I found the Toehold Kutch Tour just the perfect stepping board I needed to make the most of a birding expedition! Your strong network with local resources was clearly evident and the photography guidance was invaluable, leaving me a satisfied traveller. Thank you!
Having never been on a birding tour before, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the orientation I received on the Kutch tour from the Toehold Skippers right from the start helped me quickly get into the groove and enjoy a highly productive time.
The one feature that struck me the hardest was the Toehold Skippers’ encyclopedic knowledge of natural history and photography, combined with a genuine interest to help. Always putting the participants before themselves, they ensured that this was the best week I’ve ever had in terms of learning!
I can honestly say that this has been the best-organized trip I’ve been on! The logistical arrangements were flawless and the trip was organized in a manner to ensure maximum photographic productivity. Fascinating information was shared during the evening sessions.
I had wanted to visit Kutch for some time now but wasn’t sure how to go about planning a trip. That’s when I stumbled upon Toehold and after the trip I really think I couldn’t have chosen anyone better! Toehold took care of everything for me so I didn’t have to waste time planning. I only had to sign up and the rest was a breeze. Thanks, Toehold!