Egyptian VultureAfter my few days in the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, I planned to spend some time in one of India’s most renowned and popular parks. I decided to visit Bandhavgarh after my Tadoba trip for reasons I have detailed in my Tadoba Trip report. In short, I took the gamble that I would see more tigers with better quality sightings in Bandhavgarh. It certainly paid off.
You have to take an incredible overnight sleeper train trip across central India to get to Bandhavgarh from Nagpur, and so I arrived at the Nature Heritage Resort, well-rested and keen to get tiger chasing. Wildlife Trails UK had booked me a mix of safaris to two of the four regions that you are allowed to visit because all have different landscapes and would give me the best chance to see tigers in various backdrops. Nature Heritage is a comfortable resort with fantastic service from the friendly and helpful staff always ready to serve you a deserved Kingfisher beer. I settled into my well furnished, air-conditioned room and checked all the equipment. On the first trip we had four photographers in the jeep which proved a bit of a tight squeeze, but after chatting to the resort management they changed the arrangement, and we never had more than three after that.
Meeting the legend – B2
The first two safaris yielded no Tiger sightings, but we got to see a lot of its prey species and magnificent park landscapes. There are a lot more water holes in Bandhavgarh than in Tadoba, and so your chances are better during the heat of the day. The first sighting came on the second day when we caught up with B2, a legendary dominant male that has featured in many documentaries done in Bandhavgarh. He is looking a little old and weary but gave the 20 or so jeeps a great show as he lay in the shade. Over the next four days, I had great sightings in both zones, although Tala, was the most productive zone for me this trip.
Even though vulture numbers are on the dramatic decline in India, we saw a lot of them on kills around the park. I managed to see all 4 of India’s common vultures, with the Egyptian vulture being a real highlight. I have long wanted to see this species, and it was great to get some decent photos. We only just missed 2 Jackals bringing down a Spotted deer but saw them retreating from the swarming mass of arriving raptors.
Gaurs and Serpent Eagles
In the Magdhi zone (zone 2), they have reintroduced Gaur, and we caught sight of them a few times including a sighting of a young calf. They’re all radio-collared to monitor their movements around the park, and although I managed a few photos, they tended to wander off quite quickly.
I finally got close up photos of the Crested serpent eagle as they seem a lot more tolerant of jeeps than in Tadoba. I loved the way wherever they went they got mobbed by some or other angry bird species. We sat and watched a Red-wattled Lapwing dive-bomb an eagle on the ground near a waterhole for a few minutes before the big raptor retreated to a nearby tree.
I arrived in Bandhavgarh with purposefully lowered expectations. I know I wanted to get great shots but knew that I would have a few safaris where we didn’t see very much. A few of the people that I spoke to had much higher expectations and so were disappointed when all they saw were deer, langur and a lot of bird species. It’s sad that their tour operators were guaranteeing them sightings of tigers on every safari because, in the end, all they had were unhappy clients.
I’ll be back
And so, my second Indian Trip came to an end. It was another fantastic two-week experience that I wish everyone could experience. The people are warm and friendly, the scenery both diverse and exciting. I went to see Panthera tigris tigris in the wild and was privileged enough to have eight sightings in ten days in both parks. I shall return.
Some Jeep Safari Tips:
- Try and book into the Tala region of the park, on average more Tiger sightings (Gate 1). Gate 2 has a lot of good sightings of other species too, but fewer tiger sightings.
- Make it clear to the guides and drivers what species you want to photograph.
- Keep slowing them down as they will want to race from waterhole to waterhole.
- Take a cleaning kit with you on the trip. I took a small DIY paintbrush and slipped it into my pocket. It helps with the red dust of Bandhavgarh. This is especially important if you have to regularly change your lenses.
- In the end, I was the only client/photographer in the jeep and had plenty of space. I used a tripod to support my 500mm lens but, in future, I would only bring a monopod, which is lighter and doesn’t take up much space in your check-in luggage.
If you liked this post, you may love a similar trip I did in South Africa
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What a wonderful set of photos and the shots of the Bengal Tiger are just breathtaking!
Great photos. Thanks for sharing them, they open up a world I know very little about. Really enjoy the narative and the travel tips.
Wonderful photos. I had no idea that jackals were so similar to foxes but I guess they are from the same canine species (I am not an expert so may be wrong here). It is hard to say which photo is best as they are all amazing. I am fascinated by the ancient look of some creatures who have survived for so long because they adapted to their circumstances. Such great pictures and the big cats are, as usual, my favourite – count the whiskers on those noble and proud faces. Thanks – it is so nice that Face Book has such good sites like yours.
Hey Wayne, long time no speak (25 years since Matric 1986!). I’ve been checking our your nature photos on your site for a while now, and they really are incredible. I’m envious of the great locations you get to! Nice kit you are using too. Well done, I look forward to the next collection. Cheers, Kobus.
Many thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Means a lot. Glad I could show you some of the other wildlife from our wonderful planet.
@Anneli. thanks for you support in letting me travel to these places.xx
@Carl. My pleasure good sir. Hope to be out your part of the world at the end of 2012. Would be great to have a spin in your new silver beast. 😉
@Marian. Thanks for the thoughtful comment again. Jackals and foxes are closely linked indeed. The golden Jackal as they are sometimes called in India are really suffering at the moment with human encroachment, but they don’t get the same support in conservation as the tiger does. Sad.
@Kobus. Hey there..don’t remind me when we finished school… 😉 Time has flown indeed. Nice of this whole Facebook thing to let us all get hooked up again. I have a mission to try and make people more aware that there is wonderful wildlife out there other than that the “big 5”. Am off to Finland for Brown bear and hopefully wolf in August as well as a trip to the Masai Mara….have always wanted to see the great migration, so thought I have better get there soon. Stay well..
Really amazing variety mate, beautiful photo’s love your work. Those tigers look pretty special.
Thanks for the comment. It was a fantastic trip indeed. Most people go for the tiger (as I did this trip), but India has a great biodiversity indeed (over 950 bird species). The tigers were special and the first time I had seen them in the wild. Hoping to get back there next year to see the Asiatic Lion in Gir….Chat soon
What a wonderful set of photos and amazing photos from Bengal Tiger.
Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. Much appreciated. chat soon
Great snaps…Specially that Indian tiger..I think you have a long experience in wildlife photography..http://blog.traveladda.com/mudumalai-wildlife-sanctuary-a-walk-into-eden.html
Great Blog! Congratulations!
Nice pictures and report there! The pictures of the male tiger M1 are especially nice!
I just stumbled upon this post when searching for stuff about Africa and to my utter surprise found my own picture in it! In the picture ‘Waiting for Action’, I am the one in the middle row of the first vehicle (#37), wearing the green cap, in front of the lady. 🙂 Nice coincidence (the world in the Internet age especially is very small!)
Thank you again for sharing these pictures and this post.
Wow the power of the internet, thats such a great story of how you found yourself in one of my posts. I did have a great time in India and i was a special encounter with M1. Where are you thinking of going in Africa.
I’m getting married in April, so planning to honeymoon in Kenya (Amboseli, Maasai Mara, Lake Nakuru) in May. Unfortunately this coincides with the ‘low season’ and entails the risk of the trip getting rained out but I’m told that if we’re lucky with the weather, it is as good for sightings and photography as at any other time of the year except for the lack of Great Migration activity. I’ve never been to Africa and the prospect of visiting there for my honeymoon is very inviting. What is your opinion?
Thanks also for introducing me to David Lloyd’s work through your link on the blog; his work and yours too are very inspiring! Kindly keep making images and sharing them; will follow you henceforth. 🙂
[…] I get ready for my trip to India (Tadoba and Bandhavgarh National Parks), I’ve been playing with Lightroom to create some black and white images. This is […]
[…] up all of my photos from my recent 2 week trip to India. I visited both the Tadoba Andhari and Bandhavgargh National Parks and was lucky enough to see and photograph a number of Tigers along with some of India’s other […]
[…] went to Bandhavgarh National Park in India with the specific purpose of spotting and photographing the tiger in their natural […]