Tigers of Bandhavgarh Photography Holiday Report

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In late April/early May I completed two back-to-back Indian trips. The first being our Tigers of Bandhavgarh Safari Holiday. I always look forward to our annual trip to photograph tigers & this year was no different, apart from the fact that I was more excited than usual.

We took a break from Bandhavgarh in 2016, so I couldn’t wait to get back there. I can honestly say that I have never been more excited about going back to what I consider to be my second home.

We have been visiting the park for 7 years now & have gotten to know its residents very well. Along with the drivers & guides who have become our friends, we have mourned the loss of favourite tigers & celebrated the birth of new cubs.

The spot where three tiger brothers have made home their island in the middle of one of the watering holes photographed on the 2017 Tigers of Bandhavgarh Safari Holiday

I was also especially excited to be showing the park to our group. There’s just something very special about being there & sharing their first tiger sighting in Bandhavgarh.

One of Bandhavgarh's tigers stares straight down the lens photographed on the 2017 Tigers of Bandhavgarh Safari Holiday

The Tigers of Bandhavgarh tour kicked off with a spectacular first day where the whole group saw 4 different tigers in just the morning drive alone. We watched the Rajbehra male cubs scattering spotted deer in the forest as they learnt to hunt, before crossing the road in front of us. Other members of the group then encountered them later, resting at one of the more picturesque dams.

Over the coming days, the group captured iconic images of the magnificent Royal Bengal tiger. My personal favourites are of the new Kankatti & her impossibly adorable cubs cooling off in a watering hole. For some of the group, this very special encounter left them shaking with adrenaline overdrive at the sheer excitement of watching this tiger family at play.

A Royal Family Portrait of the biggest draw of Bandhavgarh at the moment photographed on the 2017 Tigers of Bandhavgarh Safari Holiday Mother & cubs, the feline family gathering at one of Bandhavgarh's water holes photographed on the 2017 Tigers of Bandhavgarh Safari Holiday

I was pleased to hear that the cubs’ father was none other than Bamera’s son. B2’s line continues to thrive in Bandhavgarh!

Relaxing in a waterhole, this is one of Bandhvgarh's tigers cooling off photographed on the 2017 Tigers of Bandhavgarh Safari Holiday

It was also lovely to see my favourite tigress, Dotty, all grown up with her own territory. And in case you are wondering why she is called “Dotty”, she was named so by the guides for the D shaped marking on her forehead.

Dotty, surely the most magnificent tigress in the forest looking back photographed on the 2017 Tigers of Bandhavgarh Safari Holiday

The highlight of the trip was when we spent 5 hours with Spotty, the new queen of Bandhavgarh, & her cubs. FIVE hours! My heart thrilled as we heard her calling to her cubs. We were torn between staying with the cubs or leaving them to capture images of their mother as she walked through the forest. Then one by one, the cubs got up and trotted off to join their mother. The decision was made – follow that tigress!

I had my own adrenaline overdrive moment as we followed Spotty, when she emerged out of the bushes right in front of me. I was overlensed by a small margin with my 500mm but there was no time to grab my 100-400mm out of the bag, so I lay back on my seat in the hope that those extra inches would be enough to get her in focus. As you can see, I got lucky!

Face to face with a female royal bengal tiger photographed on the 2017 Tigers of Bandhavgarh Indian Safari Holiday

“I was blown away” & “wow, that was intense!” were just some of the comments received after that marathon encounter.

I should point out that we did photograph other wildlife as well. We had a wonderful session with a very obliging jackal & even came across a stone curlew with 2 very young chicks.

One of Bandhavgarh's jackals on the dusty road of the reserve photographed on the 2017 Tigers of Bandhavgarh Safari HolidayA Stone Curlew with two chicks laying behind photographed on the 2017 Tigers of Bandhavgarh Safari Holiday

Male & female samba deer in the long grass in gorgeous light, langurs with their babies, a close-up of one of the elephants & even a displaying peacock.

A male samba in the long grass of the meadows that make up much of the reserve photographed on the 2017 Tigers of Bandhavgarh Safari HolidayOne of the Samba Deer checks for danger in the golden golden grass of one of the meadows photographed on the 2017 Tigers of Bandhavgarh Safari Holiday

One of the Langur Monkey's looks pensive photographed on the 2017 Tigers of Bandhavgarh Safari Holiday A juvenile langur sat on one of the forest logs photographed on the 2017 Tigers of Bandhavgarh Safari Holiday A langur monkey holding her baby photographed on the 2017 Tigers of Bandhavgarh Safari Holiday  Some say that the eyes of an elephant are the windows to the soul photographed on the 2017 Tigers of Bandhavgarh Safari Holiday  The magnificent backdrop of one of Bandhavgarh's peacock's displaying photographed on the 2017 Tigers of Bandhavgarh Safari Holiday

But, of course, the stars of the show were the wonderful Bengal Tigers!

Spotty, one of the proud mothers of Bandhavgarh, seen here walking in the long grass of one of the meadows within her territory photographed on the 2017 Tigers of Bandhavgarh Safari Holiday On the hunt, one of Bandhavgarh's tigers walking through the forest photographed on the 2017 Tigers of Bandhavgarh Safari Holiday One of the juvenile tigers walking through the forest photographed on the 2017 Tigers of Bandhavgarh Safari Holiday   Fast asleep in the undergrowth one of the rising stars of Bandhavgarh having a sweet dream photographed on the 2017 Tigers of Bandhavgarh Safari Holiday Looking out from the undergrowth, one of Bandhavgarh's new generation watches for prey photographed on the 2017 Tigers of Bandhavgarh Safari Holiday One of Spotty's cubs stretches his jaws open wide after a long sleep in the undergrowth photographed on the 2017 Tigers of Bandhavgarh Safari Holiday

Our downtime consisted of downloading our images, taking a cool swim in the pool, having an afternoon snooze. We even formed a gin club!

We had 30 tiger sightings of 17 different tigers in just 13 game drives. This was in no small part due to our awesome team of drivers & naturalists who worked tirelessly to ensure that we got the shots so a big shout out to Pappu, Mohan & Baloo.

Tigers of Bandhavgarh in 2017 ended far too quickly, we had such a great group & many firm friendships were made – everyone got on so well I suspect a reunion will be in the offing in the not too distant future!

I will be taking a break from India next year due to a heavy workload but Jayne Bond, a NaturesLens veteran & good friend will be leading our return to capture images of the Tigers of Bandhavgarh in 2018. If you would like to join her on what promises to be an amazing trip, please view the event page here.

DO YOU WANT TO CAPTURE IMAGES OF THE TIGERS OF BANDHAVGARH?

We are currently able to offer a special offers for travelling companions or photography couple, who wish to join our 2018 Indian Bengal Tigers of Bandhavgarh Photography Holiday & to take £250 off per person! We have one pair of places available at this special price – another pair were snapped up by some of our newsletter subscribers!

If you are a pair of travelling companions or a couple then you can share accommodation & book two places for £2499 each instead of £2749 per person! Quote TIGERPAIR in the referral code text box to have the discount applied to your booking. Please note, both bookings, for the travelling companions or couple, must be made at the same time.

If you are a single traveller then bear in mind that we have made a few itinerary changes & changed the full-day safari to now be optional on our Indian Bengal Tigers of Bandhavgarh Photography Holiday, this means that we have been able to bring the price down to £2749 – everything else remains the same – stunning non-shared accommodation (as seen here), so this trip is especially suitable for single travellers – & the dates are April 13 – 22, 2018.

To hold a place on the trip, we only require a 20% deposit from you, with the balance due 12 weeks prior to the trip taking place.