A tiger safari trip that was planned for 2021 ended up being rearranged 5 times due to Covid and difficulties obtaining a visa for India. I finally made it however and it was definitely worth the wait. I was resigned to the fact that I may not see any tigers at all, but if I didn’t take that risk I was guaranteed not to see any! Ultimately I had 17 really good sightings plus 4 glimpses of other tigers. In addition, there were many other animals, birds, scenery and people to photograph, and I took more images there than on many of my recent trips abroad. Here’s a selection from the first destination – Pench National Park, which is in the heart of India and covers a total area of 758 sq.km.
Spotted deer thrive there. (Except when they are being eaten by tigers!)
Langur Monkeys seem to be everywhere, and they are very helpful in alerting guides as to where and when a tiger is moving. Being high up in the trees they have a good vantage point and give alarm calls which the guides pick up on and head towards. The deer also have their own distinctive alarm call. This monkey below is on the lookout, albeit sitting in a very relaxed pose.
I really like the serenity of the mother in the image below.
“Smile for the camera 🙂 ”
“That really is too big to fit in your mouth all at once! ”
We saw a great variety of birds whilst on the lookout for tigers. Here are just a few that I photographed in Pench.
There were a lot of cars parked in a particular spot and everyone was looking intently to one side where a leopard was resting. It was only just visible and a long way away so I had real trouble finding it. So much so that I could only just make out a few spots until I used my longest camera lens. I really don’t know how guides see animals and birds from so far away but that’s why they are guides and I’m not!
Even when no tigers were to be found it was nice to see the variety of scenery.
At all the parks and roadsides we saw local people collecting fallen flowers from the mahua trees. These flowers are made into an alcoholic drink, and the people earn between 35-40 rupees per kilo, which is the equivalent of about .39p / $0.49. It’s backbreaking work and dangerous too, as they are often working in the national parks where tigers roam.
At the end of the first day, with 15 minutes to go until we had to head out of the park, we spotted our first tiger. The light was already starting to fade but it was a really good sighting and not very far away. There are very strict rules about entering and leaving the parks; no entry before a designated time, and each vehicle absolutely has to be out by a designated time too, otherwise the driver/guide and spotter are fined and banned for 30 days. There’s always a long convoy rushing out at the same time.
We only saw this one tiger in Pench, but were chatting to another couple afterwards and they’d seen at least five. There’s a lot of luck involved but a good guide can also make all the difference.
Next stop – Kanha National Park.
I’m running a trip to India in 2025 with the aim of photographing tigers and the Taj Mahal. Here is the link with details. Non photographer partners are very welcome.