Our third national park was Bandhavgarh and once again, it didn’t disappoint for tiger sightings. In fact we had another two all to ourselves on different days. (Sometimes there can be many vehicles all vying for the best position). If you have a good guide, and a dose of luck you’ll be in the best position, as the image below shows.
All national parks allocate a guide/spotter to every vehicle each day, and they know the area well. They also chat to each other when meeting during the drives so that if a tiger is spotted, word spreads and the vehicles head off in the relevant direction. Below are some of the guides waiting to find out which vehicle they’ll be in.
One day we had a guide who was new. She didn’t speak any English and didn’t seem very enthusiastic, and we didn’t think we were in for a good day. However the naturalist guide with us knew his stuff and having heard an alarm call from either monkeys or deer went and positioned us on a stretch of track. We sat in silence for a while as they both listened out for any other alarm calls. Our parks spotter seemed to be completely disinterested and was just leaning on the window when suddenly she said ‘tiger’. Sure enough, she’d spotted one in long grass emerging from the trees in the distance. We were in the perfect place as it came towards the track, crossed over right in front of us, and disappeared into the long grass the other side.
Later on that afternoon she also spotted another tiger, so definitely earned her tip that day ! Despite her apparent disinterest and rather dour expression she had hidden strengths. I grabbed a photograph of her at our breakfast stop.
Below is the second tiger she spotted. It was initially hard to see in the trees, (we didn’t see it) but it was on the move and came out into the open for a short time, briefly stopping to pose nicely for us.
The spotter guides often sit on the left in the back seat. This sign was somewhat lost in translation. All the right letters, but not in the right order 🙂
Another day we had driven around for a couple of hours without a tiger sighting but we did see a wild elephant. Asian elephants are a lot smaller than their African cousins and it was nice to see one contentedly dust bathing and browsing.
Having seen nothing else for a couple of hours, I spotted an eagle in a tree. As we all looked up, our driver manoeuvred us into position so that we could photograph it, but he suddenly said “tiger in road”. Sure enough, right in front of us was this very relaxed tiger basking in the sunshine completely unperturbed by us. We were so busy looking up we didn’t see it at all ! The eagle never was photographed ! (The eagle below is on another occasion)
She stayed there for at least 15 minutes and we couldn’t pass as she was right in the middle of track, but she eventually got up and wandered off, with us slowly following whilst giving her space. (Most of the guides are very respectful and don’t get too close to a tiger) At one point she stopped and looked intently into the trees and we wondered if she’d spotted some prey, but she moved on without incident.
Another day, another corner rounded, and another tiger right in front of us with no other vehicles around.
On the move. It’s nice to have some greenery in the image.
Just like the other national parks in central India, we saw many local people picking up the flowers to be made into a drink. It’s a very risky business as they are in the same area that tigers roam. Somewhere in the bushes below are a couple of people, hopefully still very much alive !
Another two tigers rest in the long grass below and at the end of the day as it was cooling off they strolled away.
On our last morning we saw a tiger disappearing into some long grass near a body of water with bright green leaves and I wanted to wait to try to get a photograph of tigers against green. We sat and waited for over an hour but it didn’t move and was settled in for the day.
We made do with a peacock and some painted storks instead.
We returned in the afternoon and it finally emerged. Unfortunately it didn’t go right into the bright green area but was another good sighting.
That concluded our time in Bandhavgarh. We had another long road journey ahead of us and my next post will be a compilation of iPhone photos shot through the car window on our various transfers between destinations.
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.