INDIA ~ Tigers, Birds & More! Photo Tour ~ 2020

January 30 ~ February 9, 2020
Madhya Pradesh, India

This India ~ Tigers, Birds & More! Photo Tour 2020 offers you not only adventure but the chance to photograph magnificent Bengal tigers in their natural habitat.

Did someone mention big cat photography? How about the chance to photograph the biggest cat in the world?

My “India ~ Tigers, Birds & More! Photo Tour ~ 2020” offers you not only 10-days & nights of adventure but the chance to photograph magnificent Bengal tigers in their natural habitat.

India is home to most of the tigers left in the wild and this photo tour brings you into the thick of their habitat.

Wild tigers are staggeringly beautiful to behold and until you’ve seen one in the wild the fullness of their grandeur doesn’t truly hit you. I’ve seen plenty of captive tigers, but there is something very powerful about seeing one in the wild.

During this all-inclusive 10-day/10-night photography tour we will seek to capture images of those tigers in their natural world.

The experience of seeing large predators and their interactions with the other wildlife -— and with one another —- in no way compares to viewing captive animals at game farms. This in-the-field experience is a must-do for any wildlife lover, especially feline lovers.

That’s not to say that it will be easy. Those stripes are there to help conceal the cats and they work pretty well. Patience pays though.

India Tigers Photo Tour with Jeff Parker, Explore in Focus™

Your tour includes several safaris (at least 15 of them) into two of India’s tiger reserves (& with the Jamtara Wilderness Camp extension a third & more safaris). You will also get one full-day safari, whereby you spend the whole day in the field with no restriction on which park zones you can visit.

The full-day photography permit offers the same access as National Geographic photographers & BBC film crews get. These permits are costly and limited, but on this tour each photographer will get to enjoy the benefits of one day at full-day permit status. the full day permit means you can stay out while everyone else (99% of the visitors) vacate the park for mid-day break. You—and your lenses—roam tiger country for the entire day.

When Mary O. and I went this past winter, we didn’t go out on a full-day permit and still saw—and photographed—six (6) tigers in the wild. That included getting to watch three sub-adult siblings romp and play together along with an impressive male toting his kill right in front of our vehicle! So know that on the days when aren’t on that one-day you will still get a great photography experience.

Tigers aren’t the only fodder for our lenses. Sloth bears, leopards, jungle cats and gaur (the world’s largest species of wild cattle) also lurk in the thickets. Jackals, spotted deer, marsh deer, sambar deer, mongoose, raptors, wild boars, peacocks (Indian peafowl), jungle fowl (the original chicken!), wild boar, gray langur monkeys & macaques are some of the common forest residents that we will see often. Some of these species are threatened, vulnerable, or endangered.

Tigers of India photo tour with Jeff Parker 'Explore in Focus'

The first tiger reserve we visit is Bandhavgarh National Park. This relatively small park boasts the highest density of tigers in the world. Character-laden cliffs and golden grasslands also imbue Bandhavgarh with rugged scenery.

Set among the Vindhya Hills, part of the oldest mountain range in India, Bandhavgarh is also home to over 150 species of birds, and chital, sambar & barking deer.

While at Bandhavgarh each photographer gets to enjoy one full-day photography permit.

Our second destination, Kahna National Park, is one of India’s original tiger reserves. In fact, Kahna was created specifically to save two of India’s endangered species: the tiger & the barasingha. The barasingha (a.k.a.- hard ground swamp deer) numbers less than 500 in the wild, but you have a good chance of seeing -— & photographing —- them here.

With a slightly different climate than Bandhavgarh, you’ll find Kanha’s forest a bit thicker. During your morning safaris you’ll enjoy breathtaking vistas of foggy fields & dramatic silhouettes.

Join Jeff Parker in India to photograh wild tigers, endangers barasingha and more.

WHAT YOU CAN LEARN ON THIS TOUR:

  • How to handle dappled light in a forest environment.
  • How to photograph wildlife through understory vegetation.
  • Metering tips.
  • Hone flight photography skills.
  • How to pan running wildlife.

ITINERARY:

IMPORTANT NOTE: This is an estimated schedule & we’ll do our best to stick to this itinerary, but certain conditions may necessitate changes. Good photographic experiences & plenty of chances to view wildlife will be our goals at all times.

Thursday, January 30:
Arrive in New Delhi, the capital of India. You’ll be picked up and brought to your very comfortable hotel room so you can freshen up from your long journey.

Friday, January 31:
After breakfast we head back to the airport to catch a domestic flight for Jabalpur. Once we arrive at Jabalpur we’ll be picked up by private transport for the journey to our first lodge, the Bandhavgarh Jungle Lodge.

This 3-4 hour journey offers a fun opportunity to check out the villages and countryside of this part of Central India. We enjoy our lunch along the way.

Upon arrival at the lodge you’ll be warmly greeted by the staff & shown to your comfortable quarters. After a bit of rest, we’ll have dinner together.

Overnight: Bandhavgarh Jungle Lodge.

February 1, 2, 3, & 4:
Arise before sunrise & head out for your morning safari, accompanied by a naturalist and park guide. We’ll eat breakfast in the field.

We’re in Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve and the tiger hunt is on!

What’s a safari like? You’ll be in India’s equivalent to our Jeep, the “Gypsy,” open-top 4X4’s built by Maruti. As you drive along keep an eye out for tiger footprints (called “pugs”). And keep an ear out for alarm calls as they provide clues as to the tiger’s movements.You’ll also want to look for other signs of a tiger such as scratch marks on a tree or scat along the road.

Tigers of India Photo Tour with Jeff Parker, Explore in Focus

Mary O. & Jeff enjoy breakfast during morning safari.

Return to lodge for lunch & rest. During our breaks I’ll be available to answer your questions, critique shots, and provide instruction as needed.

Enjoy afternoon tea, a rest & then head back out to hunt for tigers. Upon our return, we’ll enjoy a delicious meal together, family-style.

Overnight: Bandhavgarh Jungle Lodge.

Wednesday, February 5:
After our last morning safari at Bandhavgarh and an early lunch at the lodge, we’ll head to our next tiger reserve (Kahna) by private car. The 6-hour drive will take us through rural countryside & vibrant towns.

We’ll make a stop at the sleepy town of Mandla (sacred city of the Gond people) where the Narmada River, second holiest to the Ganges, is the center of activity.

We’ll arrive at Kahna Jungle Lodge to a warm reception. Kahna Jungle Lodge, our home for the next four days, was established in 1987. It sits in the midst of a rich sal forest and was designed to have low impact on the land and the environment.

Check in and rest in your room from the long drive. As darkness falls, head to the common area where folks gather around the fire to visit and share the day’s adventures. Dine buffet style, chowing down on authentic Central Indian cuisine.

Overnight: Kahna Jungle Lodge

February 6, 7, 8:
Wake before sunrise and enjoy a cup of authentic Indian chai. (We’ll eat breakfast in the field.) Climb aboard your safari vehicle and snuggle in with a blanket and a hot water bottle.

Head back to the lodge for lunch and then a short rest. Enjoy a nature walk with hotel staff and learn about the myriad butterflies that live on the grounds.

Or, schedule some one-on-one time with me so that we can review your images and see to any photography-related questions you might have. Don’t ever be shy about asking questions or communicating needs. I am always happy to provide assistance and/or instruction even though this is a photo tour rather than a workshop.

Come late-afternoon it’s once more safari time. Return to lodge for evening tea. Enjoy a delicious dinner outdoors under the stars.

Overnight: Kahna Jungle Lodge

Sunday, February 9:
Your final safari of the trip takes place this morning (for those not doing the Pench Extension). We’ll enjoy one last lunch together or take it on the road with us (TBD).

Afterward, pack up and head out for the 4-hour drive to Raipur airport to catch your domestic flight to New Delhi. At the airport, head to the international terminal for your flight home.

Those who chose to keep the fun going, will travel by private car to Jamtara Wilderness Camp, near Pench Tiger Reserve (about 4 hours).

Join Jeff Parker for his India Photo Tour and photograph monkeys, tigers, birds & more!

JAMTARA WILDERNESS CAMP ~ EXTENSION

NOTE: Extension has a minimum of 4 travelers in order to proceed.

Sunday, February 9:
After cruising through the Indian countryside and mountain roads, arrive at Jamtara Wilderness Camp.

This luxury property has just 10 “rooms” and is home to an ancient banyan rooted on a dry riverbed (where we’ll enjoy a campfire and appetizers after dark). The camp is situated near the village of Jamtara, near Pench National Park.

Luxury tent during Jeff Parker's Tigers of India Photo Tour

Each tented room is nestled into the forest and surrounded by tall Arjuna trees. Your luxury tent is huge. Its light and open design comes complete with a large private deck perfect for relaxing and listening to the birds or sipping a drink. Although these are tented rooms, the bathroom has been made into a permanent structure for guest comfort.

Time & energy willing, head out for your first Pench Tiger Reserve safari, accompanied by a resident naturalist and wildlife spotter.

Freshen up & then join the others under the banyan tree. There, enjoy pre-dinner appetizers around a warm fire. Then dine together family style under the stars and by candlelight.

Snuggle under the comfy blankets with your hot water bottle and sleep.

Overnight: Jamtara Wilderness Camp

Monday, February 10:
Rise early and head to Pench Tiger Reserve. On our way, we pass through the village of Jamtara where mud, straw, and manure structures provide unique homes to the residents—and photo ops for you. The children will wave and smile at you calling out greetings.

Pench is set in the lower southern reaches of the Satpura Hills. It gets its name from the Pench River, which meanders through the park. This reserve is still in the state of Madhya Pradesh but near its southern edge near Maharashtra.

Over 1200 species of plants have been recorded from the area including several that are rare and endangered plants as well as plants of ethno-botanical importance.

You’ll see more golden jackals in action here than at the other parks. Also keep your eyes open for the dhole (the wild dog) and, of course, for tigers and other wildlife.

In the afternoon you can choose to do a safari at Pench or head to the village to photograph the people & unique village setting.

Upon your return, enjoy afternoon tea. This is a great time for us to do image review if you’d like. Just let me know.

Once again we’ll enjoy appetizers by firelight under the stars. Dine together for our last meal in India.

Crawl into the huge ultra-king sized bed, complete with fluffy pillows & a hot water bottle for a great night’s sleep.

Overnight: Jamtara Wilderness Camp

Tuesday, February 11:
After a morning safari & breakfast you’ll be brought to Nagpur Airport (3 hours) by private car for your domestic flight to New Delhi.

Upon arrival at the airport in New Delhi, you’ll be delivered to the international airport terminal to check in for your flight home.

What’s INCLUDED:

  • 10 nights of deluxe accommodations (double-occupancy; single is available – email for details).
  • Meals from arrival in New Delhi to drop off at the New Delhi airport on the last day of the tour.)
  • Domestic airfare.
  • Luggage weight “upgrade” on domestic flights
  • Private ground transportation.
  • Tigers, Birds & More India Photo Tour with Jeff Parker

  • Daily safaris (15 of them / 20 for those doing the Pench extension)
  • One day on an exclusive full-day photography permit
  • Park entry, permit fees, drivers, spotters, and local guides.
  • Jeff’s services, instruction, critiquing, and assistance.
  • An extensive & detailed bound dossier.

What’s NOT included:

  • Airfare to Delhi, India.
  • Travel insurance.
  • Tips.
  • Alcoholic beverages.
  • Medical expenses.
  • Laundry service.
  • Phone calls.
  • Any other personal items.

LOGISTICS, EQUIPMENT & SUCH:

PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS:

The bulk of the photography will be done while on safari in an open-air vehicle, which requires no walking or carrying of gear.
However, the vehicle does travel over rough dirt roads and sometimes does so very quickly when a tiger is spotted and we’re trying to get to it.

AIPPORT:

Fly into Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi (airport code DEL).

ARRIVAL:

It is important that you arrive in New Delhi on or before January 30th in time to get a good night’s rest. We’ll be catching a domestic flight at noon the next day.

VISA:

U.S. & Canadian citizens need a visa (eVisa) to visit India. It can be acquired fully online via the government’s website: https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/index.html.

As of May 2018, the cost is $75, plus a service fee which makes it about $78.

WARNING: Do NOT use these sites to procure your eVisa! (The dot.org is VERY misleading!):
https://visatoindia.org.in/ ~~ https://www.indiavisa.org.in ~~ https://www.indianvisacentre.org.in/

These are NOT official government sites. They (& others like them) add a fee on top of the eVisa costs to “help” you. But the truth is that they don’t actually make it any easier than it already is through the official government site.

Use only the OFFICIAL INDIAN GOVERNMENT site: https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/index.html

RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT:

You will receive an extensive dossier as your photo tour nears. Among lots of other information, it includes a list of suggested camera gear. If you’d like to peek at the list now, however, this link provides the a list: EQUIPMENT CHECKLIST (PDF).

You do not have to own everything on the checklist. It’s a list of recommended equipment. If you have any questions about the minimum lenses, etc. that will get you though, don’t hesitate to ask!

Please note: I do not have a tripod on the list because most of our shooting is done from a vehicle & space is limited. In addition, luggage weight on domestic flights in India is restrictive. (The tour does include a “weight upgrade,” but that still is relatively tight).

GENERAL INFO / SIGN UP:

  • DATES: Thursday, January 30 ~ Sunday, February 9, 2020
  • EXTENSION DATES: Sunday, February 9 ~ Tuesday, February 11, 2020.
  • SPACE FOR: Eight (8) travelers
  • PRICE FOR TOUR: $7,995
  • PRICE FOR EXTENSION: $1989 (NOTE: Extension has a minimum of 4 travelers in order to proceed.)
  • DEPOSIT AMOUNT: $1,500 for tour / $2000 for tour with extension
  • PAYMENT DUE DATES: A total of half the cost of the tour due 6-months before departure. Remaining balance due 90-days prior to start date of tour.
  • Please read our CANCELLATION POLICY before purchasing

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