3 Most essential things to know before you start wildlife photography

Hardly few years back, with manual cameras and film rolls, not everyone was interested getting into Wildlife photography. Only few people were haunted by this rare passion. Though it was glamorous but not affordable to everyone. But with the arrival of digital cameras and memory cards, wildlife photography has become a passion and a fashion as well. Tourists carrying huge lenses and camera bodies in National park is normal scenario now a days. Social media has played a big role for making wildlife photography a tempting passion. Posting a picture gets one instant gratification. Also, Google & YouTube are good source of information, and one needs no photography workshop or classes to learn basic wildlife photography. But there are some essential things for wildlife photography that one needs to learn & understand.

1. Knowledge of National Park: It is very important for you to gather some information about the national park you would be visiting. The terrain, the tracks, the tree cover, forest density, the kind of wildlife in the national park, the month you would be visiting, the light to expect, the weather to expect etc.

2. Wildlife Knowledge: Create the checklist of animals you may encounter in the National park. If you are planning to take Tiger images, then you will be better equipped if you know the behavior of the Tiger.

3. Safety: Always remember that you are in a national park and surrounded by wild animals. Your safety and the safety of wild animals you are shooting is of paramount importance. Do not underestimate the speed and power of wild animals at any point, irrespective of the size. Hence it is important to keep safe distance from wild animals. Follow all instructions of the guide & the driver in the Jeep, do not force them to get very close to the animal. Besides you will be able to capture good images only if you are at a safe distance wherein the animals are not disturbed by your presence & behavior. Avoid making unnecessary sounds, or talk loudly, no sudden or jerky movements while you are in the vehicle. As all this can easily scare the animal and send it in cover, thus depriving you of a good wildlife snap.

Once you cover the above basic things for wildlife photography, then what?
Then should gain the technical knowledge of taking photographs. Expert advise here is do not be over dependent on your photography equipment or post processing of the pictures, rather get them right while clicking them. Always remember, it is the eye behind the camera which is more important than the camera itself. Latest technology can’t replace the art of photography.

Top Ten Wildlife Safari Camps & Resorts in India

Every year, a fair number of nature lovers visit the national parks of India to experience an adventurous wildlife safari. You can find number of wildlife resorts that offer a pleasant stay for guests.
Spending night in the middle of jungle is surely an amazing experience. These wildlife resorts are a perfect blend of luxurious lifestyle & a rustic wilderness. Checkout the list of top 10 wildlife safari camps in India:
1. Aman-i-Khas, Ranthambore

Aman-I-Khas is a luxurious jungle safari camp, set on the outskirts of the Ranthambore National Park close to Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan. This camp comprises of well-equipped 10 elegant spacious tents reflecting Mughal style of architecture and décor.
Opened in the month of November, 2003, this jungle resort has well-equipped housing tents comprising of spaces for dressing, cleansing and eating.
Just about 10 km from the Ranthambore National Park, it is a perfect accommodation alternative for those who seek to experience lavish living with a drop of wilderness. Provisions for safari within the park can also be made.
When to visit: October to March

2. Tree House Hideaway Resort, Bandhavgarh

Situated across the 21 acres of land within the Bandhavgarh National Park, Tree House Hideaway Resort has an overall of five tree houses for the relaxation of the guests. These well-laden tree houses are full with all the contemporary facilities such as private bathroom, small bar, split AC and living area with a beautiful balcony from where you can delight your eyes to the lush greenery everywhere and may also spot the wild beasts wandering freely.
Moreover, the resort also has a dining hall, established in 2 levels round a gigantic Mahua tree. Whereas on the ground level, you will find a dining hall serving both Continental and Indian Cuisines. The first floor is Watering Hole- the bar where people can take pleasure in drinks. You can easily opt from range of safaris in jeeps, escorted by an English-speaking naturalist to Bandhavgarh National Park.
When to visit: October to April

3. Sher Bagh, Ranthambore

Taking hint from the deluxe lifestyle of the former Indian princes, each of the 12 tents at Sher Bagh encompass of unique ‘Campaign style’ furniture. This wildlife campsite is positioned at a clos——e distance of around 3 km from the entry of the Ranthambore National Park. All the well-equipped tents have a private verandah and present amazing views of the well-manicured plush gardens.
Highlighting an exotic African-style safari atmosphere, the Sher Bagh camp also endows with an opportunity of collective drinks during the sunset round the bonfire. Further, distinctive arrangement for wildlife jeep safaris, wildlife horse safaris and a picnic lunch, on the highest point of the Ranthambhore Fort can be made.
When to visit: October to March

4. Banjaar Tola, Kanha

Located on the banks of River Banjaar, Taj Safaris’ third luxury jungle safari lodge “Banjaar Tola” provides some great views of the Kanha National Park. This lodge consists of a total of 2 stylish camps wherein there are 9 suites in all, offering a comfortable stay to the guests.
With a large common swimming pool, both the camps have their own tented relaxing area. The resort has a joint kitchen, having an organic and exotic touch which makes the dining experience even more enhanced. The tents are a delightful mix of fresh décor combined with bamboo floor tiles, locally-made fittings and bamboo wall panels. Further, arrangements for safari can also be done.
When to visit: October to June

5. Corbett Woods Resort, Ramnagar

If you are in search for a comfy stay amidst contemporary indulgences while you are interacting with the big wild cats during your visit at the Corbett National park, choose for a stay at Corbett Woods Resort. Freshly constructed, this wildlife camp resort is one of the ideal options where the guests can have an enjoyable stay while appreciate flawless personalized services. Situated about 4 km from Jhirna Gate of Corbett National Park, Corbett Woods Resort has a striking designing and architecture.
As the Corbett Woods Resort is positioned on the banks of Dhela River, it provides prodigious views of the jungle’s green area. There are a total of 4 premium and 12 luxury Swiss air-conditioned lodges, which are very well-furnished and well-appointed. The list of amenities also comprises of children’s play area, fitness club, swimming pool and a multi-cuisine banqueting venue.
When to visit: November to March

6. Lion Safari Camp, Gir National Park

Well-maintained and ecological, Lion Safari Camp is a perfect accommodation for people who are visiting Gir National Park. There are a whole of 20 air-conditioned tents that are very well-appointed with all the contemporary facilities. Lion Safari Camps have sophisticated furnishings and hygienic private bathrooms. The main highlight is that the decor of these tents is eco-friendly.
Treat your eyes to the plush greenery from the top deck area of the camp. The site of the safari camp, amid mango orchard is purely marvelous and looks filmy. Guests can conveniently dine-in at the camp’s outdoor restaurants where you can relish delicacies of Indian and Chinese Cusines.
When to visit: October to mid-June

7. Bundela Safari Lodge, Kanha

Spread across an area 8 acres of plush land, Bundela Safari Lodge is positioned near Khatia entrance gate of the Kanha National Park. A wonderful mix of wilderness and relaxation, this wildlife camp lodge provides 3 best accommodation alternatives- Machan Vilas and Luxury housings. All these air-conditioned rooms have a superior interior, are spacious and have all the extravagances including attached bathrooms.
Enjoy your morning and evening tea while you are chilling in the balcony area, treating your eyes to the plush greenery, spread all around. The safari lodge also has a multi-cuisine bistro to provide lip-smacking food and a well-stocked bar, serving an extensive variety of beverages. Further, there is a spa and a swimming pool to indulge in relaxation activities.
When to visit: October to June

8. Eco Camp, Nameri National Park

Situated just 1 km away from the banks of River Jia-Bhoroli, Nameri Eco Camp is quite near to the Nameri National Park in Assam. Sited amid plush green surroundings, this wildlife camp is just 45 km from Tezpur. As far as meal is concerned, people can relish tasty dishes at the communal dining hall in the Eco Camp.
Best time to Visit-November to March

9. The Bison Kabini Wildlife Resort

A finest combination of adventure and luxury; this is just the perfect term for the Bison Kabini Resort, positioned right at the meeting juncture of Nagarhole and Bandipur National Parks. While the wildlife resort looks attention-grabbing during the night, it seems to be tranquil during the day. The creators of the resort have taken muse from old hunting stratums of former Indian Maharajas and an East African camp.
Clubbing a luxury experience with the rocky wilds is the major highlight of this resort. Admire flabbergasting views of the Kabini National Park from your window. Ancient antiques, stunning decorative pieces, pure white linen and woody floor make the camp all the more exciting. Every cottage is quite well-maintained.
When to visit-October to May

10. Hornbill Camp, Thattekkad

Hornbill Camp, situated amidst coconut plantations on the banks of River Periyar, comprises of cottage tents filled with all up-to-the-minute comforts. Enjoy the landscape of the lowland area of Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary in Thattekkad. The huge camps are a blend of contemporary living styles and rural elegance.
When to visit: October to March

Masai Mara National Reserve

Masai Mara is one of the greatest Wildlife reserves in Africa and it is located in south-west Kenya. Masai Mara National Reserve with the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania forms Africas most diverse, amazing & most spectacular Eco-system and possibly the worlds top safari friendly Eco-system. Masai Mara National Reserve covers an area of 1,510 sq km and it is located at 1,617 meters above sea level. Add the private conservancies and the area is at least twice the size. Masai Mara hosts over 95 species of mammals & over 570 species of birds. Masai Mara National Reserve has one of the largest densities of lion in the world

Wildebeest Migration:

The wildebeest migration is the annual natural relocation of vast numbers of the wildebeest, joined by large numbers of zebra, and smaller numbers of Thomsons gazelle, Grant’s gazelle, and Impala. Wildebeest migration takes place every year and it is highly predictable. They migrate throughout the year, constantly seeking better water resources & fresh grazing land. July to October is the best time to be in Kenya for it.

Accommodation:

Wide range of hotels & resorts are available in and around the Masai Mara & the conservancies surrounding it. Restricted numbers of vehicles are allowed in the conservancies surrounding the Masai Mara National Reserve

Distance:

Masai Mara National Reserve is about 270 kilometer from Nairobi (Capital) and takes approximately 40-45 minutes by flight & 4-5 hours by road. The road is in great condition for the most part. You may have to travel on dirt road from Narok town to Sekenani Gate but condition of that road is fairly good. The other road through Lemek and Aitong town is very bumpy and not good at all for driving.

Best Time To Visit:

Wildebeest migration takes place in JULY to OCTOBER which is best time to see this amazing animal migration. Although, Wildebeest Migration is not guaranteed through Masai Mara, it has yet to let us down. December to February is great time for big cats. As land gets dryer, water sources become limited and big cats can easily catch their prey near those water sources. Good opportunity for tourists and wildlife photographers to capture those moments.

Recommended Number of Days:

We recommend at least 3-4 days for Masai Mara safari. If you are interested in wildlife photography then the longer you stay the more chance of getting the ultimate snap.

Difference between Gypsy safari & Canter safari (Bus)

There are two kind of safari vehicles utilized in the National Parks of India. One is the Gypsy or Gypsy which can accommodate maximum 6 individuals, or a safari bus or Canter which can accommodate 10-20 individuals at a time. They both have their own advantages. One must understand the advantages and disadvantages of Canter and Gypsy Safaris before he books the tour package.

Advantages of a Gypsy:

1. Gypsy is a small vehicle which can accommodate Maximum 6 guests. Hence, it is less disturbing to you and to the wild animals.
2. The lower seating height of a Gypsy offer better angle than Canter for wildlife photography
3. Gypsy is easier to manoeuvre than canter during a safari.
4. ?The petrol driven engine of Gypsy is less noisy. Thus, it is less disturbing to you as well as to the wildlife.
5. It can access very narrow roads as well providing you advantage when Tigers or other animals are in dense forest patches where a Canter cannot reach.
6. Being light weight and having 4 x 4 engine, it can be taken reverse or forward very quickly as per the animal movement.

Advantages of a Canter (Safari bus):

1. If you have more than 6 people in your group and you all want to travel together then Canter (Safari Bus) is ideal for you. Moreover, sometimes people dont get second Gypsy due to various reasons.
2. The height of a Canter is more than Gypsy and it helps in Tiger sighting. You can see deep down in to the jungle due to better height of Canter. Canter is larger & taller. Hence, you will feel more secured in Canter than Gypsy when Tiger is nearby your vehicle.

Keep in a mind that Tiger sightings are always a matter of chance and experienced guides & drivers will surely assist you in that case. Tigers & other wild animals dont care whether you are in Gypsy or in Canter. When they decide to come out, they will. Both vehicles follow the same route in jungle safari and chances of wildlife viewings are also almost same

If you are really a wildlife enthusiast and wish to avail a Gypsy for jungle safari, then plan your safari 5-6 months in advance and book your vehicle at the same time.

All the best! Have a Great Safari!

What should you do when you encounter a Tiger on foot in his territory?

First of all, let me warn everyone that a Tiger is an impeccable slaughtering machine. So, the most ideal approach to fight him is, not to fight him. This is a note from some individuals past encounters and knowledge of local people who occasionally meet the Tiger on foot in their own backyard. It is quite possible that on your wildlife safari occasion, you may likewise encounter a Tiger by walking accidentally and unintentionally.
This can happen to anyone in national park. Generally, the national parks of India don’t have any fence or dividers. The Tigers roam in and around the national parks in search of food and to mark their territory. They come out of their home to visit the vicinity of the villages where majority of the resorts are established.

What to do when you encounter a Tiger on foot?

Tigers are generally not interested in human beings. It is frequently seen that he will leave the trail in the event that he hears or sees you on a similar trail. Having said this, it doesn’t mean that you toss the alert to the breezes. In some cases, a Tiger would do a mock charge to threat you, i.e. Tiger will come half way fully charging, then suddenly stop, turn around, and run away. These are serious and life-threatening situations. Hence, it is best to be alert & prepared. Note down following points in case if you encounter a Tiger on foot.

Stay calm

In case, if you encounter a Tiger first then stay calm and control your breathing speed. You can easily get nervous, but your stillness when he notices you is your major chance of escape from that situation. If he hasn’t seen you, then remain calm, wait for him to move on, and you later move in the different direction. Saving yourself should be the only motive and avoid being foolishly macho. Your anxiety or one wrong step can encourage tiger to attack you.

Pray

Regardless of whether you are a believer or a nonbeliever of god, there is no better time than this to praying. It will at least give you the courage to face the situation.

Stand up tall when you encounter a Tiger on foot

If you are sitting on the trail, gradually stand up and stand tall. The Tiger must know you are human being and should not mistake you as his prey animal. Tigers typically attack their prey from back especially when they appear to be sitting. He will consider you as a small prey animal and attack you. By standing tall, you are showing him that you are a human and not his natural prey.

Signs that a Tiger is annoyed with you

If the Tiger is angry with you, he will indicate it by a snarl, or he may take a stalking position. What is a stalking position? Fundamentally, before a Tiger assaults, he crouches, his ears move back, he freezes, concentrates on his prey, snarls, and attack. If tiger is taking that position, then you should start backing up. You should not show your back to him, rather gradually and relentlessly just back up. Continue backing off gradually until the Tiger is well out of sight.

Never run

Never run when you accidentally encounter a Tiger on foot. Tigers are naturally trained to chase anything running and kill.

Climb a Tree

If there is a tall tree nearby and the Tiger is far enough, and you know how to climb a tree instantly, then you can go ahead. Make sure you reach at-least 15 feet above the ground, as Tigers can jump up to 15 feet comfortably above ground level. So climb quickly, else does not attempt.
If you encounter a Leopard or a Sloth Bear then climbing the tree is not an option as they both are master in climbing, especially Leopard.

Make noise

If you have some metal or anything which can make noise, do it. But do this only after you are sure that the Tiger has made up his mind to attack you. In case, if you have nothing to make noise, and Tiger is charging, then shout as loud as possible.

Fight if you have no choice

When other options don’t work for you and you have no option left but to fight with Tiger, and when a Tiger charges and jumps at you, do the following:

Get as close as possible to Tiger when he attacks you.

Embrace him tight. Try not to give him any breathing space. Embracing a Tiger can surprise him. All carnivores prefer distance. Tigers don’t like physical closeness and try to avoid physical contact. Even Tigers fighting with each other keep distance from each other. At first, they would slap each other, and wait to take a bite and choke the jugular vein on the neck of his opponent. So, keep your neck away from his jaw.

It is your weapon vs his canines & claws

Whatever you can pick and hit the tiger, can be your ultimate weapon at that situation. You can pick rock, branch, stick, and use it to protect yourself from him.
Keep in mind that his weapons are his canines & claws; you must stay away from them. Your weapon is whatever you get or have in hand. With his weapons he can brutally injure you. Generally, Tigers avoid fights. But if they involve in fighting, they will definitely go for the kill, until and unless they are surprised by your behavior. In that situation, they simply want to get away.
Continue shouting and be as close as possible to him. Avoid his fatal bite, as not only it can kill you, but also give you some fatal infection as his canines have lot of bacteria.
Hit the Tiger on his weak spots like eyes and nose. Strike it & strike it hard
If there is a lake or a river, do not get into it to save yourself. Tigers are incredible swimmers, and will out pace you much sooner that you think.

Let me remind you again, the most ideal approach to fight the tiger is, not to fight tiger.

With prayers from me that you never face a Tiger on foot in his territory