Tigers are the world’s largest living cats. Few animals can evoke such a visceral feeling of fear and awe. Over the centuries, the tiger’s predatory prowess has become the source of legend—and the occasional inclusion of “man” in its diet has intensified this mystique. Today, shrinking habitat, poaching and human overpopulation threatens them over most of their range.
Tigers are difficult to photograph in the wild—the reason so many images of these spectacular cats, used commercially and editorially, were taken at game farms. For our Ultimate Tigers 2020 photo shoot we have obtained, by government permit, special pro photography access to one of the world’s most impressive tiger reserves, India’s Kanha National Park. This is the same type of permit for comprehensive access that a film crew from BBC, National Geographic or Discovery Channel would have. The vast majority of visitors (99.95%) to the park will never have this experience!
Virtually all of India’s famous tiger parks are busy with tourists and are tightly controlled. Without our valuable permits, visitors arrive early in the morning at the park gate where they are assigned a prescribed zone and game drive route—whether or not tigers have been recently seen on this track. The vehicles may only drive forward—a real problem if a tiger appears out of photo range behind the “jeep.” The normal game drive lasts 3½ hours, the park closes midday for 3½ hours (strictly—no matter if you are viewing a tiger or not), and then reopens again for an afternoon game drive for another 3½ hours. With our permits, 3 of our 6 full shooting days in the park will be route free and unrestricted.
Kanha National Park has one of the highest tiger densities in the world. Here, the growing tiger population is now large enough that it is used as the seed stock to repopulate other natural areas around India where tigers have been extirpated. Kanha and its buffer zone is Central India’s largest national park encompassing more than 360 square miles. The landscape is predominated by sal forest combined with mixed deciduous/bamboo forest and broad expanses of grassland. We are there in the dry season when most leaves are off the trees—making it easier to spot and photograph these awesome big cats.
There is no shortage of prey in the park for both the tigers and the less frequently seen leopards. Several species of ungulates, including chital (spotted deer), sambar, muntjac, nilgai, chinkara and chousingha are all on the big cat menu, as well as gaur and wild boar. Black-faced langurBarasingha (swamp deer) have been reintroduced into the park. Other species we may encounter as we traverse the park include dhole (wild dogs) sloth bear, Indian fox, Hanuman (gray) langur and rhesus macaque—plus Indian jackal, jungle cat, mongoose, ratel, and more than 300 species of birds. Wild peacocks are frequently photographed displaying in their native forest habitat.
Our tiger quest may start by sighting huge fresh paw prints (spoor) in the roadway dust. Then we hear the snorts of deer and the chatter of langurs from the trees betraying the presence of these elusive cats. With palpable tension we wait in silence for this king of the forest and, hopefully, it saunters into view with hardly a glance at the human intruders.
A trip to India’s great tiger parks is a peak experience for every nature photographer and a wonderful opportunity to explore one of Earth’s most intriguing wildlife habitats and photography destinations.
Compelling Reasons To Travel With Us
For those photographers who love shooting the world’s big cats a trip to photograph tigers in India is near the top of their bucket list. Our tiger photography tours provide exceptional access to the national parks in which we work. They are the “gold standard” of wild tiger photography tours.
Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris has more than 20 years of experience offering photography tours in India. Our local trip logistics consultant comes from a long line of celebrated Indian conservationists—his grandfather, “the tiger man of India,” was a principal advocate of tiger preservation, while his father pioneered India wildlife ecotourism. With his help, our trips are carefully planned for the right place and the right time when tiger sightings are the best.
Special All-Access National Park Permits
Tiger with cubsWith special national park permits, 3 of our 6 full shooting days will be unrestricted and route free, allowing us to travel on any track—and in any direction—where and when tigers are seen, and permitting us to enter the park a short time before it opens to tourists (while animals by the roadway have not been disturbed) and to stay a little later than closing time to capture the best light at sunrise and sunset. We do not have to leave the park at midday on those permit days, allowing us to stay within the park, lingering at water holes when tigers are present, and from sunrise to sunset—up to 4½ more hours than the tourist vehicles.
Tigers—And A Whole Lot More
With us you get 6 full shooting days and 2 additional half days of photography within the national park. (All tiger national parks in India are closed to all on Wednesday afternoons.) We also enjoy another morning shoot prior to our return flight to Delhi. This schedule allows you many hours of productive tiger tracking as well as time to photograph many other intriguing wildlife species to enhance your tiger photo portfolio.
Accommodations Matter (A lot)
Evening at our lodgeWe stay at just 1 location while we are in the field. There are no travel days to break up the rhythm of our shooting, allowing us to focus all of our attention on our photography. With the potential of long (and sometimes hot) days in the field, to get the most out of tiger sightings and early and late light, we can retreat to comfortable air-conditioned accommodations that provide a peaceful oasis and good food when we return either at a midday break or after sunset. Located just a 3-minute drive from the national park gate, our Jungle Lodge is built with minimal disturbance to the natural environment of the jungle and is managed with eco-friendly principles.
Great Transportation, Fewer Passengers
Viewing a tiger from one of our jeepsOn this trip there are only 2 photographers, a professional driver, and a local guide in each 4×4 vehicle. The drivers are excellent tiger trackers—many with years of experience. We travel from the airport to the national park via comfortable air-conditioned Toyota Innova station wagons.
When you choose our Ultimate Tigers 2020 photo tour you will appreciate our company’s 40 years of experience that make your trip comfortable, safe—and photographically productive!
Mar 23 – Apr 03, 2020
Fee: $13,295 from Delhi, India
Limit: 11 participants
Activity Level: Easy
Depart from home.
Day 2 (Mar 24)
Indian rollerParticipants arrive in Delhi, India. On your arrival at the international airport in Delhi, and after clearing customs and immigration, meet our representative for the transfer to our hotel.
Following an early breakfast we depart for the airport for our 2-hour flight to Raipur. Arriving mid-morning, we drive (by air-conditioned cars) to Kanha Jungle Lodge. During the 4-hour drive we pass through the bustling villages and countryside of the state of Madhya Pradesh. (BLD)
We photograph for the next seven days in Kanha National Park. We have obtained three days of exclusive pro photography permits allowing each participant three full days of all-access on roads throughout the park. On those three days (most likely consecutive) six photographers—in three vehicles—have full access to the park—with no zone or route restrictions. The other six photographers—in three vehicles—follow a typical national park track, assigned each morning by the park service.
Those participants using pro permits have an early breakfast and head to the park gate where they are allowed entry 15 minutes before the gate opens to all others—just prior to sunrise. Participants following the assigned game drive routes leave at the same time to get in queue for the morning route assignment, with a midday lunch and break at the lodge. The potential for photography—tigers and especially other wildlife—is also quite good on the tourist tracks.
The entire group will be assigned national park tracks on Wednesday morning. The national park is closed to all on Wednesday afternoons. Following lunch on Wednesday we have time to review and critique trip photos on our laptops, birdwatch around the lodge, or relax until dinner. (BLD)
Day 11 (Apr 2)
Peacock with feathers in full displayIn the morning we return to the park for a final morning of wildlife photography. Following lunch we drive to the airport and fly to Delhi later in the afternoon. Dayrooms are provided at an airport hotel. After dinner we transfer to the international terminal to catch onward flights for home. (BLD)
Tour Leader: Eric Rock
Eric Rock is a leading travel and nature photographer who discovered his passion for photography early in life. At the age of sixteen he purchased his first camera and began to explore the natural world. While studying wildlife biology at the University of Alaska, he used that passion to expand his skills while working as an assignment photographer and teaching assistant in the School of Journalism. Eric began his guiding career as the head naturalist at Kantishna Roadhouse in Alaska’s Denali National Park—a perfect location to explore nature with a camera. From there, his travels have taken him around the globe while utilizing his knowledge of nature and photography to enhance his clients’ experiences through focused and personalized instruction. Eric’s expertise as a photographer and his insights as a naturalist are invaluable for revealing precise moments for the ultimate image captures. He is also recognized the world over for his laugh! Eric lives in Bozeman, Montana.
- Special photography permits allow rare access to one of the world’s most impressive tiger reserves
- Only 2 photographers per safari vehicle
- Seven full shooting days at the world’s premiere tiger park