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Old 13th May 2022, 23:28   #1
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Default Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue

It has been a while since I went on a dedicated wildlife trip. Due to the pandemic, weekend drives took precedence over longer dedicated safari tours. A good nature photographer friend of mine pinged me towards late April to join him for a trip to Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve. The dates were not over a weekend and being summer with temperatures going north of 40 degrees, crowd was expected to be sparse and chances of tiger sighting was relatively high especially near the water holes.

Boring details:

A direct Spicejet 3 hour ATR flight and a 3-hour Innova drive from Jabalpur via Umaria, we reached Bandhavgarh. There are three zones in the core area viz. Khitauli, Magadi and Tala. We did a total of 5 safaris, morning (530am to 11am) and evening (430pm to 7pm). The timings are approximate and may change based on the time of the year. Point to note is that the park is closed to visitors on Wednesday afternoon (you can do a safari in the buffer zone but not in the three main zones). Recently they started night safari (7pm – 10pm) in the buffer zone. Sharing some images regarding the costs and generic rules.

New tarmac from Umaria

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-road-umaria.jpg

Waiting at the entry point for a safari

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-entry-point.jpg

Safari charges

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-safaricharge.jpg

Do's and don'ts

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-dosdonts.jpg

Sunrise in the park

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-sunrise.jpg

Sunset

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-sunset.jpg

Forest department elephants having large thick rotis

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-elephant.jpg

We were a group of three along with the driver and guide in the gypsy. Each gypsy can take a maximum of 6 guests. But for photography, it is better if there are 3-4 guests per car. If you are using telephoto lenses, you need ample space and less commotion in the jeep.

Our safari gypsy

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-gpsy.jpg

Water wading near the entrance

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-waterwading.jpg


I tried out a mirrorless Canon DSLR (loaned from a friend) with a 400mm lens. Most images are with that combination, except the non-wildlife stuff shot on iphone.

This being my first experience with a mirrorless DSLR in the wild, it took some time getting used to it as there is a slight learning curve. I missed a few shots and made some exposure errors, but I guess it is all part of learning a new system. The auto focus with eye tracking and the its ability to acquire focus even in extreme low light situations is what impressed me the most.

An out of focus tiger in the distance

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-oof.jpg

Let’s start with the photos, I am not mentioning the given names of the tigers, as it seems redundant for the sake of this photologue.

First sighting was a large male tiger with 4 cubs (around 18 months old). They were all chilling at a waterhole while their mother was away. The cubs were fooling around with their father and gave lot of photo opportunities.

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-cbgroup3.jpg

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-standlook.jpg

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-waterdrink.jpg

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-cbdrink.jpg

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-cblookatson.jpg

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-cbgroup.jpg

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-cbgroup1.jpg

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-cblook.jpg

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-cbside.jpg

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-cbson.jpg

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-015a6634lscrp.jpg

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-015a6704.jpg

Next we saw a female tiger with her four cubs. The cubs were hardly 4 months old and were never out in the open to get a clear picture. There were almost 20 jeeps when they finally crossed the trail and went deep inside the forest.

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-015a6903.jpg

You can see a cub hiding behind

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-015a6927.jpg

Little fellas

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-015a7018.jpg

Mom coming out to check the surroundings

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-015a6844.jpg

Cubs following their mom

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-cubsfollow.jpg
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Old 13th May 2022, 23:48   #2
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Default Re: Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue

Later in the day we say another female tiger with her three cubs. It was almost 630pm and most images were in low light. The cubs were again behind a lot of shrubs/distractions giving the AF system of the camera a tough task. There was a kill nearby and all 4 tigers were relishing it.

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-cubevening.jpg

Enjoying a recent kill

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-cubkill.jpg

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-cubs.jpg

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-015a7586.jpg

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-015a7565.jpg

Extreme lowlight and high iso image

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-m-lowlight.jpg

Cubs playing around their mom

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-mothercubshid.jpg

Wanted to highlight the AF prowess even with distractions all around

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-cubhidden.jpg

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-cubgrassturn.jpg

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-cubgrasslook.jpg

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-cubheadgrass.jpg

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-grasscub.jpg

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-focusgrass.jpg

Finally, we saw another female tiger who is quite famous in Bandhavgarh with her two cubs (not together but in the vicinity). The cubs were almost 2 years old and seemed bigger than their mother. We saw the female tiger chase a gaur calf but the gaur managed to escape.

Stealth Mode

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-hidden.jpg

Target locked

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-015a7748.jpg

The chase

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-015a7755.jpg

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-015a7750.jpg

ABS kicked in

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-015a7779.jpg

Posing after the failed attempt

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-015a7824.jpg

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-015a7897.jpg


Some random tiger images

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-wide.jpg

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-behindgrasswide.jpg

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-behindgrass1.jpg

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-behindgrass.jpg

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-behindtrees1.jpg

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-behindtrees.jpg

Always a great moment to see a tiger cross a forest trail

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-roadcross.jpg


Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-cbroadcross.jpg
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Old 13th May 2022, 23:58   #3
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Default Re: Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue

We went on a night safari in the buffer zone and it was a surreal experience to say the least. Driving around in an open top gypsy under the moonlight with tigers around is indeed an adrenaline rush. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see any tigers at night but we did come across a large jungle cat. Pictures don't do justice to the night safari experience.

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-nightsafari.jpg

A large jungle cat under a flashlight beam. This was shot at ISO 10000.

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-015a8051.jpg


Bandhavgarh being a tiger reserve, the safari is very tiger centric and there is not much scope to click images of other wildlife. Most of the time we were tracking tigers, I did manage to sneak in a few other images while we were waiting at water holes or listening to alarm calls.

Spotted deer

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-deerref2.jpg

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-deerref1.jpg

Sloth bear

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-bear.jpg

Langur pack

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-langurs.jpg

White rumped Shama

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-wrshama.jpg

Bee eater taking off from its burrow

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-beeater.jpg

Jackal

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-015a7178.jpg


Overall it was a lovely trip where we saw over 23 individual tigers in 3 days. Many sightings were fleeting glances or were not great photo opportunities. Either they were too far or behind shrubs and distractions. But it was great to see tigers in the wild in Bandhavgarh after a long time.

Some not so great photo ops

There are actually three tigers in the image

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-grassleep.jpg

Nap time

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-015a7152.jpg

Landing in Bangalore amidst the rain clouds with temperature around 22 degrees was a bliss after three days in 40 plus degrees.

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue-enlight1860.jpg

Thanks for reading.
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Old 14th May 2022, 00:06   #4
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Default Re: Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 14th May 2022, 10:12   #5
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Default Re: Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue

Wow @RobiMahanta, this is an absolute goldmine. You truly hit the jackpot as far as tiger sightings were concerned. Excellent photographs, thanks for sharing!
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Old 14th May 2022, 11:51   #6
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Default Re: Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue

Absolutely marvellous! Superb photos, nice to "feel" the Bandhavgarh forest through all those beautiful images. You had a very nice sighting. I am also planning to go to Bandhavgarh next year.
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Old 14th May 2022, 12:34   #7
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Default Re: Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue

Amazing pictures Robimahanta, we enjoyed seeing the pictures as much as you seeing them in flesh. Thanks for sharing
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Old 14th May 2022, 12:45   #8
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Default Re: Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue

Quote:
Originally Posted by W.A.G.7 View Post
Absolutely marvellous! Superb photos, nice to "feel" the Bandhavgarh forest through all those beautiful images. You had a very nice sighting. I am also planning to go to Bandhavgarh next year.
Thanks. Hope you have a great trip. Lot of cubs now in Bandhavgarh, so next few years will be great, especially in summer (March-May).
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Old 14th May 2022, 13:08   #9
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Default Re: Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue

Great stuff, Robi! Glad you got an opportunity to visit Bandhavgarh this rocking season! Loved the pictures of Chota Bheem and cubs at Van Talayya. Also glad that SpiceJet introduced direct flights to Jabalpur from Bengaluru recently. But should do a road trip to Bandhavgarh and Kanha together sometime!
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Old 14th May 2022, 13:14   #10
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Default Re: Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue

Quote:
Originally Posted by BackstraightBoy View Post
Great stuff, Robi! Glad you got an opportunity to visit Bandhavgarh this rocking season! Loved the pictures of Chota Bheem and cubs at Van Talayya. Also glad that SpiceJet introduced direct flights to Jabalpur from Bengaluru recently. But should do a road trip to Bandhavgarh and Kanha together sometime!
Thanks Santosh. It was indeed a great sighting. We should definitely do a road trip across MP covering the tiger reserves.
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Old 14th May 2022, 13:29   #11
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Default Re: Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue

You are blessed to have seen 23 tigers in one trip of 3 safaris.
Absolutely beautiful snaps.
Apart from tigers, prized one was bee eater taking off.
Did you require any external support mechanism for the said telefoto lense?
Happy wandering in other tiger reserves too.
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Old 14th May 2022, 14:17   #12
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Default Re: Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vijay T View Post
You are blessed to have seen 23 tigers in one trip of 3 safaris.
Absolutely beautiful snaps.
Apart from tigers, prized one was bee eater taking off.
Did you require any external support mechanism for the said telefoto lense?
Happy wandering in other tiger reserves too.
Thanks Vijay. I carried a bean bag but never used it. The newer telephoto lenses when paired with mirrorless cameras is quite light and the weight balance is nicely spread too. It is easy to shoot hand held.
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Old 14th May 2022, 15:33   #13
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Default Re: Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue

What a splendid set of pictures, absolutely gorgeous!

While almost all our Safari drives are at Panna, we visited Bandhavgarh in November'21 and boy were we unlucky or what! We did 4 back to back safaris at Tala and for 2 entire days Spotty and cubs eluded us. Of course the forest is beautiful and really loved the tall Sal trees and the lovely canopy and got plenty of birds too but the Tiger remained to be seen.

Thanks for sharing!
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Old 14th May 2022, 17:53   #14
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Default Re: Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue

A splendid thread, robimahanta! To have sighted 23 tigers in 3 days is remarkable. For many years our haunt was Corbett in Uttaranchal, but regretfully, we did not sight the King even once! Great captures.
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Old 14th May 2022, 19:02   #15
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Default Re: Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Photologue

You're so lucky to have spotted them tigers in the wild! Was a treat to read and check out the wild life! Thank you!
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