Back from a fantastic trip to the Mowgli’s country. The twin trip to Kanha and Bnadhavgarh was part of a wildlife photography workshop by Nature Wanderers in association with Canon. Named ‘Canon Go Wild’, the workshop was conducted by ace wildlife photographer and naturalist Kahini Ghosh Mehta, Shivang Mehta and Udai Shringi.
In a long time I had undertaken a trip without having to do any planning. Normally I do the planning and research part for my trips, even for friends who had travelled with me. This time, I just paid the money and got tugged along wherever the group went. I was not even aware of the train I would be coming back till last day. All that was in mind for those 5 /6 days was just jungle and photography.
The trip started with an 18 hr train travel from Delhi to Jabbalpur. The 5 hours travel of 190 km to Mukki gate of Kanha was covered in comfortable AC vehicles. We were put up at the luxurious Infinity Resort at both Kanha and Bandhavgarh. Everything was arranged by Nature Wanderers nicely to let the participants concentrate only about photography and enjoying the trip. The tough part was getting up everyday at 4 am to get ready to leave by 5. Specially when every evening people would sit late discussing about photographs or events of the day or editing photographs. To do that continuously for 4 days was tough.
In all we had six safaris – 3 each at Kanha and Bandhavgarh. On two days we had spent almost the full days inside the jungle, only getting out for lunch breaks. Kanha allows you to be inside for longer duration – morning 5:45am to 11am and evening 3:45pm to 6:45pm. The timings for Bandhavgarh were shorter – morning 5:45am to 9:45am and evening 3:30pm to 6:30pm. Morning safaris at both places had been fantastic, but evening one mostly disappointing. Because of the rising mercury, even birds were hardly sighted in the afternoon safaris. In all 12 tigers were sighted by the group. My count is 6 – three each at Kanha and Bandhavgarh. That made my total sight count 8 in 2011. For three years I tried in vain at Corbett to get sight of the king. Now in just two months I met 8 of those majestic animals.
Kanha is difficult to access. Nearest railhead is Jabbalpur (140-190km depending on entry point you choose). Also because of its huge size of nearly 2000sqm, tiger sighting is lower. We saw wild dogs (dhol), Indian Bisons (Gaud) and Barashingas there apart from the normal spotted deer, sambhars and langurs. Bandhavgarh is easier to access. Nearest railheads are Umaria (34km) and Katni (95km). It probably provides the best opportunity to see wild tigers in India. The 9 tigers spotted by our team in 3 safaris is an indication of it. Not everyone was that lucky, but the worst count was 2. It is also excellent for birding as team was able to capture shots of serpent eagle with kill, king vulture in flight, etc.
The final morning saw everyone taking their best shots. The best being a tiger mating shot. Everyone returned happy from the trip. It was a fantastic learning opportunity for most of the participant. I had upgraded my equipment for the trip. I would sum up the 4 days as under –
Day 1 : I shoot monkeys and deer like most people with a camera do, but may be with better composition
Day 2 : I had stopped shooting monkeys and grazing deer
Day 3 : I had started understanding the importance of capturing moments and making photos like we do for normal photography
Day 4 : I had actually captured moments. I was proud of my shots on final day
To end it this is probably the best moment I had captured: