Say Good Bye To Kaziranga and Hello To Ranthambore Bengal Tiger Harbor

Ranthambore National Park, the home of Bengal Tiger, Sloth Bear, Leopard, Samba Deer and many more Indian Wildlife

 

We arrived late night in Sawai Madhopur at a farm house. Farm house, in India? Yes, it is possible. My friend Ravindra from the Ranthambore Regency has built a farm house in a wonderful setting at the edge of the Ranthambore National Park. He offered us the house, which has 5 beautiful big rooms. It was brand new; we were the first guests among Swedish guests. The staff service was beyond many can imagine. Just one example, I have asked Ravindra for wheelchair ramps for Jan. They have put in ramps at all steps, these ramps were a tad to steep. I asked for better longer ramps not steep, showing them how long they should be. Same day, few hours later, after our safari, the new ramps were installed. This made it easier for Jan to use and move around. Special thanks to the great staff and Ravindra. You have made our stay in Ranthambore special.

Bengal Tiger eyes portrait, two eyes looking into camera

Bengal Tiger Portrait. FujiFilm X-T2; XF 100-400mm & 1.4x TC

The Exiting Wildlife, The Bengal Tiger

Yes, I stop with yada, we come to the exiting wildlife of Ranthambore. I was in touch with my guide Nafees the last 6 month to organize Ranthambore through and through. All needed to sit on the dot, which is in India quite a challenge sometimes. Here it comes, the word “but”. But when you know a bit the Asian culture and customs, as well follow the words of Jeske: “go with the flow”, nothing will be a problem, it always will work out. No worries, be happy!
Nafees organized and guided for us unforgettable safaris. He booked us 2 jeeps for the upcoming 14 safaris in Ranthambore. Himself guided us on one jeep; the second jeep took over Hansraj, fantastic great spotter & Jahid great driver and spotter as well. My compliments to them.
We had plenty of sightings of Tigers on this trip, Jan’s Indian wildlife photography wish list got shorter day by day, once a trick has been accomplished. We have sighted 2 Tigress, each with their 3 playful youngsters on a kill and in the water. It was a scene of such bliss to watch these young cubs playing. Sometimes some challenges were included to get a good composition. Branches or grass in the way and some other unwanted things. Hmmm, no hmmm, this makes you move on the jeep and not just sit and push a button. You needed to work your way around all this. Move up or down to the side and floating if you are able to. I love these challenges in photography. It makes you see not only the animal in the viewfinder, you observe around the animal. You have to work on your image; you take your time to accomplish it with or without branches the way you want. Oh well, if all odds were against me, the tiger did not fit into the image, I squeezed the tiger into a landscape photograph. (insider info of this great group, see an example of a wildlife landscape photograph

Two Bengal Tigers, mother and cub sharing a tenderness moment rubbing heads

Bengal Tigers tender moment. FujiFilm X-T2; XF 100-400mm & 1.4x TC

Seeing And Photographing A Bengal Tiger

Indian Leopards or even the very shy Sloth Bear can transform a wildlife photographers face into a very happy glowing face. Evgeny had such a face when he had his first Tiger sighting, smile from ear to ear, he was very happy with what he captured with his cameras.

One day we entered Peacock paradise. Jan & Evgeny’s playground to photograph these big birds. Big birdies everywhere, on trees, on ground, on the big wall of the Ranthambore Fort, where you looked you saw them. The mission peacock started. Get the “bigger chicken” of the jungle as you would like to photograph it. We all gave our best, not quite sure that the peacocks gave their best! We photographed them flying, dancing with their beautiful long feathers spread to a wheel to impress the females, good luck, or just doing the “gugg in die Luft” position. (gugg in die Luft > doing nothing, or in other words, the empty box is in use. Maybe zen?)

Last day has arrived and with that the last 2 drives into the bush. Carole had to fly back to Europe one day earlier, due some work related obligations. At that stage we still did not see the Indian leopard or a sloth bear. At the last safari, late afternoon, Evgeny, Jan and Jeske hit the little Jackpot. They had the pleasure to capture the Indian Leopard and Sloth Bear. Both animals are quite shy, not easy to spot. Their guide and driver managed to spot these two animals, they even spent quite a while with them. I envy them for that. What a great finale of this photo tour with a bunch of great people 🙂

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Bengal Tigers, Indian Rhinos With A Bunch Of Great People

Bengal Tigers, Indian Rhinos a bunch of great people travel India for Wildlife Photography!

 

Arriving from Swissyland in Delhi with Carole Deschuymere after midnight, 1:00am, our first “Incredible India” surprise was… waiting in a queue to get our passports checked – go with the flow! The waiting was dragged to one and half hour!! Pffff… great start indeed, never mind to this experience, we spent each other company to chat or for synchronised yawning. Kaziranga National Park was still far away from us! Finally through passport look & look, finger prints & prints, stamp here and there, grabbing fast our belongings, running out of airport. Stopped by a heatwave, which hit us right into our face – uffff, accompanied by quite a few people, which wanted to help us to carry our bags to a taxi. Well, my “donkey” rolls on wheels, Carole’s too. So no need for all these nice friendly helpers! Arrived in our hotel, taking fast a shower and a very fast sleep until the alarm woke us up after 2.5 hours sleep. 6:30am meeting our “party – go with the flow” at the breakfast table 😀
Our table got filled up quickly. Jeske & Jan van der Greef were already there. Irina & Evgeny Garhskov were shortly after us. Breakfast was on, yeah, after the long wait at the the customs, very fast sleep our tummy got something to work with. After our check out from the hotel, our first adventures journey for Wildlife Photography to the Kaziranga National Park could start. Photographing Bengal Tigers, Indian rhinos and more, with a bunch of great people.

Photograph of a cute Asian elephant calf walking, lifted foot up, behind its mother inside the Kaziranga National Park, wildlife photography

Asian Elephant Calf with mom just coming out of the jungle. FujiFilm X-T2; XF 100-400mm & 1.4xTC

First stop Assam, visiting the famous Kaziranga National Park

a World Heritage Site, habitat to the endangered Indian Rhinoceros, Bengal Tigers and the famous Jungle fowl. What you do not know the Jungle fowl? Just wait and see what Jan has accomplished with this “chicken of the jungle”. The Jungle fowl was one of the wildlife of Jan’s wishlist to photograph, besides Bengal Tigers, of course. Well, he was able to do the trick for this jungle fowl after many hours searching, waiting, sweating the reward was indeed fabulous. (Wildlife Photography is not just to go out and push a button! It needs also patience.) Not only that Jan was able to capture this very shy bird the way he wanted, also for me. Second or third day, Jan’s jeep got a little bit far behind. Never mind, we knew that they saw something interesting. When they finally reached us again, Jan showed me 2 thumbs up, big smile from ear to ear, as well Jeske his wife, Evgeny and Irina. All 4 passengers glowing of happiness. This was one of my greatest rewards on this trip. With their happy faces I knew that all was sitting perfect. Most needed, that the jungle fowl will be patient enough, to dare to be a photo model and as dessert that beloved light, we Photographers dream of. Ooooh don’t we all Wildlife Photographers (and Landscape Photographers) want to have THAT light? Yes pleaaasssse 🙂

Photograph of Indian rhino crosses road in front of 3 jeeps with tourists inside the Kaziranga National Park, wildlife photography

Indian Rhino crossing the road. Behind you see 3 jeeps with Indian tourists to see the endangered Indian rhino. FujiFilm X-T2; XF 100-400mm & 1.4x TC

Famous Kaziranga National Park And Wildlife Photography

Kaziranga National Park is one of the most beautiful and Zen parks I have seen in India. We came across so many wildlife to photograph, especially Indian rhinos – one horned rhinoceros. Sadly the “forgotten dinosaurs” are highly endangered animals. They are as big as a jeep and quite aggressive. No messing with “forgotten dinosaurs”! We even were able to see and photograph Bengal Tigers due to our stay in Kaziranga National Park. Tigers in Kaziranga are very shy, you get a glimpse of them, one two seconds later the tiger is gone in the high elephant grass. We were once lucky, when a tiger came out of the elephant grass walking along a lake of many. A beautiful setting for a landscape photograph, huuuuh, combined with Wildlife, of course. Behind the tiger was an Indian rhino mom with calf. Both did not care much about the tiger! A few meters further the tiger passed another rhino taking it’s beauty mud bath at the edge of the lake. That rhino did not even move its head around when “his majesty” passed by! Quite ignorant, or just Zen!

Photograph of Indian rhinos with white egret in front walking through jungle of Kaziranga National Park in India

Indian Rhino & Egret. It just seems that the Egret is the friend of the rhino showing the rhino the best grass to eat. FujiFilm X-T2; 100-400mm & 1.4x TC

Kaziranga National Park And Its Beautiful Lodge

Zen, indeed it was, also our beautiful lodge, with their own rice fields. The chalets on poles are built around the rice fields, everyone has their own balcony to enjoy the view. I had a few photographic assignments for Assam. One was to take images of a custom made bag from the new Swiss Brand Luc8k. In the afternoon break I took a custom leather bag to photograph in the rice fields. Something different than wildlife photography! I knew that some of our party were watching me. There we go, their afternoon entertainment got delivered. Me balancing between the rice fields! Actually it is not easy to walk on 15-20cm thin paths between rice fields. They are muddy, give in quite a lot when you step on them, simply you sink in…etc. One composition I liked very much, this required that I had to balance on a thin path to the other side of a rice field to place the leather bag. The way over was a balance act. I sunk into the path here and there, using my arms to balance, just don’t drop the bag into the rice field > water level knee deep & deep mud!! On my way back to my camera, it happened. My balancing was not as it should have been, maybe my arms were a tad to much air rowing, never did ballet, the mud gave in, I landed in a rice field. Lucky enough I was able to prevent the major full body touch down into the mud to flatten some rice plants. Standing there in the knee-deep water, I was quite sure that my “go with the flow” party have seen me. Indeed they did, the laughs and comments shortly after were on the dot. My red hiking shoes were hanging on the jeep during the afternoon drive to dry, which caused a little photographic fun at the ticket office of the park. While waiting for our guide to come back with the papers, students of the local school came over to our jeep. They asked me, if they can photograph me, my feet with socks up in the sun, as well of my shoes dangling on the jeep. You might find this picture somewhere in Facebook. If you find it, please send me the link. Thanks a lot 🙂

The time came faster as we liked to say Good Bye to Kaziranga National Park and Hello to Ranthambore National Park – Bengal Tiger Harbor

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