Loved by non-photographers too, our photo tour holidays offer the ultimate, small-group travel experience to the world's most wonderful and unique places - with special access away from the crowds. I love to travel, but I hate being stuck with loads of other people (especially when we've got nothing in common), being taken to the regular, over-crowded tourist attractions or wasting hours in an amazing country just relaxing by some pool. I want to get the most out of my holidays - I want to see as many different animals as I can, I want to travel through different landscapes and be shown hidden gems off the beaten path, I want to experience the culture, taste the food, meet new friends with similar interests, enjoy some luxury and importantly, I want to have the time to take some beautiful and unique photos of it all. This is what we strive for with our photography tours and workshops.
It's not enough for me to spot a distant lion, tick it off and move on - I want to have the option to try and get closer, on the correct side for best lighting and even wait for him to lift his head and stare directly down the barrel of my camera lens for a great photo - or to move on when I'm done - I want flexibility. I want the inside tips for the best photo location to be ready when the sun rises over the horizon and spills across the bay onto those boulders - and if I can't quite get my photo to work, it'd be awesome to have a friendly pro-photographer right there to offer advice (not one who'll stand in front of me to get the best shot themselves!). If there's a seal colony out on an island nearby, then I'd want to charter a boat tour out there just with my friends onboard so we can spend as long or as short as we want to get the photos without being crowded on a regular sight-seeing tour. If the seal colony was a bit of a tourist attraction on a local beach then I'd want to wait for the crowds to leave, and go down onto the beach after hours - just us as a small group, and a private ranger guide to photograph them at our leisure in beautiful evening lighting.
You don't even need to be a photographer to love this style of holiday - who wouldn't like a bit of luxury and a bit of extra patience from their tour leaders, or to be given the opportunity to fly over lakes covered in pink flamingos in Africa in a doors-off plane or over a beautiful coastline in a doors-off helicopter for some epic views? Stay on a private island, learn some new skills with your photography, make some new friends and have an unforgettable, unique holiday - all at the same time! Sound good? Well, there's a reason more than half of our guests come back again, and again on our photo tours!
Absolutely not! We have many non-photographers (and partners of photographers) enjoy our tours! As one guest said "It didn’t matter that I’m not a photographer - I used my iPhone. Just experiencing all these amazing locations at a relaxed pace, in comfort and without the crowds was wonderful!". The expert photography tuition is a bonus - the incredible access to experience the best places in a tiny group is the main thing! If you're traveling to take photos, or just as a holiday - in the end, it's all about seeing as many of the amazing animals as possible, experiencing the local food and culture, admiring the landscapes, breathing the fresh air and enjoying the whole unforgettable experience with a small group of friends. Whether or not you put a camera in front of your face doesn't really change this. We've had many non-photographers come on our tour, enjoying just spotting animals, identifying them, or watching their behaviour and by the end of the trip many of them do start picking up a camera (or borrowing one of ours) and start getting excited about photography too! Some have later gone on to become full-on photographers, to the delight of their partners! Either way, they have a ball and often come away with us again and again.
Most photography guests are beginner to keen-enthusiast level - so no need to stress that your photography may not be good enough - the whole point is to improve your photography, no matter what your level! Our tours are enjoyed by everyone from non-photographers, iPhone and happy-snap photographers right up to serious professionals. We start each tour with a quick photography crash-course, and our expert photography guides are there to help you throughout the whole tour. There is no better way to improve your photography than spending a solid week or two practicing, surrounded by amazingly inspiring subjects, with a small, friendly group of like-minded people. You will be amazed how much your photography will improve. We're there to offer as much or as little assistance as you'd like, at whatever level of complexity you're ready for.
The level of physical activity varies for each of our tours (check the dropdown for each specific tour), however none involve strenuous hiking or anything like that. In Kenya, for example, the hardest thing you'll have to do is walk to and from your tour vehicle mostly, other destinations involve things like optional snorkelling, or may include short walks or humid conditions. We've had 83 year old guests, guests with bad knees and even heart-conditions do even what we consider our most strenuous tours, so rest assured the tour you're looking at is very likely achievable. If you're concerned, just ask us. The tour information booklet we provide for each tour gives a clearer indication of what's involved for each destination. We're very mindful of the abilities of our guests and can always provide less demanding alternatives for those wishing a break.
For each of our tours, we've carefully prepared a detailed information booklet covering everything including our recommendations for what kind of clothes to bring, what type of power plug, what currency, what the climate is like, language tips and plenty of other information to help answer all your questions! We'll send you a copy of this information booklet when you book, or you can email us for one in advance. As for what kind of camera gear is best, whatever you have is fine, but if you've got too much and need help deciding what to bring and what to leave behind, or if you have a bit of money you could spend on getting something really perfect for the trip, please just contact us and we can certainly help you out with what's ideal for each particular tour!
Fear not - more than half of our tour guests travel solo. To help you make friends before you even leave and to be reassured and aided by the advice of your fellow-travellers (and those who have gone before you), we've created an interactive Facebook group for our CBP Voyager Club members (that's anyone who's been on, or is going on any of our tours, which also gives them 5-10% OFF any future tours!). You can find out who's coming from your area, perhaps even meet up beforehand or fly together. This is a great resource and we encourage you to make the most of it if you're on Facebook! Anyone can read the CBP Voyager Club Facebook page, but you can only interact once you've paid your deposit.
And do not worry that most accommodation is twin-share - we're good at pairing you up with a roomie who you'll get along with - it has been the start of long-term friendships for many! We can't guarantee that we'll always be able to have you sharing with someone of the same sex - it depends on the gender split, but we do our best. You can request to purchase a single supplement (a room to yourself) if you really need to (subject to availability) though keep in mind that you're usually only in your rooms to sleep as we fill your waking hours with plenty to do, and the couple of occasions we have had guests request rooms to themselves, they end up regretting it when they see the amazing friendships that form between the other roomies.
Of course we can - even in places like Kenya we've successfully catered for vegan, gluten-free, lactose-intolerant and vegetarian guests, and all have had a wonderful tour.
Rest assured that we do not travel through any of the major danger hot-spots like those highly warned against in travel advisory boards etc. For example, in Kenya, we do not even pass through downtown Nairobi and we operate completely away from the coast / Mombasa region and the Somali border. The fact that we like to take you to the more tranquil, less-touristy places on our tours conveniently means we only ever spend minimal time in busy, built up areas or large tourist attractions where thieves or terrorists might target - most of the places we stay at are quite rural and private, and you'll quickly feel right at home & safe.
Our cancelation policies are in line with other leading tourism operators, and you can read all about them here in our Booking Terms and Conditions. We are proud to employ industry best-practices.
The Voyager Club is our photo tour loyalty program! As our photo tours apparently can be very addictive (we've had guests come to more than half a dozen of our tours!), we created the Chris Bray Photography Voyager Club, giving repeat guests 5% OFF future tours with automatic Silver Membership, and then 10% OFF as Gold Members after their fifth tour with us.
Either click the 'Book Now' button above and fill in your details, or simply contact us and let us know which tour you're keen to join us on, and we'll send you a deposit invoice to secure your spot, along with the tour information booklet and our Booking Terms and Conditions.
After landing in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, you'll be driven about 30 minutes North to our 5-star, sustainable, beachside hotel 'Jetwing Blue' in Negombo, the country's most famous fishing town. From the pool or bar you can watch the sun set over the ocean as traditional sailing fishing boats glide past, their backlit sails glowing. We'll all officially meet in the evening for a welcome slideshow before dinner and a good night's rest.
After breakfast we'll depart on our adventure. For our entire stay in Sri Lanka, we'll have two luxurious, air-conditioned Mercedes Benz vehicles driven by the two best driver guides in the country. These vehicles are literally the best VIP vans that the biggest tourism company has in its enormous fleet, and are permanently entrusted to their two best drivers, who speak excellent English and will travel with us each day. The vans have Wi-Fi, charge points etc. It's a bit ridiculously fancy!
Our first drive, this morning, is about 3.5hrs NE to Kandalama, pausing on the way to wander through the main, eye-opening fish market of Negombo past shimmering piles of various marine species. Once arrived, we'll check into the astonishing 5-star, eco-chic 'Heritance Kandalama' designed by the world renowned Architect Jeffrey Bhawa. Built in the middle of lush greenery and carved into the rock face fronting a lake, the vegetation flows up the side of the building, causing the whole hotel to blend into the side of the hill, offering beautiful views out over the lake to the distant Sigiriya Rock Fortress in the jungle. Various monkey species play in the trees (keep your verandah doors closed), there's an infinity pool, amazing outdoor bar, and so much more to love about this place.
After a hearty lunch, in the afternoon we'll drive 1 hr to Minneriya National Park for our first safari drive! The way safari drives work in Sri Lanka is that once at the National Park, we swap from our Mercedes van into a safari jeep, driven by a local expert guide from that park.
Minneriya National Park is home to herds of deer, ample birdlife and many other animals, but as we park our jeep on the bank of the lake and switch off our engine, we'll soon realise what makes this park famous, as herds of Asian elephants - one by one - stroll out of the forest and onto the grass-covered banks, to feed on the tender shoots. This is in fact one of the largest elephant gatherings in the world - sometimes over 300 at a time - making this park a magnet for wildlife enthusiasts across the globe. We have to stay on the roads, but with some careful timing, we can position ourselves so these giants silently pass right beside us, so you can reach down with your camera and try for some epic low-down shots of these gentle elephants.
After a lovely dinner back at the hotel, I'm banking on you all still being so excited that you won't be able to sleep, so I've organised a little excursion to the nearby Sam Popham’s Arboretum for a private guided night walk to look for Loris (a tiny nocturnal primate with adorably big eyes, and venomous bite!).
If you're up early, I'd recommend a brief morning nature walk before breakfast down to the lake to look for birds and monkeys. After breakfast, we have a special treat planned! A chop-chop-chopping sound will herald the arrival of our helicopter, which will land at the Kandalama helipad, remove it's doors and welcome us onboard 2-guests at a time for an unforgettable 20min doors-off photography flight out and around the nearby ancient World Heritage fortress rock of 'Sigiriya'. Visible for miles, this enormous, cliff-sided granite column rises abruptly 180m into the sky above the surrounding jungle, and was selected by King Kashyapa (AD 477–495) for his new capital. He built an almighty palace on top of this rock and decorated its sides with colourful frescoes. On a small plateau about halfway up the side of this rock he built a gateway in the form of an enormous lion, the huge front legs of which are still visible.
I've been there and climbed it. It's a very busy tourist site, and the long, steep, narrow staircases all the way to the top aren't for everyone, and there's so many people and groups it's hard to get a clean shot anyway. From the top, it's a nice view out over the jungle, and interesting to wander around the various ruins, but you can't really get an appreciation for the geographical wonder of what you're actually standing on. When I happened to see a photo of this rock from the air however, it blew me away: That's the best way to see and photograph this I think, and so I've organised this special treat for you all. I hope the weather's good and it works!
After we check out and head off, I want to first visit the nearby world heritage Dambulla Cave Temples - an amazing set of 5 caves carved out by Buddhist monks as far back as the 1st century BC! Full of colourful sculptures, ancient alfresco paintings etc. It's apparently one of the most beautiful and impressive temples in Sri Lanka, so I'm sure it'll be terribly busy, but worth checking out! We'll have lunch after that as we continue our 3hrs to Kandy, and then check into the boutique, 5-star 'Mountbatten Bungalow'. Merging colonial charm with an air of modernity, this relaxing estate was Lord Louis Mountbatten's hillside getaway during World War 2, with a lush green forest opening beyond the edge of the infinity pool, spilling down into the tranquil valley. You will soon see why this is one the most sought after stays in Kandy. We'll likely arrive in the mid-late afternoon, so there might even be time to download some photos and hang out and enjoy the view with a local beer before dinner.
There'll be birds zipping around the gardens before breakfast if you're keen, but after we're fed and caffeinated, we're headed off for a bit of a cultural experience, to The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. Located in the royal palace complex of the former Kingdom of Kandy, this World Heritage temple houses the relic of the tooth of the Buddha. Inside a normally sealed inner, upstairs, gold-plated, elephant-tusk framed chamber of the temple, there is a jewel-studded gold vessel, inside which is a smaller, equally bejewelled case, and inside that is literally a piece of one of Buddha's teeth, recovered from the ashes of his funeral fire. Since ancient times, this relic has played a hugely important role in Sri Lankan politics - it was believed that whoever holds this relic holds the governance of the country. Many wars were fought over more than a thousand years by various kings to control this relic, it's been hidden and stolen and killed for and gifted over the centuries, and the legends around it are almost as spectacular as the astonishing force of the devotion of Buddhists to this sacred site and relic today.
To give you a memorable experience of this, you're welcome to take part in the hectic 9:30 am morning ceremony, where thousands and thousands of worshipers pour into the temple and up the stairs to file past a door leading to the inner chamber that is briefly opened to allow the devoted a quick glance into the blinding gold room containing the vessel that contains the case that contains the relic, before you then can make an offering (we'll provide you with one to give) and spill onwards into the rest of the temple, snapping some amazingly colourful photos of the dancing, drumming, golden architecture, a huge Buddhist statue behind tables overflowing with offerings etc. It's quite full-on, and totally unforgettable, and with the exception of photographing inside the inner chamber with the relic while you're right in front of the door, you're very welcome and able to take as many photos of the ceremony as you like.
We a have long way to drive today, so after the ceremony we'll head off for the approximately 5-6hr drive to the east coast to Yala National Park, with a stop for lunch on the way at the township of Elle. Why stop in Elle? Because just out of town there's a beautiful old 'nine-arch bridge' (that I haven't seen) that's 91m long, 24m high and built entirely without steel - just stone and cement - which photogenically spans a misty green jungle valley. Better yet, it's still in use, and a few times a day, a perfect little blue passenger train snakes its way across. Train timetables here are notoriously unreliable, and worse, we can't drive all the way to the bridge, so we're going to have to hop into 4 little three-wheeler tuk-tuk taxis for this ridiculous photographic attempt at the train crossing the bridge, but we'll have fun trying. I gather it's a bit of a thing, so it might also be crowded, who knows. Let's try. If nothing else, it'll be a fun way to break the long drive.
Finally we'll arrive at our home for the next 3 nights, 'Jetwing Safari Camp' which is located at the edge of Yala National Park, Sri Lanka’s most popular natural reserve, which features the highest concentration of leopards in the world, as well as sloth bears, elephants, and a kaleidoscope of other wildlife. Yala stretches from the untamed coast of the Indian Ocean (right out the front of the camp), all the way to the south-east of Sri Lanka, covering several thousand acres. Get ready for some serious wildlife action over the next few days.
Today's a full-day safari drive in Yala National Park! Wildlife central! We'll leave early, pre-dawn, to ensure we're among the first vehicles in the park to make the most of the sunrise lighting and get time with any wildlife that's conveniently lounging beside the roads before things get busier and hotter later in the morning. We'll take a picnic breakfast with us which we can enjoy at a scenic place when we get hungry, and we'll then continue prowling around photographing everything from jackals, water buffalo, deer, monkeys, wild peacocks and dozens of other birds, squirrels, lizards, wild boar, crocodiles, maybe the odd elephant and hopefully some leopards or sloth bears!
There's an enforced quiet period in the park from midday until 2pm every day to give the wildlife a break, and during this time vehicles are not allowed to be driving around. We'll be keen for a break by then too, so we'll head to a quiet shady spot by the river, enjoy a picnic lunch, and chill out for a few hours. You can maybe even have a nap on a blanket on the sandy riverbank, or go wandering around on foot to photograph kingfishers and monkeys (who amusingly arrive at lunchtime like clockwork). Staying inside the park over lunch like this not only means we get to make the most of our time and have a pleasant picnic, but it also means when 2pm comes and we're allowed to start driving again, we're already in the heart of the park, rather than queuing up all the way back out at the gate, joining the usual convey slowly coming back in. Win-win.
We'll continue exploring Yala for the rest of the afternoon and then head back to our luxury safari camp to download, recharge and relax with dinner.
Yesterday was a long day. We're going to go a little easier on you today, and instead of another full-day safari drive, we're doing a separate morning and afternoon safari drive, coming back for lunch in the middle of the day. This means that if you really wanted to risk it, you could skip either the morning or afternoon session (obviously everyone else will see the leopard if you don't go though, so I'd recommend coming on both!).
We get one last crack at Yala this morning, as by now you'll know how the park works, what to expect, what photos you need to try and improve, what particular animals we still need to find, and can afford to be a little bit more selective and focused. So again, an early start (optional) for a slightly shorter morning safari drive with a picnic breakfast, but we'll be back at Jetwing Safari Camp for checkout at 11AM.
Today we drive 2 hours to Udawalawe National Park, with a lunch stop along the way. Before entering Udawalawe for an afternoon safari drive (more excellent opportunities for elephants particularly, but everything else too), we'll first visit the nearby Elephant Transit Home, established in 1995 by the Sri Lanka Department of Wildlife Conservation. We will try and time our visit to this orphanage to watch the staff bottle-feed their baby elephants milk and learn about the unfortunately escalating human-elephant conflict in Sri Lanka, a heartbreaking situation I think is important to be aware of. I will be donating some profits from this tour to this worthwhile conservation initiative.
After our afternoon safari drive in Udawalawe photographing more wildlife, we'll head on another 2.5hrs to the world heritage Sinharaja Rainforest, arriving for a late-ish dinner at our beautiful home for the next 2 nights, the 'Sinharaja Rainforest eco lodge'. A set of elegant, architecturally designed chalets, each using 2 1/2 shipping containers perched on stilts above a small, vibrant tea patch, each with a private deck fronting right onto the rainforest.
You deserve a sleep-in this morning, but who wants to lay in bed listening to birdcalls teasing you from just outside, when you could be out there photographing them?! The Sinharaja world heritage site spreads over a wide elevation range (300m to 1100m) and is spectacularly rich in bird life with an impressive 147 species recorded to date. It is also the only location where 21 out of 26 bird species endemic to Sri Lanka may be viewed. The Rainforest Ecolodge is ideally located at 1025m elevation having both the lowland and the highland species present, and a selection of nature trails to wander at our leisure and take the time we need to hopefully snap some beautiful photos not just of birds, but of the lush plants (including carnivorous pitcher plants).
So, we'll do a morning nature walk along one of the trails leading from the lodge into an undisturbed secondary tropical sub-montane rainforest. Gradually sloping terrain at the beginning of the trail makes it an easy track to start with, and we'll see how far we want to go before heading back for breakfast. We have all day to explore around the lodge, catch up on culling your photos etc, have lunch, and head out for an afternoon nature trail too. After dinner, there's the option of a night walk in the area too, to see what we can find.
After breakfast we'll check out at 10:00 this morning and drive the 2.5hrs to Galle, near the southern tip of Sri Lanka. We'll have lunch in Galle Fort and continue the 30min to our 5-star, oceanfront 'Fortress Resort & Spa' for the next 2 nights.
There'll be time for a few one-on-one's or maybe an Adobe Lightroom tutorial at the hotel in the afternoon (or you can skip that and swim in the infinity pool, have a sauna or even get yourself a massage). About 6PM we'll drive 5 minutes down the road to a local turtle hatchery for a bit of an educational session and then participate in a baby turtle release! So cute! Dinner will be back at The Fortress hotel, enjoying the ocean breeze.
Our objective this morning is to try and see the largest animal that has ever lived - the Blue Whale! Sri Lanka is one of the best places in the world to spot them, and we're in the right place at the right time! With a bit of luck there should be some about 10 km offshore from the nearby fishing port of Mirissa. I want to give you the best experience we can here, but it's tricky: Firstly, it's completely illegal to swim with whales in this part of Sri Lanka, so we can't do that. Way up in the NE corner of Sri Lanka it is possible to apply for a permit, but apparently it's such a chaotic and unregulated industry full of unlicensed and unsafe boats all doing the wrong thing and harassing whales and dumping tourists right on top of them etc, that I don't want to support this unethical approach anyway. So how to give you the best possible view?
Blue whales can stay underwater for 30 minutes or longer, but typically around here they will stay down for about 8 minutes, and then come to the surface somewhere (basically anywhere other than in a straight line where you expected) and do a series of breaths (maybe 4-6 breaths, with just a shallow dive between each one), and once fully recovered they then end with a much steeper, deeper dive (usually showing their tail on their way down) and they'll then be gone again for another 8 minutes. So, you can imagine how this works: about 7 minutes after a tail-dive, everyone starts scanning the endless horizon on all sides, hoping to spot the first blow when the whale finally resurfaces (likely many hundreds of meters away, if you can even find it again at all), and the boat then has a few brief minutes at most to get over there and try for a closer view before it's over again. There's two types that operate out here. There's large 2-level, ferry-like boats that take a few hours to get out there, are crowded with hundreds of people, and are so slow that unless the whale accidentally happens to surface next to them (these are not very curious whales, they don't really come to play), these boats don't have much hope of getting much closer before it's gone again. So, the other kind of boat - the ones we'll use - are smaller speedboats, for private charter. Much faster (and way more expensive!) they can zip out to the whale area in less than half an hour, and when the whale surfaces, they can race over at neck-breaking speed and be on top of it in time to enjoy a few up-close and personal blows. It's epic, but also not very ethical. We don't need to get that close, or pressure the whale that much that sometimes they cut their recovery breaths short and just try to swim away. So, we won't be deliberately forcing ourselves close enough to chase them with a GoPro on a stick held underwater. If one happens to surface close enough then great, bring your GoPro, but it's unlikely.
The main objective here is to see a blue whale from the boat (actually we'll charter two boats so there's plenty of room), see it's towering blow and admire it's hugely long, mottled blue form slip though the waves, and try for a tail shot as it dives. The secondary objective here is to try and let you see it from the air - which apart from being in the water with it, is the only way to truly appreciate the length and incredibly streamlined form of these enormous torpedoes. I tried my best to charter a helicopter instead of a boat, but all the tourism helicopters are single engine and they won't risk flying over water. The airforce has twin engine helicopters but they cannot be chartered. So, the next best thing, we're organising a drone permit! If we get it, with everyone's help spotting the whale early enough, we can race over there in the drone, and hopefully get some epic footage you can all watch in real-time, and I'll also give everyone on the tour a copy of it. It'll be a team effort.
After hopefully a successful morning with the biggest animal on the planet, we'll head back to port, spend a bit of time photographing the fishing boats, colourful piles of nets and floats, and yards of drying fish, before heading back to lunch at our fancy hotel. The afternoon is free for some more one-on-one sessions (or to download/cull your whale photos, or relax). As the lighting starts to become golden in the evening, a short walk along the coast will bring us to the place where traditionally, the local fishermen used to perch out in the surf on precarious, pole-mounted stands to cast into the ocean. Silhouetted against the sunset, this can make for quite a photogenic, traditional scene, although the fishermen have realised there's more (and easier) money to be made as photography models than actually catching fish, and so now it's a bit of a setup, with each 'fisherman' having his own handler back on the shore, collecting a fee. But hey, it still looks cool, and why not pay them for their efforts in helping us get a nice photo? Good on them. When it gets too dark for photos we can stumble our way back to the hotel for dinner.
We could have happily finished the tour right now, having enjoyed our fill of the best wildlife of Sri Lanka, but it didn't seem quite right to come all this way, and not hop next door to India and try and see a Tiger! Right?! (Also, because I've never seen one in the wild, and really want to). So, that's what we're going to do today!
We'll pack up, have breakfast and check out at 8 am and drive the 3hrs from here to the airport back in Colombo. Once there, we'll check-in for our flight to India, have lunch and get ready for our flight to Delhi, departing at 2pm!
The 3.5 hr flight lands in Delhi at 5:35 pm local time, from where we'll be taken to our hotel (the Lemon Tree Premier') for dinner and get a good night's sleep before part two of this adventure starts tomorrow!
One of the best - if not THE best - place to see wild tigers in the world is apparently Bandhavgarh National Park. It's a 105 sq km park (with an additional 400 sq km of surrounding buffer area), and boasts the highest density of Bengal tigers in India. The problem is, it's 800 km (15hr drive) from Delhi. The fastest way to get there is to fly from Delhi to the closest airport, which is Jabalpur, a much more manageable 3.5 hr drive from the national park. This flight doesn't depart Delhi until 1:45pm (and we should be there 2hrs before) so we'd only have until about 11:30am to do something this morning. Traffic is appalling so we wouldn't be able to get far, so after breakfast I've reserved one of the conference rooms in the hotel for a photo review session. We can spend an hour going through some photos from everyone, get some inspiration, practice some lightroom edits etc.
We'll check out, head to the domestic terminal, check-in, find some lunch in the airport and fly the 1.5hrs to Jabalpur, saving about 12hrs of driving! On arrival (3:10 pm), we'll be driven to Bandhavgarh (3.5 hours) and finally check into our home for the next 3 nights, a brand new luxury eco lodge 'Bamboo Grove'. After dinner we'll absorb a wildlife presentation about Bandhavgarh from the resident naturalist to help set the scene of its Flora and Fauna before bed.
Ok so tigers are the name of the game here, as many of the other animals will be the same as we've already photographed in Sri Lanka (but not all). So, it'll be a combination of chasing every lead, sometimes waiting super patiently if we hear monkey alarm calls to see if a tiger might just step out of the bushes, and when we have no current lead, just cruising around and around, with everyone doing their best to spot large stripy cats. To maximise your comfort and increase our tiger spotting chances, we're fanning out in 3 safari jeeps... Each jeep is designed to carry 6 guests + 1 driver + 1 naturalist, so we could easily fit in 2, but I think 3 will be nicer and help ensure we are not in each other's way. Also, generally tourists do a separate morning (finishes at 11am) and afternoon safari drive (starts at 3pm), but as we did back in Yala, we're going to go the extra mile and stay for a full day's safari drive today, with picnic breakfast, lunch and snacks etc. Not only does this give us an extra 4 hours tiger time, it actually comes with other privileges including 'VVIP Status' which importantly entitles us to change 'zones' within the park whenever we need, so we can go wherever we hear news of tiger sightings. Everyone else who's not a VVIP (it's $408 USD/person so that should thin out the crowds) is allocated a particular zone within the park, and even if there's tigers seen just in the zone next to you, you're not allowed to cross.
So, today we'll be doing exactly that, a full day, 12-hr safari with VVIP multi-zone status in one of the best places on Earth to see tigers. Fingers crossed we get a sighting, and maybe even some good photos! Regardless, we'll still have a great adventure, and the park is full of other wildlife too, including leopards, sambar, barking deer, nilgai, wild boar, gaur, chausingha and chinkara, the Asiatic jackal, Bengal fox, sloth bear, ratel, grey mongoose, striped hyena, jungle cat, and over 250 species of birds including cranes, kites, crested serpent eagles, black vultures, Egyptian vultures, grey hornbill, kingfishers etc.
There may apparently be a chance for a night safari drive during our stay, but these are offered somewhat intermittently, and can only be booked the day before, so if we can, and if everyone's not too tired, we will!
Bandhavgarh National Park is closed to safaris every Wednesday afternoon, so we'll just do a morning safari drive in the park today, come back to the lodge for lunch, and then in the afternoon we'll do a safari drive in the surrounding buffer zone around the park instead, where there's still a chance of tigers (but chances for other things too).
We're heading off today, but there's still time to fit in one last short morning safari drive in Bandhavgarh National Park before we go. After the safari we'll check out, retrace the 3.5 hr drive back to Jabalpur airport and fly (3:40 pm) back to Delhi. We'll land about 5:15 pm and head back to the Lemon Tree Premier' hotel again. Tonight's our final dinner, so time to celebrate and reflect on all the highlights of the past 2 weeks - the new animal species seen and photographed, new friends made, new skills learnt, new tastes, sounds, smells and experiences of Sri Lanka and India, colourful new threads that will now forever be woven into the rich tapestry of your life, and mine! Thanks for the opportunity!
That's it guys! There's no group breakfast or anything this morning as some of you might be flying out early, or others might be sleeping in, or even spending some extra days in India...
IMPORTANT - Ensure you have read our Tour Booking Conditions prior to booking. The document covers everything from your rights, inclusions and payment schedule, to our cancellation policy and extent of liability.
THIS IS AN EXPLORATORY TOUR, and is currently being filled from a waiting list.
All our photo tours are subject to minimum numbers. Please ensure you have read our tour booking conditions for our cancellation policy (above).
Indian government regulations mean we are unable to make changes to the travellers on this tour after 20th October 2023, and so if someone cancels, I am unable to replace that person with someone else, even if I have someone keen to swap in. So, in line with our regular terms and conditions, full payment must be made 6 months out (ie now, at time of booking), and will be non-refundable.
You must obtain your own travel insurance, and it is recommended you ensure it covers trip cancellation up to the value you are investing in this tour (price of tour, your flights etc).
All meals are provided, drinks are extra.
Price does not include flights from your home town to start in Colombo (Sri Lanka), nor your flight home from Delhi (India) at the end. We do include the one-way flight from Sri Lanka to India during the tour.
We do not loan out our own camera equipment for this tour. Be prepared to be self sufficient regarding your camera gear.
Depending on your nationality, you may require a visa to enter Sri Lanka or India, and you will need a valid passport etc. It is up to you to ensure you have all the required travel documents and visas to arrive at the start of the tour and to be let into India.
A non-refundable, non-transferable $1,000 USD booking deposit is required.