Tiger Photography Guide
The world is filled with beautiful sights in faraway places that seem out of reach most of the time. However, every once in a while, the opportunity of a lifetime presents itself and people around the world find themselves whisked away on an astounding adventure.
Asia and Africa are some of the most beautiful places in the world and are home to thousands of different species, including lions and tigers. These majestic creatures live their lives in the wild and are ferocious, fast, and awe-inspiring. Their strong teeth and powerful muscles make them a fierce predator, hunting for food and defending themselves from threats.
They have the ability to instill fear in many, triggering the body’s fight-or-flight response to danger. While they are wild and dangerous, they are also graceful and immensely beautiful. Wildlife photographers and enthusiasts can see these creatures up close and personal on our tiger safari – the perfect photography tour to capture amazing pictures of animals in their natural habitat.
Have You Heard of a Tiger Safari?
A tiger safari allows you to interact with nature and observe and document the environment and its inhabitants in a safe and comfortable setting. Our guests will be able to go on a unique adventure with the chance to get up close and personal with a real tiger in the jungle.
We make it possible to take high quality photos while enjoying a one-of-a-kind journey through India. There’s no rushing – you can take in the sights, capture scenic views, and catch glimpses of the diverse animals around you. Our tours use various methods of travel, such as boats and safari trucks, giving you access to various scenic locations where you can sight mesmerizing tigers.
On our tiger safari, there are no fences, glass walls, or trenches separating you from the wild animals in your tour location. Big cats and other animals are closer and free to roam as close or as far away as they want.
This freedom can take some time to adjust to, but the experience will nevertheless be one that you won’t forget. Spotting a tiger is exciting, with many taking a flurry of photos and basking in the presence of this apex predator.
What to Expect on Your Tiger Tour
Going on a tiger safari can seem daunting at first, but once you’ve gotten to the park you can put your worries away and enjoy your time exploring the jungle and looking for signs of wildlife. You will have one of our highly skilled guides as well as a knowledgeable driver that follow a specified route through the forest. They will be looking for pugmarks and listening to the jungle for warning calls by other animals which are indicators of the presence of tigers in the area.
Your drive will continue, and they will keep looking for signs of tigers. Your guide and driver are actually heading towards either the last known location of a tiger sighting or the nearest watering hole. These areas are highly traversed by animals, who may visit throughout the day and especially in the morning.
Once you’ve visited a waterhole and there still hasn’t been a sighting, your drive will move forward along a documented route with stops to watch for wildlife along the way. Our guides will listen out for any alarm calls and keep an eye out for scratch marks and other signs of big cats.
When’s the Best Time to Spot a Tiger?
We offer tours when it’s most likely for our guests to spot a tiger and other kinds of wildlife. During certain times of year, tiger tours in some area may close while others remain open throughout the year. Depending on when you’re planning on going on your tour, you will experience differing weather conditions and visibility.
June – October
Monsoon season begins in June and ends in October, making this an inopportune time for viewing tigers. A monsoon is a wind shift that brings torrential rains and heavy winds. These conditions can be very dangerous, so tours are often not offered during this time as national parks are closed.
November – January
If you’re a fan of scenic greenery and lush foliage, this is a great time to go on our tiger safari.
Many photographers have hailed November as one of the most beautiful and photogenic times of the year to go on our tours, while all that lush cover makes it much more difficult to spot a tiger.
February – March
The months of March and February are considered the peak months for safari tours, as the weather has become warmer, yet dry season has not yet fully enveloped the land. There are many tourists on tours during these months, enjoying the pleasant weather and beauty of India.
This is an excellent time to spot a tiger, it is certainly the best time to explore the land and take in the local culture.
April – May
The temperature increases as the year progresses, with April and May being some of the hottest months in the jungle. The foliage, which is typically bright green and lush, will have shriveled and died by this time of the year. Temperatures soar during these months, but this discomfort is worth it.
These two months are the most ideal times to spot a tiger, even in the heat of the environment.
Because there is less vegetation, you will have much more visibility throughout the forest and foliage. Many of the rivers and small pools that formed during the cooler months will have dried, pushing tigers to established watering holes and rivers. The higher the temperature, the more likely it is that you will be able to catch amazing photos of tigers exploring their habitat.
What to Expect When the Jungle is Green
The months of November, December, January, and February are known for being green in India. The weather is misty and the grass drips with morning dew. While it makes for beautiful pictures, it lessens the chance of seeing a tiger. They don’t enjoy getting their paws wet when the grass is damp.
Tigers prefer clear tracks in the forest, conserving their energy and taking the most direct route to their destination possible. These tracks include tracks made by vehicles, animals, and even humans. They want the route with the least obstacles, making it easy to go back and forth.
What to Expect During Dry Season
During the hotter months of April, May, and June, temperatures steadily rise, and tigers are more likely to be out and about. Because there won’t be much foliage blocking the view of you and your tour guide, the chances of seeing a tiger are much higher.
Tigers and many other animals in the jungle will visit watering holes more frequently to stay hydrated and cool throughout the day. Though they don’t enjoy the damp grass making their feet wet, some big cats, like tigers, like to submerge themselves fully in water. This gives you the opportunity to take wonderful shots of them playing in the water and cooling off.
How to Find Tigers in the Wild
Tigers are cunning, making spotting them a long endeavour in most cases. They can hear noises from far away, such as the noise from your vehicle, and lay low to avoid being spotted. You could also encounter animals that seem to simply walk away from you, preferring a more secluded area to the one teeming with vehicles and waiting tourists.
You won’t always see a tiger on your tour, as they can hide well in their territory if they don’t want to be found. If your only mission is to capture a photo of a tiger while on our tours, you may face disappointment on some days while on others you may capture hundreds of shots of tigers throughout the jungle.
There’s never a guarantee with wild animals, as they make the rules in their habitat.
Because there’s no guarantee of a tiger sighting, it’s important to relax and enjoy your time in the wild. Take in the sights around you and observe other animals in their natural habitat. You could end up taking flawless photos of breathtaking animals that you never intended to capture. The jungle is unpredictable, so prepare to set your sights on different subjects if the tigers in the area are being elusive.
These creatures do most of their hunting at night, but will travel to their watering holes, den, cubs, or kill throughout the day. You can expect to see most activity around dawn and dusk as well as late afternoon when they are most likely to be seen traveling along well-traveled tracks or moving swiftly through the foliage. Join us on a wildlife adventure to Pench National Park.
Alarm calls are the noises animals make when they spot a tiger or some other predator near them. These calls are one of the key ways to look for tigers, as animals typically warn their herd when danger is near. Some of the species that your guides will be listening out for include langur monkeys, deer, and more.
· Sambar Deer
This large animal makes its alarm call when it spots a leopard, wild dogs, or a tiger nearby. When you hear the call, it’s a chance to capture some beautiful footage of an animal.
· Chital (Spotted Deer)
This animal is another kind of deer, known as the spotted deer. It makes its alarm call when it senses wolves, jackals, wild boards, and sometimes tourists in brightly colored clothing.
· Monkeys & Birds
These animals make very distinctive calls when they spot predators of all kinds, even smaller ones like snakes, lizards, and jungle cats.
With all of these alarm calls, your guides will be busy listening closely and differentiating the different calls to determine which ones to follow. The calls let your guide know where to direct the vehicle as well as what kind of predator has been spotted.
They’re also used to determining where the animal is moving and how large or small it is. All the noises in the forest will be used to determine which path is most likely to cross with a tiger.
Tracking Physical Evidence
Tigers make their presence known by leaving physical evidence in their wake, such as footprints, scat, and more. These marks are used to help your guides find the route most recently taken by the tiger, moving your group closer to where the powerful creature may be.
Footprints, also known as pug marks, can be beneficial in some cases and downright confusing in others. Fresh prints are a good sign while older prints may be used to determine how active tigers are in a certain area. They can also be used to determine the sex of the tiger, as males have rounded toes while females have pointed toes.
Pug marks can get confusing when there are several tigers in one area, as they can become intertwined and lead groups in a full circle. At times, the best thing to do is to sit and wait in hopes that a tiger may appear. To avoid this confusion, guides will also look at the trees for scratches and other indicators of the presence of tigers.
What to Do If You Encounter a Tiger
Tigers are powerful and have the ability to chase down prey and tear them apart with precision. In order to keep you safe, we make sure that tours are safe and give detailed instructions on how to avoid incidents while in the wild.
1. Remain Calm
The most important thing to remember is to remain calm in the event of a tiger encounter. Keep your breathing controlled and avoid making any sudden moves.
If the tiger has spotted you, remain still, watch for signs of aggression, and follow your tour guide’s instructions closely. Moving slowly will allow for great photos as the animal will be less agitated.
2. Look for Signs of Agitation
Animals often show signs that they are annoyed or agitated. Tigers will show their agitation by snarling or growling as well as by getting into a low crouch with its ears moved back.
This position is its stalking position, which a tiger will do before attacking its prey.
3. Do Not Run
While the fear that seeing a tiger in front of you for the first time may stun you, it is important not to run from the animal. Running could trigger its predator instinct, causing it to chase you and making the situation much more dangerous.
To avoid encountering a tiger while on foot, it is important not to leave the vehicle. You are not allowed to leave the truck while in the park.
Is It Easy to Capture Shots of Tigers in the Wild?
While there are plenty of beautiful shots taken from talented photographers around the world of tigers in their natural habitat, it’s not as easy as it looks to get the perfect shot of these magnificent beasts. You may be able to see tufts of fur behind tall grass but capturing a real photo has been a challenge that wildlife photographers have faced for decades.
You may get lucky and capture an excellent shot on your first tour, but many people must visit the same area several times in order to get a clear, candid picture of a tiger. Finding the tigers is a challenge on its own – capturing these animals in their full glory is a sight to behold.
Keep Your Camera Ready
While your group and the guides are exploring the land and looking for signs of tigers, there are many unexpected things that can occur. You should avoid putting away your camera, no matter how dusty or dark it becomes. A tiger crossing paths with you can be as quick as a few seconds, which you will spend digging your camera out of its bag if you decided to pack up.
Which Lens Is Optimal?
Since you’ll be in the wild, where anything can happen, you should opt for a faster lens that captures the maximum amount of light available. You won’t be able to predict anything, even how close you can get to your subject, which is why a fast lens is recommended. You can get a better view through the vegetation that may be present, allowing you to get some great shots.
Along with speed, you should consider length as well. You’re going to be exposed to wild animals without the safety of bars or glass in between you, so keeping your distance is recommended. Your driver will remain a safe distance from any wild animals, so a long lens is essential if you want to capture the best and most detailed shots possible.
You never know what you’ll need, so it’s a good idea to bring several types of lenses including a 100-400 and 500 or 600mm lens. Because of how dramatically your focus may change throughout the trip, such as going from shooting tigers to shooting mountains and landscapes, you’ll need lenses on hand that can capture your subject perfectly.
What About Tripods?
A tripod is good for some shoots, but the most practical way to support your camera while on our tour is to use a beanbag. They’re easy to carry and provide you with support at a moment’s notice.
Beanbags can also reduce shaking while on the move and give you a place to rest your hand when you’re waiting for an animal to come into view.
Dealing with Dust
Some of our groups will find that certain areas are a bit dusty, which calls for some special measures to be taken. Give all of your items a thorough cleaning after a long day of use, preventing debris from causing technical malfunctions and issues. Keep a towel over your camera and lens while driving around and quickly pull it away when approaching a sighting.
Many times, tigers will show themselves when the lighting is low instead of when it is clear and bright. It’s important to keep your camera balanced and wait for the perfect opportunity, which is often when the animal stops moving. If a tiger is spotted, the engine of the vehicle will likely be cut so that the animal isn’t startled by the noise.
If the tiger is moving, you can try motion panning to get the perfect shot. With this technique, you move your body in the same direction as the tiger to get a clear shot while it’s in motion. It’s difficult to master, but you can get some amazing shots once you learn how to keep up and move along with your target with precision.
Keep Spares and Back Up Everything
It’s always a good idea to bring extras with you just in case something becomes damaged while on your trip. By keeping an extra memory card, battery, and other camera equipment, you won’t miss a minute of shooting and can capture images without dealing with technical difficulties.
Backing up your photos is highly recommended, as anything can happen while in the field or even while relaxing in your hotel room. Use your laptop or a portable hard drive, to back up the pictures you take throughout the day and keep them safe. Make sure that you keep your items secure and accounted for to avoid losing them while travelling.
Tips for Preparing for Your Safari
On our tours, guests are exposed to a breathtaking world that is filled with a diverse population of flora, fauna, and animals of all kinds. You will get to experience the diversity and bounty of nature in a way that is unique to any other.
In order to make sure that your trip is as safe and enjoyable as possible, there are some things we recommend before going on your safari.
One of our recommendations is that you research the area before your trip to become more familiar with the animals as well as their behavior patterns, allowing you to interfere as little as possible with their natural routine.
Learn how to spot signs of stress in different animals you hope to take pictures of as well as what to avoid in order capture a beautiful photograph of your intended subject. Some additional tips include:
Get Ready for the Temperature
Being at the mercy of the weather means that you’ll experience temperature fluctuations depending on the time of day and the forecast. You can contact us to speak to one of our representatives and get more information on the weather in the area of your tour.
Some areas may experience extreme changes, with temperatures soaring during the day and plummeting at night.
· The Heat
The heat can be a challenge, so you’ll need to stay in the shade and keep cool. Drink plenty of water throughout the trip and keep your head cool by soaking your hat or neck wrap in cold water. To lower your temperature, soak a towel and place it on the abdomen to lower the core temperature of your body. If you’re not used to the heat, limit your time in the sun and heat.
· The Cold
When the temperature drops, it’s important to stay warm. Your clothing is your first line of defense against the cold, but any empty space can allow cold air to enter and lower body temperature.
Make Arrangements Early
You don’t want to make plans at the last minute only to have them fall through, which is why we recommend making all travel arrangements as early as possible. You should make sure that you have a proper place to sleep, transportation, and anything else you may need while on your trip.
You can make bookings online, saving you time and allowing you to customize your trip with ease. By booking early, you may be able to get exclusive deals and save on hotels and other amenities that will make your trip more enjoyable.
Set a Travel Budget
Setting a budget is essential for any trip, as you can avoid running low on funds and having to make last minute arrangements or returning home earlier than planned. Consider your budget before going on the trip so that you have time to make adjustments and plan more effectively. You’ll need to account for numerous expenses, such as:
- Tour services
- Additional activities
You should keep your budget flexible, as costs may fluctuate or you may need to allot additional expenses to last-minute items or services.
Keep These Items in Your Bag
You’ll be out in the jungle for hours each day, with tours starting at sunset and ending at sunrise on most days so that guests can capture the best pictures of tigers and other wildlife. To be prepared for the day, you should keep your bag stocked with the essential items you will need throughout your tour. Some of the items you should include when packing your bag include:
- An additional SIM card
- Spare camera batteries
- Insect repellent
- Seasonal clothing
Additional items are encouraged, but you may consider packing lightly for your safari to avoid getting tired or worn out throughout the day’s travels.
Follow the Rules of the Tour
You may be asked to follow certain guidelines while out in the field looking for wild animals. As a general rule, you should avoid speaking too loudly or littering.
There is no set dress code, but it is a good idea to avoid wearing brightly colored clothing and instead opt for clothing items that blend into the surroundings. Choose duller colors that won’t attract much attention while in the tiger’s territory.
On our tours, we pay close attention to detail and make sure that our guests are able to get the best shots possible in the most comfortable environment we can provide. Having the chance to see these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat is an opportunity that not many people have – but our goal is to change that. The tours are affordable, so there’s no need to worry about any expensive travel plans.
When you’re ready to go on your tiger adventure, be sure to keep these tips in mind to get the most out of your photo safari. By being prepared, you can enjoy your vacation and get great shots of the many interesting animals in the wild.
Take a look at Panthera. They work diligently to help save the world’s cat species, including the tiger.