Today is set aside as an arrival day in the frenetic city that is Delhi.
Today on our India photo tour, we will catch an early morning flight from Delhi to Guwahati. Post arrival at Guwahati International Airport, we will drive through the town of Guwahati for lunch, before transferring by car to Kaziranga (approximately 5 hours) for our elephant safari in India. We will arrive late at our lodge, check in before dinner and have a relaxing evening.
Kaziranga National Park, which lies in the flood plain of the Brahmaputra River in Assam, has often been compared to African parks because of the quality of wildlife viewing. On account of its large rhino, elephant and water buffalo populations, Kaziranga is locally referred to as the “Land of Giants”. Kaziranga contains about fifteen species of India’s threatened mammals, including the world’s largest population of the Great Indian One-Horned Rhinoceros.
Tall, dense grasslands against a backdrop of the majestic Eastern Himalayas dominate the scenery at Kaziranga. This exciting wilderness of marshes, reedbeds and woodlands will be our focus for the next three full days of our India photo tour. A total of one third of the entire global population of Indian Rhinoceros is located in Kaziranga and we will enjoy incredible sightings of these highly threatened and prehistoric-looking plated beasts.
Game viewing in the reserve is excellent and besides the Indian Rhinoceros there are also plenty of Water Buffalo and Indian Elephant. With dedicated searching, we may also encounter Gaur – a huge bovid indeed! In addition, Kaziranga is another of the few reserves where one stands a reasonable chance of seeing the Bengal Tiger. The tigers here tend to favor areas where the grass is long and dense, which aids them in ambushing their main prey: Swamp Deer. Our best chance at locating a tiger will be on elephant back as we can gain access to the areas that they haunt. Leopards are also prominent in the park’s list of predators, which besides Tigers includes smaller felines such as Jungle and Fishing Cats.
The Brahmaputra River forms the northern border of the reserve and it is here during our elephant safari in India, we have a chance of finding the rare Ganges River Dolphin. Primates that occur here are the Capped Langur and Hoolock Gibbon (the latter very rarely), while other mammals include Wild Boar, Sambar, Hog Deer and Indian Muntjac. The reptilian fauna include Water Monitor, Indian Python, Common Cobra and the fabled King Cobra.
The avifauna at Kaziranga comprises over 300 species, including the much sought-after Bengal Florican and several waterfowl species. The numerous water bodies are rich reservoirs of food, attracting over 100 species of migratory birds – some from as far as Siberia. With many ponds and swampy areas (locally called bheels), this is also a good place to see the Common Indian Otter.
Today on our India photo tour , We will depart the park very early for Guwahati, where we will catch our flight back to Delhi and our Elephant safari in India sadly comes to an end.
Although Dale grew up in suburban London, which certainly isn’t replete with wild animals, his addiction to wildlife films instilled a deep love for animals and the outdoors, and he has subsequently left London and spent the last 20 years travelling the globe working with, and photographing its wildlife.
During this time, he has produced more than 400 nature, travel and photography oriented magazine articles and has worked on numerous wildlife documentaries including for the BBC. His photographs have appeared on high profile front covers and he has won several awards with global publishing companies.
Aside from having guided widely in Africa, his extensive experience in tropics, whether it be the steamy jungles of south-east Asia or South America, or the endemic rich island of Madagascar, make him the natural choice for ORYX’s Brazil, Borneo and Madagascar tours. His sense of humour and relaxed demeanour ensure that he is a hit with all the people he guides, both young and old!
“Having travelled with ORYX on two previous occasions when I decided to visit India again they was the first choice company to arrange it for me .I wanted some culture to sit alongside an Indian wildlife experience. The trip was perfect – great hotels, great sightseeing and best of all wonderful wildlife. Our tiger sightings were phenomenal and I we really could not have asked for more. The local guides were excellent and Marius Coetzee (our ORYX tour leader) could not do enough for us and improved everyone’s photography over the course of the trip. We have all decided to travel with ORYX in India again next year and look forward to another great trip.”India
“Andries and I would like to thank the ORYX team for a memorable India tour. The tour was exceptionally well planned. The only hassle we as guests were left with was to try and get the best photo of a Tiger. We can only but highly recommend ORYX and will not think twice about using their services again in future.”India
“Dale Morris was an excellent tour leader. Apart from being a very pleasant person, he also went out of his way to share his wealth of knowledge on photography with us. We started the tour with our photos looking like normal holiday snap shots, and ended up taking some pretty professional images. Thank you Dale for your patience and willingness to help us.”India
“We are writing to provide some feedback on our short trip to India with Oryx, to visit several game parks with Tiger spotting a priority. We had a small group of 4, ably led by Dale Morris, a genuinely friendly and helpful leader. Dale is a skilled and award winning photographer whose enthusiasm for photography was infectious. Dale was a delight to travel with and ensured that everything worked as planned. We managed to see quite a few tigers and also enjoyed the classic sights of the Taj Mahal.”India
I have recently returned from my second ORYX private tour to India with Marius, and wanted to say how much I enjoyed it and to recommend ORYX to anyone considering taking a wildlife photographic trip.
We knew where we wanted to go – Corbett, Keoladeo, Ranthambhore and Pench – but left all the planning and details in the very capable hands of ORYX. We were not disappointed. Everything had been taken care of, from accommodation in the best locations and travel between national parks, down to tips for our drivers and guides, so that we only had to think about the wildlife and the photography – a real luxury.
Marius is an inspirational photographer, and a superb travelling companion. He has seemingly endless patience, and his knowledge and advice have helped even this novice photographer capture some exceptional images! Nothing is too much trouble for him, and his experience has proved invaluable in enabling us to take shots that I know we would not have if he had not been with us. We had the most amazing tiger sighting in Ranthambhore – no mean feat – and fulfilled our wish to see dhole in Pench, as well as many other wonderful wildlife moments on the trip, which were entirely due to him – so a very big thank you to Marius.
I have been on numerous safaris in Africa, and have been lucky enough to have had many amazing wildlife experiences, but the ORYX tours to India have been in a league of their own. We are already planning our next tour to India with Marius, and hope that there will be many more to come!
Having recently returned from my third trip to India with ORYX in three consecutive years, with the fourth one in 2015 already on the drawing board, I would urge all those who have not yet been to consider it very seriously as a perfect holiday destination.
The aim of our first trip was to see the glorious Taj Mahal at Agra and, if possible, catch a glimpse of the majestic Bengal tiger yet having succeeded in both, nothing could have prepared us for the excitement we experienced as we raised our cameras those first photographs of them. Thus began a love affair with India.
From the moment we met surprisingly young Marius Coetzee, safari guide and prize-winning photographer at Dubai Airport, we realised he was what one might loosely describe as a mover and shaker, inspiring immediate confidence. Coupled with this was his ability to relax with people of all ages, putting them at ease, thus making mealtime conversations stimulating and fun, so traveling on one’s own need not be a concern. Our first visit to India in 2011 was his too, yet having worked in Natal (KwaZulu) where there is a large Indian community, he instinctively knew how to get on with the locals, appreciating their customs and habits, yet earning their respect by his sound common sense and mature capability.
He stands no nonsense and this is soon understood! This is so important in India, particularly on wildlife safaris, where the drivers’ and guides’ goodwill, and anxiety to please, are so crucial in Marius getting us into the best possible position to find – hopefully – and photograph the rarer species like a tiger or dhole (wild dogs), for despite the photographs one sees, India is very different to the Masai Mara and one actually has to look quite hard for shy predators.
However, the jungles we visited in the northern and central national parks are absolutely stunning, each with its own individual characteristics, though more like Up-State New York than the Amazon, and there is an abundance of game and birdlife. Marius drew on his techniques as a top South African safari guide by playing close attention to alarm calls by spotted deer (chital) and langurs (silver haired, long–tailed monkeys), resulting in wonderful tiger and dhole sightings on a number of occasions, earning him obvious, if slightly grudging, admiration from our jeep drivers and guides, who consider themselves to be the experts on Indian wildlife.
India also has the advantage of a culture stretching back over 3,000 years and cities such as Varanasi, the glorious Holy City built on the banks of the Ganges, and beautiful Udaipur in Rajastan, are a photographer’s delight especially if encouraged by one’s enthusiastic tour leader to reluctantly rise at dawn in order to capitalize on the golden morning light. One never tires of the rich tapestry of colours provided by the glorious silk or cotton saris worn by Asian women with such innate grace and one can only wonder at how immaculate much of their clothing is when many have only a communal water pump or local river in which to do their laundry. Whether you are an aspiring but novice photographer – we started off with little automatic Lumix cameras with built-in zooms, progressed to Nikon DSLRs and under Marius’s tutelage, are now producing more than passable photos, to our great surprise – or an experienced one, in which case you would benefit hugely from Marius’s photographic/competition expertise and advice, intriguing India has absolutely everything you could possible ask for. From the moment the February morning mists lift and the beauty of this enigmatic country is revealed, I am certain you will succumb to its magic, whether your penchant is wildlife, architecture, scenery, or all three.
On each occasion, ORYX has provided us with an Indian guide of the highest caliber, intelligent with an almost encyclopedic knowledge of birds and wildlife, and a touching willingness to do everything possible to make our lives easier, from hailing porters and checking-in our luggage at airports to accompanying us on shopping expeditions to ensure we were given the fairest prices. They, in turn, appointed the best possible local guides at the historic sites we chose to visit and, looking back, thanks to efficient planning, everything worked like clockwork from the moment we were collected at the airport to our departure a fortnight later, no mean feat in a country like India. For a holiday that is anxiety-free, yet filled with exciting sights and sounds, ORYX India is the perfect combination. Enjoy India!