side profile of tiger sitting up in the grass

Stories from the Field – Tiger Photo Safari

The excitement was mounting greater with each minute that passed as we bumped along in our safari jeep into the interior of Ranthambore National Park. The scenery – stunning, the wildlife – mesmerizing, but we were here today for one reason…to observe and photograph the majestic and rare Bengal tiger.

Here, in Ranthambore, is one of the few remaining strongholds for wild tigers, along with several other of India’s National Parks in the central and northern part of the country. I certainly had high hopes for getting my very first glimpse of this elusive feline, but what I didn’t expect was the incredible beauty and intriguing scenery of this wild landscape that almost overshadowed our objective. It was as if I had stepped right into Jungle Book, as we zoomed under centuries-old stone arches, with iconic banyan trees overtaking the remnants of a past empire. As I gazed up into the hills around me, a fortress wall appeared high on the craggy peaks. I couldn’t help but mentally step back in time, thinking of the inhabitants of this former kingdom, contending with the harshness of the landscape, and having to always be watchful of the tigers that roam the jungle, because no doubt the tigers were watching them.

travelers in jeep exploring ranthambore national park

While the time flew by as we traversed the forest, with an ever-vigilant eye towards the wilds around us for tiger tracks, and an ear open for the indicative warning calls of other wildlife, it was also a timeless experience that still lingers in my thoughts each day following. The jungle itself was as mysterious and enigmatic as it’s feline inhabitants.

golden light making the game drive in ranthambore extra special

The moment we spotted her was another moment I’ll never forget. A mother tigress with two nearly grown sons sat underneath a shade bush, tail flipping in the air for a moment, head up briefly, then back down again to wait out the afternoon sun. We waited with her…

two tigers resting in the shade lying on their backs

As the day went on cooler temperatures began to settle in and they became active. At first it was the mother, sitting up, welcoming the day (to her the day was just beginning) with a big yawn, followed by one of the nearly-adult cubs giving us an incredible show by slowing walking down to the nearby water for a drink.

adult tiger yawning in the shade

He lapped up water for nearly five minutes, giving us incredible unimpeded views and photographs of this special moment.

large tiger drinking at a watering hole in india

I’ve been on many African safaris and seen many of the world’s large cats and other charismatic predators, but there is truly something special about the tiger.  Not only is it the world’s largest of the great cats, but also one of the most elusive, and for that the privilege of seeing one will no doubt contend for one of my most humbling and memorable wildlife experiences of my life.

All the best,