Grassland Fantasy – Wildlife Photography Tour of Tal Chapar and Jorbeed

November 23-26, 2017 - A wildlife photography tour to a spectacular grassland in a hidden corner of Rajasthan


 

  • “Jannat!” – a friend once exclaimed when asked about Tal Chapar. It means heaven in Hindi.

    Amidst the gently swaying grasses, blackbucks in their thousands gambol all over the park. Harriers glide over the grass gracefully, looking for their next meal. A huge flock of Demoiselle Cranes takes off from a corner of the park. A fox appears on the track, only to disappear the next moment. A Peafowl calls out loudly from somewhere. A Laggar Falcon swoops in on an unsuspecting Spiny-tailed Lizard, only to be chased by an opportunistic Long-legged Buzzard. Tal Chapar endears itself to the wildlife photographer and nature lover in an instant.

    Join us on this photography journey to this remote part of Rajasthan this December. Witness a conservation story in progress. Experience a unique landscape on the boundaries of the Thar Desert. Photograph a wide diversity of mammals and birds.

    Jump to ◆ OverviewItineraryHighlightsIs this tour for you?Tour PricePhotography MentorGetting to Tal ChaparPrevious Trip ReportsSign Up

  • Tour Dates

    November 23-26, 2017


    Tour Price – ₹36,650/-

    Max group size: 6 only

Overview

Tal Chapar (or Tal Chhapar) Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the best kept secrets among wildlife photographers in India. Located in Churu district (Rajasthan), this grassland is about 350km from Delhi and 200km from Jaipur by road (Google Maps Location). Being on the fringes of the mighty Thar Desert means that the park gets very little rainfall every year. Traveling by road, one comes across sand dunes all along the way. On entering the park’s gate, however, the scenery completely changes into a tree-line avenue, opening into a beautiful flat grassland. In fact, the word Tal means flat land!

Tal Chapar is one of the strongholds of the Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra) – India’s fastest mammal. Over 2500 of these graceful antelopes roam this grassland and surrounding areas. Various other species of mammals, like the Desert Fox, Indian Fox, Desert Cat, Jungle Cat, Black-naped Hare and Chinkara, are also see here. The endangered Indian Wolf has also been recorded from this park.

Grassland birds abound here. Laggar Falons and Red-necked Falcons – the stars among the avians here – dazzle us with their tremendous flying speeds. Rollers take off from their perch with a flash of blue. Indian Coursers are delightful with their elegant stance and gait. Black Francolins, in their stunning plumage, call from all over the park, occasionally making an appearance. Huge flocks of Starlings show off their aerobatics. Ranking among the most beautiful displays in this grassland would be the Stoliczka’s Bushchat’s puff-and-roll routine.

In winter, many migrating birds arrive here from their breeding homes in Central Asia and Europe. Demoiselle Cranes and Bar-headed Geese arrive after having flown high over the Himalayas. In the salt flats surrounding the park, many species of waders are encountered, including Curlew Sandpipers, Spotted Redshanks and Pied Avocets. This is also raptor-country, with many species of Eagles, Buzzards, Falcons, Vultures, Harriers and Hawks seen here. Our day-visit to Jorbeed, near Bikaner, will leave you spell-bound at the sheer numbers of these majestic birds of prey congregating at a single place.

Darter Photography takes you to this veritable paradise to explore the amazing biodiversity, see and photograph rare species of birds and mammals and learn the secrets of wildlife photography.

Itinerary

Day 1: Reach Tal Chapar for lunch. The photography mentor will then give a brief introduction to the park and an overview of photography in the park. It’s now time for our first safari into the grasslands. Prepare to be welcomed by large herds of Blackbucks roaming all over the place. As we drive around the grassland, prepare to be enamoured by the diversity of birds around the park. After a wonderful sunset, we return to the rest house. Around dinner, your photography mentor will conduct a detailed session on Photography in the Grasslands. He’ll also review photographs that you’ve clicked in the evening session and give you inputs. We then retire for the day.

Day 2: We start the day early (around sunrise) to  get the best of morning activity and good light for photography. Today, we’ll explore different habitats in and around Tal Chapar – grasslands, rocky scrub, salt pans and wooded areas – to see and photograph the rich biodiversity here. Each area is a very different experience and harbours very interesting wildlife.
In the evening, your photography mentor will review your photographs. There would also be discussions about Tal Chapar, photography, wildlife and conservation.

Day 3: Today, we start well before sunrise and drive out towards Bikaner. A couple of hours of drive later, we arrive at Jorbeed on the outskirts of Bikaner. Be prepared to be awed by one of Asia’s largest congregations of vultures and eagles, as thousands of these magnificent raptors can be seen at a dumpyard. We might also see the rare Yellow-eyed Pigeon here. We’ll spend the full day here, with a break for lunch at Bikaner, before heading back to Tal Chapar after sunset.

Day 4: We’ll head out into the sanctuary for one last safari this morning. We’ll spend time trying to photograph species that we’ve missed over the past 3 days or exploring a part of the sanctuary that we wouldn’t have visited earlier. After breakfast, we start our journey back home with memories of amazing experiences and our memory cards full of great images.

Please note that the itinerary above is subject to fair weather and other factors. Darter Photography reserves the right to make  changes to the above itinerary at any point of time. Also, please note that photographing the wildlife mentioned above and pictured in the slideshow is indicative and dependent on various external factors, including weather and their presence in the park at that time.

Tour Highlights

    • Explore a grassland eco-system on the fringes of the Thar Desert
    • Photograph a wide variety of grassland wildlife, possibly including
      • Mammals like Blackbucks, Chinkara and Desert Foxes
      • Rare grassland birds like Laggar Falcon, Spotted Creeper and Stoliczka’s Bushchat
      • Passage migrant birds like Lesser Kestrel and European Roller
      • Raptors of different kinds, including eagles, buzzards, harriers, kites, falcons and vultures
    • Understand how a strong conservation ethos has helped the grasslands thrive
    • On-field assistance during the safaris from a photography as well as a naturalist’s perspective
    • Insights into wildlife photography, natural history and conservation
    • Photography review sessions everyday to give you feedback on your photographs

Is this tour for you?

Grassland Fantasy is designed for photographers of all levels of expertise – amateur and serious – who would like to photograph the wildlife of Tal Chapar Wildlife Sanctuary. As in all our tours, the group size would be limited so that the Darter Photography Expert can interact closely with every participant.

Wildlife enthusiasts and birdwatchers who are not photographers, but are keen to see and experience Tal Chapar Wildlife Sanctuary, are also welcome to join this group. This trip, covering the grasslands of  Tal Chapar and surrounding habitats, will keep you enthralled from start to finish.

Our tour is designed in such a way that we

    • work closely with every photographer
    • help beginners understand the basic nuances of photography and get beautiful images
    • facilitate expert photographers to visit and capture the various habitats of Tal Chapar, assisting them further when necessary
    • allow wildlife enthusiasts and birdwatchers to explore the biodiversity of Tal Chapar.

Tour Price

The price of the Grassland Fantasy tour is Rs.36,650 per person (inclusive of all taxes). The tour starts and ends in Tal Chapar Wildlife Sanctuary.

The price includes

  • Accommodation on twin sharing basis at the well-furnished Forest Department Resthouse in Tal Chapar Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner on all days
  • Safaris into Tal Chapar Wildlife Sanctuary and surrounding habitats, starting with the post-lunch safari on Day 1 and ending with morning safari on Day 4
  • Forest entry and still camera fees
  • Photography sessions, on-field assistance and image reviews

The cost does not include

  • Transport from your location to Tal Chapar Wildlife Sanctuary and back
  • Pick-up from and drop to Ratangarh/Sujangarh Railway Station
  • Additional safaris into the park
  • Additional beverages, snacks and mineral water ordered at the resorts
  • Medical costs
  • Tips and other expenses not mentioned in the includes list above

Please note that the above is subject to favorable weather and other conditions. In case of any obstacles, we will do our best to make alternate plans. The cost of the tour or any part of it will not be refunded in the event of unfavourable conditions during the tour days.

Photography Mentor – Shreeram M V

Shreeram M V is a professional photographer, photography mentor and naturalist. What started off as a fascination for birds in a lake behind his house turned into a journey to different parts of India. For this IIM Bangalore graduate, the passion for travel and wildlife enabled him to charter his own course outside the corporate world.

He has explored and photographed places as diverse as the rainforests of the Western Ghats, the salt marshes of Kutch, the grasslands of Tal Chapar, the deciduous forests of South and Central India, the high-altitude plateau of Ladakh, the coasts of peninsular India, the forests of North-east India and the islands of Andaman. His approach to wildlife photography has evolved into telling stories about the place and its habitats, biodiversity and human interactions with nature.

He is a well-published and awarded photographer. His articles and photographs have been published in diverse print and digital magazines such as National Geographic Traveller, Sanctuary Asia, Saevus, Lonely Planet India, Terrascape and JLR Explore. He was part of the team that won the Yes Bank – Saevus Trailblazers Award in 2014 for their story on Lion-tailed Macaques of Valparai. As a naturalist, he has been associated with Jungle Lodges and Resorts and Karnataka Eco-tourism Development Board in training and certifying naturalists from across the state.

Tal Chapar has been one of Shreeram’s all-time favourite places. Since his first visit here in 2009, he has lost count of how many times he’s traveled to this amazing grassland. He’s learnt more about photography and birding here than anywhere else in the country. See some of his work at Visual Quotient

Getting To Tal Chapar

The nearest Airports to Tal Chapar are:

  • Delhi (350 kms- 7 hours by Road)
  • Jaipur (200 kms – 4 hours by Road)

By Train from Delhi
Onward (In order of preference)

  • Nov 23 – Train no. 22421 – Delhi S Rohilla (DEE) to TalChhapar (TLC) – Depature 07:05 Arrival 13:14
  • Nov 22 – Train no. 22482 – Delhi S Rohilla (DEE) to Sujangarh (SUJH) – Departure 23:15 Arrival 05:11
  • Nov 22 – Train no. 12457 – Delhi S Rohilla (DEE) to Ratangarh (RTGH) – Departure 23:35 Arrival 04:35

Return (In order of preference)

  • Nov 26 –Train no. 22422 – TalChhapar (TLC) toDelhi S Rohilla (DEE) – Depature 15:14 Arrival 22:10
  • Nov 26 – Train no. 22471 – Ratangarh (RTGH) to Delhi S Rohilla (DEE) – Departure 11:40 Arrival 17:25
  • Nov 26– Train no. 22481 – Sujangarh (SUJH) to Delhi S Rohilla (DEE) – Departure  22:47 Arrival 05:20 (on Nov 27)
  • Please book your train tickets asap as these routes can be in high demand, especially for the return trains on Sunday.
  • Check-in time for the lodge is 12:00 PM. Please note that early check-in would be provided depending on availability of rooms.
  • Ratangarh (RTGH) is around 40km from Tal Chapar. Sujangarh (SUJH) is around 15km from Tal Chapar. Pick up and drop to the railway stations would be charged at prevailing taxi charges, divided by the number of participants travelling together.
  • If you are planning to arrive early or leave later than the scheduled tour timings, please let us know in advance. We can arrange for extra safaris and meals at an additional cost.

By Road

From Delhi (~8 hours)

  • Option 1: (346 km) – Delhi – Gurgaon – Rewari – Narnaul – Chidawa – Jhunjhunu – Mandawa – Fatehpur – Ratangarh – Chapar.
  • Option 2: (380 km) – Delhi – Gurgaon – Behror – Kotputli – Shahpura – Chandwji – Chomu – Ringas – Sikar – Salasar – Sujangarh – Chapar.

From Jaipur (~4 hours)

  • (200 kms) –  Jaipur – Chomu – Ringas – Sikar – Salasar – Sujangarh – Chapar.

We can help you with your train bookings or cab bookings from Delhi/Jaipur. Let us know which option is preferable to you.

Trip Reports

Sign Up

To register for the tour or for more details, please email us at register@darter.in or call us at 9740083260 (Shreeram M V) / 9880006460 (Arun Bhat) or fill up the form below.

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