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In any event we had the BEST photo tour ever! I had questioned prior to the trip if it made sense to be going back to India a second time with Marius, given all the places we want to visit, and I can unequivocally say it was ...and then some! Every stop of the tour offered unique and interesting experiences and photographic opportunities and with Marius as our "fearless leader" we were able to capitalize on the environment in a way we would never be able to do without him. We walked the back slum alleys of Jodhpur capturing the daily street life...sat in the sand dunes while camels ran up the dunes...photographed mating leopards in the magical rocky setting of Jawai.. visited with the local tribal chiefs as they prepared for a family wedding ...and found a path to a front row seat to photograph drinking tigers with full reflections (a personal bucket list item for me!)
All along the way we laughed and learned and shared in the enthusiasm exuded by Marius and just had so much fun!
Photographically we continue to learn and grow from our time with Marius "in the field" as he inspires us to see things from a new perspective with the use or our camera. He helps create magical moments for us to capture, teaching us more about light and shadows and composition. We return home after each trip more excited about our photography, as we practice our editing skills in search of creating better and more interesting images. Yes was a magical two weeks and I am only sorry it had to end!
The recent first ORYX photo tour for Snow Leopards was outstanding. The communication from the first e-mail enquiring about the trip to the time we got back, was very good. Trouble broke out between India and Pakistan in another part of India during our expedition; you ensured our family were informed immediately of our well-being. Thank you!
The expedition was very well organized. Behzad ensured each of us acclimatized to the high altitude in the first two days. None of us felt altitude sickness. Behzad and the team also kept a close watch on our physical ability and mental awareness throughout the trip. Their attention was key in a very enjoyable experience.
The camp site was perfect. Behzad had pitched the tents well in advance of our arrival, to take the best position. The tents themselves were luxurious, with a bed ensuring we were not sore or cold by sleeping on the ground. The food was delicious, with pizzas, pastas, noodles, dumplings and Indian food for lunch and dinner. Breakfast was elaborate, with porridge, eggs, bread and cereal. Many varieties of tea and coffee were always available through the day.
The sightings were exceptional. Khenrab Phuntsog, the renowned tracker from BBC Planet Earth 2, is not only a great tracker, but also one of the lead conservationists in Hemis National Park. He gave many, many insights into the ecology, animal behaviour, culture and conservation aspects of what we experienced. He delivered in spades each day: we had 7 snow leopard sightings including one from a few hundred feet and two from the camp (a first, I am told), 5 tibetan wolf sightings, including one from the camp (a first again). We also saw a red fox, many blue sheep and birds. The calls on four different mornings of 'snow leopard' even before the first cup of tea, and the first time I saw a Snow Leopard, will always remain with me.
Behzad went over and beyond in helping us with our photography, setup portrait sessions, cultural experiences and helped with astro photography. He is an exceptional photo mentor, tour leader, cultural and snow leopard expert, and above all a very warm, funny and extremely friendly person.
This photo tour was supposed to see the Snow Leopard, to take it off my bucket list. Instead, it has turned into the first of hopefully many more trips to see the Snow Leopards again.
Thank you for such a wonderful experience!
Dear Penny, thank you so much for leading the most exceptional India photo tour…. it more than met my expectations of a happy and productive trip.
Thank you also to Marius for organising this personalised trip with a group of ladies who have met each other along the way in various other travel scenarios. It was so good to reconnect! Strong friendships of like minded people from different parts of the world were built which lent to a most entertaining and happy journey. Besides the group getting along famously, a huge thank you also to Bablu for looking after us so well and always watching our backs, collecting forgotten items and generally smoothing the way ….. his photography skills are totally amazing too!
Also not forgetting the team of guides and drivers….exceptional! Fun, fun, fun …..and some photography too! The team always had our best interests at heart and made every minute happy! What an amazing team!
Ranthambore and the photography opportunities was an adventure on its own….it is very hard to describe the tiger encounters, not to mention sloth bears!!! Each and every one took my breath away! The scenic and historical part of Ranthambore lent to the total magic for me! My trust and faith in our driver and team getting us to the right place at the right time was both exhilarating and I appreciated their dedication and care.
Varanasi was an experience second to none. The feel of India there for me was palpable. The way we were active on foot, in rickshaws by day and night in the hub of the Ganges River area gave us the true feel of noise, hustle and bustle, hoot and more noise! As well as serenity and calm! Again the chaos of the city worked!
Penny, thank you for your patience, kindness and co-ordinating the Bandit Queens ….. a group of strong minded, middle aged women all with a dry sense of humour ;), not an easy task! It truly was one of the best photographic journeys I have been on and the mix was totally right! By the sounds of the laughter echoing through the valleys ….. its got to have been a great trip!
Thank you! May we all share many more happy journeys together.
Is there such a thing as a perfect trip? My recent trip to Ranthambore National Park and Varanasi, India with ORYX Photo Tours was nothing short of fantastic and exciting! Tiger sightings in Ranthambore were spectacular and Varanasi was sublime. It was simply an unparalleled experience made all the more enjoyable as all ground arrangements from transport, hotels and local guiding were impeccable. Everything went off smoothly and without a hitch.
In no small part the trip was memorable because of our photography lead, Penny Robartes. This is the third trip I have gone on with Penny. She is just the most wonderful person to travel with. She is personable, cheerful and caring, always making sure everything went off smoothly. She is very generous with her knowledge and expertise, always patient and helpful advising us on composition, settings and editing. Her insights and instructions on photography were invaluable and my photography has definitely improved on account of her.
This was an exceptional trip and our experience was unparalleled. Thank you ORYX and Penny in particular for yet another terrific experience.
Having travelled with ORYX Photo Tours 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 photo 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 Photo Tours in India again next year and look forward to another great trip.
Andries and I would like to thank the ORYX team for a memorable India photo 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 Photo Tours and will not think twice about using their services again in future.
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.
We are writing to provide some feedback on our short trip to India with ORYX Photo Tours, 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.
I have recently returned from my second ORYX private photo tour to India with Marius, and wanted to say how much I enjoyed it and to recommend ORYX Photo Tours 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's 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 Photo Tours 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 a 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 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 upstate 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 Photo Tours' India is the perfect combination. Enjoy India!
I have recently returned from my fourth private photo tour to India with ORYX Photo Tours and have to say that the trip exceeded all my hopes and expectations, and I cannot recommend ORYX highly enough. Our trip was 2 years in the planning, with the excellent team at ORYX doing a marvelous job throughout. Our tour leader, Marius Coetzee, had suggested that we time our visit slightly later than usual and go in March, in the hope of catching the iconic sight of a tiger lying in a water pool to cool off. We have had many incredible tiger sightings on our previous ORYX tours, especially in Ranthambhore National Park, and were not disappointed on this latest trip. In fact we achieved our aim on the first afternoon game drive in Ranthambhore! In all we visited five national parks over 3 weeks; each park had its individual delights and we have returned home with some really wonderful wildlife images, including tiger, leopard, sloth bear and dhole.
We knew from previous experience that everything would be taken care of – down to the tipping of our local guides and drivers – by Marius and our Indian guide, so we were left free to concentrate on the amazing wildlife and our photography. Nothing was too much trouble for them, everything ran like clockwork thanks to excellent organisation, and ORYX could not have done more to make sure that our trip was everything we could have hoped for. I would recommend ORYX Photo Tours to anyone who is interested in wildlife and photography, and will definitely use them again.
I grew up admiring the beautiful portraits and landscape shots hanging in my grandparents’ house. Later, I recall my cheek muscles constantly hurting as the subject of my mom’s developing love of photography. So when I was gifted a Nikon DSLR camera in early college, I felt like I was following the footsteps of my mom and grandfather before her. Through photography I wanted to be able to capture the sentiment of a moment; to tell a story through the light in a person’s eyes. Marius gave me the tools to begin to do this on our trip to India with ORYX Photo Tours.
Marius helped me see what makes a good photograph, taught me new techniques like hi-key, how to shoot in different light and how to process an image using Lightroom. At the end of this trip I am thrilled to have a good portfolio of photographs I can print and look back on proudly, but even happier to have refined my skills and developed a deeper passion for photography.
Thank you for another great photo safari! It was a fantastic time in India, and although I’m very glad to be home, I already miss it.
It was great getting the opportunity to meet the other clients, and Dale did a wonderful job as our guide and I really appreciate all of his hard work and dedication both in and out of the field, and I loved his willingness to engage in personable conversations at the dinner table. He was very willing to listen and learn about the world through someone else’s perspective. He also taught me some new tricks with my camera that I had no idea about, but they made life so much easier.
Thanks again for everything!
We had a fantastic trip, and by now I am sure that you know that we saw eighteen tigers and approximately 25 different sightings of tigers!
Our trip to Jawai was also fantastic, and I can only best describe it as mind blowing! The conservation of these leopards in the environment they find them selves, is truly remarkable. The Rabari people are incredible and their survival, which in it’s self is threatened, but they live in harmony with the leopards in the hills of Jawai!
In as far as the lodges were concerned, well from the first to the last day, we were accommodated in world class accommodation. The management, staff and people in general were fantastic.
The cuisine was simply of the very highest standards. All arrangements were very slick and as customary with ORYX Photo Tours and Marius Coetzee, everything was 100% perfect! Marius, the warrior, was always at my side to assist the “old man”! The old man also acted as his “father” and got him a few privileges in return for his service and assistance!
Our hosts were fantastic and I can honestly say that i am more than happy and satisfied with the whole photo safari!
Thanks to you and your colleagues for all that you did to make the trip such a pleasure and all I take from there are wonderful memories! Thank you!