Interview: Chittra of Masala Box Travel

Interview: Chittra of Masala Box Travel

Her love affair with travel started in 2009. For the world, this qualified engineer might be on a career break, but the traveller in her knows that she is where she belongs to. She is not just an avid wildlife enthusiast and nature explorer, but, pens down her experiences for the rest of us to learn from. Meet Chittra M.


Do you remember your first wildlife photography/bird watching trip? Where was it? Can you share your experience with us?

The first trip was to Nagarhole National Park. Me and my friends booked a two night stay with Jungle Lodges and Resort which would mount to about 6 safaris and increase our chances of sighting a tiger. Unfortunately inspite of the many safaris we did not get to see the big cat. And it was the first trip where I was not prepared to look beyond the tiger. So it was pretty disappointing. But the jungle was so beautiful that I returned the next year and was rewarded with sightings too.
Where are you planning to go next for your nature/wildlife outing? How did you decide to go to this destination?
Have three places in mind Ranthambore, Jim Corbett and Dudhwa. Though have not chalked out a place. Ranthambore seems so mystical with all the forts and big cats walking among the forts. Jim Corbett and Dudhwa I want to visit purely for their stunning landscapes. Especially Jim Corbett with the Ramganga river flowing through and mountains raising high at a distance.
What brand of equipment do you prefer to use?
Am not a professional photographer. I have so far been happy with my Sony HX 90V point and shoot camera. 
Do you think one can use a mobile camera for wildlife photography?
Sometimes the sightings are so close that a mobile camera can only be used. It also takes away the tension of having the right setting on your camera. They don't work well if you have to zoom though.
How was your experience of sighting a tiger in the wild? 
My first sighting was in Tadoba. The first two sightings were pretty far off. But in the last safari, the tigress brushed through tall grasses just a few feet away from the jeep. It was less than a minute of sighting but the mighty figure appearing out of nowhere was so thrilling! Have then encountered tiger sighting at quite a few parks. The one in Bandavgarh will always stay my special as I got to see a tigress with a kill. And she was walking from quite a far distance towards our jeep and crossed it before disappearing into the thicket. That is when I noticed how mighty and huge and glowing Tigers are! Took my breath away. 
What is your favourite wildlife animal/bird? And, why?
Langurs! I love langurs. They have the most relaxed life. The way they sit happily with legs spread out like old grannies sitting in group and gossiping away. Eat in the morning, laze under the sun and when they spot a predator they can always climb up and swing around from one branch to another. Langurs are the best.
Have you ever been on a guided wildlife photography tour? How was your experience?
Not really. I have always wanted to be part of a guided wildlife photography tour but not owning a DSLR has outcasted me from such trips.
Do you recommend that one should go on a solo trip to a wildlife destination? Why do you think one should or should not do that?
Absolutely! The downside is it is very expensive to rent the whole jeep for yourself. However parks in Madhya Pradesh gives you the option of booking solo tickets and share jeep with others. Have always worked for me. Even more good if the whole jeep is for you, you get all the flexibility of what you want to see and where you want to go. Lot of my trips are solo trips to wildlife park.
What would you like to tell our readers who are wildlife enthusiasts and wish to plan a trip to the wild sometime soon.
Always be ethical on wildlife safaris. The comfort of the wildlife is more important than your best picture shot. Don't block their way or provoke them or disturb them. Sometimes even the guide and drivers get excited and do it to make their clients happy, stop them from doing so.
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