Interview: Nilay Shah || Ranthambore Special
Nilay Shah has been an avid photographer since childhood. His interest lies primarily in capturing nature at its finest through landscapes, macros, wildlife and plants. Being a frequent traveller, he also loves to photograph the local people & culture from cities around the world.
1. How did you take to wildlife photography?
Since I was a kid, I have always been interested in wildlife. Watching the Migration from Tanzania, Gorilla trekking in Rwanda, looking for lions in Gir National Park and trying to spot Tigers in Ranthambore - these moments in the wilderness always gave me a sense of thrill.
I started off with photography in high school as an Extra Curricular activity (CAS). Initially it was primarily Macro photography as that was easily available around Mumbai. The first wildlife safari I went to after picking up this hobby was in Tanzania and Rwanda. The thrill from that safari and the pictures I clicked on that trip got me hooked to Wildlife photography. Since then, I have never looked the other way and make it a point to go for at least 2 wildlife photography trips every year.
2. Do you remember the first camera used by you? Do you have any image clicked by that camera that you would want to share with us?
The first camera I used since i got into photography was an Olympus SP800UZ.
3. Since you are just back from Ranthambore, our readers would like to know how to go about booking a safari in Ranthambore.
The best way to go about booking a safari is online. The government now has very efficient websites to book safaris e.g. https://fmdss.forest.rajasthan.gov.in/
You can choose between several different zones that are available. The best is to book early and book the core zones. For example, Zone 3 in Ranthambore is one of the most beautiful zones, it also consists of a palace. Last season, Zone 2 had 5 active tigers - it was almost guaranteed to see a tiger in that zone. It is best to do research before going to the park and being aware of which zones are the most active and where is the highest possibility to see a tiger.
The best is to book a full day Safari, that way you get access to all zones and you get to spend the whole day in the jungle.
4. Where did you stay in Ranthambore and how was your experience?
I have stayed at the Taj Resort and the Jungle Retreat Resort. Both properties are amazing, you can select a preference basis your budget.
5. Who was your guide and driver, would you recommend them to anyone?
We had 2 guides, Iftiqar and Harviderji. Both were amazing. They knew the jungle, the habits of the animals and were great spotters. Drivers are generally automatically appointed by the Forest department.
6. Was it a guide tour? Who was your tour operator?
I have been to Ranthambore a few times. I have been to Ranthabore with a tour operator and have done it by myself to. The tour operator was DCP Expeditions and photography tour company.
7. What was the highlight about your Ranthambore trip?
We spotted tigers in almost every safari. Seeing a family of 4 come out of the bush was one of the best experiences. One female with 3 cubs. They were stalking a deer which then escaped. It was an amazing experience.
8. What were you there in Costa Rica for?
A family holiday
9. How was your experience in Costa Rica and what tips would you like to share with our readers?
It is one of the most biologically diverse place. The macro life in the jungle was truly amazing. From frogs to spiders to different birds and reptiles you can see a lot in those jungles. They also have some amazing scuba diving spots and some great hot springs. It also has the longest Zipline course in Latin America. Costa Rica is a mix of adventure, wildlife, macro life and comfort. Try and get the best of all.
10. What camera brand do you use? How long have you been using it for?
I now use a Canon 5D Mark IV. It has been about a year since I have been using this camera.