November 2008: India is so vast and so varied that's it's hard to know where to begin when planning a trip. My starting point was wanting to photograph tigers in the wild, but also to spend some time on the coast. Surf 'n' turf photography, if you like.

There are currently estimated to be around 1,500 tigers left in the wild in India, spread all over the country and most easily observed in the various Project Tiger designated reserves – from Corbett in the north to Kalakad Mundanthurai at the southern tip. Of these reserves, Bandhavgarh and Kanha, both in Madhya Pradesh in the centre of the country, are reputed to be the most reliable options for tiger sightings.

We split our trip in half, with a week in Madhya Pradesh and a week to the south, soaking up the gorgeous Keralan coast and spending time on the Kerala backwaters. In terms of the tigers, both reserves exceeded any expectations I had. Not only did I see more than a dozen tigers – getting nerve-wrackingly close at one point, when our open-sided jeep broke down, forcing a speedy Elephant-backed rescue as a large male approached – but both reserves are jaw-droppingly stunning. Bandhavgarh in particular is one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited. It looks unreal at times, like a film set of some magical fairytale kingdom, especially in the morning mist.
Common langur monkey, Bandhavgarh National Park
Tiger, Bandhavgarh
Dawn, Bandhavgarh.
Gaur - AKA Indian Bison.
Kanha National Park.
Kanha National Park, dawn.
Kerala backwaters.
Varkala, Kerala.
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