A new beginning

Life in a new-born camp is fascinating. Watching it develop, take form and flourish is truly exciting in every sense of the word. There is something refreshing about having to learn about new landscapes, making bird lists, investigating the plants, squinting over unknown insects, creating roads, drawing maps by hand and ultimately learning to interpret an entirely new world. For me, it is the most wonderful of challenges and I have loved sharing my experiences with the many guests that have visited us already.

I must admit that I am proud of what we have achieved in a relatively short period of time. Most guests who arrive at JAWAI leopard camp are bowled over by the speed at which the camp has set its roots. Our countless hours, as a team, spent exploring the wilderness has been so rewarding in terms of sightings and magical moments. Never in my wildest dreams did I believe that I would be able to say that in my first 3 months here I personally photographed 17 different leopards – and I do believe we are only just getting started.

The camps’ minimal footprint allows it to fit so naturally into the outrageously gorgeous landscape.The space and feeling of openness and freshness is what is most striking at first. The hustle and bustle of India and the crowds of people are forgotten the minute you step foot at JAWAI.

I invite you to have a look at just a handful of pictures that I have captured that show some of the moments and discoveries of which I, and the entire SUJAN team are delighted to be able to share with visitors to southern Rajasthan.

Enjoy…

Upon being thrown into not only a new country, but an entirely new continent, I took a few days to orientate myself and to work out what exactly this land was about. I had never seen a landscape like this. A few months prior I had been searching for jaguars in the swamps of Brazil, now I was scrambling over granite kopjes in search of leopard. At this time one would find me spending hours studying the only available map. Map in hand, I climbed over 20 hills in order to fully understand the landscape that would become my new home.
Upon being thrown into not only a new country, but an entirely new continent, I took a few days to orientate myself and to work out what exactly this land was about. I had never seen a landscape like this. A few months prior I had been searching for jaguars in the swamps of Brazil, now I was scrambling over granite kopjes in search of leopard. At this time one would find me spending hours studying the only available map. Map in hand, I climbed over 20 hills in order to fully understand the landscape that would become my new home.
Once we had identified, by map, a few of the areas that looked interesting, we started to spend time there in the vehicles, investigating different timings and approaches to finding the leopards. Simultaneously I started training up my small team of naturalists, guides and drivers. Every day would reveal new findings and greater clarity.
Once we had identified, by map, a few of the areas that looked interesting, we started to spend time there in the vehicles, investigating different timings and approaches to finding the leopards. Simultaneously I started training up my small team of naturalists, guides and drivers. Every day would reveal new findings and greater clarity.
I could not believe the results. In our first month we had 32 separate sightings of leopard. We were flying. I was, and still am, loving the chance to photograph leopards in different landscapes. I have worked in some of the best leopard viewing areas in Africa but there is something so etching, so special about capturing a leopard in a rocky terrain.
I could not believe the results. In our first month we had 32 separate sightings of leopard. We were flying. I was, and still am, loving the chance to photograph leopards in different landscapes. I have worked in some of the best leopard viewing areas in Africa but there is something so etching, so special about capturing a leopard in a rocky terrain.
It was this granite rock that really caught my attention and my imagination. I started a personal quest to walk everywhere. I believed that it was only through walking and scrambling over the hills that I would understand the lives of the leopards. I started taking guests along with and so started some of the greatest walks. Guests love to be able to get out of the car and go for a walk... The chance of seeing a leopard on foot made it all the more alluring.
It was this granite rock that really caught my attention and my imagination. I started a personal quest to walk everywhere. I believed that it was only through walking and scrambling over the hills that I would understand the lives of the leopards. I started taking guests along with and so started some of the greatest walks. Guests love to be able to get out of the car and go for a walk… The chance of seeing a leopard on foot made it all the more alluring.
Whilst all this exploration and safari was happening the expert SUJAN team had managed to put the final touches to a simply magnificent luxury tented camp. We had just pioneered an entirely new destination mid way between the busy cities of Udaipur and Jodphur.
Whilst all this exploration and safari was happening the expert SUJAN team had managed to put the final touches to a simply magnificent luxury tented camp. We had just pioneered an entirely new destination mid way between the busy cities of Udaipur and Jodphur.
The atmosphere back at camp is wonderful. The campfire allows the perfect setting for guests to put their feet up, relax, trade travel stories or marvel at the days' leopard sightings. All whilst under a bowl of stars and a Gin and Tonic in hand.
The atmosphere back at camp is wonderful. The campfire allows the perfect setting for guests to put their feet up, relax, trade travel stories or marvel at the days’ leopard sightings. All whilst under a bowl of stars and a Gin and Tonic in hand.
The local rabari herdsman add so much to the character and visual taste of the area. I was delighted to see that even in a world so influenced by western cultures these people held onto who they were and proudly displayed their colours.
The local rabari herdsman add so much to the character and visual taste of the area. I was delighted to see that even in a world so influenced by western cultures these people held onto who they were and proudly displayed their colours.
In fact I was so inspired by them that I even started dressing like them...
In fact I was so inspired by them that I even started dressing like them…
And so did the guests... You can only imagine the locals eyes when they saw foreigners dressed up as them. The reaction was perfect. Smiling from ear to ear they waved and acknowledged that we were wearing the turbans as a way of saying ' we respect your culture and thank you for allowing us into your home.'
And so did the guests… You can only imagine the locals eyes when they saw foreigners dressed up as them. The reaction was perfect. Smiling from ear to ear they waved and acknowledged that we were wearing the turbans as a way of saying ‘ we respect your culture and thank you for allowing us into your home.’
We all bundled up in the jeep and drove out to find these charismatic wandering rabaris!
We all bundled up in the jeep and drove out to find these charismatic wandering rabaris!
We used the colours and themes of the herdsman to add a wonderful dimension to the camp. It looks awesome!
We used the colours and themes of the herdsman to add a wonderful dimension to the camp. It looks awesome!
And all of this was happening whilst the leopards kept pulling their weight. If you can spot the leopard in this picture you have done very well.
And all of this was happening whilst the leopards kept pulling their weight. If you can spot the leopard in this picture you have done very well.

Have a look at the video I have made for the camp:

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-17HHU8iFE[/youtube]

And so concludes just a taster into what life at JAWAI Leopard camp has been like over the last three months. I can tell you what, things are looking great here and the future for the camp, and the area and the leopards bodes well.

I invite you to come and experience it for yourself

Written and photographed by Adam Bannister

One thought on “A new beginning

  1. What an incredible place… I have been lucky enough to visit, and what Adam and his team is doing is truely remarkable! A amazingly unique place… That everyone going to India should see..

    Ps. You can’t just post pictures and pretend there is a leopard in them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *