Gir

The royal beast, king of the jungle, lion calling. Not part of the initial plan of the tour was later modified just to see the Asiatic Lions. The only park for lions in India and one other in Africa. To know more about the national park, click here.

This definitely was enough to include in the plan. Did some readings of available hotels on tripadvisor. The entire tour was ad-hoc with no hotel bookings.
From Mumbai we drove and drove through National Highway, State Highway, on wrong route. Till later in the evening re-routed to correct direction towards Sasan Gir. In villages typically by 8:00pm all shops would close down and by 9:00pm there wouldn’t be any soul on the road. Had to hurry up and reached Sasan Gir by 9:30pm. With lot of reviews and quite late went directly to Gir Birding Lodge. Luckily they had rooms available. Without further thought, put all our luggage. The best part is we were damn hungry. They did not have enough vegetables. Still they managed an excellent meal which was way beyond the initial discussion and our expectation. We would have been happy even with curd rice at that time. To read my review of the place you could click here. They cook food right there and three times a day. Evening snacks are also available.

Next day, I woke up to sounds of peacock. I went all over the place and was pleasantly surprised to see that this lodge shares coumpound wall with the national park. With no sightings of peacock, I returned disappointed and when I sat down in front porch of the room they just cross across. This lodge is lucky in that way. Basically a mango farm and with such proximity to national park, animals jump in every now and then. And there are umpteen types of birds. I kept clicking on whatever bird was spotted since I do not know almost all their names.

To visit the national park one has to go to “Sinh Sadan” stand in the queue and get a ticket. There is also an option to book safari online. If you stand in the queue for a ticket, one has to be there good 3hrs before safari time atleast. Safari timings are 6:00am and 3:30pm. We managed to spot 4 lions out of 411 lions which are there inside. All 15 vehicles would not go in same direction. There is also a tribal sect who reside inside the forest.

This is true with all national parks. The safari would not go into dense areas. They would take you in areas which are marked. One reason could be for security of visitors and also prevent animals from getting troubled by over-excited tourists. How much ever is communicated, the tourists loudly exclaim their happiness on seeing lion! Lion being king of jungle does not attack until provoked or extremely hungry.
For a visit to national parks, it would make sense to tie up or get badge from organisations like National Geographic. Atleast for us we were not satisfied with just going around and not exploring further.

Hearing to sounds of birds, bright blue peacock is just enough to spend time outside the national park.

For photos click here.

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