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Best India wildlife tours – Gujarat Wildlife Safari – The Magic of the West!

Posted in: India, Posted in: India Wildlife

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Best India wildlife tours – Gujarat Wildlife Safari – The Magic of the West!

An India wildlife holiday based in Gujarat is not the first safari destination that comes to mind when planning your wildlife tour to India; yet this little visited state has some superb wildlife sanctuaries to choose from and an iconic species that cannot be found anywhere else in the world – the Asiatic Lion - which lives in the dry, deciduous Gir Forest in southern Gujarat. However, we also want to talk to you about beautiful Asiatic Ass roaming the deserts of the Rann of Kutch and Wolves and Hyena hunting in the grasslands of Velavadar national park. Maybe you will be incredibly lucky and get to see whale sharks swimming in the Arabian Sea.
 

Gir Forest National Park – The Lions which once roamed from India to Hungry

Way back in 1997 as I searched for tigers in the beautiful forests of Ranthambhore tiger reserve I met up with an Indian photographer; who became a good friend. As we prepared to part ways and continue our journeys through India, he told me if my route took be into Gujarat, that I should contact him and he would ‘show me’ the Lions of Sasan Gir national park. This invitation was impossible to resist and a couple of weeks later, I found myself on a rickshaw, heading from the station at Veraval to the home of the last remaining Asiatic Lions on the planet.

Gir National Park safari – what to expect?

If you organise your India wildlife holiday in the summer, you can expect to arrive at Gir when many of the deciduous trees have lost their leaves and the overall impression is of a dry, brown, dusty forest. Despite there being over 300 lions in the main forest area, do not expect to be ‘tripping over’ them. Not only does their colour mean that they blend in very well to their habitat; unlike African lions, they do not incur in large prides. If you see any evidence of the park guards (some who have become far too familiar with the lions over the years!) ‘pushing’ lions towards waiting vehicles, please report this behaviour to the park authorities, the lodge you are staying at and your travel agent. We must all act together, to make sure the Sasan Gir safari experience stays real and true to the spirit of ethical and natural wildlife safaris in India.

Best time to visit Gir National Park?

The winter season is an absolutely glorious time to visit Gir National Park, as the weather is much cooler, less dust around and this is by far the best time for you to see the huge variety of resident and migratory birds. The lakes will be full of ducks and waders and the light for photography will be perfect. Having said that, big cat lovers will probably wait until the hear builds in March and the start of the Indian summer, when reduced water inside the park can help produce more sightings of the Asiatic Lions. Sasan Gir has also had a good reputation in the summer for leopard sightings. If you love Lions and Leopard, check out our 7 day Sasan Gir safari.

Little Rann of Kutch

The Little Rann of Kutch is a unique and fascinating landscape that was once part of the Arabian Sea. As the land slowly separated from the sea due to huge geological forces, it became a vast, featureless plain, encrusted with salt that is inundated with water during the rain. The landscape is transformed during the rainy season and when on safari you visit the small land island, or bets, which are home to unique wildlife species such as Gudkhur (Wild Ass), Chinkara (small antelope), Blue Bull (India’s largest antelope) and the incredibly beautiful Black Buck Antelope. Many of our clients start their Gujarat wildlife safari in the Little Rann of Kutch, before heading south to Gir Forest. The main predators to be found in the Little Rann, are Jackals, Wolf, Desert Fox, Indian Fox, Hyena, Desert Cat and Jungle Cat.

Velavadar national park

There are very few true grasslands left in India and what was once a vast grassland area which covered parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat, is now only visible in small pockets like the 34sqkm of Velavadar. Once the noble cheetah hunting the vast herds of Antelope; including India’s most beautiful one – the Black Buck Antelope. They are still hunted by the resident Indian Wolf population and this is one of the key predators visitors comes to see. You will also have a good chance to see Striped Hyena and Golden Jackal. Velavadar a good place to see grassland species like Larks, Bushchats, Sandgrouse and Francolins. Magnificent eagles, falcons and endangered vultures can also be seen at Velavadar. During the beautiful winter months, Velavadar National Park hosts the world’s largest Harrier roost – Montagu’s Harrier, Pallid Harrier and Marsh Harrier can be seen in large numbers. The lakes and seasonal marshes are important places to watch the Lesser Floricans, pelicans, cranes, storks, ducks, herons and other water birds. If you would like to combine the BIG 3 of Gujurat in your Indian wildlife holiday then take a look at our 16 day Lions, Wolf, Hyena and Wild Ass safari.
 

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