Our TripsLions & Wolves

10 Days | 2 Dec 2018

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  • Overview
  • Tour Itinerary
  • How to Reach
  • Where to Stay

Western India is the more arid landscape of India with a large part of Gujarat and Rajasthan being part of the Thar Desert. The region offers a diverse landscape from dry deciduous forests to savanna grassland to huge flat saltpans – A perfect landscape for lions, leopards, jungle cats, desert cats, Indian wolf, striped hyena, Asiatic wild ass and the sloth bear.

Our experience takes you to Gujarat to three parks – Gir National Park, Blackbuck Wildlife Sanctuary – Velavadar and Wild Ass Sanctuary – Little Rann of Kutch. This showcases the dry deciduous forests, savanna grasslands as well as flat saltpans. Apart from the key mammal species mentioned above these regions also offer a huge birding opportunity with large breeding roosts of Harriers – Marsh as well as Montague Harrier, the region is also breeding ground for Flamingos and Pelicans. Besides these it is home to endemic species such as the Indian Courser and the Great Indian Bustard.

Key wildlife to look for in various parks are as follows:

Mammals: Asiatic Lion, Indian Leopard, Sloth Bear, Indian Wolf, Striped Hyena, Desert Fox, Jungle Cat, Desert Cat, Blue-Bull Antelope, Indian Gazelle, Black Buck, Chital Deer, Sambar Deer, Ruddy Mongoose, Small Indian Mongoose, Palm Civet, Small Indian Civet and the Indian Wild Ass.

Birds: Indian Peafowl, Paradise Flycatcher, Golden Oriole, Indian Pitta, Marsh Harrier, Montague Harrier, Pied Harrier, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Short-toed Snake Eagle, Steppe Eagle, Indian Courser, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Demoiselle Crane, Painted Francolin, Dalmatian Pelican, Short-eared Owl, Peregrine Falcon, Western Reef Egret, Lesser & Greater Flamingos.

Reptiles: Marsh Crocodile, Indian Rock Monitor, Spiny-tailed Lizard, Rock Agama, Chameleon, Fan-throated Lizard, Saw-scaled Viper, Russell’s Viper, Indian Rock Python, Spectacled Cobra and many more.

Day 1

: Arrive in Mumbai. No activities are planned for this day as participants of this group arrive from different destinations. Overnight in Mumbai.

Day 2

: Today you take an afternoon flight to Diu. On arrival you will be received by our representative and transfer by road to Gir. Before leaving Diu explore Naida Caves. Rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight will be at The Fern Gir.

Day 3

: In two jeep safaris – one in the morning and one in the afternoon we continue our search for the Asiatic Lion and the Leopard along with other denizens. Overnight will be at The Fern, Gir.

Day 4

: In two jeep safaris – one in the morning and one in the afternoon we continue our search for the Asiatic Lion and the Leopard along with other denizens. Overnight will be at The Fern, Gir.

Day 5

: In two jeep safaris – one in the morning and one in the afternoon we continue our search for the Asiatic Lion and the Leopard. Overnight will be at The Fern, Gir.

Day 6

: This morning you transfer after breakfast to Velavadar Blackbuck Sanctuary. Lunch will be at Blackbuck Lodge. In the evening explore the sanctuary searching for the Indian wolf and the striped hyena. Overnight will be at Blackbuck Lodge.

Day 7

: In two jeep safaris – one in the morning and one in the afternoon we continue our search for the wolf and the hyena along with other denizens. Overnight will be at Blackbuck Lodge.

Day 8

: After breakfast we transfer by road to Little Rann of Kutch. You will arrive at the lodge by lunch-time. In the afternoon explore the sanctuary searching for the Wild Ass and Indian Fox and a variety of birds that inhabit the region. Overnight will be at Rann Riders.

Day 9

: Explore the sanctuary. Overnight will be at Rann Riders.

Day 10

: Explore the sanctuary in the morning. Transfer by road to Ahmedabad airport from where you fly to Mumbai and catch your onward flight home

Gir National Park

Gir is the last remaining bastion of the Asiatic Lion. As per the latest census the lion population in and around the park is over 500 individual adults. This forest is partly dry deciduous and partly dry savannah forest. The forest is supported by seven perennial rivers, four of which have dams and the reservoirs from these dams also help support the diverse flora and fauna in this region.

Wildlife species that one should seek in these jungles are: Asiatic lion, leopard (a very high density), stripped hyena, golden jackals, honey badger, jungle cats, desert cats and the rare rusty spotted cat, crocodiles, cobras – spectacled and black, Russell’s viper and the Indian mongoose. Key prey species include nilgai (one of the largest antelopes in India), Chinkara or the Indian gazelle, four-horned antelope, chital deer and sambar deer along with macaques, langurs and wild boars. Some of the bird species found here include crested serpent eagle, endangered Bonelli’s eagle, crested hawk-eagle, brown fish owl, Indian eagle-owl, rock bush-quail, pygmy woodpecker, black-headed oriole, crested tree swift and Indian pitta.

Other attractions from a photography perspective are the Maldhari herdsmen and the African village. They make excellent subjects for people photography.

The Fern

The Fern is perhaps the best lodging in Gir currently. Although not a unique forest lodge, it is more of a comfortable resort offering comfortable and spacious rooms, villas and tents that are fully air conditioned.

Blackbuck Wildlife Sanctuary

The Blackbuck Wildlife Sanctuary is a hidden gem, one of the last stands of grassland remaining in the massive alluvial plain running along the Gulf of Khambatt called Bhal. The Bhal is a tapestry of cotton, wheat and other agricultural fields, saline flats, grasslands, pastures, freshwater wetlands and coastal marshes. Nearly forty species of grasses have been identified from Bhal.

Velavadar’s Savannah grasslands and scrub provide optimum habitat for the blackbuck, the handsome Indian antelope. Some of India’s largest herds of this antelope can be seen in this park. The key predator of Velavadar is the Indian wolf, an endangered species. Indian wolves generally hunt in pairs or small packs, with one of them distracting the antelopes while the other takes one from a group by surprise. In open country they may give a sustained chase to their prey. Velavadar is also one of the most likely places to view a striped hyena, a species that is rarely seen elsewhere because of its nocturnal habits.

Velavadar is also well-known for its concentration of raptors. Short-toed eagles are often seen, while Aquila eagles like imperial, greater spotted and steppe could also be seen at Velavadar in winter. Other raptors often seen are kestrel, laggar falcon, black-shoulder kite and shikra. The most spectacular sight is the winter roost of harriers, mostly Montagu’s and pallid but also marsh and the occasional hen – thousands of them have been seen settling down to roost among the grasslands on a winter evening. This is widely rated as the world’s largest harrier roost. Eurasian eagle owl hunts here and could be seen even in daylight.

The Blackbuck Lodge

The Blackbuck Lodge is one of the most amazing wildlife resorts of Western India. Sitting comfortably amid the Savannah, the superbly appointed cottages of The Blackbuck Lodge offer an opportunity to luxuriate in the wilderness. Lodged in a luxurious room with wide-ranging modern conveniences, gaze out of the deck at the changing colours of the grasslands and the wealth of wildlife.

Little Rann of Kutch

The area is famous as the world’s last refuge of the Indian wild ass (Khur) for the conservation of which it has been declared as the Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary. Though a bleak landscape it is rich in biodiversity and is an ecologically important area for wildlife and many local and migratory water birds like cranes, ducks, pelicans, flamingos and land birds like sandgrouse, francolins and the Indian bustards. Besides the wild ass the park is also home to the Indian grey wolf, desert fox, desert cat and the stripped hyena.

The major economy of the area is on salt panning and shrimp farming besides tourism. The villages in the immediate vicinity of the park are inhabited by a number of interesting communities such as Kharapat Rabari, Mirs. Bharvads, Dangasia, Jats & Kolis. The Kolis work at the salt pans in the Rann of Kutch. The Kharapat Rabari were among the original inhabitants of the region and have always been pastoralists keeping camels, cattle and other livestock. The two communities Bharvads and Dangasias share a symbiotic relationship. Bharvads keep sheep, and Dangasias weave the wool into garments for the Bharvads. Moreover, Dangasia dress is the same as that of Bharvads. All communities make excellent subjects for people photography. The key handicraft of the region is embroidery, weaving and beadwork.

Another attraction about safaris in this region is the possibility of organizing safaris on horseback, however this has to be booked in advance and there is a separate pricing structure for the same. Non-riders can explore the country in open jeeps.

The Rann Riders

Rann Riders is an ethnically designed eco-resort, set among wetlands and agricultural fields. The resort has imaginatively designed cottages that blend with the rural countryside in which it is situated. Located near Dasada village, it makes the ideal base to explore the culture, weaves and handicrafts of the Surendranagar district. The resort offers jeep, horse and camel safaris in the Little Rann of Kutch, habitat of Asiatic Wild Ass and a birdwatching paradise.

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