What is Gir I-Say-
Lion, The King of the Jungle!!If there is a place in India, where you can see these amazing creatures in theirnatural habitat, it is the Gir Forest aka Sasan-Gir, in Gujarat. This 258 square kilometre, Lion protected area, is about 45 Kms from the town of Somnath, Gujarat. Home to around 400 lions, it is a major attraction.
Asiatic Lions are not the only animals in the forest. It is also home to animals like the Nilgai (Bluebull), Sambar, Wild Boar, Cobras, Striped Hyenas, Jackals,and Mongoose. Along with these animals, coexist a wide variety of birds (very hard to spot) such as the Hawks, Owls, Woodpeckers, Indian Pitta and many more.
The Gir Forest is also the home to an African tribe who have settled here for generations now. The settlements of this tribe can be seen during the course of the safari. If you want to spend time in the Jungle, the way to do it is taking the Jeep Safari. It took me a while to understand how the Jeep Safaris work. I have explained the process below so you don’t need to go through what I did.
Note- The Gir National Park is open from Mid – October onwards till mid June
How The Jeep Safari Works I-Say-
The National park at Gir has three sessions for its Safari –
Morning – 6.00 AM to 9.00 AM
Afternoon – 9.00 AM to 12.00 PM
Evening- 3.00 PM to 6.00 PM
On talking to the many people I met at Gir, I found out that the chance of ‘sighting’ a Lion is maximum during the morning safari. The crowd for the morning safari stands in queues right from 4am onwards to maximize their chance of getting a jeep.
Thats right! They only issue a limited number of jeeps every session. You pay for a jeep and not per person. On multiple occasions, people have been forced to come back a second time because they did not get a jeep. I travelled alone and to my luck, found a lovely mallu family who were more than happy to let me join them on their jeep.
You can also make an advance booking for your group online and save yourself the hassle of the queue. There are also tickets being sold in ‘black’ for those worst case situations.
How Much Is The Safari I-Say-
A jeep can hold up to 6 adults and 2 children. If you are Indian you pay Rs 3500 and if you’re a Foreigner you pay Rs 7000. This does not include the charge for a camera. Any camera above 7 megapixels needs to be billed for a small amount of 100 bucks.
Note – Make sure you carry an Original ID proof, Passport if you are a Foreigner. If you choose to book them online you need to carry a print out of the conformation.
What To Expect From The Safari I-Say-
The open jeep safari like the name suggests is an open jeep that drives you through the dust of the forest. If you are the type of person who cannot handle dust, make sure to take a scarf to cover your face like the women do in the middle-east. The Jeep will consist of a driver and a guide. The guide will give you all the information about the park and a basic idea about what kind of animals you will run into as you start your drive. Different jeeps take different lines/routes and the chance of spotting a Lion is left completely to your luck. But the guide put in all the effort to make sure you see a Lion before you leave Gir.
Remember to carry a bottle of water and a decent camera. Put your stuff like phone, wallet, key etc into your backpack – you don’t want to drop them in the jungle. Sit back and enjoy the jungle and try to spot as many animals. Like they say “ Time flies by when you are having fun in a Jeep”.
What To Shop I-Say-
As every major tourist destination, the Gir also has its very own gift shop. Here you can buy almost anything with a lion on it –T-shirts, Caps, Bottle Openers, Key Chains, you name it!
Note- Next to the Gift Shop you will find a Lion Museum where you can spend some time and pick up ample information about Lions.
Food Situation I-Say-
After you are issued your forest jeep you will be given 20-30 mins to grab a bite. There are as many as 10 small stalls right outside the registration office where you will find everything guju you can eat. A Word Of Caution-Do not over eat before the Safari.
Booze Situation I-Say-
When in Gujarat there is no Booze situation. It is also not advised to drink before the safari for obvious reasons
Overall Experience I-Say-
The Gir is a place you just have to see when you are in Gujarat. The Guide will do almost anything to help you spot a lion. Listen to the Guide at all times. If he asks for a “little-Something-Something” to change his line and show you the Lion, don’t let the deal go it will be worth every buck. If you plan are going with very small children – Don’t Go! The child is not going to remember the Lions and a screaming child that scared away the bird is not right for the other people why came there to enjoy the Jungle.
Book Online On – http://www.girnationalpark.in/jeep-safari-in-gir.html