Travel Guide for Gir National Park (Gujarat).
Location Type: Forest.
What to expect:
Gir or Sasan Gir is a National Park located in Gujarat, covering 1,412 sq. km of area. While the forest was declared a sanctuary just in 1965, the preservation steps had started much prior to that by the Nawabs of Junagadh. The first thing you’ll discover about the forest is the constant brown shade, which sets it apart from any other national parks in India. Beginning with the soil, tree trunks, leaves and even most of the animals residing here are of some shade of the exact same color. The other important thing about this forest is, it is the only place in India where wild Lions can be found. And so it is the only location in the world having Asiatic lions. Once the population of lion in Gir had been really low, however with conservation the density has increased considerably. Now it’s not unusual to find a roaming group of lions out of core area and inside the buffer zone too.
There are lots of convenient methods to reach Sasan Gir, given the high variety of big cities around. However, the closest city from Gir is Junagadh, which is located 60 KM away. There are no airports in Junagadh, but it is connected with other cities in Gujarat and a couple of significant cities across India by train. The closest airport is technically Diu, which is just 92 km away. However, Rajkot (162 km) is a better option as it is much better connected with other significant cities. Flights and trains are also offered for Jamnagar and Bhavnagar which are respectively 216 & 250 km from Sasan Gir.
Personally, I found the most convenient way to reach Gir was through Rajkot. Rajkot can be reached by train or by flight. Both airport and station is less than 4 km from the bus stop and can be reached in a rickshaw (we paid 50 bucks from station to bus stop). From there regular state buses are available for Junagadh. It takes around 3 hours to reach Junagadh from Rajkot and the fare is around 90 dollars. From Junagadh buses or car, rickshaws can be taken for reaching Gir. Taxis can also be set up from Rajkot airport/station, which is charged around 3,000 Rs.
If you are traveling from far and all these options seem infeasible for you, check for flights/trains to Ahmedabad, which is 375 km from Gir. Buses can be drawn from Ahmedabad to Junagadh or you can employ cars and truck in Ahmedabad for making this journey.
Public transportation option is not fantastic in Sasan. But there are very few locations to go either. Jeeps or automobiles can be hired with assistance of the hotel. Jeeps hired for safaris are expected to choose you up from the hotel and hang back post safaris.
Major Tourist attractions:
Gir is popular for its lions which is the significant attraction of this location. While you remain in Gir, you would wish to choose safaris in the national park. There are 3 slots for safaris in the park – 6 AM to 9 AM, 9 AM to 12 PM and 3 PM to 6 PM. Safaris can be booked online from http://girlion.in/ForestVisitDetails.aspx. It is advised to reserve it in advance given that Gir forest does not enable area booking, 100% safari booking is done through an online channel. Although there are typically people selling overpriced entry ticket in black outside eviction, it’s finest not to take part in such activity. Jeeps are not part of the entry charge and require to be worked with individually. Generally, all hotels have the contact of Jeeps which is the most convenient way to arrange that. The entry fee to Gir is around 1,000 Rs for up to 6 individuals and another 2,200 is required for the lorry.
There are 8 pre-defined routes in Gir, which are named as Zone 1 to Zone 8. Zone 8 being the quickest (22km) and Zone 1 & 3 are the longest (45 km). Zones are designated arbitrarily at the time of entry. You can always ask for a particular zone at that time and if you are fortunate they might just listen.
Aside from the national park, there’s a different campus called Devalila Safari Park or Gir Interpretation Centre. This is more like a zoo kind of setting with all type of animals from Gir. This gives everybody an opportunity to see the animals easily rather than attempting their luck on safari. But obviously this would not please any jungle enthusiast.
Finest time to visit:
Like a lot of other national forests in India, Gir remains closed throughout monsoon months (mid of June to mid of October). Winters are pleasant to enjoy the forest. However, summertime is better for identifying lions given that they tend to come out to consume water from the artificial swimming pools made near safari routes.