Located near Talala Gir in Gujarat, the Gir National Park and Sanctuary is located about 60 kilometres away from Junagarh. Also known as Sasan Gir, it is a wildlife sanctuary that is home to very diverse flora and fauna ecosystem. The Indian rulers of the princely states would often send invitations to British colonialists, calling them for hunting expeditions to this national park.
The Gir Forest also happens to be the only proud home of the Asiatic Lions in all of Asia. If you are planning a trip to this forest, here is all that you need to know.
Gir national park safari:
The Gir National Park is one of the best places to visit when you are here. Sign up for a Gir National Park Safari where you can drive through the lush forested areas and take a chance at spotting the great Gir lions. An open Jeep takes you through the forest, giving you a chance to explore the wildlife that resides within the confines of the park. As you might already know, the park is the natural habitat of the Asiatic lions along with other wildlife that includes exotic flora and fauna.
You will get a chance to see some of the most exquisite wildlife creatures which include the Asiatic wild ass, hyenas, foxes, pygmy woodpecker, brown fish owl and even black bucks. There are lots of tour companies that arrange Jeep safaris for tourists which help them explore the wildlife of the National Park.
Prices: Approximately Rs. 5300/- for Indian Nationals (6 people plus 1 child); Rs. 13,800/- for foreign nationals
Note: This price includes Jeep charges (including the driver), forest permit charges, tour guide charges, charges for one camera, pick up and drop facilities from any of the Resorts / Hotels in Gir and the respective service charges. Subject to change.
Spot lions at the Gir Forest:
The Gir National Park is the only place in the world, other than Africa which has lions strolling around the forested areas. There are about 106 male, 201 female and 213 sub-adult lions that roam about within the premises of this lush forest. The Sasan Gir forest acquired its reserve status in 1965 which was an attempt by the Government to conserve the Asiatic Lions.
The Sasan Gir forest is spread over a sprawling 1412 square kilometres, out of which 258 kilometres is the core of the forest. Over the years, the population of the Gir Lion fell due to uncontrolled hunting by the locals of Junagarh. However, due to the efforts of the then Nawabs and later, due to the dedication of the Forest Officials Department, the population of a meagre 20 lions in the year 1913, the population has risen to a comfortable 523 lions according to a 2015 census.
Wildlife at the Gir Forest:
The Gir forest boasts of a fantastic array of fauna. There are over 2375 different species of wild animals and birds at the Gir Forest. Apart from lions, you will also get a chance to spot animals like the spotted deer, jackals, chinkara, wild boar, four-horned antelope, sambar deer and birds like peacocks, kingfisher, owls, quails, grey francolin, grey-headed flycatcher, verditer flycatcher, White-browed fantail, among many others.
Timings of the Gir National Park:
You can visit the National Park either in the morning slot or in the evening slot. In the morning you can visit from 6am to 11am and in the evening you can visit from 3pm to 5pm.
Best time to visit:
The best time to visit the Gir National Park is from the months of December to March as the weather around this time is great, making the forest Safari more enjoyable. If you don’t mind the heat, you can also visit around the months of April and May as these are the peak months to spot wildlife and give visitors a chance to take beautiful photographs of nature.
Note: The protected area of the forest remains closed from June 16 to Oct 15, owing to the South West Monsoons.
Reaching the Gir National Park:
The national park is about 65 kilometres away from Junagarh and about 40 kilometres from the Veraval Railway station.
Air: If you plan to take a flight, you can choose to deplane either at Rajkot airport or Keshod airport, both of which are about 30 to 40 kilometres away from the Sasan Gir Forest. Flights from most major Indian cities fly into these airports, making Gir more accessible to the general public.
Road: The best way to get to Gir National Park is to go via road from Ahmedabad, which would take about 7 hours.
Where to stay in Gir?
You can choose your accommodation based on your budget type. There are lots of hotels and lodges that you can choose from.
1) Gir Jungle Lodge
The Gir Jungle Lodge is located right at the entrance of the Gir National Park and makes for the best stay option when you are in Gir as it gives you an uninterrupted experience of the jungle even when you are inside your lodge. The customer service at this lodge is also great.
Budget type: Moderately expensive.
2) Sukhsagar Gir Resort
This resort is located within the Gir Forest and is a very comfortable accommodation option, along with great amenities. All the resort rooms have rustic decor and are well furnished. This Gir resort is the best option for people who love wildlife and are nature lovers, as it is surrounded by wildlife on all sides.
Budget type: Relatively reasonable.
3) Hotel Umang Gir
Hotel Umang Gir is one of the best budget hotels in Gir. If you choose to stay at Hotel Umang Gir, you will surely have a very hospitable experience as the staff as well as the owners make sure that you have a stress-free pleasant stay.
Budget type: Reasonable.
– Carry bottles of water, a cap, sunscreen and a scarf, especially if you are allergic to dust and are visiting the park in the summer months.
– Try and go for the early morning safari slot (6am) as there are higher chances of spotting animals around this time.
– If you are not going through any particular tour group, we suggest you book the forest permit online. Each permit is valid for up to 6 people. In case you are a smaller group, you can share the permit and split the cost at the location itself.
– Keep your phones on silent and talk softly when you are on the jungle safari so that you don’t scare the animals away.
– If you don’t see any lions at Sasan Gir, take a tour of the Devaliya lion national park which is about12 kilometres away from Sasan Gir and is one place where you will surely spot lions.
If you love verdurous forests and spotting wild animals in their natural habitats, the Gir forest is one place you have to visit in India.
Tell me when you are planning your visit to the Gir Forest, in the comments below!