Saturday, 19 April 2014

Velavadar, Blackbuck - Hyena - Wolf

Me: There's another one... In the distance...
Guide: Where? Where do you see it? 
Me: Up ahead, just behind that lone tree in the grass land. You can see the tips of its ears.
Guide: Ah... Oh my God! Yes, I see it.


It was almost 30 minutes since we left Lothal and headed for Velavadar. We had to get to Velavadar before the evening safari time. Our contact/guide, Mr. Ramzaan, was waiting for us. Everything was okay except that we were not moving. Yes, flat tire. On top of this, our driver was a novice guy and new in this business and he had really no idea of how to change wheel.

  Thankfully, the numerous trips around Bangalore had taught us the art of quick fixing our Sparky. And a Tata Indica Vista was not much different. So, after 15 minutes of wrestling between me and rubber, metal and dirt, we were back on our way to Velavadar.

  It took us almost another one hour to reach Velavadar. From high-way to the lodge, is't about 10 kilometer and this part of the road is a wee bit rough. But you can easily do 40 here. But, being novice, our driver took his sweet time to get to the lodge; about 40 minutes. So here's one quick trip, if you're travelling to Gujarat for mostly the wildlife; like we did. Get yourself a good SUV or 4X4 drive. Otherwise, you'd miss some crucial moments. 

"And then what we saw, made the day for us."

  Still, we were well in time for the evening safari. Our guide, Mr. Ramzaan, was waiting for us at the govt. lodge, that we booked about 1 moth in advance from Bangalore. The good thing about the govt. lodge is that it's inside the actual sanctuary. The formal entry gate is about 200 meters from the lodge. BTW, you can find all the booking detail, price etc. at the end of this blog post.



  What we didn't know about the govt. lodge was that one is supposed to order the food (lunch/dinner) at least 3/4 hours in advance. There's no market nearby. So the caretaker buys stuffs from market only when an order is placed. Well, yes, you guessed it right :) , we didn't pre-order our lunch. So a 40 + 40 minutes of travel to highway(for restaurant) and back, was ahead of us; and all that to be completed before the evening safari.

  And YES!!! We did it.

  The evening safari starts at 3 PM; so you may call it afternoon safari if you like. There's a bit of paperwork that has to be completed just before the safari. Entry fee and other details are given at the end of this blog post.

The government guest houses

  Be a bit quick for safaris as there would generally be others(in jeeps) from nearby resorts forming a queue. Although the competition is not much intense, try to get in first. It gives you better chance of spotting the less available animals.

Just before sunrise. About to start the safari.
  As we went in, we were amazed to see the sheer density of Black Buck in this sanctuary. Those were in thousands, generally forming groups of 10s and 20s. You can distinguish the male from the females by the color and the spiral horns. The males are a bit more cautious as well; always watching out for any probable trouble.

Male Blackbuck

  Ramzaan Bhai is a fantastic, highly knowledgeable guide. He knows the ins and outs of the sanctuary. He can see what normal eyes can't. He helped us spot several birds and identified those. He spotted a wild cat that we could have never seen normally. So it's a good idea to make sure he's your guide when you get to Velavadar.

Wild Cat

Wild Cat
  The Black Bucks are wonderfully beautiful animals. And the afternoon light makes them even more graceful. We took several photographs of the Black Bucks... jumping, grazing, fighting, crossing the road. Wow, it was such a wonderful experience.

Blackbuck crossing the road

Young Blackbuck crossing the road
  We were about to get back as were approaching 6PM; closing time for evening safari. But then we saw a group of other jeep waiting at another parallel road. Ramzaan Bhai directed the driver to get to those jeeps. And then what we saw, made the day for us.

  It was an alpha male. It was a lone Wolf. Wolves generally hunt in packs. But this one was onto it's prey alone. It was alone because it was confident of it's strength and experience. We took several shots of the wolf. But it was quite far and none of the shots were super close up.


  We couldn't see it hunt as the closing bells for the evening safari was already rung. So, back to base. We also saw harrier roosting on the ground.


Banner at the gate of the park
  We retired to the cottage after fixing the morning timing with Ramzaan bhai and thanking him for all the sighting of the day.

  The food that is served at the govt. lodge, is simple but good. It's pure vegetarian food and you have to get to the dining hall for your meals. We were literally tired by the heavy travel of the day and hit the bed quickly. Our next morning safari's target was to try to spot hyena and then head towards the wet lands of the sanctuary to spot birds.

  7 O' clock sharp, and we were ready for the morning safari. We completed the formalities quickly and went straight in. Ramzaan Bhai directed the driver to get straight to the place where the chances were highest to spot Hyena. And every single other jeep was following us. No wonder, we had the best guide with us. :)

  Then all of a sudden, he told the driver to stop. We couldn't see anything around us, but confirmed us that this was one of the most favorite morning leisure spot for the hyena. It just took a couple of minutes for the beautiful creature to reveal itself from within the grasses. And it was so very close! It was within 20 meters of our vehicle. 



  Although everyone in every jeep/car was respectful enough not to make loud noise, but the hyena understood pretty quickly that it's regular mundane morning fame-time had started. And quite obviously, it didn't like it. It slowly (and I mean real slowly) started to move far from us.

  After moving about 100 meters further from us, it took a rest in the grassland and was again invisible. Everyone was eagerly waiting for it stand up again. And this is exactly when, I spotted another one. I whispered to Soma about the location of the second hyena. There was a guide from another jeep close by, and he overheard us; and this was the low conversation that we had there:

Me: There's another one... In the distance...
Guide: Where? Where do you see it? 
Me: Up ahead, just behind that lone tree in the grass land. You can see the tips of its ears.
Guide: Ah.... Oh my God! Yes, I see it.
  He quickly informed his guests and everyone tried to have a glimpse of the second one, before it taking a nap too. At last, the first hyena stood up looked back to us, yawned and then walked away. Carefree.

  Filled with the thrill, containment, excitement (and many other positive emotions) of hyena sighting, we didn't venture further into the jungle. Rather, as planned beforehand, we move towards the wetlands. So we had to move back to the lodge and head towards the wetlands. The gate to the wetlands is also very close (about 500 meters) from the lodge.

  In the wetlands, we spotted enormous number of birds. Starting from the tiny Stonechat to the huge Rosy Pelicans. We also saw many nilgai; these animals are also in abundance on the other side of the sanctuary. We took several shots and came out with an even wider grin. 

Grey Francolin

Siberian stonechat


Common Kestral

Bee eater

Greter Flamingo, Lesser Flamingo and Rosy Pelican

  Before leaving Velavadar, we had a lite conversation over tea with Mr. Ramzaan, whose immense knowledge and love for wildlife at Velavadar helped us see what we saw. We will provide his contact detail at the end of this blog post.

  Then it was time to bid adieu to Velavadar and head towards the lair of the big cat, the king, the might Lion. It was time to meet the last Asiatic Lion at it's last refuge. 

Important Info:-
How to book Govt. Lodge at Velavadar: 
Call up at the number given below and enquire about availability of rooms at the lodge. If rooms are available, get a draft done(details will be told to you by the officials) and fax it with other details of yours( like name, booking date, number of people etc.). Then post the draft to this address:

Deputy Conservator of Forests, Blackbuck National Park, Velavadar,
Bhavnagar. Gujarat.
Phone : (O) 0278 2428644.

Tariff:- Rs. 500/day/room + food extra(Rs. 358/- for two)

Mr. Ramzaan. Ph:- 08140810087
Mr Ayub. Ph:- +91 89808 27737

Both are excellent.

Car booking:
Mr. Hitesh Khetri. Ph:- 09909243038
He is a birdwatcher, and he drives his own Tavera. We didn't book his car and we do repent that.

Only veg food available at the lodge. Have to pre order. Food bill has to be paid while checking out.

keywords: velavadar, black buck, hyena, lion, nil gai, black buck lodge, travel blog, blog, gujarat, flamingo, pelican


  1. Hi Soma & Ankur

    I have booked a room at Velavadar as per the details from your blog. Now for safari booking what else I need to do?
    Do they have gypsy facility like other national parks, or we need to take our own vehicle?

    Any other information you want to share?


    1. Hi Darshan,

      When we went to Velavadar, there was no Gypsy facility.You can navigate the entire park if you have a private vehicle with you. I am not sure if things have changed now because a lot of tourists visit Velavadar in recent years.

      You can talk with any of these two people Mr. Ramzaan. Ph:- 08140810087
      Mr Ayub. Ph:- +91 89808 27737. Both of them are guides and they will be able to tell you better about the current availability or can arrange some gypsy car if you need.

      But just keep a small thing in mind, I am not trying to dishearten you...that is now it will be very hot in Velavadar and chances of spotting water birds will be less. But summer is a good time for animal spotting :)