Saturday, 3 May 2014

Gir, The King and We

  Gir will always always always be special for us..........well when the King meets you, its always special!


The King

  We left Velavadar at 10 AM and started our journey for Gir. Gir, which is now the last home for the Asiatic Lion is around 210 km from Velavadar. We reached Gir at around 5 PM, a little late because of the numerous halts in between.

  There are numerous hotels all lined on the road, mostly opposite the main entrance of Gir National Park. We checked in one such hotel. I do not remember the name but the hotel was new and the staff  friendly. We had an early dinner and went to bed as we did not have much to do on that day. Our safari was on the next day.

  Three safaris are held everyday. The slots are like 6AM-9AM, 9AM-12PM and 3PM-6PM. The early morning and the evening safaris are the best as the chances of seeing the magnificent beast is good. However, I booked the 9AM-12PM safari slot.

  I had already brought the e-permit from http://girlion.in/. Without the e-permit, no safari ticket is issued. In case you do not buy the e-permit online, it is advisable that you check with your hotel or travel agent from before hand as the permits are limited and get exhausted very fast.

 In case you have brought the permits online, then at the time of purchasing safari tickets you must have your permit document, id proof and off course money.

  The cost of e-permit is Rs 200 per person, jeep cost is Rs 1200, guide charges is Rs 200 and any camera above 7 MP is charged Rs 100.

  We got on a jeep. There was a driver and a guide and luckily both were very good and outstandingly superb spotters. There are total 7 tracks in Gir and every jeep is randomly assigned a track. We were assigned to track 2.

  For the first 30 minutes we saw nothing, not even a single crow. I started whining to myself that why the hell I booked this 9AM-12PM slot. All the animals must have gone inside the jungle away from the dusty tracks. Just then our jeep screeched and halted. It drove half meter back.......our guide pointed to some pug marks.....yes there were fresh pug marks on the dust. Our guide told us that the pug marks are that of a lioness.


Pug Mark

  The heat was increasing and so was our anticipation, but still no lions anywhere. Next we saw some playful monkeys. Our guide got down from the jeep and picked up a plastic garbage. Some utterly insensible tourist must have thrown the plastic container during his or her safari after munching on potato chips so that some animals can later fall victim. I have a sincere request to all my readers here... I know you guys are responsible tourists, but in case, if you find anyone littering any place(specially national parks) please stop them immediately. I myself have done this many times and have reminded the litter makers to kindly use the great invention called "dust bins".

  Next were some peacocks and peahens. There was at least 15 to 20 in the group. Our jeep came close to a water hole. Though there was no lion but there were several deer and two brightly colored king-fishers. We also saw a huge flock of plum headed parakeets nibbling on some fruit on a branch above us.


Laughing Dove

Peocock

White throated Kingfisher

Plum headed parakeet
  Our guide pointed his finger to a bush. The bush was golden yellow as the leaves have dried because of the scorching sun. At first I could not see anything. Our guide told us that there are two golden jackals resting. Everything was so well camouflaged, I wonder how he could spot. Anyway finally with a lot of help from Ankur and our guide I also spotted the two jackals.


Record shot: Jackal
  We also saw a pair of painted francolin. They were moving very fast but somehow I managed a click just for records.


Francolin
  Almost an hour and half had passed but still no lion. I was praying hard, that even if we do not get to see a lion at least a lioness will do.But still nothing came our way. We were instantly cheered up when our guide directed our attention towards two very cute half sleep spotted owlets peeping from a hole from the trunk of a dead tree. We took some lovely photos of the super cute 
owlets.


Spotted Owlet

Spotted Owlet
Then something happened.....and that is history.
Another driver who was coming from the opposite direction to us told our driver that some 5 km ahead there can be a chance of seeing a lion. Our driver hurried. When we reached the spot there was another vehicle standing. They had already spotted a lion!! Our jeep stood there and then wonders unfurled before us. There were two male lions and they hunted a nilgai right before our eyes. For us TIME STOPPED.

  All while I was praying to see a lion or even a lioness and now there are TWO lions in front of us tearing down a whole live nilgai. Our guide told us that the two males are biological brothers otherwise two lions generally do not stay together. He instructed us not to move, make any noise or take any photos till the hunt was over. The reason is if the lions do not hunt down the nilgai, the lions will go hungry and the nilgai will also die from injuries. Safeguarding the welfare of these endangered species who have made Gir their last resort is the foremost concern of our dutiful guide.

  But I am sure that even if he had not told us, not to click photos we wouldn't have. We were so much jaw dropped with surprise that we forgot our cameras and were totally transfixed with what happening in front of us. After a few minutes when our guide told me "Madam now you may take photos" we came back to this mortal world and took some great snaps.


Lion tearing down the nilgai

Lion tearing down the nilgai

 We still had half an hour of safari left when our driver wanted to know whether we want to roam or come out of the national park. We told him that we are good to come out of Gir NP. We thanked our wonderful guide and driver, the magnificent Gir NP and Gujarat and also our luck that day. We really captured some great moments in our minds and in our cameras. Slot  9AM-12PM was not bad :)


The King. The Lion

The Lion

19 comments:

  1. Great captures and those are some exciting sightings.

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  2. As always, you have done great photos! I'm glad I went with you virtually on this trip and had a good time.

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    1. ohh ,thank you so much
      I am so glad that you loved the photos :)

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  3. Nice to see rare pics from Sasan Gir Wildlife Sanctuary.

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  4. Excellent photos and details. Very nice blog and post.

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  5. Wow great Detail and the pics are so beautiful.

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  6. Great post... We went to Girl this May as well and every safari was a joy. We sighted 5 cheetahs as well!
    Here is the link to our blog. It is surprising that you guys are Ankur and Soma and we are Ankur and Sonia! He he!
    Ticking the Bucket List: India: Gir National Park - the only home of the Asiatic lions - http://tickingthebucketlist.blogspot.in/2014/05/india-gir-only-home-of-asiatic-lions.html?m=1

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  7. Very well written n informative

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  8. Wonderful blog and awesome pics (which camera). We are also planning for Gujrat trip, your blog is very helpful in planning our trip. Thank you.

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    1. Thats so nice....thank you :) camera was canon 550D

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  9. Dear Both, ur blogs are always informative and helpful.
    I am planning a trip to Velavadar (1 night) & Gir (3/4 nights) in May'17, can you help me with below queries?
    Can you tell me the minimum time require from Velavadar to Gir (taking only couple of halts) , since you have mentioned 10 to 5 which appears very tiring? Since i will be travelling with a 5 year old baby girl.
    Also is it worth going to Velavadar?
    Thanks always

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    1. Hi Darshan...nice to see you in my blog after so many day...hope you are doing great.
      From Velavadar to Gir, it will take around 5 hours if not 6 if you don't halt for too long or too often.

      But May is not the right time...it will be too hot and you will miss the birds.

      Its better not to skip Velavadar.You can see blackbucks,nilgai,harriers from really close.
      If you are moderately lucky enough you will see hyenas and foxes. Also there are water birds on one side of Velavadar.
      You haveto explicitely tell your guide to take you there.

      Let us know if we can help you any further.Thanks!

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