The magnificent land of the “Asiatic Lions”, Gir national park is located in the Indian state of Gujarat. The national park was started to preserve the Asiatic lions, leopards, and antelopes that visit the fenced-off Devalia Safari Park. Outside the barricaded section, the Gir Jungle Trail winds through a forested area and is host to vultures and pythons. Swamp crocodiles and bird species such as Indian skimmers and pelicans can be found at the Kamleshwar Dam.
The land was preserved and developed as the Gir National Forest Park in 1965, thanks to the collective forces of NGOs and conservation activists. The number of lions in Gir was counted at 411 in the April 2010 census. A ride to Gir will be a lot of fun, and a visit to the ruler of all animals will be very exciting.
Gir National Park draws throngs of tourists who want to see Asiatic lions in their natural habitat, as it is the only location on the planet where they can be witnessed. The number of the Asiatic lions has improved over the years, thanks to the conservation efforts by the people of the forest and the state. In 1975, the park's central region, which occupies approximately 260 square kms, was designated as a national park.
What the park has to offer you?
Gir Forest, with its undulating terrain and moderately high hills and plateaus, is an ideal habitat for a wide range of flora and fauna. In terms of flora, Samptapau and Raizada's Gir survey discovered about 400 plant species. Gir is mainly covered in dry savannah type forests with teak and other dry deciduous trees. Since it is Western India's largest dry deciduous forest, it offers considerable possibilities for not only biological research but also educational and recreational purposes. And during winter months, researchers from mainly Western European countries flock to the Gir to conduct science studies on the scrub forests.
Gir has a diverse fauna, with roughly 295 species of birds, 39 species of mammals, and 37 species of reptiles. Gir is a host to Indian leopards, golden jackals, sloth bears, desert cats, and striped hyenas, in addition to the famous Asiatic Lion. Nilgai, four-horned antelope, and the less commonly seen blackbucks are among the herbivores at Gir. If you visit the Gir Interpretation Zone, also known as Devalia, as a visitor, you can almost always expect to see lions. Devalia is a 4 square km fenced area with a cross section of Gir wildlife that can be accessed via a 30-45 minute bus ride.
Location of Gir national park
Gir National Park is located 360 km from Ahmedabad, 65 kilometers from Junagadh, and 40 kilometers from Veraval in Gujarat's southwest region. Gir is surrounded by mountains is a hilly landscape and is ideal for the jackals, leopards, antelope, and deer. Crocodiles and over 300 species of native birds call it home.
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How to get there?
The best place to reach the park is if you start from Junagarh. Junagadh's railway station welcomes trains from all over the place, including Ahmedabad, Rajkot, and other large cities. After that, it takes about an hour and a half to get to the Sasan Gir National Park.
It is also accessible from Diu’s inland beaches and other waterways. The park's entry is in Sasan Gir village, which also houses the park entrance and orientation center. Most of the people choose to take a private bus from Ahmedabad to Sasan Gir because it drops them off just outside the Sinh Sadan guest house and reception center. As a result, it is more comfortable than taking the subway. Buses can be booked from the private bus stand near the Paldi bus stop for a seven hour ride.
What is the best time to visit?
The months of December to March are the most common for visiting Gir. During the peak hours, though, it can get very busy, with long queues. When it's all scorching heat (say: March to May), you are more prone to see animals, such as lions, as they come out to drink water in the scorching heat. Now, what is the best time to visit the majestic national park? Well, the answer is the ideal time to go on a safari is early in the morning, when the lions are most involved and you could catch a glimpse of them. They live out the rest of the day sleeping and not moving around! Because of the queues and higher fees, weekends and holidays might be avoided.
Hours of operation of the safari
The Gir National park remains open right from mid October to mid of June. The park concludes three- three hour Gir jungle trail jeep safaris every single day inside the park area. The timings of the safaris are as follows:
· 6.30 a.m to 9:30 a.m.
· 9.30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
· 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Although the “Devalia Safari Park” remains open daily (all year round) from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. till dusk from Thursday to Tuesday (closed on Wednesday) (around 5 p.m.).
Entry fee and other charges
The national park charges some amount from the Indian as well as the foreign visitors, however, the visitors are required to secure an e-permit that grants access to the Gir National Park to get along the Gir jungle track. The permit thus obtained is issued per vehicle and is allowed up to six visitors per vehicle. The total cost of the journey depends on the day of the visit to the park, with weekends and major public holidays being the most highly priced.
Check out the rates, these are mentioned below:
· The safari of the Serengeti costs approximately Rs.400 per person for Indian citizens and $40 per person for foreigners on weekdays.
· On weekends and some holidays, the price rises by 25% and 50%, respectively. If you opt for a safari in an open jeep (gypsy), then it costs somewhere between Rs.1000 and Rs.1500. Each safari costs Rs. 100, and each camera with a resolution of more than 7.1 megapixels costs Rs. 100.
· Every safari for a group of five on a weekday would cost around Rs.3500 to Rs.4000 for Indian residents and about $225-$300 for foreigners.
A word of advice when visiting Gir National Park
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Keep these tips handy while you are planning to travel to the extravagant Gir:
· To avoid attracting unnecessary attention from the wild animals, it is strongly recommended that you wear clothing with non-reflective fabrics. Regular browns, greens, and other pastel colors are the most common choices.
· Make sure you have binoculars, a decent camera, caps/hats, water bottles, and sun protection handy with you. Camping, picnicking, and smoking are prohibited within the park's boundaries.
· There are many resorts and boot camps in the area with different levels of occupancy, and it is strongly recommended that you book rooms ahead of time.