Planning to visit the Gir National Park? Here’s a guide that might help you. By Priyanka Lamba
Located 65 kilometres southeast of Junagadh district in the vibrant state of Gujarat, Gir National Park is the only natural habitat of the popular Asiatic lions. Also known as Sasan Gir, it was declared a sanctuary in 1965 to conserve these magnificent beasts.
Spread over an area of 1153 square kilometres — although only 258 square kilometres make up its primary area — the park is home to 674 lions. Apart from Asiatic lions, Gir National Park’s ecosystem offers a suitable habitat to a variety of other animals, including jackals, leopards, antelopes, crocodiles and deers.
How to reach
You can reach the national park via plane, train, car or bus. There are three airports near the park. While Ahmedabad’s Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport is about seven hours away, it would take you about three and two hours from the Rajkot Airport and the Dui Airport, respectively.
If you plan to travel by train, then Junagadh and Veraval railway stations are the closest. You can also take a train from Ahmedabad or Rajkot to arrive at the railway station in Junagadh. From here, it’s a 90-minute drive which can be covered either by a taxi or a public bus.
You can also book a private bus from Ahmedabad to Sasan Gir. However, a bus ride will take seven hours to reach the wildlife sanctuary.
Places to stay
Travellers can choose from a host of options to make their stay at Sasan Gir enjoyable. From ultra-luxurious resorts like Woods at Sasan and The Gateway Hotel Gir Forest to the budget-friendly and popular Maneland Jungle Lodge, the numerous places to stay here offer an array of amenities and lip-smacking delicacies.
Visitors also have a string of options to find comfortable accommodations either at the park’s entrance or its outer boundary. Gir Jungle Lodge Resort and Gir Birding Lodge are located at the entrance of the park. Both of them provide world-class services and exotic views. Gir Birding Lodge offers both standard rooms and cottages, making your stay a memorable experience.
Activities to enjoy at the park
Gir National Park offers safari options that have to be booked online. The three-hour-long safari is supervised by a trained jeep driver and guide, both of whom are registered with and approved by the forest department. Timings of the morning and evening safaris are fixed.
The holiday tour, led by a professional guide, is a two-nights and three-days stay, and a treat for anyone who enjoys being amid flora and fauna. Additionally, Gir has a lion tour (two nights and three days) for its visitors to experience the thrill of watching Asiatic animals from up close. The weekend tour (one night and two days) offers a rare chance to see the Asiatic Babbar lions.
Keeping in mind weather conditions, the safari booking is suspended from 16 June till 15 October every year. The idea time to visit the park is November through March. Despite soaring temperatures, April and May are considered also ideal months for wildlife viewing and photography.
Although Asiatic lions are the jewel of this national park’s crown, Gir is also home to many other animals, including 200 species of birds and 40 species of reptiles and amphibians. Enjoy the sights of jackals, critically endangered white-backed and long-billed vultures, leopards, striped hyenas and four-horned antelopes, as you lose yourself to the wilderness.