A once-in-a-lifetime encounter at Gir National Park

One can call me an unlucky fellow as whenever I went to visit any national park in the country, I had never happened to encounter any wildlife. In my previous visits to Corbett National Park, Panna National Park, Rajaji National Park, or any other national park, the only things I could see were deer, monkeys, or a few birds. Even though I had visited a few of these national parks many times, the big animals had always been elusive. Therefore, when I was to visit Gir National Park, located in Gujarat and famous for its lions, I didn’t have any excitement.

How it began:

However, being part of the group, I woke up early in the morning, put on warm clothes, and got into the jeep. Like every time, my group posed the question to the guide and driver: what are the chances of seeing a lion in this national park? Our guide, who belongs to the Sidhi community and is said to have migrated from Africa, made Gujarat their home. His answer was he would try his best. He started briefing about the park, saying that the sanctuary was set up in 1965, and a 259-sq-km core area was declared as a national park in 1975. Since the late 1960s, lion numbers have increased from less than 200 to 674 (Census 2020). Along with the lions, one could also find Asiatic wild ass, hyenas, Gir foxes, pygmy woodpeckers, brown fish owls, and black bucks, etc. Let me confess, people, including me, were least interested in this conversation; instead, we were more focused on clicking selfies or making videos.

Inside the national park:

When everyone was busy with their cameras, the driver received a call, and we couldn’t understand their coded language. It was at that moment when the guide gave a good smile to us and said, "You guys are lucky." Somewhere in the middle of the forest, there was a huge jam of jeeps, which indicated that lions were somewhere near us. When we reached there, the guide asked us to look on the right side. Let me tell you, it was a sight to behold. For the first time in my life, I saw such big animals, three of them. I thought that God had shown all grace to us. We waited there and noticed their every activity. Needless to mention, people armed with cameras were trying to capture as many moments of these lions as possible. For the first time, people forgot to take selfies and were only clicking pictures of these three lions. Then came the moment we were waiting for: the king of the jungle left that spot and started walking towards the other end. The two lions walked past our jeep on the right side, while the other one passed from the left. Let me confess, when it passed near the jeep, I got goosebumps, forgot to take a picture, and dared not to meet eye to eye with the king of the jungle. For some time, the moment, the jungle, everything belonged to the king of the jungle, and we were all living because of their mercy. As all these episodes got over, we kept talking about the experience. We asked the guide to come out from the forest as our purpose was solved. However, the driver suggested there is one very good place to do photography, and then all of us agreed. We left Gujarat with memories, and now I can call myself that I am not unlucky at all.

Reaching Gir National Park

By Flight: The nearest airport to Gir National Park is Keshod Airport (KES), located about 70 km away. However, the major airport is Rajkot Airport (RAJ), situated almost 160 km away.

By Train: The nearest railway stations to Gir National Park are Junagadh (JND) and Veraval (VRL), both about 80 km away.

Booking a Safari: Gir National Park offers various safari options, including jeep safaris, canter safaris, and even walking safaris. You can book your safari online through the official website of the Gujarat Forest Department.

Carry valid ID proof: You will need to show your ID proof at the entry gate.

Safari Charges: Safari charges vary depending on the type of safari, the number of people, and the season. Here's a general overview: Jeep Safari: ₹1500 for Indian nationals, ₹6000 for foreign nationals (per jeep) Canter Safari: ₹600 for adults, ₹300 for children (per seat) Walking Safari: ₹2500 for adults, ₹1500 for children (per person)

Opening and Best Time to Visit: Gir National Park remains closed to visitors during the monsoon season, typically from June to mid-October. The park reopens on October 16th and remains open until June 15th.


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