Imagine Asiatic lions walking by you when you think of Gir National Park, Gujarat, India. Outside of Africa, these sub-species of African lions are now restricted only to Gir in their natural habitat. In this post, I will share everything you need to know on how to plan Gir National Park trip.
Before booking our flight tickets from Delhi to Gujarat, we decided to get safari bookings first. Researching all about a place is one of the first things I do when planning a trip. But to my surprise, I couldn’t find a well written blog on Gir safari with all the details. Hence, here is my post on the details about how to plan Gir National Park trip. Keep reading to know more.
Gir National Park aka Sasan Gir
Gir National Park closely located near Junagadh & Somnath, is the only place in Asia where lions live freely in the wild. Due to excessive hunting in 1965 Nawab of Junagadh banned hunting in the area and declared it as a protected area. As per 2020 census, there are 670+ Asiatic lions now. Other than 40 species of reptiles & 200 species of birds, there are also a few leopards in the area. If you’ve got luck on your side, you could spot cobras here too.
December to March is the best time to visit Gir National Park
Don’t miss my Gujarat itinerary!
How to plan Gir National Park Trip – Book Safari tickets
Open jeep safari is the only way to experience the wildlife in Gir national park. The park is closed in monsoon weather & winters generally bring a swarm of tourists with it. If visiting in winters & from outside of Gujarat, it is best to book your gypsy tickets ~2 months in advance, so that you don’t go that far and still not do safari. Keep in mind, on the spot tickets are not available, so plan accordingly.
Is Private Safari a thing??
In my last trip to Gir national park, I didn’t plan ahead, and found only when we reached that we cannot do safari now. It was upsetting. A private vendor approached us and convinced that there’s an alternative route. This is not a dedicated route, but is a part of jungle. We took the bait in hope to catch a glimpse of the wildlife. Needless to say it was not only disappointing but also a rip off. So, don’t fall prey to them.
Permit & safari tickets can easily be booked online. There are numerous private vendors which dominate top google searches. However, guides from the park recommend booking via the official government site. Below are the details –
- Safari booking via Government site
- The government site provides the permit required for safari for 800₹ (Mon-Fri) and 1000₹ (Sat-Sun). Foreigner prices are 5600₹ & 7000₹ respectively. This does not include the guide’s charges for 400₹ and gypsy charges 2000₹. These should be paid separately on the spot. It is difficult to get your safari booked this way, hence we opted for private tour.
- Safari booking visa private tour operators
- The private tour operators offer safari for 4700₹ (Mon-Fri) and 1000₹ (Sat-Sun). Foreigner prices are 13800₹ & 7000₹ respectively. Booking tickets through them, there’s no additional hassle for us, leaving us with peace of mind. We just have to show up on the day of safari.
What is the best time for Safari?
There are a total of 3 safaris that happen in a single day – 6:30-9:30AM, 9:30AM – 12:30PM and 3:30-6:30PM. With 13 dedicated routes, the open jeep safari will take you inside of the jungle with a driver & guide. In summers, the timings are half hour early. Summers are not ideal for lion spotting as the dry & hot weather make the animals hide in shade. They rarely come out, so your chances of spotting them will be difficult.
There is no best route, and no guarantee that you will be able to see lions in your safari. Still, the early morning & evening safari has the highest chances where you may spot the lions. When booking your safari tickets, it is best to keep these time slots in mind.
Since there was no guarantee that we will be able to see lions, we booked two safaris – one evening (3-6PM) and other morning (6-9AM). We were lucky enough to spot 3 adult lions in the morning safari. Out of the 3 of them, 2 had their nightly hunt & 1 of them passed by us, a few feet away from us.
What to do a day before your Safari?
You will receive a text message about your guide, keep it handy. The guide might call you a day ago, if not, you may call him to understand when to reach & get directions.
What to do on the Safari day?
- In winters, wear proper winter clothes, as it gets chilly inside the jungle. Wear jackets, warm caps etc.
- Reach the entry gate 45 minutes before your safari time and call your guide.
- Get in the queue at the reception as early as possible where you will be required to produce ID cards and will be assigned a jeep.
- Follow the process at the reception and wait till the jeep starts coming in.
- If you’d like to shop souvenirs, there’s a store next to reception where you can buy a variety of things.
How to plan Gir National Park Trip – How to reach Sasan Gir?
1. By Air
There are various airports close to Gir National Park. Keshod Airport is 38kms from Sasan Gir. Next is Diu airport which is approximately 60kms from Gir, a cab will take ~2hours from here to Sasan Gir. If you’d like a third option, Rajkot airport is also close, almost 4hours from Gir.
- As per Feb 2023, there are no flights from Delhi to Keshod airport.
- Delhi to Diu, flights are a tad expensive one side, so if you’re on budget, it should not be picked. Although taking a flight to Diu will give you the option to explore Diu for a few days.
- There are no direct flights for Rajkot, mostly of them route via Ahmedabad and a few via Mumbai. This will take up your entire day, and the journey will be extremely long and add another 4+hours drive to Sasan.
- We took the longest route via Ahmedabad. We spent a day in Ahmedabad, met family & friends, and next day took a road trip to Gir. It was almost 8+hour drive from Ahmedabad to Gir.
If you love wild life photography I suggest taking a car camera with you – check out some of the best cameras.
2. By Train
Junagadh & Veraval are closest train stations to reach Gir National Park. I’d recommend taking a train to Junagadh as you can explore the town too.
3. By Road
If you’d like to include a road trip in your Gujarat trip, you can take a flight to Ahmedabad (like we did). We hired a car from Zoomcar, picked it up from close to Ahmedabad airport & dropped it back. For 4 days, we had the rental car, drove till Gir National Park, Somnath, Diu etc.
The drive from Ahmedabad to Sasan Gir is relatively smooth with the exception of a few stretches where construction is going on. Best route is via NH 47 and NH151 via Junagadh to Gir.
Gir National Park Trip – Where to stay in Gir?
- There are numerous resorts in Sasan Gir located quite close to the jungle. We chose Daksh Resort And Amusement Park which was literally inside the jungle (not the jungle trails), but ~25minutes outside of Gir national park entry gate. What I loved most from the resort was it’s remote location, the delicious buffet they served and amazing staff.
(Not so) Funny Story –
On our post dinner walk, we ventured outside the resort. With little light pollution, the sky looked mesmerizing and full of stars & constellations. We could even capture bleak glimpses of Andromeda galaxy. Within a few moments of our walk, we heard the roaring and immediately identified, it is either a lion or a leopard. After a few seconds, I was trembling with fear and it felt the roars were coming closer.
So, we finally ran back to the entry gate of the resort, and there the guard scolded us. He then told us there were recent cases where leopard was spotted and he even attacked people. I calmed down when we were inside of the resort, & continued our evening walk. A few minutes later, we heard the roaring again, from a bit far this time and for a while the resort didn’t feel safe. I spoke to guards later and they told us the resort have 2 level boundaries set and it is completely safe inside.
If you, too, would like such an adventurous experience, I’d recommend staying here, but it may not be ideal for the weak hearted.
Book Daksh Resort And Amusement Park for your upcoming here.
- Since there are limited resorts in the area, they might be fully occupied. In that case you may chose to stay in Junagadh. It will take you to reach 1.5hours from Junagadh to Gir and for your morning safari, you will have to start super early.
Book Click Hotel, Junagadh for your upcoming here.
Have you visited Gir National Park yet? Did you find this post helpful? Do share your experience with me.
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