Rich variety of flora and fauna makes Gujarat home to 40 species of mammals and 425 species of birds, a treat for nature lovers. The unique climatic conditions and geographic location has made the state suitable as the habitat of rare wildlife species. Asiatic Lion, Wild Ass, Black Buck, Four-horned Antelope and the Great Indian Bustard are some of the rare species preserved by the various wildlife sanctuaries in Gujarat. Wildlife in Gujarat is not restricted to National Parks and Sanctuaries as resident and migratory birds’ frequent ponds, lakes and riversides in Gujarat cities. Peacocks, jackals, saras cranes, woodland birds and many more flock gardens, parks and across places. The best time to visit Gujarat is in the mild winter months from October to March.
On the other hand, Gujarat is a veritable paradise for bird watchers, as it hosts thousands of bird species. It is strategically located between two traditional bird migration routes, one from central and north Asia to East Africa and another from the middle-east and Europe to peninsular India. This makes the state an ideal meeting ground where birds of many feathers flock together. Right from stargazing under the clear sky or hiking up Satpura ranges, Gujarat packs a big punch for just one state. All these attractions, easy connectivity to the state by air, rail and road makes Gujarat a much sought after tourist destination amongst nature lovers and adventure seekers.
Arrive in Ahmedabad on the day 1 and transfer by road to Velavadar National Park having a 4 hours’ drive. Stay at Black Buck Lodge tonight.
The Morning of day 2 starts with safaris in Velavadar National Park. Known for its large blackbuck antelope population, Velavadar is also one of the few places where the wolf is proliferating in India though they are rarely seen in the daylight. Jackal, jungle cat and hare are more easily seen and Indian fox on the periphery. SirkeerMalkoha, painted francolin, chestnut-bellied and spotted sand grouse, Rufous-tailed, crested and Sykes’ larks, red-rumped swallows, desert and variable wheatears and other birds are seen and many raptors visit specially short-toed snake eagle, imperial, steppe, tawny, greater and lesser spotted eagles, laggar falcon, hobby, common kestrel, red-necked falcon, peregrine falcon, white-eyed and long-legged buzzard, black-shouldered kite, shikra, Eurasian sparrow-hawk and occasionally northern goshawk. Rarities include the Stolicza'sbushchat. In the evening, witness a massive roost of Montagu, pallid and marsh harrier. The stay will be at Nilambag Palace or Narayani Heritage at Bhavnagar or the Blackbuck Lodge at Velavadar.
Thr 3rd day morning will be spent at Bhavnagar including the port areas, lakes and Victoria Park, before departing by road for Sasan Gir - a 4 hours’ drive. On the arrival of Gir, check into your hotel pre-booked. Post lunch; take a mini-bus tour of the Interpretation Zone, an enclosed cross-section of Gir habitats. Dinner and overnight in a private orchard of Gir with a forest view.
Spend your 4th and 5th days with morning and evening safaris in Gir National Park - A tapestry of dry deciduous forests, acacia scrub and grassland, fed by rivers and reservoirs, Gir is the last abode of the Asiatic lion and has a thriving population of panther (leopard), sambar, chital (spotted deer), nilgai (blue bull antelope) and wild boar. Gir is also one of the major habitats of chousingha (the world’s only four-horned antelope) and chinkara (Indian gazelle) that are hard to spot in the teak forests along the game drive trails. Among the many birds of Gir, changeable hawk eagle, crested serpent eagle, Bonneli’s eagle, shaheen peregrine falcon, laggar falcon, shikra, painted sand grouse, quails, black-hooded and golden oriels, marshal's and common iora, Asian paradise flycatcher, tickell’s blue, red-throated, verditer and Asian brown flycatchers, yellow-crowned, brown-capped pygmy, black-rumpedflameback woodpeckers, green and blue-cheeked bee-eaters, coppersmith barbet, common, lesser pied and white-throated kingfisher, blossom-headed parakeet, hoopoe, black, ashy and white-bellied drongos, RufousTreepie, large cuckoo shrike, small Minivet, red-vented and white-eared bulbul, tawny-bellied, yellow-eyed, jungle and large grey babblers, grey-breasted, ashy, Rufous-fronted, plain, jungle and graceful prinias, zittingcisticola, clamorous reed-warbler, booted warbler, greenish warbler, lesser and Hume’s warbler, orphean warbler and Blyth's reed warbler, are among the many birds that could be seen here. Those interested in herpetology can visit the crocodile breeding farm at Sasan.
On the 6th day morning, drive directly to Jamnagar located on the western coast of Kathiawad peninsula. Evening visits to Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary will be breathtaking, a possible site for the Indian skimmer. This sanctuary is a breeding area for many species of birds that do not nest elsewhere in peninsular India. Great-crested grebe, black-necked stork, Caspian tern and many other birds can be seen besides most of the species recorded in the Little Rann area. Stay will be at a Hotel in Jamnagar.
7th day will start with an early breakfast at the hotel and then visit coastal areas along the Gulf of Kutch, one of the finest birding stretches along the Indian coastline. You are likely to see crab-plover, Kentish plover, oystercatcher, ruddy turnstone, broad-billed sandpiper, sanderling, dunlin, curlew sandpiper, black-headed gull, Pallas’ gull, temmincks stint, lesser-crested tern, gull-billed tern, common tern, little tern, black-bellied tern, whiskered tern, whiskered tern, darters, western reef egret and other birds could be seen on this route. Overnight stay will be at Jamnagar.
The next day, drive from Jamnagar to MotiVirani. Stay at CEDO Camp, a basic facility run by a conservation organization. Visit the roost of the Grey Hypocolius at Fulay, one of the few sites where this bird is seen in India.
The 9th day will have a tour to the Banni region of Kutch, India’s largest grassland area. This is one of the important bird areas with a great concentration of Aquila and other eagles. The water bodies here are known for their large flocks of waterfowl. Stay will be at MotiVirani.
The 10thDay trip will be to the Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary near Naliya. These grasslands are the habitat of the endangered Indian bustard, white-napped tit, stolicza'sbushchat, and a variety of other birds. Chinkaras are likely to be seen and there are chances of seeing Indian wolf. Return to Lodge. Dinner and overnight will be at MotiVirani.
Your 11th day will start with a drive to Dasada after breakfast. Late afternoon, go for safari in the Little Rann of Kutch, which is a sanctuary for the endangered Asiatic Wild Ass. The mammals of the Rann other than the wild ass, there are chances of seeing nilgai, chinkara gazelle, white-footed desert and Indian foxes, the wolf, jungle cat (occasionally also desert cat), pale and long-eared hedgehogs and hare.Crested and Sykes larks, Oriental skylark, bimaculated lark, greater short-toed lark, singing and Indian bush larks, ashy-crowned and black-crowned sparrow-larks, are likely sightings and greater hoopoe lark is possible. Desert and variable wheatears, southern grey, long-tailed, Rufous-tailed and bay-back shrike, common wood shrike are also likely sightings and the desert warbler is among the many winter visiting warblers. We will also look for chestnut-bellied and spotted sand grouse, Indian courser (cream-colored visits occasionally), quails, yellow-legged and barred buttonquails, grey francolin, wryneck, brown-rock chat, pied bushchat, Rufous-tailed scrub robin, blue-headed rock thrush, black redstart and buntings in the scrubby areas. At sunset, it is possible to watch marsh, Montagu and pallid harriers, Aquila eagles, falcons and buzzards heading for their roosting sites. Stay at Little Rann of Kutch tonight at Wildlife Resort.
The 12th day’s morning will have a drive to the bets, elevated patches in the Rann covered with scrub and grass. In winter, this is a likely area for Macqueen’s bustard. Long-legged, common and white-eyed buzzard, booted eagle, Bonneli’s eagle. short-toed snake eagle, are often seen during the drive.Evening visit will be to Nawa Talav, a lake where demoiselle and common cranes gather in large flocks during the winter months. Greater and lesser flamingo are seen in large numbers as are great white pelican with spot billed and Dalmatian recorded. Painted, open bill, wooly-necked, white, black and black-necked stork could be seen as also black, glossy and black-headed ibis. Northern pintail, common teal, spot-billed duck, mallard, gadwall, wigeon, garganey, shoveler, cotton pygmy goose, pochards, tufted duck, lesser whistling duck, brahminy and comb duck are among the many visitors to the lake. Waders include pratincoles, lapwings, sandpipers, ruff and other birds in good numbers. Stay will be as on day 11.
After having a breathtaking experience of the flora and fauna of India’s vibrant western state, on the 13th day, after breakfast, proceed to Ahmedabad for your onward journey.