Gujarat is a region famous for its beautiful stunning handicraft and textile work, rich history, colourful culture and traditions, and delectable lip-smacking local Gujarati cuisine. However, as many wildlife enthusiasts and birdwatchers know, this is also a place full of amazing destinations for nature lovers, photographers, avid birders, and those who enjoy spending time in nature. This week-long tour has been specially designed for those looking to experience and enjoy the best of Gujarat’s wildlife in a short but action-packed itinerary.
Day 01: Ahmedabad to Little Rann of Kutch
You will be arriving in Ahmedabad by flight or train in the morning from Delhi or Mumbai. You will be met by our representative and driven to the Little Rann of Kutch (a 2-hour drive). The road to Dasada is interesting as you pass cattle graveyards where White-rumped, Egyptian, and Griffon Vultures can be seen scavenging, as well as small wetland patches that are good for resident and migratory waterbirds. Reach your resort and check-in.
After lunch, depart for a safari drive in the Little Rann of Kutch, a sanctuary for the Indian Wild Ass. An ancient seabed turned by geological forces into saline desert plains that flood every monsoon, the Rann is surrounded by grassy patches or ‘bets’ that offer good birdwatching. Crested and Sykes's Lark (R), Oriental Skylark (R), Bimaculated Lark (W), Greater Short-toed Lark (W), Indian Bush Larks (R), Ashy-crowned Sparrow-Lark (R) are likely sightings and Greater Hoopoe-Lark is also possible. Desert and Variable Wheatears, Great Grey Shrike, Long-tailed, and Bay-backed Shrikes, and Common Woodshrike are also likely sightings and the Asian Desert Warbler is among the many visiting winter birds. We will also look for Chestnut-bellied (R) and Spotted Sandgrouse (W), Indian (R ) and Cream-coloured Courser (W), Common Quail (W), Yellow-legged and Barred Buttonquails (R), Grey Francolin (R), Eurasian Wryneck (W), Short-eared Owl (W) and many more. At sunset, it is possible to watch the resident and migratory raptors, namely Western Marsh Harrier (R), Montagu’s and Pallid Harriers (W), Aquila eagles, falcons, and various buzzards, head for their roosting sites. Among the mammals of the Rann, other than the common Indian Wild Ass and Nilgai, there are chances of seeing White-footed, and Indian Foxes, Indian Wolf, Jungle Cat (occasionally also Desert Cat), Pale and Long-eared Hedgehogs, and Indian Hair. Overnight stay.
Day 02: Little Rann of Kutch to Jamnagar
In the early morning, explore Dasada village with a guided walk. Apart from a glimpse into local life, this walk can also give you a reasonably good bird list including White-eared Bulbul (R ), Indian Roller (W+S), Indian White-eye (R), Isabelline and Long-tailed Shrikes (W+S), and more.
After breakfast, depart for Jamnagar (a 6-hour drive). This is an interesting route passing agricultural fields and lakes. Birds of the open country like Indian Roller (W+S) and Black-winged Kite (R) could be seen. Arrive at the Hotel President in time for lunch. On this day, we will also try to get permits to enter the Marine National Park the next day.
In the evening, we will visit Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary. This sanctuary is a breeding area for many species that do not breed anywhere else in India. A variety of coastal and freshwater birds can be seen here, including Great Crested Grebe (W), Little and Temminck’s Stints (R), Brown-headed (S), Black-headed (W+S), and Lesser Black-backed Gulls (W+S), and many others. Overnight stay.
Today, you have the opportunity to explore the coastal areas along the Gulf of Kutch. This region is an essential stop on a migratory flyway and is thus one of the finest birding stretches along the western Indian shore. You are likely to see great numbers of resident and migratory waders, including Crab-plover (W), Greater and Lesser Sand Plovers (W+S), Eurasian Oystercatcher (W), and Ruddy Turnstone (R), Great Knot (W), and many more. On a good day, this place also offers fantastic sightings of Indian Ocean Humpback Dolphins. Overnight stay
Day 04: Jamnagar to Gir National Park
In the early morning, check out from your hotel and transfer to Gir National Park (5-6 hours). Arrive and check in at Gir Birding Lodge. You will reach in time for an afternoon safari to explore the forests of the national park. The park is a mosaic of different dry forest types, and, apart from Asiatic Lion, is home to a great variety of wildlife including leopards, Spotted and Barking Deer, Sambar, Nilgai, Wild Boar, and more.
The park is also a birdwatchers’ paradise, and among the many birds of Gir are Changeable Hawk-Eagle (R), Crested Serpent Eagle (R), Bonelli's Eagle (R), Peregrine Falcon (W), Laggar Falcon (W), Shikra (R), Painted Sandgrouse (R), Indian Golden Oriole (S), Marshall's and Common Ioras (R), Indian Paradise Flycatcher (S+M), Tickell's Blue (R), Red-breasted (W), Verditer and Asian Brown Flycatchers (W), Yellow-crowned (R), Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker (R), Black-rumped Flameback (R), Green Bee-eater (R), Coppersmith Barbet (R), Common, Pied and White-throated Kingfisher (R), Plum-headed Parakeet (R), Eurasian Hoopoe (R), Black and Ashy Drongo (R), White-bellied Drongos (S), Rufous Treepie (R), Large Cuckooshrike (R), Small Minivet (R), Red-vented (R) and White-eared Bulbul (R), Tawny-bellied (R), Yellow-eyed (R), Jungle and Large Grey Babblers (R), and more. Overnight stay
Day 05: Gir National Park
Explore the forests of Gir Wildlife Sanctuary with the help of morning and afternoon jungle safaris. The forests of Gir are popular as the last wild home of the Asiatic Lion. Another big cat found here in plenty is the Leopard, and spotting it is truly a special experience due to its shy and secretive nature. Gir also has a large population of Chital or Spotted Deer, Sambar, Nilgai, Wild Boar, and other Wildlife. A number of attractive Birds can be seen too, such as Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher (R), Common Woodshrike (R), Indian Scops Owl (R), Mottled Wood Owl (R), and more. Overnight stay.
Day 06: Gir National Park to Velavadar
Today, we will check out from Gir Birding Lodge, and travel almost six hours from Gir National Park to Velavadar. Arrive at Velavadar and check in at Blackbuck Lodge. Although Velavadar was created for the protection of its Blackbuck population, Indian Wolf and Striped Hyena are also here in decent numbers and make for interesting sightings. A variety of grassland birds, including sandgrouse, larks, pipits, shrikes, and raptors, make for amazing birding. In the evening, witness a massive harrier roost, one of the largest in the world.
Day 07: Velavadar to Ahmedabad
You will have the morning to go birding and wildlife viewing in the park. Keep a lookout for Blackbuck, Golden Jackal, Short-toed Snake Eagle (R), Eastern Imperial Eagle (W), Steppe (W), Tawny (W), Greater and Indian Spotted Eagles (W), Rufous-tailed (R), Crested and Sykes's Larks (R), Siberian Stonechat (W), and more. After your birding session, check out from Blackbuck Lodge, and drive to Ahmedabad (4 hours). You will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight.