On your arrival at Delhi international airport you will meet your zoologist guide and be transferred to your accommodation, level – 3* hotel (Hotel Almondz) and if your flight arrived in the morning you can enjoy some sightseeing today before having a briefing on your tour at your evening meal.
Little Rahn of Kutch
This morning will be an early start, particularly as most internal flights from Delhi leave very early in the morning. So after leaving the hotel you will be taken to the airport where we will breakfast and catch your flight to the capital of Gujurat and the birthplace of Mahatma Ghandi, Ahmedebad (~1 hour). On arrival in this huge desert city you will be met by a local guide / driver and transferred to the accommodation, level eco lodge (Rann Riders Resort). This transfer takes a couple of hours so after checking into the resort and having lunch you will have time for an afternoon game drive into the neighbouring Wild Ass Sanctuary. This is just about the only place in the world where this species still exists and they have bounced back well since being protected here. This is a geographically unique landscape that used to be part of the Arabian Sea. Millennia of tectonic movements have exposed this area as a vast salt encrusted, featureless desert. We focus our wildlife watching on the small bets. These bets are little raised islands where grass and other scrub grows and creates isolated havens for wildlife. Also seen on the bets are nilgai (Indias largest species of antelope and also the largest antelope outside of Africa), Indian gazelles and blackbuck. Blackbuck are stunning antelopes that once spread across the north of India but now are isolated to a handful of places. As the sunsets you will be taken back to the resort for your well deserved evening meal and nights sleep.
Days 3 & 4
Little Rahn of Kutch
For the next 2 days you will enjoy a morning and afternoon game drive in the park, the middle of the day will be spent at the accommodation, level eco-lodge (Rann Riders) where mongooses and bats can be seen occasionally. As well as spending time looking for the ochre coloured asses and graceful antelopes and gazelle species we will also look out for smaller wildlife. Other than the mammal life found here we will try and see some of the local reptile species such as spiny-tailed lizards, red sand boas, common sand boas, saw-scaled vipers, Indian rat snakes as well as many bird species. The Little Rahn of Kutch has been declared a RAMSAR site for its wealth of birdlife and we will look out for sandgrouse, demosille cranes, common cranes and many of the deserts eagle, buzzard and flacon species. From October to March there are many species of birds here as the whole area is used as a rest point for migratory birds heading from Central Asia south to India and vice versa. Of course mammals are our priority on this mammal watching holiday and as the sun begins to fade into the horizon most of the mammal species will be about to start their days. So towards the end of the afternoon game drive we will try and spot Indian fox, desert red fox, golden jackal, Indian gerbil, field mice, pale hedgehog, long-eared hedgehog, black-naped hare and possibly the Indian wolf as they take over the antelopes and birds to begin the night shift.
Great Rahn of Kutch
On the morning of day 5 you will leave the accommodation in the Little Rahn of Kutch and be transferred to Moti Virani which is located in the Banni region just south of the Great Rahn of Kutch. The accommodation, level – eco-lodge (Centre for Desert and Ocean) is a research station that allows wildlife watchers to stay here and experience this incredible ecosystem. The Great Rahn of Kutch is an extension of the Thar Desert (which is part of the same desert system at the Little Rahn of Kutch). We are much nearer the coast here and as a result the birdlife here is extensive. Most visitors here are focused on birds and there are plenty of species here to capture anyones attention; species such as Indian bustards, white-naped tits, crab plovers, grey hypocolius, white-browed bush chat and Sykes crested lark are all some of the hardest species in all of India to see. But there are some good mammal species here too, we will be searching for desert cats, jungle cats, desert red foxes, Indian foxes, Indian wolves and there are also caracals, honey badgers, striped heyna, Indian pangolins and Indian porcupines that have been recorded here (along with a further 35 species of mammals). On the next day we will have mornings and afternoons searching for wildlife and then returning to the accommodation for meals. After a full day around the centre on day 6 you will be taken to the Lala Bustard Sanctuary for the day on day 7. This is great habitat for Indian wolf, golden jackals, Indian foxes and many small mammals as well as being a great place for Indian bustards.
Today you will start the long journey from the Great Rahn of Kutch to the world famous Sasan Gir National Park. This is a long journey so we will break this up by spending tonight at the accommodation, level – boutique hotel (Orchard Palace) here in Gondal. The hotel was built as an annex of the Huzoor Palace and the gardens and royal memorabilia is a nice break from wildlife watching and a nice place to rest. But if you wish the surrounding areas are good for nilgai and small mammals.
Sasan Gir National Park
This morning you will be transferred from Gondal and continue your journey to the last stronghold of Asiatic lions in the world. Asiatic lions were once widespread from Italy in the west to the eastern side of India in the east. Due to habitat destruction and intensive hunting they were reduced to around 20 individuals. However the forests and scrubland of Sasan Gir has been protected for nearly 100 years and their numbers are booming. There are now over 400 lions in the park and they are beginning to spread out into the neighbouring villages. This could lead to human-animal conflicts in the future so there is encouraging talk of reintroducing some of the lions into another national park nearby to start a second population. We will arrive here in plenty of time to check into the accommodation, level – 3* resort (Gir Birding Lodge) and head into the park in the afternoon. This lodge is one of the best in the area and it actually shares a boundary wall with the park, in the recent past lions have been seen in the gardens of the resort whilst people were enjoying their dinner in the main building. We will head into the park looking for lions and they are not particularly difficult to find, with over 400 lions in a small area we should see them without too much difficulty. Also whilst here in the evenings we will be on the lookout for leopards. Leopards are very hard to see in India, they are displaced by tigers throughout the majority of Indian parks but their interactions with lions is different and as a result they are seen here more regularly than any other park in India. Of course the leopards are still hard to see here but we are in the best place for them.
Days 10 & 11
Sasan Gir National Park
For the next two days you will be taken into the park during the morning and afternoon (once again returning to the accommodation, level – 3* resort (Gir Birding Lodge) for meals and rest in between). There are three main sections to this park, firstly the dense scrub and forests that make up the majority of the park and it is here that the lions, leopards, sambar, nilgai, chital and langurs are commonly seen. There are some more open areas scattered around the park, these meadows and open areas very different from the dense forests and provide a home to some of the parks rarer species such as the four-horned antelope, jungle cats and possibly the rusty-spotted cat. These animals are present throughout the park but are much harder to see in the forests. Although the rusty-spotted cat is still exceptionally hard to see anywhere in the park. Another area that is very popular is the dam, this manmade feature has proved very successful for mugger crocodiles and migratory birds and the vast water offers a great respite from the browns and yellows of the dry deciduous forest that covers most of the park. After the first full day here and depending on what we see we can tailor the last full day here to try and find a specific animal if you wish.
Velavadar National Park
This morning you can have a leisurely breakfast where you do not have to be up before dawn. After breakfast you will be taken back towards Ahmedabad but before getting back to the city you will be taken to Velavadar National Park. This is one of the best national parks in India and one of the best places in the world to see the striped hyena. This is one of the most elusive species of mammal in the world and here there are a couple of den sites that the local guides know of. Today will be your first chance to see this incredible animal after checking into the accommodation, level – eco-lodge (Blackbuck Lodge) we will enter the park. The park was initially set up for the protection of blackbuck which are now doing very well. It is also the best place to see nilgai but during the evenings we will be focused on striped hyena, Indian wolves, Indian foxes and jungle cats; before returning to the lodge for your evening meal.
Velavadar National Park
For the next couple of days you will be taken on jeep safaris into the park during the morning and afternoons as usual. All the meals will be served at the accommodation, level – eco-lodge (Blackbuck Lodge) in between safaris into Velavadar. During the mornings we will try and get some good close up encounters with the many blackbuck, Indian gazelles and nilgai that live here and then when we return in the afternoon we will switch our focus towards the rarer predators here. We will make regular stops to the striped hyena dens that have been used in recent years. Hopefully we can see this beautiful species which would make a great end to this incredible mammal watching experience. One that will hopefully showcase Asiatic lions, leopards, Indian wolves, striped hyenas, jungle cats, golden jackals, Indian foxes and desert red foxes. These species and these very special national parks and reserves surely make this one of Indias greatest mammal watching holidays around.
This morning you will be taken to the airport in Ahmedabad in time to catch the return flight to Delhi. Once in Delhi you will be taken to your accommodation, level – 3* hotel (Hotel Almondz) for your farewell evening meal and last night in India.
After breakfast you will be transferred to the international airport in time to catch your return flight home.
Please note that the itinerary stated above is correct as our planned intentions for the tour. However adverse weather conditions and other local considerations can necessitate some modifications of the itinerary during the course of the tour; any changes will be made to make the best of the time and weather conditions available to us.
This tour is available on different date (subject to availability) please contact us for more details about running this tour on a date which suits you more.