Gir Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world. The chief attractions of this sanctuary are the mighty Asiatic lions. Visit Sasan Gir this winter to see the big cats freely roaming around in their natural habitat.
Located in Saurashtra, Gujarat, Gir is the last abode of the endangered Asiatic lions. The Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over an area of approximately 1500 sq.kms. As per the latest census, there are 523 Asiatic lions in the sanctuary.
Gir is a haven of wildlife. In addition to lions, the sanctuary is home to scores of Indian leopards, cobras, striped hyenas, jungle cats, Indian mongoose, golden jackals, honey badgers and Indian palm civets. The park has a sizable population of herbivores as well. These include sambar, chital, Nilgai, four-horned antelope, wild boar and chinkara.
Last year, the sanctuary received 1.32 lakh visitors. The Gir Sanctuary isn’t open round the year. It remains closed for four months during the monsoon season (June- September) and reopens again in October. Safaris through the sanctuary are a major hit with tourists. This season the park opened with advance safari bookings for 90 days. The booking for Gir Jungle Trail or Safari can only be made online. 90 permits are issued per day.
The Gir Wildlife Sanctuary has eight routes that tourists can take while exploring it. Tourists can get their vehicles from Sasan (Gir). One permit allows a maximum of six tourists to spend about 3 hours inside the sanctuary. While only around 90 permits are issued per day, this goes up to a maximum of 150 permits during holidays and festive seasons. Starting this year, all vehicles that operate within the sanctuary have been fitted with GPS.
Since bookings for three months are already full, tourists who would like to get a glimpse of the lions in the wilderness should consider visiting the Gir Interpretation Zone at Devalia. The other option is to book your Safari today itself. Of course, this will mean waiting for a few months, but Gir is worth the wait.
As for the Devalia Interpretation Zone, well, it is spread over 420 hectares and remains open throughout the year except on Wednesdays. Compared to Gir, it is quite small, but all the wildlife found in Gir is also found here. It is about 7 kilometers from Sasan Gir Sanctuary. Tickets can be bought online or from the booking counter at Devalia Interpretation Zone. Here also lions are kept in the open. Tourists are taken through the fenced zone in buses.