Gir National Besides Africa, Gir is the only place in the world where one can spot lions roaming freely in the wild. Closed from 16th June to 15th Oct every year, Gir Jungle Safari is opening after a prolonged time as Covid-19 had hit the previous months and the bookings indicate that there is a heavy rush of tourists for this place. Barring a few on 22nd and 23rd, all spots of safari have been booked till the end of Diwali festivals.
Gir Lion Sanctuary issues 150 safari permits during weekdays and 180 permits on the weekends. Per E-permit maximum of 6 persons (plus one child between 3-12 years) are allowed to enter the tourism zone of the safari from sanctuary headquarters Sasan near Talala on earmarked safari trails in gypsy cars driven by authorised drivers.
The cost of a permit for up to 6 persons in a Safari Gypsy is Rs. 800 from Monday to Friday and Rs.1000 on weekends and festival days. For an extra child, the charge is Rs.100 and Rs.125, depending upon weekdays or weekends. For foreign nationals, the same trip would cost Rs.5600 on weekdays and Rs. 7000 on weekends, and for extra child Rs. 1400 and Rs.1750 as per weekdays or weekends.
The permit fee doesn’t include the Guide charge (Rs. 400) and Gypsy charge (Rs. 2000), which is be paid separately to respective Guides and Gypsy vehicle owners.
The timings of Safari during winter, 16th October To 28th/29th February are 6:45 AM to 9:45 AM and 3 PM to 6 PM and from 1st March To 15th June, 6:00 AM to 9:00 AM and 4 PM to 7 PM. There is strangely another category also, marked as Winter/Summer with timings 8:30 AM to 11:30 AM on the website.
The erstwhile Nawab of Junagarh’s private hunting area, notified as a wildlife sanctuary in 1965 with a view to conserve the Asiatic Lion, covers 1412 square kilometres of which 258 Km forms the core area of the National Park. From a population of approximately 20 lions in 1913, they have risen to a comfortable 523 according to the 2015 census.
Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary (GNPWLS), managed by the Forest Department is situated 370 km from Ahmedabad and 160 km from Rajkot. 60 km southeast of Junagadh and 100 km far from Diu, the nearest spot where alcohol is permitted from dry Gujarat, Sasan Gir makes an exciting stopover en route with several lodges, farmhouses, and hotels for every pocket.
While the sanctuary remains closed to tourists during the monsoon, what can be described as an open Zoo, Devaliya safari park, and Ambardi safari park near Dhari remain open to tourists round the year.
Kaziranga sanctuary in Assam has also been opened from October 1.