We were allotted one of those Safari Jeeps and we set-off into the jungle. The road tapered till there was just a narrow muddy track. On n On it went taking us more into the depths of the protected reserve. The first animal we spotted was the deer. Abundant in numbers and easy to spot. The jungle was full of them. Ample of food for the lions I guess :-p
We rode on further, spotting owls and some varieties of birds, sambhar, jackals and wild boars. The main attraction of Gir is ofcourse … The Asiatic Lion! The only place it’s found today! We hadn’t seen any yet! We had to see the lion, otherwise this trip would be incomplete! The guides in the other jeeps exchanged info. if there was some lion spotting so they could take their tourists to the spot as well. There seemed to be some alertness among them, the way they signaled to each other.
We moved on and a few meters ahead we saw about 4-5 jeeps parked, everyone very quiet and peering at something behind the trees. Our guide declared … “lions”. Whaat I thought … Where … I couldn’t see any … I looked into the direction where everyone was looking … still I couldn’t see anything … then slowly my vision became clearer and I spotted a full grown-up lion … it was so very well camouflaged in the trees and bushes. Along with him was a lioness sitting opposite to him. Our guide informed us that it was a mating pair. Wow I thought as I looked at these majestic creatures, in their natural habitat, so much at ease. What if they come charging at us like right now? There was pin-drop silence at that spot but my heart was beating with joy. We hung in there for sometime along with the other jeeps. Clicked pics and willed for the lions to roar. They never did! Lazy creatures! We completed our safari and went back to our resort for a shut eye. YaY for spotting the elusive lion!
Shortly post lunch it was time for the evening safari. This time it was a different route. Unfortunately, we did not spot any lions this time. Actually winter is not the best time to visit Gir. Summer is better because the lions come out to the man-made tanks for water and spotting is easier. Also, the shrubs and trees dry out and you can see much farther inside the jungle from the tracks. However, the most amazing aspect of this route was that the forest opened up into this magnificent lake. It was so beautiful … although there were crocs criss-crossing in it … in hundreds … which reminded me of khoon bhari maang … lol! And we could GET DOWN (that’s something!) from the jeep and go to this observation tower.