highlights and main attractions of sasan gir national park

Established in 1965, primarily to conserve the dwindling population of Asiatic lions, Sasan Gir National Park has been a great success. In 1913 there were just 18 of these wonderful creatures counted here, the last place in the entire world where you can see them in their natural habitat, they are now thriving with numbers at about 350. Arguably India’s biggest cat sanctuary, there is a wide variety of wildlife found here and a historical atmosphere that is sure to draw you in.

Located in the Junagadt District of Gujarat, the park is about 65 kilometres southeast of Junagadh City. Featuring mixed deciduous forest of teak, flame of the forest, ber and a variety of acacia, only about 10% of the park is forest and it does look a little shabby. However, this does represent the original vegetation and provides a suitable environment for the tawny Asiatic lions. The low, undulating hills are dissected by rivers and streams, with deep valleys and rocky elevations. 

The rugged landscape is interspersed with extensive clearings, with savannah-like vegetation, like fodder grass.

where is sasan gir national park?

wildlife and locals

Sasan Gir National Park is the only place, outside of Africa, where you can see lions in the wild and the only location in the world where you can find Asiatic lions in their natural habitat. Slightly smaller and stockier than their African counterparts, these lions have a scruffier appearance, with a thinner mane and thicker hair at the end of their tails. Spending a few days here you are likely to see them at some point. There are also over 300 jaguars, as well as hyenas, sambar, chital and nilgai, as well as wild boar, monitor lizards, pythons and marsh crocodiles. When it comes to birds there is a wide variety, from paradise flycatchers and black-headed cuckoo shrike, to pied woodpeckers, rock bush quail and painted storks.

On a jeep safari you have a good chance of seeing the lions, especially if you are here for a few days and you have a good tracker/guide. You can also take rewarding walks along the Hiran River, enjoy birding and visit the Tulsishyam hot springs & Kankai Mata Temple – dedicated to the Mahabharata hero, Bhim and his mother. There is also the Gir Interpretation Centre, 16 suqare kilometres of fenced off safari park featuring a cross-section of wildlife, from lions and spotted deer to peafowl. 

The Sudanese villages around give the area a slightly more ‘African safari’ feel than other parks in India and they sustain themselves by grazing livestock and harvesting from the forest, co-existing with the surrounding wilderness.

When it comes to accommodation, you can enjoy the traditional, yet luxurious Lion Safari Camp set in a mango orchard, each tent with an extended deck and great access to the lions.

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