WILD AND UNTAMED GUJARAT

Key Info

  • DURATION 11 nights / 12 days
  • ACTIVITY GRADING Easy
  • BEST TIME TO TRAVEL End October to Mid April

Highlights

  • Birding in Nalsarovar Sanctuary
  • Safari to Wild Ass sanctuary
  • Marine National Park, Jamnagar
  • Safari to Gir National park
  • Blackbuck sighting in Velavadar

DAY 1:

ARRIVE MUMBAI

Arrive Mumbai international airport. Our representative will receive you at the airport and transfer to hotel.

DAY 2:

MUMBAI – AHMEDABAD FLIGHT

Morning transfer to airport to connect flight to Ahmedabad.

Arrive Ahmedabad and check-in at hotel.

Optional experience: Heritage night walk of Ahmedabad

DAY 3:

NALSAROVAR – DASADA(81 Km 1 ½ hour)

The journey commences with an early morning visit to the nationally renowned Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary. Situated 65 km from Ahmedabad, this sprawling 120 sq. km wetland - and a proposed Ramsar site - with over 150 species of waterfowl offers a great insight in to the avian diversity of the State.

The wetland itself comprises of open waters, emergent vegetation, islets and mudflats and situated as it is on the migratory flyway, is host to tens of thousands of wintering waterfowls.

From a vibrant water body teeming with birds to sighting the only Indian Wild Ass population in the world drive on to Little Rann of Kutch - the only sanctuary for The Asiatic Wild Ass in India. The Rann of Kutch is a geographically unique landscape that was once an arm of the Arabian Sea. As the land separated from the sea by geological forces, it became a vast, featureless plain encrusted with salt that is inundated with water during the rains.

The wild ass is a handsome chestnut brown member of the equus genus (horse family). Capable of reaching high speeds when galloping across the Rann, the wild ass is usually seen in small herds. The elegant blackbuck, blue bull (India's largest antelope) and the graceful Chinkara (Indian gazelle) are other mammals seen at the bets. The main carnivores of the Little Rann of Kutch are the endangered Indian wolf, desert fox, Indian fox, jackals, desert and jungle cats, and a few hyenas. Smaller mammals like hares, gerbils and hedgehogs, and reptiles like spiny tailed lizard, monitor, red and common sand boa, saw-scaled viper, cobra, dhaman (Indian rat snake), etc. could also be seen during the safaris in the Rann.

Evening safari into the Rann

Days 4

DASADA

Morning & evening safari into the Rann

The Little Rann of Kutch is also birding paradise. Birds here include Steppe, Imperial, and Short-toed Eagle, Houbara Bustard, flamingos, pelicans, storks and cranes. The best birding is during the winter months from October to March when waterfowl gather in vast numbers. These are the months when Demoiselle and Common Crane, and Lesser Flamingo are seen in incredibly large numbers.

DAY 5:

DASADA – JAMNAGAR (245 km / 4 ½ hour)

From the rugged and expansive saline deserts of the Little Rann, travel to Saurashtra – literally meaning "one hundred kingdoms" and aptly described as the land of warriors! The region is steeped in antiquity and the numerous palaces provide a vivid insight into the glorious history and legends.

With its grasslands, scrub forests, large dry deciduous tracts and a vibrant marine coastline, Saurashtra is known for its abundant diversity in wildlife. The only Marine National Park in the country provides a scintillating insight to the diverse marine life and the drive along the coast, rich in avifauna adds to the region's uniqueness before we enter the home range of the Asiatic Lion.

Depart Dasada after early breakfast drive to Jamnagar. En-route stop for lunch at Rajkot. Late afternoon arrive at the Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary, short of Jamnagar. This is a likely site for the Indian Skimmer and the Black-necked Stork. A variety of waterfowl and waterside birds can be watched at this wetland sanctuary.

DAY 6:

JAMNAGAR: MARINE PARK

Drive 2hours west from Jamnagar to Narara Island, one of India's best sites for Crab-plover. Kentish plover, oystercatcher, ruddy turnstone, broad-billed sandpiper, sanderling, dunlin, curlew sandpiper, black-headed gull, Pallas' gull, temmincks stint, lesser-crested tern, gull-billed tern, common tern, little tern, black-bellied tern, whiskered tern, whiskered tern, darters, western reef egret and other birds can be watched at the mudflats. Wading in the tidal zone during the low tide hours can also be productive to watch tropical coral reef fauna like octopus, brittle star, sea cucumber, sponges, etc.

DAY 7:

JAMNAGAR –GIR (216 km / 4 hour)

Drive to Gir National Park. Gir is the only place in the world outside Africa, where the Lion can be seen in its natural habitat. Due to the high density of lions, spotting is very good. Gir is also home to one of the largest Leopard populations in any park in India, making it an excellent place to see big cats of a different kind. Also to be found here are Jungle Cat, Rusty Spotted Cat, Sambar, Nilgai, Chinkara, Sambar, Black Buck, Four-Horned Antelope, Wild Boar, Indian Flying Fox, Indian Pangolin and Indian Porcupine.

For the birders over 250 varieties of birds like the Painted Sand grouse, Peacocks, Paradise Flycatcher, Black-Headed Cuckoo Shrike, Pied Woodpecker and Bonelli's Eagle. Gir is characterized by an arid rugged terrain with low hills and mixed vegetation with beautiful stands of teak, acacia and dhak trees interspersed with grassy plains. The Kamleshwar dam reservoir inside the Gir National Park has one of the largest marsh crocodile populations.

Early and late in the day are always best for wildlife viewing. Apart from spotting array of wildlife, Gir is also a great place to interact with local tribes. The main tribe is a nomadic pastoral community called Maldhari, who live in scattered settlements called 'nesses' and it is not unusual to see many head of livestock in the park. It is also home to a Negroid community known as Siddis, who are African in origin but speak Gujarati.

Arrive at Gir late afternoon. Check into jungle camp/ resort. Enjoy surrounding birdlife by riverside and forest. In the evening enjoy cultural evening entertainment .The SiddiDhamaal Dance which is performed by the Negroid Siddi community which migrated to India from Africa in the 15th or 16th century.

Days 8

GIR

Morning & evening game safari into Park

Day 9

GIR

Morning & evening game safari into Park.

Day 10

GIR –VELAVADAR (204 km/ 3 ½ hour)

After breakfast drive to the sprawling grasslands of the Velavadar National Park that offers ideal habitat for the highest concentrations of that most beautiful of antelopes, the Indian blackbuck. Set between two rivers and only a few miles from the Gulf of Cambay this park is home to the largest concentration of Black Bucks in the world. In the days of the Maharajas of Bhavnagar these handsome antelope were protected for the occasional royal hunting trips. Other animals of note include the endangered India Wolf, fox, jackal, Jungle Cat, Hyena and Wild Boar.

For the birders there are many endangered birds such as Houbara Bustard, Lesser Florican, Common Crane, Sarus White Stork and White Pelican. The Harrier roost at Velavadar National Park is one of the largest in the world. Another rare sight is that of the Lesser Florican who migrate here and settle here be breed in the grasslands. After arrival, the male bird marks the territory and displays to attract the female. The courtship display of the male is a spectacular vertical leap up to a height of two meters and may display over 500 times in a day!
Evening safari into park.

Day 11

VELAVADAR

Morning & Evening Safari into the Park.

Day 12

VELAVADAR – AHMEDABAD (200 Km / 4 hour)

Depart for Ahmedabad for international flight



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DELHI

India's capital city, Delhi is the second most widely used entry point into the country, being on the route of most major airlines. It is well linked by rail, air and road to all parts of the country. The remains of seven distinctive capital cities – among them Shahjahanabad and QutabMinar – can be seen. Here, museums, art galleries and cultural centers attract the finest exhibitions and performances from India and abroad. Shopping encompasses virtually everything that can be bought in the country; hotels range from the deluxe to the more modest. Most fascinating of all is the character of Delhi which varies from the 13th century mausoleum of the Lodi kings set in a sprawling park to ultra modern chrome and glass skyscrapers; and from imperial India's Parliament House and the President's Palace to the never ending bustle of the walled city surrounding Jama Masjid. Delhi also makes the ideal base for a series of short excursions to neighbouring places, all connected by road.

The capital of India, Delhi blends an historic past and a vibrant present. The Imperial city planned for the British by Lutyens is set in parks and shaded avenues. Legend has it that Delhi, then called Indraprastha, was originally founded around 1200 B.C. by the Pandavas, the august heroesof the epic Mahabharata. Present day Delhi is built around the ruins of seven ancient cities

HARYANA

This state could well be called a perfect vacation land: A state that blazed a trail of holiday traditions, with its highway tourism policy. The bird named complexes of Haryana Tourism dot the five national highways passing through the state. They also await the holiday maker at district headquarters towns and place of tourist interest. Here you get in touch with Nature. Kick off your shoes and relax with pampered treatment. Eat out at well appointed restaurants. Crowd the icecreamparlours. Gift shops, bars.

Whereas the seventies saw the initial establishment of the tourism strategy and infrastructure, the eighties saw Haryana Tourism concentrate on promoting cultural and pilgrim tourism. The nineties brought in Adventure and Golf Tourism. The turn of the century is seeing Haryana Tourism venturing into privatization, village tourism, development of new locations and the opening of crafts centres. Beginning with one resort in 1966, today Haryana Tourism runs 44 tourist complexes dotted all over the State. The resorts provide a wide range of tourist facilities such as a hotel, motels, restaurants, bars, fast food centres, health clubs, conference halls and recreational facilities like lakes for boating, picnic hides and children's parks. 777 guest rooms are available in the resorts run by Haryana Tourism.

All complexes are dotted with beautiful lakes, picturesque landscaping, golf courses, bath complexes, tennis and billiards facilities. Here Adventure sport means canoeing & kayaking, trekking & rock climbing, camping and river rafting.

HIMACHAL PRADESH

Himachal Pradesh is a tiny hill state whose pleasant summers make it a popular holiday resort. The Raj still lingers in Shimla, the state capital and former summer capital during British rule. Kullu-Manali are neighbouring resorts, surrounded by pine covered hills and lush meadows. Himachal has, in addition to popular resort towns, a series of secluded hill retreats ideal for interested anglers, trekkers and those wanting a quiet getaway. Many of these include: from Shimla – Mashobra, Kufri, Naldehra; those around Kullu-Manali include Manikaran, Naggar and Brighu Lake; the barely accessible valleys of Lahaul and Spiti are a trekker's delight.

JAMMU & KASHMIR

Jammu and Kashmir, India's fascinating northernmost state consists of three regions differing in topography and culture. Jammu was the stronghold of Hindu Dogra kings and abounds with popular temples and secluded forest retreats. Kashmir's capital city, Srinagar offers delightful holidays on the lakes with their shikaras and houseboats.

Ladakh is the northern most province of the state, with a bleak terrain of barren mountains. Hilltop monasteries and a colourful way of life, completely at one with the surroundings, make Ladakh one of the best living traditions of Tibetan Buddhism in the world today.

Amongst the three regions of Jammu & Kashmir State, Jammu, perhaps, offers the widest diversity of terrain and beauty. The entire region is pocketed with lakes and valleys, some still little explored. The foundation of the settlement of Jammu is attributed to King Jambulochan of the 9th century BC. In 1730 AD, it came under the Dogra rule of Raja Dhruv Deva and Jammu became an important centre for arts and culture, now renwned as the Pahari School. Religion, too, played an important part in its development, so beautifully evidenced in its various shrines and temples spread throughout the region.

PUNJAB

Punjab, the land of five rivers and integrated cultural history,is a treasure trove for an avid tourist.For this land of the great gurus not only boasts of ancient monuments but throbs with historical embodiments.It is no secret that whoever comes to this land of yellow fields with blue mountains providing the romantic and picturesque backdrop has never gone back without imbibing the essence of Punjab.

There is no dearth of breathtaking palaces,for Punjab was the seat of royality,as the imposing Quila Mubarak will tell you. Museums galore and so are the religious places with the Golden Temple offering succour to the mind and soul of any one visiting. If you are a wild life freak, then Punjab can take you on a tour of the sanctuaries,which are hot favourites with migratory birds.Since this state borders Pakistan,there are two main posts from which you can peep into the land that was once an integral part of Punjab and experience the feelings of the people separated by a line. The much truncated India's portion of present Punjab is divided into three natural regions :theMajha,theDoaba and the Malwa. Punjab, the chief wheat producing area of the country, is the overland entry point into India. The state is also known for its production of sports and hosiery goods. The holiest shrine for the Sikhs is the Golden Temple in Amritsar, so called because the dome is covered with gold leaf.

AMRITSAR

Amritsar - the holy city of Sikhs, has grown from a sacred village pond intoa spiritual temporal centre of Sikh culture. The city gets its name from thepool-Amritsar (Pool of Nectar), which was constructed by the fourth religiouspreceptor of the Sikh faith. It also lies on the Asain Highway.

CHANDIGARH

The city of Chandigarh lies in the valley surrounded by Shiwalik Hills that hem the great Himalayas. From here one can travel northwards to the hill resorts of Shimla Kulu, Manali, Dharmashala and Dalhousie. Chandigarh is not only the most modern city in the country but has been planned to perfection by the world famous French architect le Corbusier.

RAJASTHAN

Rajasthan, India's desert state, was once a collection of princely kingdoms where feudal traditions still carry on amidst forts and palace hotels.

Bharatpur is famous for its 29 sq km bird sanctuary which has the largest concentration and variety of birdlife in Asia. Throughout the year Bharatpur's native population of tree and water birds can be seen, the latter breeding in July-August. However, the sanctuary has gained worldwide attention as being the winter home of several migratory species including the endangered Siberian crane.

The capital city, Jaipur, was the stronghold of a clan of rulers whose three hill forts and series of palaces in the city are important attractions. Known as the Pink City because of the colour of the stone used exclusively in the walled city, Jaipur's bazaars sell embroidered leather shoes, blue pottery, tie and dye scarves and other exotic wares. Western Rajasthan itself forms a convenient circuit, in the heart of the Thardesert which has shaped its history, lifestyles and architecture. Jodhpur's exquisitely lovely fort, now a museum; art deco royal palace converted into a hotel, and quaint markets, all vividly testify to the history of the princely state. Jaisalmer, in the heart of the desert, is surrounded by sand-dunes which rendered the sand coloured fort impregnable. Today it is an inhabited city whose chief attraction is lacy filigree of pierced stonework facades of private houses, and a series of ornately carved Jain temples.

Bikaner too has echoes of the past in its sandstone palace, temples and cenotaphs. In the north of Rajasthan, Shekhavati is approachable by road from Jaipur. The greatest attraction here are the deserted mansions of local merchants decorated with a profusion of wall paintings. The subjects and styles vary greatly, and are not encountered elsewhere in India. Nearby Dundlod and Mandawa are forts, now converted into charming hotels. Bundi is remarkable for its palace fort and gallery of fine frescoes, executed in the style for which the state is famous.

Approachable by road from Jaipur are Ajmer and Pushkar. Ajmer's pre-eminence is due to the shrine of a Muslim saint who is believed to fulfill one's wishes. Nearby Pushkar has one of the very few temples dedicated to Brahma the Creator. The sleepy town with its placid lake is catapulted into prominence for 10 days every November as India's most splendid camel fair takes place here, attended by thousands of locals flashing jewellery and exuding colour. For the thousands of tourists who visit Pushkar, accommodation is in the form of tents which cater to all budgets.

Also in Rajasthan is the wildlife sanctuary of Sariska where a royal hunting lodge has been converted into a hotel. Sariska's wildlife includes the tiger, panther, deer and antelope.

UTTARAKHAND

Uttarakhand became the 27th state of the Republic of India in November 2000. Carved out of the state of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand mainly comprises the hilly regions of Uttar Pradesh. The state borders Himachal Pradesh in the north-west and Uttar Pradesh in the South, and has international borders with Nepal and China. A picturesque state, Uttarancahal has magnificent glaciers, majestic snow-clad mountains, panoramic views of the Himalayas, dense forests and the valley of flowers, as well as some of Hinduism's most sacred pilgrim sites. The State's 13 Districts can be grouped into three distinct geographical regions, the High mountain region, the Mid-mountain region and the Terai region. This is the land where the Vedas and Shastras were composed and great Indian epic, The Mahabharatha, was written.

The state is very rich in natural resources especially water and forests as it has many glaciers, rivers, forests, mountain peaks. The famous peaks of Uttarakhand are Nanda Devi, Kedarnath, Trishul, Bandarpunch and Mt Kamet. The major glaciers include Gangotri, Pindari, Milam and Khatling. The Ganga, The Yamuna, Ramganga and Sharda are principal rivers of this region.

The name Haridwar means "gateway to God", and it is from here that the pilgrimage to two famous temples, Kedarnath (Lord Shiva) and Badrinath (Lord Vishnu) starts. It is situated on the banks of river Ganga, at the foothills of the Shivalikmountains. It is one of the four places where the Kumbhmela is held every 12 years. During this fair, millions of devotees take a holy dip in the river Ganges to wash away their sins. It is said that the pitcher of Amrit was kept in hiding here by Devtas when it was unearthed from SagarManthan. The same pitcher was taken to the other places, i.e. Allahabad, Ujjain and Nasik. In the struggle with Asuras the pitcher broke spilling some sacred water (amrit), since then these places became very holy and the Kumbhmela is held every 3 years in these cities in succession. Every evening, after sunset, aarti of the Ganga is performed in Har-ki-Pauri.

UTTAR PRADESH

In Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow was associated with the princely court of Oudh and then with the British, both traditions lingering on in the city whose finest monument is the Bara Imambara. Further east, Varanasi is the oldest city in India. An important centre of Hindu pilgrimage, it is believed that those who die in Varanasi will be released from the cycle of rebirth. Pious Hindus still come to Varanasi to spend their last days, living in spartan communes run by a multitude of religious trusts. The focus of interest to a visitor is the sacred River Ganga. At the series of steps leading down to it, people come to wash away their sins by bathing in the river, the dead are cremated and holy men meditate. In the narrow bylanes of the city are crowded bazaars selling brassware and silk brocades.