Gir National Park attracts hundreds of visitors to see the Asiatic lion amidst their natural wilderness. Gir forest and the Gir National Park at present is the only place in the world where these wild beasts are found.

Lions are the key stuff of any African safari, and one roaming freely in its natural habitat is an exciting and rare sight indeed. Myself Debmalya from Kolkata, never imagined meeting one up close, but the opportunity came suddenly when my friend got shifted to Gujarat for her photography project. We set out on a four day trip to Sasan Gir to the Indian state of Gujarat. The days that followed were all action-packed, and the gir safari was truly mesmerizing.

The Exotic Location

Gir National Forest, founded in 1965, spreads over a vast area of 545 sq. Miles. The National Park only claims to take up a limited place within the forest. It lies about 40 miles southeast of Junagadh, the historical town lying on the southernmost tip of Kathiawar Peninsula. At the first go, we decided to visit the Junagadh Fort that dates back to the 15th century.

Here we met with our driver and guide for our next day Gir national park safari. The guide seemed to have known the forest as well as its history. 

The Next Morning

The morning that followed was the most memorable one. We booked the safari before our visit through Gir Safari Booking online. Our gypsy was all set, and we started for the Sasan gir safari at dawn. Monsoon was about to begin, and the forest was still bare. The lush green of the forest has dulled down a little and taken an arid brown color. It is easier to spot animals within this barren canvas.

The moment we entered the Reserve, the chital deer and peacocks welcomed us. We were also lucky enough to see a shock of birds like the rare ibis take off right in front of our vehicle. We spotted a few other creatures are sambar deer, long-legged antelope, a nilgai, wild boars, gazelles, and deer.  Just the moment I started feeling delighted to have seen more than what I expected, we heard the alarm cry of languor that intimated a leopard in the vicinity. Moments later, we saw a yellow string pass by the path.

However, my excitement vanished after roaming in the jungle for about four hours. However, our guide insisted on coming back the next day again without losing hope.

We saw Success the Next Day

We were all set on our Jeep Safari in Gir the day that followed. We took a different path today, where a sighting was reported on the previous day evening.  But that area, too, failed to fulfill our desire. It was only when we went a little deeper that we spotted a full-grown 300-pound lioness. Both of us were awed into immobility with our cameras ready to frame this once in a lifetime experience.