The more risks you allow children to take,– Roald Dahl, My Year.
the better they learn to take care of themselves…
Isn’t this statement 100% true? Children love exploring and with their little curious minds they get the real-life experiences. As a mother to a 4 year old, I understand the piqued interests of my son when we talk about travelling. So, last year in the month of March, when things were normal and travelling was still considered safe, we planned a safari trip along with our friends to Sasan Gir. It was during this trip that we experienced a lot of new things.
The journey begins!
As we celebrated Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday, I recollected all of his stories that touched my heart as a child and young reader. That is when I distinctly remembered this beautiful quote from his biography named ‘My Year’, where he pens down his journey as the season changes through the twelve months. He says:
Boarding the Mumbai Central-Rajkot Duronto Express on 20th March, 2019 with our friends, we began our journey with much fervor and excitement. A train journey has always excited Ayaansh but this being a night trip to Rajkot, he had no option but sleep. He was a little disappointed but few card games and chit-chatting with daddy’s friends made him have a sound sleep.
We reached Rajkot in the morning and were very excited to try Gujarati breakfast. Our pre-booked cab driver arrived promptly taking us to a nearby dhaba for breakfast. After enjoying the scrumptious Gujarati Dhoklas & Khandvis, we made a halt at Sakkarbaug Zoological Park, also known as Junagadh Zoo.
Here we saw many wild animals like lions (of course), tigers – both Indian Bengal and white, deers, langoors among others, few birds like peacocks, swans, ostriches, owls, parrots, seven sisters and much more. After visiting the aquarium and the reptile section, we took our journey forward to Sasan Gir. I must mention the roads were quite beautiful with lots of tall grasses on either side, mud clad houses in between and with few windmills in sight.
We reached our beautiful hotel property by mid-noon, settled ourselves and by evening we were all ready to enjoy the cool breeze and peacocks around us. The swimming pool tempted us and we all ended up splashing water and playing water sports.
For our dinner we headed out to a nearby dhaba near the Safari Booking Office and had a tour of the area around us. I must say the area gets dark very soon and it is not advisable to even venture out in roads as the nocturnal animals begin their hunt for survival. So we were back to our hotel playing games that we brought along, Ayaansh swinging in the hammock and dancing around us. And not a single night chit-chat is complete without narrating spooky experiences or college stories and we were not going to make an exception.
Safari No. 1
The next day we began our early morning trip by around 4.30 am to head to the Booking Office at Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary. We already had 3 safari trips booked in advance, but in order to get the best route and a guide, it is advisable to head early. Once you reach there, you can ask for the best possible route to spot the majestic lions and other wildlife animals. Also, an experienced guide will help you in spotting animals or birds even from a distance. The other important thing is you reach early, to book the first available gypsy so that you stay ahead of others in the same route. This helps you have the first mover advantage to spot the animals.
Our trip began at around 5.30 am and entering upon our route, we found footprints of the King of the Jungle. Unfortunately, we couldn’t spot the lion immediately. But then we found a leopard, couple of foxes, several deers – spotted and unspotted, Nilgai, sambar deers and even some owls nesting in the trees. The early morning gave us the pleasure of hearing some beautiful bird sounds cooing and chirping all around us.
The beautiful part of Gir National Forest is that it is huge and spread across, hence the forest officials have made several water holes along the trail route, so that spotting the wild becomes easy. And the other best thing is you start with a route and trail ends on another route. So, almost while completing our trip we saw a lioness with her 2 cubs sitting leisurely in the wild. Here, we met up with the Forest Inspectors who check for safari documents of the tourists. Fortunately, our officer was kind enough to let us know that going ahead on the route there is a lion in distant among the trees. And to our luck, being the first vehicle to drive we saw a mighty lion with manes, licking his paws amongst the trees. Oh my, it was difficult to spot indeed, as the lion had perfectly camouflaged among the trees. One needs to have keen spotting eyes in the wild.
We were also surprised with Ayaansh who spotted a lot of wild as we moved in the gypsy. And for a 3.5 year old, Ayaansh was tight lipped as we told him talking or shouting amongst the nature would drive them away from us. With this, our first safari of 3 hours came to an end and we headed back to our hotel yearning to eye more lions.
Safari No. 2
Our second safari was arranged for the same day at around 3.00 pm. So, having our lunch early at the hotel we set out to the booking office for the same procedure. I must say that the system is well organised as the safari trips are all booked online in advance. So your safari is confirmed and one just arrive early in order to book the gypsy and the tour guide.
With the afternoon sun blazing at us we now had a very experienced guide and a new route to explore. This new route was via the Kamleshwar Dam route, so we also had a stop over at a view point for visitors. This route not only lifted our spirits up as we spotted two majestic lions, peacocks fly high from the cliff amongst several other animals and birds but also gave us a mesmerising view overlooking the dam and vast spread forest area. The Kamleshwar View Point built for the visitors is absolutely breathtaking over looking the river and the cool breeze soothing your scorched face from the sun. This second safari was indeed satisfying as we the lions really close chilling on the earth, looking at the visitors straight in the eye. Our guide was right when he said, ‘lions don’t harm humans till he is poked around and is a perfect gentlemen accepting everyone around him’. He is really the King of the Jungle and somewhere he reminded me of Mufasa from Lionking, or Aslan from Narnia. Aren’t they just wonderful?
As we returned back to our temporary abode our hearts were overjoyed having witnessed the nature’s beauty and the beast all in 3 hours. We quickly had our lunch and slept contently for the final safari, the next day. Even Ayaansh was overjoyed to see so many animals and birds in real. For him, it was like the magic come true.
Safari No. 3 – the magnificent ending!
On the final day of our safari, we again woke up early and headed to the booking office to get our gypsy and the guide. We were told that the lions were much active and in the vicinity of the trail today. As soon as we began our journey, our joy knew no bounds as we saw a lion quenching his thirst from the water hole. The 5-7 minutes of just gazing at the animal drinking water gave us ample time to click pictures and observe his intricate details. As we moved ahead we again saw many deers, monkeys, foxes, nilgais and few more birds. Suddenly our guide spotted a fresh kill which now was feasted by the vultures. Our curiosity spiked up again as there was a lion nearby. As we drove ahead and were about to end our three hour trip, our luck brought us a moment that we all have etched in our memory. There had been a territorial war and the defeated lion was now walking towards our vehicle, saliva dripping from his mouth and few scars visible on his body. He was angry was roaring continuously till he crossed us and moved out of our sight deep into the jungle. His roar gave us chill down the spine and we knew that it was a rare experience to witness something like that. Moving ahead we again saw a lion which sat in pride, heads high up in the air and not giving any hoots to the visitors who had come to see him. Apparently, he was the one who won the territory. A sly fox was nearby and was teasing him continuously by going closer to him only to run away to a distant if the lion even flinched. Finally, realizing that his king is not in the mood, the fox ran away from our sight. With this our finale was sealed and we were overjoyed with all the incidents from the safari. Ayaansh was sad that it was our last safari, and we promised him that we would visit more national parks / safaris in the future.
As I write my experience today, I am fondled with so many memories of the tour which got us all through a lot of emotions. While the safari gave us ultimate satisfaction, the end of the trip turned out to be a nightmare for us. That story deserves a different blogpost. It’s a struggle that I would never want to go through my life ever again.
Keeping it up for later, let me thank Ruchi & Dipika for the blogging prompt ‘Travel/Journey’.
This blog is a part of #speakeasywithruchindips challenge and I hope all the readers enjoy going through this post!
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