Sasan Gir National Park (Lion Sanctuary)
Sasan Gir, 60km from Junagadh, is the only place on earth where the Asiatic lion still lives in the wild. The park has around 250 lions in an area of 1400 sq km and a core area of 260 sq km. The Asiatic lion used to live from northwest India to Arabia. Outside of India they have been extinct since the 1940s. In 1913 there were only eighteen lions in the park.
The sanctuary also has panthers, wild boars, foxes, deer, nilgais, chinkatas, chitals, hyenas, chowsinghas, barking deer, monkeys, and peacocks. It is sometimes possible to see a lion on safari, but they are not so easy to find. You are more likely to see a lion by taking a jeep and not a minibus; the jeeps can travel on the smaller trails and enter deeper into the jungle. The morning safaris are usually better than the afternoon ones.
There is a crocodile center where young crocodiles are cared for and then released into the wild.
The park is closed from June 16 to October 15. The best time to visit is January to May. The morning safaris are usually better for seeing wildlife than the afternoon ones. There are three main routes taken in the park, the longest around 30km. There is an Orientation Centre in Sinh Sadan Lodge Complex and a film about the lions is shown there at 7 pm.
To enter the park, visitors require a permit from the Sinh Sadan Forest Lodge. Jeeps are for up to six people. Jeeps enter the park between 7 to 11 am and 3 to 6 pm. If the guide is helpful, it is a good idea to give a tip. There are some watchtowers in the park from which wildlife can be viewed.
In the Interpretation Zone, Devaliya, 12km from Sasan Gir, there are lions in a 4 sq km fenced off area. These lions can be seen easily. Open daily except Wed. It can be reached by local bus from Sasan Gir.
At the Crocodile Rearing Centre, near Sinh Sadan Lodge, crocodile eggs are hatched so that baby crocodiles can be reared in a controlled situation. Once they reach a certain size, they are released into the wild.
Where to Stay and Eat
As there are only a few hotels here, it is best to book in advance.
The closest airport is in Keshod (85km).
There are trains to Veraval (2 hr, two daily), Junagadh (2½, one daily), and Delwada (for Diu) (one daily).
There are buses to Junagadh (2½ hr, 60km), Una and Veraval (1 hr, 45km).