Gujarat & Rajasthan – Big Cat Stories

Lions, Leopards & Tigers

Western India

Your Journey

A journey that takes us deep inside Western India, an area known for its spectacular landscapes. The two states Gujarat and Rajasthan are dominated by the Thar Desert along with enchanting dry deciduous forests, shrubland, vast savanna grasslands and endless saltpans. A huge variety of wildlife live here including three of the four Big Cats found in the country – the Asiatic Lion, Bengal Tiger and the Indian Leopard. Interestingly we also have the opportunity to see four different kinds of canids – Indian wolf, striped hyena, Bengal fox and the jackal. There are other mammals too such as the Asiatic wildass, blackbuck, spotted deer, sambhar deer and many more. Western India is also a very important destination on the Central Asian flyway, thus thousands of migratory birds congregate in the waterbodies making it an absolute goldmine for birders. The arid saltpans are dotted with lakes that are breeding grounds for flamingos, cranes and pelicans. A large number of raptors are found here including harriers, vultures and many kinds of falcons and eagles.
Through this trip we visit three unique protected areas in Gujarat – Gir National Park, Blackbuck Wildlife Sanctuary (Velavadar) and the Wildass wildlife sanctuary (Little Rann of Kutch). Hereafter we visit Jawai Conservation Reserve and Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan. All of these wildscapes interspersed with vibrant local communities, beautiful rural countrysides and extraordinary cuisine.

On this trip, we travel through coconut farms and paddy fields, plantations of coffee, tea and cardamom and finally to the rocky peaks where the people survive on subsistence farming coupled with forest produce. We explore avenues of nature, conservation, people and lifestyles thrown in with elements of true adventure making for an in depth understanding of this vast wilderness.


Safari’s to see 3 species of big cats and rare canids, birding walks to see over 200 species of birds


Tracking endangered big cats on safari with the help of fantastic naturalists, nature walks through forests, drives through the spectacular saltpans


Explore the dry deciduous forests of Gir- the last remaining habitat of the Asiatic lions, drive through the endless salt pans of Kutch with it’s mind-boggling mirages and incredible sunsets. Safari through the enchanted forests of Ranthambhore tiger reserve and the ancient rock formations at Jawai.


A special relationship is shared by the lions of Gir and the Maldhari’s, a pastoral community who live around the national park. Along with the Siddhi’s, a tribe having origins in Central Africa, brought to India by the Portuguese in the 17th century. The tribal communities of Kutch are famous for their exquisite artwork and textiles. Their way of life in these brutal desert landscapes are an experience to witness.


Many organisations are working towards a peaceful co-existence of these endangered species and the communities they share the landscape with. Tiger Watch in Ranthambore and the SNS Foundation by Sujan are two such examples that have helped uplift the surrounding tribes so that they do not have to depend on poaching.

Unique Experiences

Visit Gir National Park, home to the only Asiatic lions in the world. As few as 600 of these endangered big cats survive today. Witness how closely the cats share space with the communities around. The deciduous forests of Gir also support a good population of leopards, hyenas and even small cats like the Rusty-spotted cat.

Drive through one of the last remaining and protected grasslands of the country – Velavadar. A truly special habitat that supports many endangered species like Indian wolves and striped hyenas. The park is known for its large herds of blackbuck, a sight to behold especially if there is a hunt!

The waterbodies in the Little Rann of Kutch receive thousands of migratory birds every year. Spend a morning watching hundreds of demoiselle cranes and flamingos feeding at the lakes. A chance to see the most majestic Peregrine falcon in action along with other rarities such as the Mcqueens bustard.

Spend time in Mt. Abu, a hill station in Rajasthan known for its towering granite boulders and hills. A healthy habitat for leopards, sloth bears and rare bird species such as the green munia.

Marvel at the ancient rock structures of the Aravalli mountains at Jawai. Possibly the best place in the country to see leopards. The Jawai water reservoir has a plethora of water birds and mugger crocodiles, an oasis amongst the dry scrub habitat.

With over 250 lakes around, all paid for by a royal with a heart of gold, pledging all his wealth, Shahpura Bagh has cemented its place in the hearts of people around. Icing on top is 180 species of birds come here to roost with the changing seasons making it a birders’ paradise.

Ranthambhore is India’s most renown tiger reserve known for phenomenal sightings with a backdrop of a gorgeous forest and the 10th century Ranthambhore fort.

Itinerary Snapshot

Day 1

Arrive in Rajkot – Drive to Sasan Gir

Arrive in Rajkot and proceed on a drive to Gir National Park, 160 km approximately. On the way, stop at Gondal to visit the Naulakha Palace, an architectural marvel with a museum exhibiting textiles, brassware, royal wardrobes and more. Lunch will be at Orchard Palace, the heritage family residence built to host the personal guests of the royal family. Continue your drive to Gir.

Day 2

Sasan Gir

Morning and afternoon safaris with expert naturalists exploring the forests of Gir National Park seeking the Asiatic lions and other wildlife.

Day 3

Maldhari and Siddhi tribal villages

Morning safari inside Gir National Park, after lunch spend the afternoon visiting the Maldhari and Siddhi tribal villages to learn more about their way of life.

Day 4

Sasan Gir - Velavadar

Drive for 6 hours to Velavadar, for 250 km approximately. Arrive and check-in to your hotel. Relax or enjoy a nature walk with the resident naturalist.

Day 5

Blackbuck sanctuary

Morning and afternoon safaris inside the spectacular grasslands of the Blackbuck sanctuary to spot wolves, hyenas, blackbuck, bluebulls and many incredible bird of prey.

Day 6

Rann of Kutch

After breakfast, a 5 hour drive from Velavadar to the vast saltpans of the Little Rann of Kutch.

Day 7

Wild Ass Sanctuary

Morning and afternoon safari inside the Wild Ass Sanctuary. A fantastic habitat of flat saltpans, scrub forest and grasslands, look out for the unique wildlife that live in these harsh conditions.

Day 8

Travel to Rajasthan

After a morning safari in search of waterbirds inside LRK, drive into Rajasthan to the hill station of Mt. Abu. A 4 hour drive through transitional habitats with the increase in altitude.

Day 9

Dilwara temple

After breakfast visit the Dilwara temple, an exquisite 11th century Jain temple made entirely out of marble. After lunch, opt for the fantastic nature trail assisted by the lodge naturalist.

Day 10

Jawai Conservation Reserve

Start the morning birdwatching in the nearby forest patch with chances of spotting leopards, sloth bears and barking deer. After breakfast, drive for 2 hrs to the Jawai Conservation Reserve. Spend the afternoon on a safari in the nearby landscape in search of leopards and other wildlife.

Day 11

The Aravalis and Kumbhalgarh

Morning drive inside the reserve, a habitat of ancient rocky hillocks from the pre-Cambrian period surrounded by two ancient mountain ranges, The Aravallis and Kumbalgarh. Spend the afternoon cycling or walking to a Rabari village and learn about how this shepherd community live in such close quarters with leopards.

Day 12

Shahpura Bagh

After a morning drive to the Jawai dam, depart for Shahpura Bagh. A 5 hour drive along the Aravalis. Arrive at Shahpura, a veritable water world with over 250 lakes, most of them man-made with legendary lore that you will learn about at Shahpura Bagh, the palatial homestay by the lakeside.

Day 13


After a morning session of birdwatching among the many lakes of Shahpura, we prepare to depart for our final destination – Ranthambore Tiger Reserve. A 4 hour drive through fascinating ancient landscapes dotted with humongous boulders. Spend the rest of the day familiarising yourself with the property and naturalists.

Day 14 - 15


Early morning and afternoon safaris inside the tiger reserve in search of the holy grail of Indian wildlife – The Bengal Tiger. Over the last two decades, as a result of strict preservation, the tigers here have become habituated and are totally unperturbed by human presence. Due to this reason the park is one of the best places to photograph the big cats. Owing to their extroverted behaviour and the nature of the habitat here, one can see a lot of interesting behaviour that is generally difficult to see in other reserves. Ranthambore has rich traditions and culture, certain NGO’s and foundations have set up centres training local women and men to create interesting handicrafts using traditional methods such as block printing, stitching and painting. This is a community initiative where the money goes directly to these skilled artisans, many of whom come from extremely underprivileged backgrounds. In between safari’s we will visit some of these centres.

Day 16

Departure for Jaipur

Depart from Ranthambore to Jaipur, 4 hours’ drive for your onward journey.


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