Gir National Park & Wildlife Sanctuary or locally called Sasan Gir is the last abode of Asiatic Lion in the world. The park is located in Junagadh district in the southwest of Gujarat. It is at a distance of about 360 km from Ahmedabad and 40km from Veraval town. Scattered over an area of around 1412 sq. km, Gir National Park is a mixed deciduous forest composed of teak, flame, acacia and banyan trees. It is a hilly tract with as many as seven perennial rivers crisscrossing the sanctuary. Apart from Asiatic lion the sanctuary is home to a diverse species of wildlife like, Jungle cats, Indian Leopards, Sambar Deer, Chital spotted deer, Nilgai antelope, Chowsingha Four-horned Antelope, Chinkara gazelle, wild boar, Sloth bears, Striped Hyenas, Indian Cobras, Golden Jackals, Indian Palm Civets, Indian Mongoose and Desert cats and Rusty-spotted cats. Rare reptiles like the Monitor Lizards, Marsh Crocodiles, and Indian Star Tortoise can be spotted here.
Gir national park is famous for being not only the last refuge of the Asiatic lion but is renowned world over as a successful conservation project. The 14th Asiatic Lion Census 2015 has found the number of lions increased at 523 an increase of 27 % in comparison to the last census.
Gir is very well connected through all the major modes of transport Air, Road, and Rail. Junagadh the headquarter of Junagadh district is the most common entrance route to the park.
By Air: The nearest Airport is Keshod at Junagadh at a distance of around 60 km. Since it is not operational right now the best option is Rajkot which is at a distance of around 105 km from Junagadh. One can reach Junagadh through state-owned or private bus services. Taxis are also available.
By Road: There are regular bus services from State Transport for the Sasan Gir National Park from Junagadh (690kms) & Veraval ( around 40km).Apart from that, there are multiple options in terms of buses or taxis from various other destination of Gujarat to Gir and nearby towns of Junagadh and Veraval.
By Train: Junagadh railway station is well connected by trains with all important destinations of Gujarat like Rajkot & Ahmedabad. Also, it has good connectivity with major Indian cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, and Hyderabad etc. From there it’s barely a journey of an hour and a half either through Bus or private taxis to reach Sasan Gir.
The protected area of Gir National Park is closed from 16th June to 15th October every year. It is the period when the southwest monsoon arrives. Literally, December to March is climatically best season to visit the park. Though, April and May are very hot but considered as the best months for wildlife viewing and photography. The best time to view the lions, in their natural surroundings is early in the morning or after 4 p.m. It is during this time that the animals are most active and can be easily spotted.
• Asiatic lion, wildlife & jeep safari: Gir Sanctuary is famous around the world for being the last and only home of the critically endangered Asiatic Lions. These lions are a smaller more compact version of their African version and are best viewed at dawn or dusk when they are on the move. Apart from this, the National Park is home to a wide variety of wildlife. Jungle cats, Indian Leopards, Sambar deer, Chital spotted deer, Nilgai antelope, Chowsingha Four-horned Antelope, Chinkara Gazelle, Wild Boar, Sloth bears, Striped Hyenas, Indian Cobras, Golden Jackals, Indian Palm Civets, Indian Mongoose and Desert cats and Rusty-spotted cats. Rare reptiles like the Monitor Lizards, Marsh Crocodiles, and Indian Star Tortoise can be easily spotted here. During monsoons, about 200 varieties of birds can also be seen in this park including the peafowl, gray partridge, Bonelli’s eagle, crested serpent eagle, jungle bush quail, painted sandgrouse, common green pigeon and several species of doves. The best way to enjoy the wildlife at Gir National Park & Sanctuary is the jeep safari with a trained guide. Guides are expert of the jungles with the know-how of every nook and corner of the lion’s whereabouts. The Gir Forest Department also organizes “Lion Shows”. They make sure that you can see the lions at close range so they send trackers early morning on a mission to the located places and tempt them with live baits.
• Crocodile Breeding Farm: The Crocodile Breeding Farm near Sasan is an interesting place to see, where reptiles are hatched and reared before they are set free into the forest in their natural habitat.
• Tulsi Shyam Hot Springs: Located about 90 km from the entrance to the sanctuary in a scenic surrounding these are the natural hot springs where one can take bath.
• The Pania Wildlife Sanctuary: The sanctuary, better known as Chanchai-Pania, was declared as a sanctuary in the year 1989 and preserves many endangered species of wildlife in its habitat. It is an extension of the Gir National Park and those who visit the sanctuary may get to see the lions and leopards from the National Park roaming around in the area.