Gir Forest and National Park is the last refuge of the Asiatic Wild Lions. The wildlife conservation efforts at Gir, have borne fruit. Today, as per the 2015 lion census report, there are 523 lions in the wild. In addition, the forest hosts a variety of flora and fauna. If you are planning a DIY Trip, then the below tips will help in booking the Gir Jungle safari permit to give you the best wildlife experience:
- Ensure that you book an Online Permit for the Open Jeep safari in the Protected area. There is no other way one can visit the jungle to see the lions in the wild.
- Book the Online Gir Permit only from the official Government site: http://girlion.in/ . Other websites seem to offer Permits, but these are fake sites and their permit is not accepted by the Forrest officials.
- Entry is strictly managed and 100% of the Gir Safari bookings happen online. Make sure you have booked your permit before reaching Gir.
- Visiting hours are split into three – 3 hour time slots: 6am to 9 am, 9am to noon, and 3pm to 6pm. Best time for viewing wildlife is early morning or late evenings, just before sunset. Both those slots fill up quickly. Ensure that you book your permits minimum 45 days in advance to avoid any disappointment.
- There are 12 routes inside the jungle. The routes are assigned dynamically at the reception center to ensure equal load on all the routes. Once the route is assigned, the driver is not permitted to change the routes.
- The charges for Gir Jungle Permit 2016-17 are as below:
- In addition to the Permit charges, one needs to pay for:
- Guide Service: Guides are mandatory to for the Safari, and are available locally at the reception. The charges are fixed by the Forest officials. In 2015-16, the charges were fixed at Rs. 250/-.
- Vehicle Charges: Only designated open Gypsies are permitted inside the sanctuary. One is not permitted to travel in their personal vehicle. Hotels in Gir book the Gypsy for you at a charge of Rs. 1500/- (in 2015-16). Alternatively you can hire the Gypsy at Rs. 1300/-( in 2015-16) outside the Reception center.
- Camera charges, if applicable, are extra and is fixed at Rs. 100 in 2015-16.
- Carry a print-out of the Online permit, along with valid ID-Proof documents as stated in the Online permit, otherwise entry is refused.
- As a general rule, one in every two safaris has a lion sighting. If you are determined to spot a lion, then try booking 2-4 safaris across two days and across time slots. This allows you to enjoy a variety of wildlife at different times.
- If time is at a premium, and you have only a single safari booked then you could bribe the guide and the driver to take you to the spot where a lions are spotted. Guides are in close touch with the lion-trackers ( Security personnel who keep a track on every lion’s whereabouts ), as well as other forest guides over their cell phones and should be able to take you to the place where the lion is spotted that day. We do not recommend this option, but we do understand if you choose this option. The usual bribe amount is 1.5-2 times the total cost of the jeep safari i.e. the jeep cost, guide charges and the permit cost.
- Devaliya Safari Park and Interpretation zone, at a short distance from Sasan Gir, is a fenced area housing all habitat types and wildlife of Gir. It provides a good opportunity to see lions and other animals in their natural habitat, albeit stage-managed, in a short period of time and at cheaper rates. If you have missed out on viewing lions and other wild animals in Gir, then Devaliya Safari Park is the best alternative, as it provides an assured option to fulfil your lust for the wildlife.
We wish you all the luck with viewing lions and other wildlife at Gir. Be prepared to be seduced by the beauty of Gir Forest, it will surely surprise you. If you have any other tips for Gir, then we would love to know about them in comments.
Do check out our other posts on Gir and Gujarat: