Located in Talala Gir in Gujarat, Sasan Gir National Forest is an entirely protected National Park for endangered species of Asiatic lions. The National forest is counted as the brightest jewel on crown of Gujarat tourism.
How to reach:
By Road : Located 55 km from Junagadh City, 348 km from Ahmedabad and 156 kms from Rajkot. The Reception centre is at Sasan Gir.
By Rail : You can travel by Rail to Junagadh from Ahmedabad or Rajkot and then take a 55 km road trip on bus or taxi to Sasan Gir or can travel via local trains from Junagadh city.
By Air : Person can come via flight up to Rajkot or Ahmedabad. Then reach via road or by train.
All that you need to know about Gir National Forest
1) You must book your permit early from the official site. Gir National Park is closed from 16 June to 15 October every year. The best time to visit it is between December and March.
2) There are 50 permits daily, unless specified. The permit costs around 1000 INR. Please book for the Gir Jungle Trail for the open gypsy safari. You can also go for Devaliah Safari which is travelling in covered gypsy and sighting of lion is more frequent. However the Gir Jungle Trail holds more thrill since its open and also the jungle is deeper.
3) Each permit holder is entitled for a jeep ride which can carry up to 6/8 people. It is separate charge and costs around Rs. 1700 for the open Jeep & Rs. 400 guide fees. If you want, you can reach early, team up with other tourists to form a group and split the costs. Prices for foreigners are different. Please refer to the tariff chart as mentioned in the official site.
4) Identity proof is must. Please carry you DL card/ Aadhaar card/Voter Card preferably. Also carry your appointment in print.
5) In my personal experience, it is better to stay near the Gir National Forest. You can book forest guest house, which is right next to the park. There are other stay options also and hotels provide pickup and drop service for the park in the morning.
6) Watching lions is stroke of luck. 6 AM slot tends to fill out faster as pride of lions come out to drink water in shallow lakes at the crack of dawn. We went in 9 AM slot and we were able to see lioness feasting on a deer. There were wild boar, monkeys, peacocks and deer in the National Forest. The gypsy jeeps have different routes to follow and usually communicate to each other in case there is sightings. the total journey time will be around 2 hours covering nearly 35 KM with a 10 min break in between. Please maintain silence in jungle.
You can check out from hotel after the National Park trip and visit Somnath. Somnath temple is a visual treat, located right next to the beach. Somnath has lot of temples as it has been often visited spot for Pandavas. It is also very near to the Railway station as well the bus stand so you can stay for the evening and leave for Ahmedabad at night. Alternatively there are many guest houses, dormitories and hotels which are feasible on pocket and comfort as well.