From Mumbai to Gir.
Security is tight at Indian airports. To get into the departure terminal you must show a printed itinerary showing your name, destination, flight number, date and time, accompanied by your ID, which for foreigners means your passport. Your friends say their goodbyes on the pavement.
My destination was Gir which is in the state of Gujarat immediately north of Maharashta of which Mumbai is the capital. The nearest airport is Diu, the flight takes about an hour.
India is composed of 28 states and seven union territories. Daman and Diu together make up one of the territories. Along with Goa, Daman and Diu were excised from India by the Portuguese. When India gained control the trio were governed as a single territory, Goa was given statehood in 1987 leaving the two small enclaves of Daman and Diu, 198 kilometers apart, each surrounded by Gujarat. This has enormous practical importance, Diu is a small but busy seaside resort, Gujarat is a dry state. Lunch was accompanied by a couple of refreshing beers.
Then the drive to Gir, as a passenger of course.
No palatial accommodation for me here, although that isn’t to say that good hotels aren’t available. For me one of these tents …
This is the Lion Safari Camp near the small town of Sasan Gir. The lions are a respectable distance away and the tents come with en suite facilities, hot and cold water and plenty of headroom. The camp is situated on the banks of a river, you don’t have to go far to find plenty of birds, the laundry, swimming pool and the odd Mugger Crocodile.
It’s reported that the Mugger is more famous for its tool use than it is for eating people. It is known to balance sticks on its head, birds, especially in the breeding season are tempted to take the sticks … swirl of water, snap, lunch.
I spent the next three nights at the camp making seven forays into Gir National Park and any spare daylight time birding around the river.
Coming soon … the lions of Gir National Park.