We only visited Sasan Gir but there was a distinct purpose to that visit which was to see if we could spot the only lions left in India and indeed we did. But we enjoyed lovely game drives seeing the other wildlife that the park had to offer and even the areas beyond the park.The park is mainly teak and the leaves were just beginning to turn transparent and as thin as fine embroidery.
Our camp was right next to a reservoir which was full of the most beautiful herons, ibises, kingfishers and bee eaters. Our drive back to the camp came to an abrupt stop on our first day when I spotted something long and black in our path and as we came closer a black cobra lifted its triangular head to greet us but mercifully it did not spit on us. This was our first ever encounter with a snake, and a venomous one at that in India, and it left us all a little shivery and quite excited that we had seen it so close.
The park was full of spotted dear and we were soon going to discover that they are a predator's favourite food. As we were driving along early one morning our guide spotted a leopard, sitting not very far from us, with its beautiful spotted back to us. It was being partly shielded by a termite mound and on the other side of the termite mound a small herd of spotted deer were grazing oblivious to the leopard's presence. Within a flash it bounded over and made a dash for one of the young ones and within a minute it had apprehended it and it was lying lifeless in its jaw. The leopard walked casually but cautiously away holding on to its catch while the mother stood emitting plaintive cries for the loss of her baby. There was no time for cameras, no time to even breathe, it was too close, too raw and distinctly unforgettable.
We had not lost sight of the fact that after several days the cats, apart from the leopard had eluded us so we were delighted when on our last morning we came across four lionesses sitting in the path at dawn. The jeeps started arriving. News spreads fast when the lions are spotted. They seemed very unconcerened with us and after a while they got up and wandered away in the dim light before dawn. Most jeeps stayed hoping to follow them but we decided to take another route and there in our path was the most majestic of lions who strolled alongside our vehicle. When asked if this posed any danger to us our guide said lions are royals animals and they know they have nothing to fear from humans and his behaviour really said as much. He found a piece of shade in the forest and sat down allowing us wonderful views of him.
Royal in every way and we were thrilled to have been granted an extended audience !