The safari was early morning, so we retired to our rooms early.
Alarm beeped at 3:30 am. Call it the excitement or the teeth clattering cold, I had a bad sleep. Somehow, I pulled myself from the layers of pullovers and blankets. We had to reach the sanctuary office by 5:30. The visiting hours are divided into two slots:
Morning: 6 am-9 am and Evening: 3 pm-6 pm.
Morning slot is preferred as the big cats come out at night to hunt for prey and thus can be better spotted in the early hours. Later in the day lions have a knack of finding a cosy spot n dozing off to sleep.
Christmas holidays meant that the outside temperature was a near freezing 6 degrees. This is a peak tourist time and pre-booking is strongly recommended if you want a hassle-free experience. Online booking is a very user friendly and systematic process.
All the formalities (at Singh Sadan) and assignment of a driver and a helper consumes of about 45 mins on a rush day.
After sipping through hot tea cups in a futile attempt to keep ourselves warm, we began our quest to spot the big cats.
The gates open at 6 am, but trust me, December, Gujarat and inside a forest made it look like a midnight spooky adventure!
The zone is divided into 6 routes where the jeeps safaris can go inside. It is recommended to let the driver and helper drive the sequences of the day as they frequently go inside and know where the big cats were spotted last.
After about 1 hr in the forest we came across and lioness with her month old cub basking in the morning sun while the cub played with her tail. Unfortunately, they were quite far and binoculars aided our eyes.