Discovering the many facets of Gujarat: A 9 day journey in November 2019 (story 3)

The Ranns, deserts, artisan villages, stepwells of Gujarat, and much more… in 9 stories… this is ‘story 3’

Co-authored & edited by my travel companion – Shoba Nayar

Little Rann of Kutch

The Royal Safari Camp

The ‘Royal Safari Camp’ was spacious and lovely with little brick round houses individually situated throughout the grounds and where the quiet atmosphere lent itself to restful moments on the porch.

Some bigger family units were also available; as well as an outdoor swimming pool, which perhaps being winter, albeit not cold, was empty.

The dining room and office were set in a larger building with a nice open reception area where one could sit on large couches in the air conditioning and watch other travellers come and go through large doors opened wide to the well tended gardens.

Travellers to the Little Rann

Open jeeps took people to the local (Little Rann) Sanctuary, and we eagerly anticipated our morning trip there the next day.

The morning started early as we boarded the back of our open sided jeep and hurtled off down the road to the permissions office before driving onto ‘The Little Rann of Kutch’. The sun was rising and the cool morning air turned to warmth as we followed the sandy road between bushes with the lagoon on our right. The driver stopped to point out a bird that was almost invisible in the array of fawn and brown foliage. It was a grouse which looked very small against the vast landscape.

Soon we were spotting Siberian Crane and a large eagle squatting on the ground. The crane, blue and lithe lifted off and flew into the Rann – a beautiful sight. It was such a treat to photograph these great birds in flight.

We travelled slowly alongside the shallow waterway, watching the wading birds such as pelican, black spoon bills, and black billed ibis.

Amongst the spindly bushes we observed the Asiatic wild ass, an endangered species of delight, looking a bit like a piebald horse come donkey.

We drove quite a long way into the Rann observing many types of birds on and off the water, along with another herd of wild ass, lighter in colour but just as cute.

Pelicans gliding in formation

On the water we saw pelicans gliding beautifully in formation, dipping their heads to scoop up fish as they continued along as one large movement, honking and providing us with an amazing experience. A variety of other big and small birds waded or flew off the land and water.

Soon we saw a small number of flamingos gracefully tiptoeing along in the shallow water, heads down in the water eating before moving along again.

This vast flatland was quiet and peaceful in the early morning. After some time of observing and enjoying this relaxing experience, we drove back to the sanctuary entrance watching peacocks and peahens with babies, and the flocks we had seen on our way co-existing happily at the water’s edge, undisturbed by our cameras and observing eyes.

The village people and farmers were already at work in the fields as we drove to the Rann at sunup, making the most of the cool morning air before the intense heat of the day. The town had become quite busy with children on their way to school and others going about their daily business. It was a happy scene.

We had the rest of the day to relax and enjoy the environment of the camp.

A drive to the Agaria Salt Works

At 4pm we set off with the driver to visit a local shawl factory but it was closed so on we drove way out into the country, with our driver stopping for us to observe the bird life on fence wires and power lines. It was obvious that bird watching and identifying them to visitors was a beloved hobby for him.

Sometime later we arrived at a compound of giant pyramid shaped mounds of salt.

This was the Agaria Salt Works and we watched the workers—men, women, and children alike—bagging salt.

The salt lumps go into a crusher and then up a conveyer belt and into the bagging area. The photos tell the story.

Evening entertainment at Royal Safari Camp

Local villagers colourfully dressed in traditional clothing dance to entertain visitors.

Story 4… ‘Driving to Bhuj: Exploring Along the Way’ coming soon.

Travel organised with Suresh Bahuguna at Lotus India Journeys!

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