Velavadar, a small park in the Sourashtra region of India’s northwestern state of Gujarat is one of the world’s largest roosting grounds of Harriers. Between October and December each year, Harriers congregate in large numbers and the roost is a sight to watch. Spread across an area of about 34 sq. km., the Grassland is a playground for avian enthusiasts. From Stolickza’s Bushchats to the singing larks, Falcons, Eagles, Rollers, Wheatears, Cranes, Floricans and so much more than just the Harriers that call this place their home, makes Velavadar an interesting place for birdwatching and photography.
Located at just a stone’s throw distance from Bhavnagar, it is possible to explore this park by staying in the city too. Hugging the Gulf of Khambhat in its Southern fringes, the Grasslands have a royal history dating back a couple of centuries. It was a part of the princely estate and province of Bhavnagar and served as the hunting grounds of the ruler. The Maharaja of Bhavnagar used his domesticated Cheetahs to hunt Black Buck in these grasslands.
In 1976, the Grasslands were established as a protected area and named Black Buck National Park. As the name suggests, it has a stronghold of these Antelope ungulates. It is also one of the finest habitats in the entire subcontinent to see Indian Wolves, Striped Hyenas, Indian Foxes, and Jackals. There was a decline in the wildlife populations in the region, but post-Indian Independence in 1947 stringent conservation efforts have brought back a lot of the park’s wildlife from the brink of extinction to sustainable populations today.
October to March
2 Nights and 3 days
As the mist rises above the grasslands at the crack of dawn, the occasional Jungle Cat reveals itself to the keen onlooker while Jackals and Foxes are on the prowl looking for borrowing rodents. This place is nothing short of a Grassland Heaven. Put on your jackets and hop into the jeeps this winter to watch the Black Bucks frolicking around the Grasslands as opportunistic packs of Wolves stay ambush for the right moment.
The Grasslands of Velavadar declared as the Black Buck National Park has a strong hold of the Black Buck Antelope. The grasslands have large herds of these Antelope and are often seen jumping high up and offering great photographic opportunities. During a safari in the park, be assured to have ample chances to be able to frame the jumping antelope, often referred to as the ‘Flying Bucks’.
Velavadar also offers of the best opportunities to photograph Indian wolves, Jackals, Foxes, Jungle Cats and if lucky, the Striped Hyena. During the early mornings, Wolves are normally hunting in packs and that is the best time to catch sight of them. Jungle Cats are also active at dawn and at dusk, and are seldom shy. Velavadar is a heaven for small carnivores and there are few places in the world with such a high population density.
On this Velavadar tour, you can also expect to see and photograph several birds. The Raptors in the park are a highlight and the birds are acquainted to safari vehicles allowing you to approach closer. Talk to us today, to start planning your Velavadar Wildlife Safari.
Arrival and first safari
Guests who choose to travel only to Velavadar can opt to arrive at either Bhavnagar, Rajkot or Ahmedabad and drive down. If they continue to Velavadar after the Asiatic Lion Safari or Little Rann of Kutch Desert Safari, they would be transferred directly from the Lodges.
Depending on where the tour commences, guests arrive in time for lunch. After a hearty meal, its time for the first safari experience in the Grasslands. Our local guides and naturalists would accompany the guests as we focus and finding Wolves, Hyenas, Jackals, Foxes, Jungle Cats and the large number of birds found around in the area. Post sunset, you would exit and drive back to the Lodge in Velavadar or back to Bhavnagar for the night.
There are limited lodging options around Velavadar which are upscale luxury properties. For those seeking a budget tour, there are various lodging options available in the Bhavnagar City about 35 km away from the park.
Morning and Afternoon Safaris
If staying at Bhavnagar, guests would have to start the day at 5:30 am. The 45-50 minutes drive to Velavadar would take them across the Gulf of Khambat, which is a a very scenic drive. For those staying at the Lodges around Velavadar, the drive to the park would be around 15 minutes. Once the park opens at sunrise, the guests spend the morning in the park. The early morning hours are the best times of the day for Indian Wolf sightings.
Exiting the park just before noon, those staying at Bhavnagar would be driven to a restaurant nearby for lunch and a short while of rest. While those staying at one of the lodges would be back to their rooms until the evening safari. In the evening, the guests would be back in the park for an another session looking for Raptors, Floricans, Bustards, Bushchats, larks, Wheatears, Cranes and Wild Canids, Jungle Cats, Black Buck and other Ungulate species. In the evening after sunset, return back to the Lodge/Hotel for dinner and stay overnight.
Morning safari and departure
Today, it would be the last safari in the Black Buck National Park. Following a final session in the Grasslands, guests proceed to their next destination or airport.
For those staying at Bhavnagar, they would have to checkout in the morning with all their luggage and belongings prior to leaving to the park so as to save time after the safari. After the safari, they would be transferred directly from the park to the next destination or the airport.
Those guests staying in the Lodges around the park will have the flexibility to return to the Lodge for breakfast and then checkout. Transfers can be arranged to the next destination or to the airport.
Please write to us for more information and to customise your holiday to the Black Buck National Park.
Black Buck National Park is located 40 km away from Bhavnagar Airport. The Sardar Vallabhbhai International Airport in Ahmedabad is the nearest international airport. Guests can opt to arrive at Ahmedabad, Rajkot, or Bhavnagar.
Velavadar can be combined with the Asiatic Lion Safari to Gir National Park or with the Little Rann of Kutch Desert Wildlife Safari or as a stop midway between the two destinations. For example, the tour can begin at Little Rann of Kutch, followed by Velavadar, and finally at Gir National Park.