This covers the 3rd and best part of our Gujarat trip … Bhuj, Rann of Kutch (or White Desert) and Little Rann (or Wild Ass Sanctuary). Initial content is taken from my reviews in another site on 12-Jan-2016. I will be enhancing this to add a proper flow to the narrative.
Great Rann of Kutch / White Desert: Truly a land of wonders!
The Great Rann of Kutch is actually a vast area – I believe it is the largest district in India (2nd is Leh). There are multiple areas to visit within the Great Rann of Kutch. There are desert areas, mountains, animal and bird sanctuaries, museums, historical areas, and many more.
The previous day we had stayed over at Bhuj (which was once rocked by an earthquake). While Bhuj itself is part of Kutch, the whole experience to get from Bhuj to the core area of Kutch is so amazing – the landscape keeps changing.
In Kutch, we stayed at the Shaam-E-Sarhad Village Resort in Hodka – a really unique blend of simplicity and sophistication in showcasing their hospitality and culture. On the way from Hodka towards Kalo Dungar there is suddenly an area which is supposed to have a magnetic field. Talk to your local driver and he’ll put his vehicle on neutral gear and show how it goes upwards on the slope!
The desert area is also called White Desert – due to large salt deposits when the water in the salt marsh recedes / evaporates after monsoon. There was quite a bit of water when we visited this in the end of October. However, there were enough dry areas to walk on and click photographs. We walked all the way to the end of the paved road / path, and were there in time for sunset, and on our way back we saw the moon’s reflection too. It is actually a long walk, but kids managed it as well. The water actually gave us some amazing sunset and moonlight views. We didn’t see any camel rides. Rann Utsav is an annual festival that happens here during the winter months. It is difficult to get last minute accommodation in tents – so please plan ahead. Overall, I guess any season is good season here 🙂
Kala Dungar (or Kalo Dungar): The highest point in Kutch
This is the highest point in Kutch and you can view almost the entire area from the top. They have constructed steps all the way – so no need to worry about any rough slopes. However, it is not an easy climb and the depending on the weather, the heat could also take a toll – take caps / umbrellas as needed. There are multiple view points – white desert, a bridge that crosses over to Pakistan. I think they have a coin telescope, but you may want to take your own binoculars. On the way to Kalo Dungar, there is an area on the way which is supposed to have a magnetic slope – if your vehicle is left on neutral, it seems to go uphill ! Don’t miss this area.
Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary / Little Rann of Kutch: Don’t underestimate this place
Little Rann of Kutch is a broad stretch of arid land between Great Rann and Ahmedabad. Within this area, a major portion is called the Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary. Though this area is not fenced out, it may be both difficult and risky to venture in on your own. Best is to take a jeep safari available with all the places of stay nearby.
We had stayed at Devjibhai’s Eco Tour Camp and did both animal safari in the evening and bird safari in the morning. During animal safari we saw deer, nilgais, and a whole lot of Wild Ass (which I guess is the main attraction). We drove into the middle of vast arid land with a lot of cracks on the ground. We got to see areas where they make salt. Our jeep got stuck at a place and they had to get another jeep to pull this one out. There are a lot of photo opportunities.
Wild Ass are a very interesting species. They are capable of running at 80 kmph … the locals say you can never touch one of these alive … These don’t run when they see you, but always maintain a safe distance. The closer you get / faster you run, they match that distance / speed 🙂
The bird safari in the morning was even better and we saw flamingos, pelicans, and many other birds up close. We saw them take off in groups and land all together in another location. These areas are very marshy – my daughter almost lost her shoe 🙂 The Eco Tour Camp had also arranged for our break-fast to go – and that too was an experience! Overall, this place is possibly better than Great Rann of Kutch 🙂