I was shocked to find very little information available on net on Gir. I had to take help my photographer friends for my trip. The sites on net in the name of Gir are run by hotels and resorts hence you get only the basic information like distance from Ahmedabad (400km) or size of the park, etc. That actually help very little to plan one's trip.
Therefore to complement my earlier post, I am proving here some additional information for a visit to Gir National Park in Gujarat. One can hire a cab from Ahmedabad which will be a costly affair. I took the overnight Somnath Express from Ahmedabad (10 pm departure) which dropped me at Veraval at around 6 am. I found Veraval at just 40 odd kilometers to be a better point for disembarkation than Junagarh (65km). Taxis were easily available even at those hours of a cold morning. I was advised to bargain for a return trip pick up as rates at Gir would be higher. But the rates turned out to be same. May be it was a low season. I paid Rs.1200/- for one way trip between Veraval and Sasan.
Lion can bee seen through safaris in open gypsys or by a visit to Devaliya Interpretation Centre. Sighting in gypsy is a matter of luck. The interpretation centre is nothing but a zoo and most of us not of the kind travelling all that far to see captive lions. It is located around 15 km from Sasan and cost Rs.75/- per head as entry fee.
For wildlife lovers, the main attraction is always a safari in open gypsy. Three safaris are conducted each day. Each safari is of about 2 1/2 hours. First at 6.30 / 7.00, Second at 8.30 / 9.0 and Third at 3.00 / 3.30. The times varies slightly depending on season. Safaris starts and ends at the Sinh Sadan guest house campus. Number of gypsy allowed per route per day is fixed. Routes are allotted randomly (apparently). There is no online booking for safari. However advance booking can be done by sending fax to the Sinh Sadan office. Then you may have to call up to confirm your booking. Advance booking for next day can be made at the booking counter in the evening around 6:00-6:30 pm. This will spare you from standing in long queue for current booking. You also get local fellas standing for you in the queue for about 200 bucks. Yet you need to come just before window opens to replace him. You are required to produce your ID for booking. Therefore even if you have made advance booking, you will have to come to the office before safari to get your vehicle and guide allotted. There is a table outside the counter where you need to pay for vehicle and guide. The cost of gypsy safari as on Jan 2013 was Rs.1700/-. Breakup is Rs.400/- for permit charges (500 on weekend), Rs.100/- for camera (7MP and above), Rs.1000/- vehicle rent, Rs.200/- guide fees. Thus total cost of a safari is Rs.1700/- (1800 on weekend). Anything you pay abobe that to your hotel or agent is commission.
There are seven routes in all. Permits are issued route wise. If you are issued a permit for route No.2 means your entry is through route 2 and exit is through route 6. If you enter through 4 then exist through 7, and so on. Often the routes cross each other, yet there exists most happening route on every few days. Unfortunately you can not jump routes inside the park. Lions moves at their will, so they not stick to a particular route. Sighting is always a matter of luck, yet you can maximize your probabilities with knowledge of most happening route during your visit.
Because safaris start from Sinh Sadan, they happen to be the best place to stay. This will spare you half an hour of travelling at start of every trip, especially in the morning where you have to reach the counter before dawn. The guest house is located on an archaic building, which was once actually guest house of erstwhile king. The campus is large and green. Rooms are very big with equally big toilets. But being a government facility service is poor. However maintenance of rooms is decent. Travelers advice against having food here. So I did not try it. There are a chain of restaurants across the road opposite the main gate. You get decent Guajarati dishes here. Room charges as on Jan 2013 was Rs.500/- for Non AC and Rs.1500/- for AC. I stayed in an AC room which should be around 10 x 20 feet with a large sofa, two toilets and one attic. This place is very high in demand. To book either need someone local to do it for you or get in touch directly by sending a fax and then confirming over phone. Otherwise there are many costly resorts where you have to bargain for all meal plans. These resorts are spread around 3-5 km from the town center. Unless you have your own vehicle, then you will also to bargain for means of transporting to the Sinh Sadan for boarding the safaris. There also exist several cheap hotels, whose rates were at par with Sinh Sadan but of 1/3 of their room size, across the road opposite main gate of Sinh Sadan.
There also exist some clandestine resorts. Clandestine because they are not proper licensed hotels or resorts. Rather they are farms. They exist a bit far away from the main town center, but closer or inside buffer areas. The bite is that if you stay there, then they will take you out for lion safaris on foot. If you get to see a lion, then you pay, else no show-no pay.
At the end of it, you must be cursing me for not mentioning the phone no of Sinh Sadan. Because even if I give you the numbers, you need to get hold of someone local to get it booked. Further, if you want, then a trip can be arranged, but that would definitely involve some commission for the local agent.