My friend was just back from his vacation to Gir and during our talks he mentioned that in general there are lots of birds in Gujarat. Asked him to check if there was any destination that we can target as a weekend birding destination. Few inquiries around, indicated that the Little Rann of Kutch would be a good option. Search for hotels then started off. There are two resorts that you can go to when visiting Little Rann of Kutch. Rann Riders and Desert Coursers. Based on the tariffs mentioned on their websites, Desert Coursers looked to be a lot cheaper and we decided to opt for it. We checked travellers' reviews for this place, and nearly without exception, these were good. You can check my review of the place here.
The place is being run by Dhanraj Mallik whom we contacted for our bookings (+91-999 8305501). We got a package of 1950/- per person per day which included stay (twin-sharing), all meals + 1 safari.
Desert coursers is around 125 kms from Ahmedabad railway station and takes around 2.5 hours to reach there. Dhanraj recommeded Mr Ashok (+91 98251 98925/ +91 9979 666 444) for the pickup car arrangments. We got an indigo for Rs 2500/- for pickup from Ahmedabad railway station and drop at Desert Coursers. The car was in good condition and dealing with Ashok was hassle-free.Ahmedabad has good rail connectivity with many trains plying between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. Our rail booking were as below
Mumbai -> Ahmedabad: Bhuj SF AC Express (22903),
Ahmedabad -> Mumbai: Ahmedabad Mumbai Duronto Express (12268)
The arrival timings of these trains are very good which means that you have the entire day of arrival at your disposal.
We took 2 safaris in to the Rann and a safari for birding to a lake nearby. All outings were very good in terms of sightings. The drivers that accompanied us were good at spotting and IDing birds/animals. We spotted the Indian Wild Ass, Desert Fox, Nilgai, Mongoose in addition to Pelicans, Greater flamingos, Nightjar, etc.
For the return journey we planned to do the Nal Sarovar which is a Ramsar Convention Site. It is about a 40km detour on the way back to Ahmedabad. Thol Lake which is another site popular for birding is around 10 km from Ahmedabad. As luck would have it, both these place were closed for the day for bird census when we went there . This meant that we had time on our hands. We had our lunch at "The Village" in Himalaya Mall, took in a movie and then went to the Sabarmati Waterfront. This is a good place to spend time in the evening.
Check out the photos from the trip below.