World Magazine : WORLD - Winter 2017
WHITE LIONS & STRING HOPPERS TRICIA WELSH SHIFTS FROM DESERT SAFARI TO SEASIDE INN ON A PRIVATE TOUR TO THE DISPARATE INDIAN STATES OF GUJARAT AND KERALA. W ith summer temperatures often into the searing 40s, it is an easy decision to set off early on safari looking for the rare Asiatic lion in Sasan Gir Wildlife Sanctuary. Having been almost wiped out by rigorous hunting in the 1800s, only a dozen remained until this sanctuary, in the Indian state of Gujarat, was set up last century to help the small population recover. With officially only 427 of these ‘white’ lions now left in the world, we appreciate how privileged we’ll be to spot one – made even trickier by the sandy-coloured environment. We encounter samba and spotted deer, and see lots of wild native peacocks whose exotic plumes might once have adorned maharajahs’ bejewelled turbans. Ahead, a few safari jeeps have stopped. We join them and soon spy a pair of sleeping lions – looking more like sandstone boulders than wildlife. They yawn and stretch and go back to sleep as we move on looking for more. Later that morning over breakfast we meet fellow travellers who show us a video of the same lions playing and mating just minutes after we’d left. If only we’d had the patience to wait a little longer. But spending time relaxing in the comfort of The Fern Gir Forest Resort had its perks: like indulging in a much-needed foot reflexology massage, having a refreshing dip in the inviting pool and then tucking into some of the best local food (try their American corn) in the resort’s restaurant, The Banyan Tree.
World - Autumn 2017
WORLD - Spring 2017