Add This Sanctuary To Your Rann Of Kutch Itinerary

    What Makes It Awesome

    What do you do when you see miles of the unbroken surface of dark silt, all bare and without a sign of life? You will no doubt be tempted to step on the gas in your SUV, hoping to catch the horizon. Do so by all means, kick mountains of dust with your tyres, and feel the thrill of driving in the Little Rann of Kutch - just mind the wildlife though. The Little Rann is a saline desert and believed to have been a shallow sea at one time. It can be considered a large ecotone, a transitional area between marine and terrestrial ecosystems, stretching across 4,953 sq. km {1,935 sq. miles}. Dry for the most part of the year, it gets inundated with water during the monsoons - the only landforms visible at this time are about 74 elevated plateaus or islands, locally called 'bets.' In the Rann, you must watch out for marshy bits - they can suck you in real fast. The area may look arid and forbidding but, surprisingly, it is home to many species of animals and birds, and rich in its unique flora. And it supports life far beyond its boundaries - the Rann is a valuable source of salt, supplying 20 per cent of India’s output. You can see mountains of salt and equipment used to extract the same as you drive around. What the eye cannot miss are swathes of water bodies - looking like an endless sea in the distance. Complete with reflections of trees in the water. Only, these are mirages. Even when you know it, you will have to pinch yourself to believe they are so - it is not easy accepting what you see is not for real. Oh, and talking about the Wild Ass Sanctuary, it was established within the Rann in 1973 to protect the last home of the endangered Indian Wild Ass or the Ghudkhar as called locally. They number in the thousands, and you have to be very unlucky not to spot any. The sanctuary features on the tentative list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. The first impression: They are not bad looking at all. Fair in colouring, much smarter than the common donkeys. If their facial features were any sharper, they could well have passed for ponies for children. And they sure can match up to the strength and the speed of horses, weighing up to 230 kilos and managing speed up to 70 kmph {45 miles per hour}. I wonder if they are as intelligent as horses, will they ever make it to the Derby? The Ghudkhars once roamed across North-West India, West Pakistan, and Iran but are now found only in the Rann. They are a sturdy lot, withstanding extremes of weather in a terrain without shade that gets droughts and floods in equal measure. Their meals include fodder, scrubby grass, and sweet water. Their lifespan is 20-25 years. And they breed mostly from August to October. The gestation period is about 11 months, and kids don’t take too long before they join the herd. The Rann is also an important destination for migratory birds, who come here by the tens of thousands in season. You can find over 380 species of birds including Chestnut-Bellied, Spotted and Painted Sand Grouse; Lark; Desert and Variable Wheatears; White-Eared Bulbul; Macqueen’s Bustard; Greater and Lesser Flamingoes; White Pelican; Spoonbill; Demoiselle and Common Cranes; raptors including Aquila Eagles and a variety of Falcon. My sightings included those of Demoiselle Cranes, pecking at God-knows-what in the sand and around some water bodies. And then I saw hundreds of Lesser Flamingoes, with their cheerful white and pink hues. The flamingoes come from Australia according to my guide, but some nest at the Rann itself. My shoes sunk into slush around the water bodies, sending an early warning signal to watch out for a quicksand. Residents also include many species of mammals including the Nilgai {Blue Bull or Antelope}, Chinkara, Wild Boar, Blackbuck, Hare, Indian Wolf, Golden Jackal, White-Footed Desert Fox, Jungle Cat, Desert Cat, and Striped Hyena. Reptiles include the Spiny-Tailed Lizard. There are 253 different species of flowering plants and other vegetation found in the bets or islands. The sanctuary is habitat to about 93 species of invertebrates, including 25 species of zooplankton, one species of annelid, four crustaceans, 24 insects, 12 molluscs, and 27 spiders. A total of four species of amphibians {frogs and toads} and 29 species of reptiles {two of turtles, 14 of lizards, 12 snakes, and one crocodile} occur here. The mixing of tidal water from the Gulf of Kutch with freshwater discharged from the rivers takes place in the Little Rann of Kutch, making it an important spawning ground for prawns. Read more about such travels here: {}

    What Could Be Better?

    Maybe more options to stay.

    How Much Did It Cost?

    INR 3,000+

    Best To Go With?

    Family, Big Group, Bae, and Kids.