Safaris and Experiences
Exploring the Rann is all about knowing where – and how – to go into this roadless, limitless expanse. We speak about the salt flats, the beautiful sunsets, the wild ass and the birds, but for us at Rann Riders by Kaafila this is just one part of the story of the Rann. To truly appreciate the full richness of this unique desert, we have curated a carefully selected mix of experiences.
Safaris In the Little Rann
For a person who is unaccustomed to this area exploring the vast salt flats can seem like an impossible task. But that is where the local guides and drivers come in. Having grown up here they know the Rann like the back of their hand. The drives across the Rann are a safari experience like no other. From some areas all one can see is flat land and a flat horizon. But the keen eyes of the trackers, alive to every small alteration in the landscape, lead you direct to an imperial eagle or a peregrine falcon sitting on its kill. The islands and small-scale salt harvesting projects act like markers. A safari is essentially navigating between these markers in search of wildlife and stunning landscapes.
Safaris here are a great balance between exploring the salt flats, understanding the biodiversity and the geology and of course, exquisite vistas. For birders, the winter months are fantastic for getting up close to a variety of species. The wetlands are especially teeming with birdlife. The onset of summers shifts the focus to the denning foxes and hyenas. During the monsoon, the safaris are focussed more on specific large nesting colonies of flamingoes.
Longer Safari Options – All day drives across the Rann, half day drives to the volcanic hillock at Murdak or the temple at Wachraj Bet are also organised when booked in advance. Walking the barren hillock at Murdak can give one an idea of the geological history of the place, especially when one encounters a cluster of marine fossils in the middle of the barren desert.
Another beautiful day trip is the drive across the Rann, via Nandobet, the northernmost island of the Little Rann and end up at the the larger island of the Kutch landscape, Khadir Bet, and visit the ruins of Dholavira, a Harappan settlement known for its intricate fresh water harvesting systems that are almost 3000 years old. The lucky few can even hope to encounter the rare Caracal while driving across Dholavira’s scrub jungles.
Safaris outside the Rann
The team at Rann Riders are explorers in their own right. Guiding is not a job but a vocation. They wish to understand the landscape in its entirety and not just the part where the salt flats start. Places like Nawa Talao, Wadkoa, Saw-lash lake, Mandav Talao and Pancheshwar Kiari are some of the hidden gems set amongst fields and villages outside the Rann. These spots are a mix of wetlands, grasslands, lakes and canal systems that create strong hotspots for birdlife. In the monsoon months of July, August and September, lesser florican visits the grasslands of Surendranagar District to breed and the vegetation around the wetlands becomes the breeding area for painted storks, several species of resident ducks and other waterfowl. In fact some of these places can be more productive or play host to more species than seen inside the Rann.