Drive to the Sahyadris
7 Jan 2017: Day 7 (LRK – Lodai, 268 km, 5 Hrs)
We left Patdi at 0620 Hrs and drove west towards the Great Rann of Kutch. As we drove miles and miles of desert roads without any sign of life, we started realizing the feeling of being in complete wilderness. Gradually, the roads started to get narrower and then it happened…bang!!! A car came straight at us and while Rishi pulled the wheels left to avoid a collision, the other driver accelerated and swiveled towards us. Everything happened in a wink of an eye. It was only after driving for a km that we stopped to assess the damage. Thankfully, the only causality was a broken rear view mirror bracket that we temporally repaired.
This small incident, a breakfast break at the Honest Restaurant and Google maps taking us the wrong way cost us an hours’ delay in reaching Epicenter homestay at Lodai.
However, on reaching the homestay, Bharat Bhai’s smiling face and never say no attitude made us forget the morning hiccups and we soon made ourselves at home.
We spent the next two hours in the open air dining where birds like House Sparrows, Rufous-tailed Larks and Singing Bushlarks were frequenting.
After a wholesome lunch and some rest, we drove a short distance away and Bharat Bhai took us on a walk showcasing the natural heritage of the region.
While we were in awe of the landscape created by the forces of nature, we also got some close views of a well camouflaged Marshall’s Iora.
Bharat Bhai also took us down into a crevice where an Indian Eagle Owl and a Barn Owl were spotted.
After a scrumptious dinner, an Indian Nightjar announced its presence by its calls and we did not loose the opportunity to take a few pictures of the bird.
8 Jan 2017: Day 8 (Banni Grassland)
We started our day early and went in search for the Grey Hypocolius in a nearby area where Kharijal shrubs were in abundance. After a wait of almost an hour, at 0800 hrs, a single Grey Hypocolius was sighted. The bird was unaffected by our presence and kept feeding on the berries for over an hour.
Satisfied, we proceeded to the east part of Banni in search of the Spotted Sandgrouse. We reached the feeding grounds of the Sandgrouse early and had time to devour the delicious Upma Bharat Bhai had prepared for us. It was while having tea that we heard the distinctive calls of the Sandgrouse and to our delight the birds landed very close to where we were.
On our way back to the homestay, we also spotted several Grey-necked Buntings near a waterbody.
After lunch and some rest, we went back to the Banni Grasslands with the hope of finding a Greater Hoopoe Lark. We drove deep into the Rann and it took a lot of effort before the lark was finally spotted foraging on the ground.
While returning, we also encountered a fight between Golden Jackals ending with the loosing Jackal being chased out of the territory.
An Asiatic Wildcat was also seen emerging from its burrow, stretching, scanning the area for a possible prey before hiding itself close to a bunch of noisy birds. While we did want to observe the cat hunting, it stared menacingly at us, giving us a signal to get going. We obliged and moved on.
Before Dinner, Bharat Bhai and Rishi repaired the car’s outside mirror by drilling through the mirror bracket and joining it with glue, screws and wires before taping up the whole thing.
Epicenter Homestay: This is an ideal base to explore the region. While the rooms are clean and well maintained, the food is to die for. During our stay, we had the best Bajre ki roti, Khichdi and Chhach of our trip.
Bharat Bhai takes immense pride is showcasing the wildlife and culture of the region that he calls home. While he made our stay very comfortable, he worked very hard to show us all the important species that we were after.
Phone: +91 99 253 136 96
Please feel free to ask us any question about our time at Lodai. Also, stay tuned for details on the next leg of our road trip.