Wild West India- Rann of Kutch, where the thrill continues!

Driving through the early mist of sand scumbled the contrary outlines of the landscape, livestock and kids, who mirthfully waved at me. In other words, I was covered in sand and dust! wakakaka! 😛 😛 So, if anyone plans to head up to Rann of Kutch, remember to bring along handkerchiefs, towels and bags to cover your camera gears and yourself!!

By the time we reach the lake in Little Rann of Kutch, the reflection of the sun had already shimmered relentingly on the waters! “This should exude good lighting,” I exclaimed! When my jeep halted in front of the 180 degree view of the wetland, I was astounded! There were a myriad of greater and lesser flamingos, great white pelicans, dalmatian pelicans, bean goose, common cranes, ducks and many others basking in the open sun! The view was ________!! I could hardly spew any form of emotion then, and even as I savour the moment now, I simply could not synthesize my thoughts and emotions and deliver in any word form! 😛 That majestic sight had strongly imprinted into my brain; in particular, the moment I nimble towards the flamingos with my bazooka lens, these erudite and elegant feathered friends somehow “had enough” of me and the whole flock suddenly took off in a trajectory path! Below were pictures of the greater and lesser flamingos taken in those great moments! 😛

greater and lesser flamingo

greater and lesser flamingo

greater and lesser flamingos

greater and lesser flamingos

Great white and dalmatian pelican

Great white and dalmatian pelican

Sublime moments with these majestic birds ended when Sam, my driver, beckoned to move on! Our jeep hurtled off again and soon we spotted the eastern imperial eagle, who was very obliging even when we were so close to him; the steppe eagle however, was quite the opposite! As soon as we steered close, it pooed and took off! Whichever way our jeep was positioned, it kept a close watch on us and had its butt “in position” ready for take off! 😛 😛

eastern imperial eagle on the left and steppe eagle on the right

eastern imperial eagle on the left and steppe eagle on the right

Rann of Kutch was not just about feathered friends, despite that was key reason I landed in this place! 😉 Besides the Indian wolf and wild ass we already saw, we also spent an afternoon hurtling with the desert fox, who finally caved in as he needed to catch its breath (me too!!) and gave us time to take some pictures before it forged on again!

desert fox

desert fox

“Red Bull gives you wings!!” is a drink advertisement I often saw on TV, but here in Rann of Kutch I saw the Blue Bull, and it’s not even a bull! It’s actually an antelope…! This weird looking beast looked clumsy to me, but it sprinted fast when my driver puts on another chase scene with the bull antelope!!

blue bull

blue bull

The Rann of Kutch was truly an eye-opening experience for me! Staying at Rann Riders was unquestionably an explicit choice- good accommodation, good food, dedicated staff and great safari trips provided by them! I was more than pleased when the short eared owl came out in the open;  a nice, happy coda to this chapter of my trip in the wild west India!

short eared owl

short eared owl

West India- Rann of Kutch, where the thrill begins!

Maybe it’s a tomfoolery act to venture into the desert just like that, but being adventurous and all, I really wanted to venture into this little known area in West India, Rann of Kutch! 😛 In the early months of planning, I tried to contact a local tour operator to help cater to my accommodation and transportation needs…but the countless exchange of emails (language barrier) was a painful ordeal! I finally gave up and directly contacted Mr. Muzahid Malik, owner of Rann Riders and he took care of everything.
Just as I thought everything went well as planned, my flight from Kerala to Mumbai delayed (Grr…)! I was totally frenzied at that time! I could miss my connecting flight from Mumbai to Ahmedabad and the thought of it was enough to put me in panic mode! The frantic wait at the domestic airport was a nightmare…my eyes were practically “glued” on to that electronic flight departure board while I clutched my hands, and waited fervently for that magic moment! The torment finally ended when that “magic” electronic board announced that the plane would leave in 2 hours! Very quickly, I tried to do the maths…it seemed I would have to run to catch my connecting flight…if it waits for me!
The flight time from Kerala to Mumbai was about 2 hours. Upon arrival, I dashed to the transit hall to catch my flight…luckily, the plane waited for me… haha! 😛
After a mere 50 minute flight, I landed in Ahmedabad and was soon picked up by the driver arranged by Mr. Muzahid! The lengthy 2 hour ride to Dasada was horrendous as the driver drove with speed without using his brakes! Yikes! Anyway, as the car drove deeper into the vast empty land in sheer darkness, the clear skies let the stars shine gloriously! Those huge clusters of stars looked like fine-cut jewels, and some even like chips of ice that left me overwhelmed with awe and amazement!
It was already past midnight when we arrived at the hotel, and I was immediately greeted by some ducks, a goat and a dog. 😛 The nights were cold at the Rann of Kutch in January, but thankfully I was kept in “mint” condition as duvets were provided at Rann Riders! 😛

As the jeep sped towards the desert in the morning, I saw some birds on wires but the driver had no intention to stop! I had no choice but to call out to him several times to stop so I could take some shots of the birds! Apparently, the driver assumed that those birds on wires are very common and hence not worth for a stop! XD
By mid morning we arrived in the desert. This place is almost a monochromatic visual; no trees, just shrubs, barren landscape and plenty of Wild Ass!
But before I could get any decent shots of Wild Ass, my driver alerted me.

” Look, Indian wolf! It’s rare!” He exclaimed.
” Where, where?” I asked.
” It’s there over the white border…!” He replied.
” You mean that dog?” I asked naively…it looked like one to me, it still does! 😛

Indian wolf

Indian wolf

The Indian Wolf was a nice surprise, but we were actually looking for the Houbara Bustard at that time! We finally found 2, but these bustards were fast runners, we had to chase after them to get some decent shots!

houbara bustard (macqueenii)

houbara bustard (macqueenii)

As we sauntered across the land of sand, a long-legged buzzard caught our attention-it had captured a short-eared owl (sniff)! Despite we were so close, the buzzard refused to leave as he firmly guarded his catch of the day!

long legged buzzard captured short eared owl

long legged buzzard captured short eared owl

By the time we began our journey back to the hotel, it was nearly mid noon and I was a little parched by then….what a morning! 😛
Below were some of the birds and Wild Asses seen on that day!

sand lark and demoiselle cranes

sand lark and demoiselle cranes

Hoopoe, black winged kite, variable wheatear

Hoopoe, black winged kite, variable wheatear

desert wheatear and short toed lark

desert wheatear and short toed lark

Indian roller, crested lark

Indian roller, crested lark

rosy starling

rosy starling

Wild Ass

Wild Ass

 

rann of kutch

rann of kutch