Little Rann of Kutch

All you need to know to plan a visit to this not-so-little salt marsh

Shreeram MV

Little Rann of Kutch

The Rann of Kutch is a lovely travel destination - the flat land extending to infinity in all directions, the broken textures of the soil beneath your feet, dreamy mirages, glorious star-filled nights, and thousands of flamingos painting the landscape pink. 

It is divided into two parts - Great Rann of Kutch (Kutch district of Gujarat, India, and Sindh Province of Pakistan) and Little Rann of Kutch. It is the only home to around 4,500 individuals of the Indian Wild Ass (Equus hemionus khur), which roam this vast salt marsh, also known as the Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary.

Over 350 species of birds and 33 species of mammals have been recorded here; in addition to many species of reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. 

Plan Your Trip

Getting there

Air

Ahmedabad (120km), Rajkot (190km)

Rail

Viramgam (around 40km)

Road

Ahmedabad (around 120km)

Best Time To Visit

The best time to visit Little Rann of Kutch is during the winter (November to February). The days are pleasant and the temperature drops to single digits (Celsius).

Summers are scorching hot, with temperatures soaring into the forties during the day. The monsoon brings some respite from the heat but the Rann gets flooded and can’t be navigated. In fact, most of the animals settle down on the islands (known locally as bets) to escape the inundation.

Stay

Budget:

Desert Coursers at Zainabad. They offer a comfortable stay in cottages. Safaris are conducted by knowledgeable drivers who’ll show you a wide gamut of wildlife around the Rann. The price varies from ₹2,200 to ₹2,800 per person per night, based on the safaris. 

Website: www.desertcoursers.net

Bhavna Resort and Farm at Patdi. It is priced at ₹4,500 per cottage (for one couple per night) including breakfast, lunch, dinner and a jeep safari. Private safaris can be arranged as well. The price is exclusive of the forest fee and tax. 

Website: www.bhavnafarm.com


Mid-range:

Rann Riders at Dasada. It is priced at ₹7,000 per cottage (single occupancy per night) and at ₹8,000 per cottage (double occupancy per night) including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a jeep safari or a village visit. The price is exclusive of the forest fee and tax. 

Website: www.rannriders.com

See|Do|Shop

  • The Wild Ass Sanctuary is the only place in the world where you can see the Asiatic Wild Ass or Ghudkhur, as it is called locally. The elusive Indian Wolf and Striped Hyena are the largest predators here, but you are more likely to come across the diminutive Desert Fox (with its white tail tip) and the Jungle Cat on your drives in the Rann.
  • This place is also a bird-watcher’s paradise. Tens of thousands of Greater and Lesser Flamingos are known to congregate at the water bodies here, adding a bright pink hue to the otherwise dull-coloured landscape. Visit the Nawa Talab lake to see huge congregations of pelicans, ducks, geese and cranes. Keep an eye out for the raptors — eagles, harriers, buzzards, falcons — and the Short-eared Owls (migrating here in winter) that camouflage themselves against thick clumps of grass or shrubs. Greater Hoopoe-lark, Pallid Scops Owl, and the threatened MacQueen’s Bustard are the Rann’s other highlights.
  • Don’t miss watching the sunset from a salt pan, where the reflections of the sky add a new dimension to the mesmerising sight. And linger for a while before heading back to your resort — the star-filled sky is a sight to behold. As you drive back from the Rann, you could witness Sykes and Indian Nightjars taking off in the glow of your vehicle’s headlights.
  • It is good to plan a trip for at least three or four days to soak in the Little Rann experience. If you can spare an additional day, make a heritage excursion to the nearby towns of Patan (around 100km away) and Modhera (around 50km away). 
  • Patan has one of the biggest and most beautifully sculpted stepwells in Gujarat — Rani ki Vav, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Also visit the Patolawala Farmhouse to watch artisans work on Patola sarees.
  • Modhera’s Sun Temple on the banks of the Pushpavati river is intricately carved and boasts another beautiful stepwell.

Good To Know

  • Phone connectivity is generally good in the villages and towns, but can be very patchy in the middle of the Rann. Internet connectivity is slow; however, most resorts have high-speed Wi-Fi zones.
  • Nearly all areas are very safe around the Little Rann of Kutch. If you are venturing out alone after dark, it is recommended to carry a torch to keep away the Wild Boars and village dogs.
  • If you need to tank up, Dasada and Patdi have petrol bunks. ATMs are also available at these places, but they may not always be functioning.
  • The Rann is a desert eco-system where every plant and animal has adapted itself to the limited availability of water and resources. Do not waste water and carry back all your trash with you.
  • On the safaris, there are no washrooms available. There’s plenty of green cover around, though, and the natural way is the only option here. 
  • Dasada has a Primary Health Centre. The nearest hospitals are at Viramgam (40km away) or Ahmedabad (120km away).

What To Pack

  • In winters, be prepared for temperatures of 1 or 2 degrees Celsius before sunrise and after sunset, especially if the safari vehicles are open-top (factoring in the wind-chill). Carry multiple layers of warm clothing to ensure that you don’t feel too warm when the sun comes up.
  • Dull clothing is recommended (olives, browns, khaki, etc) to minimise disturbance to the animals.
  • Most of the drives tend to be very dusty. A good hat, sunglasses, something to cover your face and sunscreen are essentials. Shoes are recommended. Also, the air tends to be very dry and salty — carry a moisturiser and lip balm with you.
  • If you are keen on watching wildlife, binoculars are compulsory. In addition, a field guide to the birds of India will help you identify the birds that you see on the safari.

For Photographers

  • Lenses of all focal lengths come in handy in Little Rann of Kutch — the super-telephotos for capturing portraits of elusive wildlife, the mid-range focal lengths for making habitat photographs and landscapes, and the wide angles for dramatic sunsets and night skies. Don’t forget to carry a bean-bag to rest your lenses during the safaris. And a tripod to stabilise your equipment. Also carry Graduated Neutral Density (GND) filters to expose the land and the sky properly.
  • Carry a cloth (an old pillow cover works best) to cover your equipment, and a blower and microfibre cloth to clean up the dust.
  • Be alert always, whether you are on a safari or at the resort. Fantastic moments happen all the time in the wild and often don’t last more than a few seconds. 
  • Don’t miss photographing the Wild Asses in the foreground of a sunset; backlit images are often very dramatic. During the day, the skies can be very grey near the horizon so try and avoid including the skies in your frame.

In Between Safaris

In the noon, walk around your resort and/ or the villages. You’ll get an opportunity to photograph birds that may not be common elsewhere. If there are trees and shrubs around, you might come across Red-breasted Flycatchers, Desert Whitethroats, Rosy Starlings, Bluethroats, White-eared Bulbuls and Spotted Owlets. Village ponds sometimes have Common Snipes, Greater Painted-snipes, Black-winged Stilts and Yellow Wagtails.

Budget per person

The budget depends completely on the place of stay and number of safaris one does in the Rann. A mid-range trip can cost around Rs. 30,000 for a couple for a four-day trip, including a pick-up from and drop at Ahmedabad.

Shreeram MV - Wildlife Photographer

Shreeram MV

Wildlife Photographer

Shreeram MV is a wildlife photographer, photography mentor and naturalist. He has travelled extensively across India to bring back stories about the myriad natural habitats, rich biodiversity and human interactions with nature. He posts as @mvshreeram on Instagram.