This classic Indian homestay is simply the best base in the Little Rann of Kutch (a vast salt marsh) for exploring India’s largest wildlife park, the Wild Ass Sanctuary. Run by Devjibhai Dhamecha and family, the Kooba eco huts provide comfortable accommodation on the edge of the sanctuary and a taste of rural life in India. Situated in the western state of Gujarat, this is a part of the country that is little-visited by tourists and a quiet haven for nature and wildlife.
Take a journey through rural India to the Little Rann of Kutch
The best time to visit the Little Rann of Kutch is from October to March when the monsoon has subsided. The Wild Ass Sanctuary in fact is closed to visitors between July and September due to the rains. The best way to get to Dhamecha’s huts is from the nearby town of Dhrangadhra, which is well-connected by train to the nearby city of Ahmedabad. You can arrange in advance to be collected from Dhrangadhra train station and driven by car or rickshaw the 45 km to the eco huts. The journey provides excellent wildlife-watching opportunities and a chance to soak in this rural region of India’s northwest corner.
Stay in a uniquely designed cool eco-hut
The eco huts are very reasonably priced from 15 USD/1000INR per night. This includes all meals and drinks. Each hut is designed to stay cool in the soaring desert temperatures and has an adjoining toilet and bucket shower. Due to the local ecosystem, the water provided is slightly saline, but plenty of bottled water is available.
Two jeep safaris are provided per day by the Dhamecha family. The three hour morning drive is a must-do for bird-watching and seeing the Little Rann of Kutch wake up. Evening safaris include wild ass and sunset viewing plus the chance to spy wolves, foxes and jackals. It costs 75 USD/5000INR for both experiences. There is also a charge per jeep to enter the national park which is priced at 40 USD / day for foreigners.
Indulge in homemade Gujarati cuisine and unbeatable service
The food provided at the Kooba huts is simple, homemade vegetarian Gujurati cuisine and is simply delicious. You will not go hungry with a range of dishes provided at every meal plus rice, dahl and roti bread. The service provided by the Dhamecha family is second-to-none and they will spare no effort to make you comfortable.
Tea and coffee are available at all times. Sit on your deck in the afternoon sun and enjoy the tranquillity of the Indian countryside with a cup of excellent tea and a few biscuits. Be aware that Gujarat is a dry state meaning alcohol is forbidden in the region.
Go on safari in the Wild Ass Sanctuary with a top-notch guide
The morning and evening safaris provided by the Dhamecha family are excellent. They will take you to the best spots to view the Indian wild ass, blackbucks and plethora of bird life in the sanctuary. Huge flocks of flamingos and cranes can be witnessed from the comfort of the open-topped jeep. Driving over the silent, barren but beautiful salt desert is a fun and exciting experience – just don’t forget to pack your hat and sunscreen!
Get a taste of wild India
A visit to Gujarat is highly recommended if you want to experience a true taste of the rural lifestyle that predominates this fascinating country. The Little Rann of Kutch represents a unique ecosystem of salt desert and supports the last remaining population of Indian Wild Ass in the world. Those are just two reasons to go west on your next trip to India.
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