Only a few kilometres from Pune, unending swathes of grasslands sit untouched by urban development. These patches, seemingly flat and barren, are the feeding and breeding grounds for Maharashtra’s wildlife. Now, to experience this buzzing ecosystem hiding in plain sight, the Pune Forest Department has inaugurated a grassland safari for tourists and local residents.
Which zones are open for the safaris near Pune
The safari will cover two zones near Pune—Kadbanwadi in Indapur district and Shirsuphal in Baramati district. Both districts are roughly three hours from Pune and about an hour from each other.
What to spot at the safaris near Pune
The safari in Indapur’s Kadbanwadi zone starts at Kadbanwadi gate and covers a 30km track before ending back at the gate. The major forest departments along the route are in the villages of Kadbanwadi, Kalas and Vitthalwadi. The safari in the Shirsuphal zone in Baramati starts at Gadikhel gate and ends at Parwadi gate. The 40km journey covers the villages of Gadikhel, Shirsuphal, Sablewadi and Parwadi.
These grasslands are home to myriads of species of animals, such as striped hyenas, jackals, chinkaras or Indian gazelles, the Bengal fox and the elusive Indian grey wolf. The grasslands of Indapur and Baramati are also great birding spots near Pune, boasting more than 330 varieties such as the rain quail, ashy-crowned sparrow lark, grey-necked bunting and painted francolin.
What are the safari slots
The grassland safaris near Pune will remain open all year round. There’s a morning safari from 6am to 9am and an afternoon safari from 3pm to 6pm. While accommodations in the area are scanty at the moment, one day of exploring is adequate to experience the grasslands, making the safari an ideal day trip from Pune.
How to book a safari near Pune and what does it cost
Those interested can book a slot online at grasslandsafari.org, after which they will be allotted a locally trained guide. It’s essential to note that the forest department does not provide a vehicle for the tour, and only private four-wheelers with a maximum capacity of seven (including the driver and guide) are permitted in the zones. The total cost for the safari is Rs2,100, broken down into:
Vehicle entry fee: £15 (Rs1500)
Guide fee: £5 (Rs500)
Camera fee: £1 (Rs100)