An eco-friendly resort in the Rann of Kutch.
In the far west of India, wedged under the ribs of the subcontinent, are the bleached flatlands of the Rann of Kutch – Little & Greater. The 'Little' Rann of Kutch', famed as the last home of the Asiatic wild ass and shimmering pink colonies of nesting flamingos, is dominated by panoramic flat landscapes, shrubby islands, seasonal nullahs, marshes and rocky hillocks or Dungars of volcanic origin. This unique region was originally part of the Arabian Sea. However, as the land separated from the sea by geological forces, it became a vast plain encrusted with salt and inundated with water during the monsoons. But this terrain is a rich haven for wildlife and colourful nomadic cultures, making it a perfect setting for curious and sensitive travellers to explore.
Communities: The locals are a mix of settled farmers and nomadic pastoralists who have made Rann and the surrounds their home for generations. Various tribes visit following the cadence of the seasons, seeking rich pastures and fallow fields. The communities inside the Rann are majorly salt workers who you will pass by on your safari. Kharapat Rabaris, Mirs, Bharvads and Jat landholders form the majority of the communities here, while the Dangasia weavers arrived with the Bharvad sheepherders to weave wool into garments.
Wilderness: The desert is home to hyenas, foxes, jungle and desert cats that seek refuge in burrows hidden among the shrubs. Occasionally, you can spot wolves roaming the flatlands searching for prey or Nilgai (blue bull), the largest south Asian antelope, smaller elegant blackbuck, and chinkara gazelle that occupy the edges of the Rann. The sight of thousands of wild creatures packed densely on the ground or filling the sky in giant flocks is an exhilarating experience. Home to over 250 species of resident and migratory birds and the proximity to waters of the Gulf of Kutch have contributed to making it a veritable paradise for birds. A high concentration of birds in the marshes attracts various raptors – hunters of the skies, such as the peregrine falcon, imperial eagle, Marsh, Montague's and Pallid Harriers that swoop down these grasslands and marshes.
This region is protected to conserve the 'Gudkhur' or the endemic Asiatic wild ass that roam the vast flatlands in small herds. The sight of these Gudkhurs galloping across the salt flats forming silhouettes against the setting sun, is mesmerising.
Set at the edge of the Little Rann of Kutch in a serene rural landscape near Dasada village lies Rann Riders by Kaafila, an eco-conscious boutique resort that is a lush oasis amid endless stretches of salty mudflats.
Designed as a Retreat that allows for multiple expreinces including wildlife, culture and adventure, Rann Riders by Kaafila is perfect for the itenerant traveller, familes on vacation or a group of friends seeking an immersive getaway.
Rann Riders by Kaafila is operational throughout the year.
Rann Riders by Kaafila is an eco-conscious property with ethnically built cottages made from local materials, the local villages being the design inspiration. The vibe is at once earthy, local and stylish.
Know Your Host
The owner's family descends from Bakhtiar-ud-din, who was given the 24 sq mile jagir (Indian equivalent of a dukedom) of Dasada and its surrounding villages in return for military services provided to the Sultan of Gujarat in the 15th century. He was titled Malik Bakhan-1,...
The owner's family descends from Bakhtiar-ud-din, who was given the 24 sq mile jagir (Indian equivalent of a dukedom) of Dasada and its surrounding villages in return for military services provided to the Sultan of Gujarat in the 15th century. He was titled Malik Bakhan-1, and his successors continue to use Malik as their last name. The Maliks participated in the siege of many forts and the battles of Kuva and Rankhundal in the 1400s and 1500s.
In keeping with the tradition of their ancestors, your hosts at Rann Riders by Kaafila assure guests of personal attention and the warm hospitality of the Kathiawar region. After the family successfully put Rann Riders on the Gujarat travel map, it is now operated by Kaafila Luxury Camps, a company of veterans from the wildlife and adventure tourism industry. They are also founders of the luxurious Kaafila mobile camps that sets out to explore fascinating hinterlands of India literally taking you "beyond the last hotel" and also run wildlife camps in the Trans Himalayas.
Located a few kilometres from the Dasada entrance to the Little Rann of Kutch Wild Ass Sanctuary, Rann Riders by Kaafila consists of beautifully designed cottages surrounded by greenery. The resort's primary focus is on nature and wildlife and combines ethnic architecture with modern facilities. It serves as an ideal base to explore Little Rann with its rich, unique community of birds and animals – including the endangered Asiatic Wild Ass, desert fox and Nilgai. A destination resort, Rann Riders by Kaafila cater to various kinds of travellers – from the leisure traveller, those who seek a wellness retreat to serious birders, photographers, wildlife enthusiasts, cyclists, off-road motorcyclists and driving buffs. Nature walks, wildlife safaris and village visits are specially designed to engage guests of all age groups.
Designed to resemble the villages around Rann of Kutch, the resort comprises 25 cottages divided into three categories that reflect the aesthetics of the local Kooba and Bhunga houses belonging to the Bajania and Rabari communities. All cottages are fully equipped with modern facilities, ensuite stylish bathrooms, furnished with rich fabrics, high-quality furnishings and bed linens. The resort's surroundings are redesigned to gradually replace exotic trees that need a lot of water with ecologically appropriate native flora to create a natural, diverse habitat that will, in turn, support a richer mix of native species of fauna.
Dasada Premium Cottages are five in number and are arranged in two blocks – one with views overlooking the lake and the other overlooking tranquil croplands. With a swimming pool, kitchen and choice of dining venues, you can enjoy private dining in these cottages.
Safari Cottages: The six Safari Cottages have large, airy rooms with ethic decor, furnishings and spacious verandahs leading to large living areas.
Rann Cottages: The fourteen Rann Cottages are renovated, designed and inspired by the Kooba houses of the Bajania and the bhunga structures of Rabari shepherds.
Flamingo Restaurant, named after the state bird of Gujarat, serves a redesigned menu that caters to the modern discerning palette, ranging from robust local fare to light and nutritious recipes. The restaurant mainly has a buffet set up with live stations for breakfast and a delectable a la carte menu for those who wish to explore a variety of exciting cuisines – from vegetarian options to seafood sourced from local vendors. Apart from the restaurant, there is also a live BBQ and tandoor set up by the pool for a fun al fresco dining experience.
Alfresco Dining Venue: You can also enjoy your breakfast and dinners along calm riverside embankments or amidst the flats of Rann, where a charming set-up can be arranged to soak in the beauty of this landscape over a curated meal coupled with a guided walk or a night safari to provide a complete wilderness experience.
Little Rann of Kutch: Explore the salt flats, beautiful sunsets, the wild ass, the pink colonies of flamingos and the immense cultural heritage. One of the recommended walks takes you through the forested grounds of Rann Riders by Kaafila to experience the landscape with its species of native trees, wetlands, fields, irrigation canals and lakes dotting the fields. These walks give insight into smaller birdlife, agricultural practices of the local community, the farmers' simple lifestyles, and spotting a variety of butterflies and dragonflies that contribute to this ecosystem. Walking the "Rann ki Kaanti" or the edge of the Rann on one of the scrub islands is organised by the team, while night walks within the property are also an option for those keen on exploring the outdoors under the stars in search of owls, civets, bats, porcupines and small carnivores like foxes and jungle cats.
Communities of the Rann: The communities of the Rann are culturally unique and village safaris are designed to help engage with the communities, observe their unique weaving practices and explore the region's handicrafts. One of the highlights is listening to stories from Sarfaraz Malik in his house, a member of the old jagirdars of Dasada. He has a fascinating repository of knowledge about every aspect of the Rann – from its history to details about raptors of the region, having himself been an expert falconer.
Art & Crafts: Wander on foot or by vehicle to explore local communities' traditional arts and crafts like the weaves of the Kharapat Rabari women at their houses or watch the Mirs work with beads to create braids, tassels and necklaces. A unique weave of this region is the Tangalio, where weavers are adept at adding extra knots on the weft, which create motifs and figures in a dotted pattern on the woven fabric.
Horse Safaris & Camel Rides: You can go on horse safaris on indigenous breeds of horses, including the award-winning Kathiawadi and Marwari mares available at the resort or enjoy cycling through open country, which is rich in wildlife and cultural attractions. Camel Safaris can also be organised for village visits and among the salt flats. Off-roading experiences for adventure enthusiasts into the Rann and beyond are a must, where you can set yourself up on mobile camps to soak in the outdoors.
Curated experiences and workshops conducted by experts such as Yoga, meditation, local weaving arts and crafts led by the Mir women, pottery, culinary arts and even workshops focused on wellness and Ayurveda are exclusively set up near the pool area.
Get a pulse of the local culture by participating in local festivals, such as fairs held at the historic shrine of Tarnetar (Trineteshwar), a holy site locally believed to have been the original course of the river Ganga. Attend the Ravechi Mela, one of the most important fairs for the Rabari community of Kutch, where people are dressed in their colourful best.
Excursions: day trips to nearby sites such as the Nalsarover Bird Sanctuary, the largest wetland bird sanctuary in India and the only Ramsar Site in Gujarat, to explore the wetlands by boat and drive around to various grassland hotspots. Day trips to visit the Harappan site at Dholavira, set among the largest islands in the Rann, Khadir Bet, can be coupled with an exciting cross country safari drive across the Rann. You can also visit the Modera Sun temple, the historic town of Ahilwada Patan – the region’s capital between the 8th-14th century, the Munsar tank with its intricately carved temples and the 12th-century Jain temple at Sankeshwar.
Sustainability measures at Rann Riders at Kaafila start from within the lodge as they believe in leading by example.
- Being located at the edge of the desert means that grounds are dotted with water hardy local flora. Therefore, water management and recycling systems are placed to minimise wastage. For example, all grey and brown water is passed through baffle filters before reoxygenating among reed beds. The aim is to use this naturally treated water to create a wetland ecosystem for birds and other fauna, and the fact that dragonflies breed here is an immediate sign of the cleanliness of this water.
- The property uses fresh produce and buys locally as much as possible, reducing packaging in foods and toiletries, leading to a substantial drop in waste and disposable byproducts.
- They follow a strict no-plastic policy, where plastic bottles are not provided within the lodge nor on safaris and activities.
- The team is involved in initiatives that benefit the local society and communities with high artisanal skills like weavers, embroiderers, potters, etc. There is space provided for weavers to demonstrate their weaves like Ikat and Tangalio. Guests get an opportunity to buy sarees, shawls, stoles, and fabric pieces directly without any commission or margins. This initiative has encouraged weavers to continue their traditional skills profitably rather than move to other professions.
- Purchase bangles made of beads by Mir women known for their dancing and artwork. Using opaque beads, out of circulation coins, bells, buttons and mirrors, they create braids, tassels, and necklaces for women and girls, which can be bought at the property to support these communities.
- The resort supports the enterprising Kharapat Rabari women who are skilled in embroidery.
Rann Riders by Kaafila are now working with local government authorities to create, among other things, waste management and recycling systems in the villages around the Rann. The team is also working to develop a platform for artisans, improve their working environment and build facilities for tourists visiting the area regardless of whether they are staying at the resort. Among the initiatives is a craft village that will allow artisans of the district to showcase and sell their work, gaining the reputation that they truly deserve.
by ubdalal on 02/01/2022
But not value for money. Tata Sky not operational when checked-in. Star Sports (English) not subscribed to in Tata Sky package, as also a few Sony Sports channels. TV reception not quite good...
by Msjunebug on 01/31/2022
One of the best resorts in littel rann Gujarat with gorgeous doonga (hut like cottages). Loved staying here, the walls have beautiful art work and mirror work of Gujarat. Food is super cool and they...
by Sudipta_Sinha on 01/04/2022
This is one of the few good places around LRK to stay in more comfort and explore. The location is excellent and well connected with high ways. It takes about 2 hours from AMD airport. The place is...