If you are also one among the vast majority of people who believe that Goa is all about the best beaches, famous shacks, overnight parties and the fun-filled Goa carnival, you could not be more wrong! Goa is much more than that! The rich and diverse habitats of Goa serve as wildlife havens that house over 50 species of wild animals. These wildlife sanctuaries are rapidly becoming popular tourist attractions, adding to the already long list of reasons to visit Goa!
If this fact made you smile, here are the most loved and frequented wildlife sanctuaries you must visit the next time you plan a fun girl’s trip to Goa:
Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary
This sanctuary, which was originally created as Mollem Game Sanctuary with the aim of protecting the rich flora and fauna of the region, was named as Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary in the year 1969. It is the largest wildlife reserve in Goa and extends over an area of 240 square kilometres.
The dense vegetation hosts a variety of species like deer, sambhar, hog, tiger, leopard, jungle cat, civet, hyena and jackal amongst others. Of the 100 odd types of birds that flock, the Bulbul is the most popular one.
Around 54 kilometres from Panaji, this sanctuary is located on the eastern fringe of Goa and attracts wildlife enthusiasts throughout the year. The monsoons offer the best chance to view the foliage in its resplendent lush beauty. The sanctuary is open to tourists every day of the week and the entry ticket is very nominal.
Besides, the sanctuary also hides within its heart the Dudhsagar Falls which look breathtaking during the monsoon season.
Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary
Moving on from the largest to the smallest, Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary is most popular with young children despite the size of a meagre 8 square kilometres, possibly due to the fact that it can be easily covered in a short span of time and makes for a great day trip. Moreover, it also offers attractions like a zoo, botanical garden, deer safari and Nature interpretation centre for the inquisitive ones.
The sanctuary lies around 50 kilometres from Panaji towards North Goa. It receives its peak of tourists from October to March and is open every day of the week except Monday. The entire sanctuary boasts of watchtowers to observe wildlife at close quarters and many vantage points for bird watchers to capture the majestic creatures in their lens.
The reserve is also dotted with an abundance of nature trails and treks making it perfect for a day of adrenaline-pumping activity with the help of an experienced guide.
Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary
Towards South Goa, along the Goa- Karnataka border, lies the second largest wildlife sanctuary of Goa. It may not harbour many species of animals but the rich flora and abundance of birds in myriads of shades make a visit to the place worthwhile.
The sanctuary can be visited throughout the year although October to March remains the favourite season. An observation desk perched near a watering hole offers a unique chance to spot different species of animals that frequent the hole to quench their thirst.
The stretch of land is also home to a couple of ancient Goan tribes namely Velip and Kunbil. For those who love the field of anthropology, a visit to this sanctuary is a great opportunity to learn more about these tribes and understand their culture.
Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary
The latest sanctuary to open up in Goa is Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary inaugurated in the year 1999. With the inception of the place, Goa attained the status of being the only state in the country that has brought the entire Western Ghats area under protection.
Situated in the north-east region of Goa, this sanctuary is home to many species of plants, animals and birds. It has been declared an International Bird Area due to the presence of certain exotic varieties of birds like Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Malabar parakeet and many others. The sanctuary also attracts a number of herpetologists as it hosts many kinds of snakes including the notorious ‘Big Four’ comprising of Indian viper, cobra, Russell viper and saw-scaled viper. Many types of butterflies can be spotted in the sanctuary and lend an enigmatic charm to the place.
Besides wildlife watching, you can also indulge in white water rafting, hiking or trekking.
Netravalli Wildlife Sanctuary
The Netravalli Wildlife Sanctuary comprises of an expansive 205 square metres of land in South-East Goa and is a popular wildlife reserve in this region. The sanctuary is surrounded by Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary, Cotigao Sanctuary and Mdhei Wildlife Sanctuary.
This wildlife sanctuary shelters many rare and endangered species of animals and exotic birds. A water feature within the reserve, by the name of Bubble Pond, is quite popular among children. The small temple pond is believed to produce bubbles on clapping. Although you can definitely observe the surface of the pond bubbling constantly, it is difficult to ascertain any relationship between the phenomenon and clapping.
So, the next time you are confused over whether to choose a beach destination or a wildlife one, don’t fret! Head to Goa and stay at Club Estadia, if you are headed to the north, or La Vida Varca located down south. Stay at Sterling Holidays and enjoy the best of both of the worlds.