Goa is one of the best, beautiful and favorite tourist destinations in India. It is not only because of pristine beaches, but also for its pleasant weather, happening nightlife, delectable cuisine. Also, there are exhilarating water sports, interesting nightlife and festivals, extravagant cruises and architectural marvels. This is not all, there is definitely more to Goa.
There is no dearth of unexplored places in Goa to pay a visit to From immaculate lakes and fragrant plantations to shimmering Ghats and intriguing island, Goa is a one-stop destination to witness all the marvels of Mother Nature. Here are some of the hidden jewels that attract wildlife and nature lovers to Goa.
1. Butterfly Conservatory of Goa
The park was established as an effort to conserve butterfly species native to Goa. Currently the park houses over 133 species of butterflies. On a typical day visit one can spot up to 25 species. A walk through a lush forest with colorful little butterflies fluttering past you can be really enchanting. This is one of the secret places in Goa which is a must visit for nature lovers and photographers.
The conservatory is in Rajnagar, Ponda, North Goa. It is situated at a distance of 26 km from Panjim Kadamba Bus Stand, 25 km from Margao Railway Station and 4 km from Ponda Bus Stand. Best Time To Visit the place is between November to March. People who have visited this believe it to be no less than the butterfly park in Singapore.
2. Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
Named after Dr. Salim Moizzudin Ali, India’s eminent ornithologist, the Salim Ali bird sanctuary is one of the smallest protected areas of Goa. This place provides a fabulous insight into the fragile eco-system. Ornithological enthusiasts will have a great time being paddled around the sanctuaries narrow canals in a dugout canoe.
The visit to this bird sanctuary more exciting as it is located on the island of Chorao. This unspoiled sanctuary is a prominent place on the list of hidden places in Goa. One can spot a number of migratory birds, especially Siberian, during winters. Apart from birds, you can get to the reserve for its exhilarating boat ride. Also, there is interesting wildlife experience through mysterious mangrove forests.
It is located near Ribandar Ferry, Chorao, North Goa. B ferry wharf. From there one can take a ferry across the Mandovi River to the island of Chorao. The sanctuary is within walking distance from the ferry wharf. There are variable choices for places to stay there.
3. Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary
Although this is the smallest sanctuary in Goa, it is a popular destination for tourists and school children. The sanctuary houses varied species of animals and is also popular for bird watching. Major attraction of this sanctuary is the elephant rides at this place. Additionally, leopards who have been injured in human-wildlife conflict, “Dancing Bears” and “Cobras” along with their trainers are also quite famous.
Considerable research activities also take place in this sanctuary. The sanctuary is located in north eastern Goa in Ponda. It is situated slightly away from the coast and has nice jungle resort with Eco-Tourism cottages. The sanctuary consists of a zoological park, botanical and rose garden and a beautiful deer park.
Ideal time to visit the sanctuary is between December and January.
4. Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary
The evergreen forests of is sanctuary provides a nurturing habitat for various endangered species of flora and fauna including carnivores like tigers, black panthers, and leopards. A part from being a haven for endangered plant and animal species, the sanctuary also houses butterflies, reptiles and plants.
Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife sanctuary is situated in the Sanguem district of Goa. It is about 70 km away from the main city, located in the Western Ghats, The Sanctuary is on the Panjim Belgaum Road, therefore, many travellers encounter animals en route Panjim. They may come across elephants, gaurs, deer, or leopards. It is advisable to drive at a minimum speed on this route. Within the sanctuary, there aren’t only safaris but also in-built trekking and hiking trails. There are guides having an in-depth knowledge of the terrain, animals, and plants. The Dabolim Goa International Airport is 65 – 70 km away from Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary.
The best time to visit the sanctuary is between Octobers to March. There are other attractions nearby such as Dudhsagar waterfall, Tambdi Falls and Devil’s Canyon.
5. Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary
The Netravali wildlife sanctuary is the newest addition to the list of great wildlife sanctuaries of Goa. The sanctuary is quite close to two other Wildlife Sanctuaries. To the north of the Netravali wildlife sanctuary lies the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary lies in its south. Apart from many other animals, the Great Pied Hornbills, Black Panther, Slender Loris, Cobra, Malabar Tree toad and the Giant Squirrel are found here.
The sanctuary is situated in Verlem at Sanguem Taluka in Eastern Goa It covers an area of 211 sq. km, is connected to the Madei Wildlife Sanctuary and together they cover an area of 420 sq. km. October to March is the best time to visit the Netravali sanctuary. There are a number of forest rest houses run by the GTDC for accommodation.
6. Mollem Wildlife Sanctuary
Mollem National Park is located in Sanguem taluk in Goa close to the border with Karnataka. The sanctuary is spread over 240 sq km in the Western Ghats. It also has several temples dating back to the Kadamba Dynasty. The national park is located near the town of Mollem, 60 km south east from Panaji.
The National park was earlier known as Mollem game sanctuary. It was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1969 and renamed Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary. The core area of the sanctuary spread over 107 sq km was named Mollem National Park in 1978. Since then the national park is called Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary and Mollem National Park. Several species of snakes including the King Cobra, Hump-nosed pit viper, Indian rock python and Malabar pit viper are found in the national park. There are also a wide variety of birds and butterflies found in the region.
Jungle safaris are a major attraction of the park. Unlike other parks, vehicles are allowed inside the sanctuary. Best time to visit Mollem National park is between November to March. Forest guest house run by Karnataka Tourism Development Corporation is situated near Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary and Mollem National Park.
7. Contigao Wildlife Sanctuary
Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary is the second largest wildlife reserve in Goa spread across an area of over 86 sq km. The sanctuary is in Canacona taluk, about 60 km from Panaji, bordering Karnataka. The sanctuary consists of lush green thick forest.
There are eight natural trails and six watchtowers in the sanctuary that can be used for watching the wildlife. Many rivers flow through the wildlife sanctuary with the Gal River and the Talpona River having their originating points within the sanctuary.
The sanctuary is home to many rare animals, reptiles and birds. Private vehicles are allowed inside which allows you to explore the sanctuary from the convenience of your vehicle. Forest department maintains a Nature Interpretation Centre near the entrance of the sanctuary which is a valuable collection of knowledge.. The sanctuary provides a unique wildlife experience, it also has a canteen, amphitheatre, cycling trail and a garden for visitors. You can stay at the Forest Rest House or you can also book a tent near the entrance of the park. Written permission from the Deputy Conservator of Forests in Panaji in advance in required for overnight stay inside the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary.
Best time to visit is between October to March. Nearby attractions are Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary, Kuskem Waterfall and Sadashivgad Hill Fort.
8. Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary
This comparatively new sanctuary area in Goa is This comparatively new area is located in the Northern Part of Goa, near the village of Valpoi. The sanctuary covers a vast area. The flora and fauna of the sanctuary is a huge attraction for herpetologists since in contains a large variety of snakes.
The Mhadei wildlife sanctuary is also home to a number of endangered amphibians. Additionally, there are record number of butterfly species within the wildlife park. Long billed vultures and Bengal tiger are also sighted in the sanctuary.
There are plenty of other sights to see and activities to take part in on a visit to the Mhadei sanctuary. The most popular amongst these are rock climbing and trekking. There are a number of picturesque waterfalls within the sanctuary boundaries. The most prominent are the Vazra Sakla Falls and the Virdi Falls. White water rafting in the Mhadei River is added attraction of the sanctuary.
Best time to visit the sanctuary is between November to March. It is advisable to arrange guided tours for various activities in and around the sanctuary. There are rest houses and private resorts near the sanctuary.
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