If you think Goa is all about the oceanic panorama and the colonial legacy, you need to think again. There is one more delight Goa is far-famed for, and that's the state's rich and varied wildlife residing in wonderful sanctuaries and animal reserves. The Western Ghats pass along the eastern boundary of the state, making Goa home to some of the country's most popular wildlife sanctuaries. A number of protected areas have been set up here, which boast an exotic range of flora & fauna. The India's biodiversity hot spot, Goa has been a treasure trove for wildlife enthusiasts.
When in Goa, you have four brilliant wildlife sanctuaries, which are home to some superbly bizarre wild animals and awesome species of birds and reptiles. They have been bliss for those inclined towards nature & adventure. Popular sanctuaries in Goa are detailed below.
Bhagwan Mahavir Sanctuary: If you're a botanist or a bird-lover, you shouldn't miss an opportunity to visit this sanctuary. Nestled in South Goa - about 57km from the capital city Panaji - Bhagwan Mahavir Sanctuary houses a bewildering wealth of flora and innumerable species of birds and animals. This is among the densest sanctuaries in India, with Kadam, Sisso, teak and kharanj being the common tree species. In this Sanctuary, you'll encounter an exotic range of wild animals including several kinds of big cats, deer, elephants, Malayan giant squirrels and Gaurs. Monkeys, black panthers and a variety of snakes are also the common inhabitants of the sanctuary.
Bondala Wildlife Sanctuary: located near Ponda in central Goa, this sanctuary is more a zoo than a wildlife park. It has a natural deer park, a jungle resort and several small gardens which combined cover an area of 80 sqkm. Visitors can see elephants, sambars, jackals and many species of deer in the sanctuary. To attract kids and family vacationers, enchanting elephant rides and deer safaris are offered in the park. Additionally, the park's rich collection of bird species is also a great delight to explore. The sanctuary has rest houses, inns and tourist cottages for accommodation to the visitors.
Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary: In the foothills of the Western Ghats near Southern border of Goa with Karnataka, the sanctuary encompasses an area of 105 sq km. The main attractions for wildlife enthusiasts include wonderful floral varieties and various species of animals and birds. The Semi evergreen forests and the hill valley swamp forests here house leopard, sloth bear, cheetal, slender loris, mouse deer and several species of birds. Madgaon is nearest town and rail head to the Cotigao Sanctuary.
The best time to explore wildlife sanctuaries in Goa is immediately after Monsoon, between October and January. Temperature in Goa at this time is pleasing and greenery is at its best. Come with a pair of sturdy water-proof shoes, a set of field glasses and a well-informed travel guide, if you plan to do a serious wildlife-spotting in Goa. You better booking your travel facilities like Goa flights and Goa hotels in advance if planning to visit here in peak season.