Wildlife sanctuaries teeming with biodiversity are not what you will find on a typical list of places to visit in Goa, but becoming one with nature could be the best surprise on your next trip here.
The golden sands that line Goa’s western coast are the state’s best known attraction. Less well-known, however, are the string of wildlife sanctuaries in the interiors. Here’s a bird’s-eye view of four nature parks in Goa where you can go wild.
Enjoy a picnic at a sanctuary
The largest of Goa’s wildlife parks, Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary sits in the thick forests of the Western Ghats. Besides being home to a variety of wildlife, the sanctuary offers a route to the base of the 310-metre-high Dudhsagar Waterfalls (our main picture) – a dazzling white cascade whose name translates to “”sea of milk””. Make the most of your wildlife-watching visit with a picnic near the pools at the base of the falls. Your Hilton Concierge will be glad to create a delectable picnic basket for you.
Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary | Address: Sonaulim, Goa 403410, India | Website: goatourism.gov.in/destinations/sanctuaries/163-bhagwan-mahavir-wildlife-sanctuary
Spend a day among deer
Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the smaller nature parks in Goa, but it includes a deer park that you can drive through in forest department jeeps. It is a safe refuge for animals, like leopards and bears, injured in wildlife-human conflict. The forest guards make for well-informed guides, which ensures a memorable close encounter with gaurs (the state animal of Goa), and various deer species, like sambar, spotted deer, barking deer, and hog deer. All but the last are among the common fauna of Goa. Wear sober, ‘earthy’ colors to blend in and observe quietly for a rewarding experience.
Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary | Address: Usgao-Ganjem VP, Goa 403105, India | Tel: 0832 243 8750 | Website: goatourism.gov.in/destinations/sanctuaries/160-bondla-wildlife-sanctuary
Get unencumbered views of wildlife
The Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary in South Goa has the advantage of being open to visitors all-year-round. It also has the best facilities for wildlife sightings, including an excellent Nature Interpretation Center to introduce you to the local flora and fauna, and an observation deck concealed in the foliage of a 25-metre-tall tree. The deck offers a great view of the watering hole where animals gather to drink, such as slender lorises, Indian pangolins, mouse deer, and a huge diversity of birds, reptiles and amphibians. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of shy gazelles, sloth bears or panthers. Wear comfortable clothing, according to the season of your visit and definitely pack mosquito repellent.
Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary | Address: Canacona Taluka, Khotigao, Goa 403702, India | Tel: 0832 296 5601 | Website: goatourism.gov.in/destinations/sanctuaries/161-cotigao-wildlife-sanctuary