You can have a lot of jungle time in Goa. So if you have only explored the surf and the sands, then no one told you that 60% of Goa’s land is a forest. The jungles of Goa are amazing in a different way each season - a great place to visit at anytime.
It has several wildlife sanctuaries, birding areas, turtle nesting sites and dolphin bays. From coral reefs, to mangroves, to evergreen forests, Goa has an astounding range of ecosystems compressed between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea. Goa is a biodiversity treasure trove!
Let’s start with the jungles. The Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary is all abuzz after the confirmed sighting of tigers, quite recently! This comparatively new sanctuary, declared only in 1999, covers a vast area of 208 sqkm and makes Goa the only state in the country to protect the entire area of the Western Ghats that falls within the state. The Western Ghats are one of the top ten hottest biodiversity spots in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site! This ‘wonder of the world’ is just a couple of hours drive at the most from any part of Goa. There are several simple and very hospitable guesthouses that offer a safe and serene experience of the lush forests. You can go for jungle walks, dip into waterfalls and raft down the river too.
The Bhagwan Mahavir Sanctuary at the foothills of the Western Ghats is the largest jungle in Goa. It is a rich forest with some famous waterfalls - Dudhsagar falls at 310 meters is one of the tallest in the country. The 12th Century Surla Temple is another gem not very far from it.
On the Karnataka border of Goa is the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary. It has 25 meter tall watchtowers that look over watering holes, providing a good chance to spot wildlife while perched amidst scenic treetops. The Sloth Bears are the most dangerous animals in this forest. The forest is also home to some of Goa’s ancient tribal communities.
The Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary on the corridors of the Western Ghats provides the delightful perks of the forest but also provides a unique homestay experience in the only tribal village within the sanctuary. The home cooked meals and the warm hospitality is enough reason to visit. Waterfalls abound the region too. You can also trek up Ravan Dongor and get a view of the sea in the distance.
There is diverse wildlife to witness in these forests. You may not spot a tiger, but then you can safely go on forest walks which is the best way to enjoy a jungle. There are many leopards, but they are shy. The wild bison is the most common large mammal you may spot and there is the giant red squirrel, which is a beauty and the exotic hornbills are a common sighting amongst the avian species.
For birders Goa is a paradise. There are a number of birding hotspots around Goa and a number of birding groups to guide you around too. The Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary nestled within a mangrove island is quite special. On the same island one can also go on Otter trails with the local conservation group or go for a crocodile river cruise further upstream. And if it is still the sea that is your draw, you can participate in the monitoring and hatching of Olive Ridley Turtles in the secluded beaches, or go deep sea diving at the Grande Island.
There is a Japanese concept of forest bathing called Shinrin-yoku or taking in the atmosphere of the forest, which is considered extremely therapeutic for the body and the soul. We at Aashyana Lakhanpal are devoted to spiritual and ecological harmony. Our premises with the undulating banyan trees, the swaying palms, the flower bushes and wild grass, recreate an enchanted forest, unlike a manicured garden.
We invite you to indulge in this unique experience of Goa.