One such wildlife center is the Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary.
Goa is immensely famous among local and international tourists. Its beaches, seafood, laid-back lifestyle and easy availability of alcoholic beverages make it a paradise for those who want to revel in the wild. But this wild lifestyle aside, Goa is also home to exotic wildlife. When you think of Goa, you mostly think of North Goa – the party mall with all the most popular beaches. Compared to it, South Goa is relatively unknown to the tourist world and therefore lacks commercialization. South Goa is therefore more peaceful, clean and less crowded while being home to some of the finest beaches, temples, waterfalls and wildlife centers. One such wildlife center is the Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary.
Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary is Goa’s largest and probably the most bio-diverse wildlife sanctuary. It has some of the most beautiful but relatively unexplored forests in the state. Home to nearly 200 species of birds, birdwatching here extends from the foothills of the Western Ghats to its crest in Goa. The typical forest here is mixed deciduous to semi-evergreen with a good network of streams and table meadows.
The sanctuary provides a welcome break from the sea beaches for which Goa is famous.
Direction to Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary
Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary is located at a distance of just 70 kilometers from the Goa airport. Like most places in Goa, the best way to reach Netravali is to hire a two-wheeler if you don’t have a personal vehicle.
The beautiful vegetation of Konkan, the rice paddies and the hills of Western Ghat greet your eyes on both sides of the road when you drive there, but the internet may not be the most reliable under these circumstances. We therefore recommend that you ask a local for directions to be sure.
Best time to visit Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary
Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary is best visited during the monsoon season, i.e. from late June to August; when the vegetation is fresh and green, the air is pleasant and you have the chance to see the Savari waterfall in Netravali at its best.
You can also visit it in winter, but we do not recommend visiting it in summer (from March to May).
Where to stay?
You can return to your hotel in North Goa in good time if that is where you intend to return. Otherwise, accommodation is available in forest rest houses run by the GTDC (Goa Tourism Development Corporation). Goa’s tourism department also takes care of the food, making it a great place to spot wild creatures in their natural habitat.
As we visited the place during the monsoons, the Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary greeted us with a sense of natural vegetation – so dense that even though the day was sunny, in some parts the sunlight did not reach the floor… Well, you are also greeted with a post office check where you have to pay the entry fee.
The sanctuary is best explored by two-wheeler and where possible in a group as you may not encounter other humans unless it is a working day.
Flora and Fauna at Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary
This dense deciduous vegetation mixed with natural evergreen/semi-evergreen vegetation is a common feature of all Western Ghats and the Konkan region in particular.
Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary covers an area of 211 square kilometers and takes its name from the Netravali (or Neturli) River – a tributary of the Zuari River which originates here.
A wildlife enthusiast will also find plenty to love in the surrounding areas – there’s Karnataka’s Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve on its eastern side; Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, Goa on its southern side and Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary and Mollem National Park on its northern side. All of these, along with Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary, Goa and Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary, Karnataka together form an incredible home for protected wildlife.
Among the fauna found here, there is a great diversity of mammals like – Gaur (Bos gaurus), the Malabar giant squirrel (Ratufa indica), the four-horned antelope or chousingha (Tetracerus quadricornis), the leopard (Panthera pardus), black sloth bear, etc. which are supported by abundant availability of drinking water in the region.
The area is also home to several aviary life forms such as the rare Malayan Night Heron (Gorsachius melanolophus), Grey-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus priocephalus, Nilgiri Wood Pigeon (Columba elphinstonii), White-bellied Blue Flycatcher (Cyornis pallipes), great pied hornbill (Buceros bicornis), common thrush (Garrulax delesserti), rufous chatterbox (Turdoides subrufa), white-bellied magpie (Dendrocitta leucogastra), etc.
During our visit there, we came across a leopard, a Gaur and a hornbill; the highlight of the day was the beautiful butterflies we encountered. We were unable to discern the names of the butterfly species, but a Google search suggested names such as the Malabar-banded swallowtail (Papilio liomedon), the red-spotted owl (Dophla Evelina), the Malabar banded peafowl (Papilio buddha), southern birdwing (Troides minos), Malabar nymph (Idea malabarica), black rajah (Charaxes solon), blue nawab (Polyura Schreiber) etc.
We spent our whole day exploring this beautiful natural paradise and didn’t return until 5pm.
If you are on vacation in Goa, say for about a week, you will probably be looking for a break from its main attractions and a day in this cradle of nature is your best alternative. In its own right, the Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary has plenty of beauty bestowed upon it by nature to be missed.