On the western tip of Chorao Island on Goa’s Mandovi River sits the Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary. Located near the capital city of Panaji, the sanctuary feels worlds away from the busy beaches and ever present din of Goa’s more popular destinations. The sanctuary is named after Salim Ali, the “birdman of India,” and one of the first Indian ornithologists to systematically catalogue birds across India.
Upon arrival at the sanctuary, a boat guides you through the mangrove forests where it’s possible to spot around 400 species of local and migratory birds, including kingfishers, coots, egrets, black drongos and pintails, as well as a variety of mammalian and reptilian life.
The Sanctuary is open throughout the year, but the best season for bird watching is between October and March when birds from as far away as Siberia fly south to spend winter in Goa’s warmth. Early mornings and late evenings usually yield the most bird sightings. No matter when you visit, remember to bring plenty of mosquito repellent, and if you plan to snap photographs of the wildlife, be prepared to pay a small fee per camera.