Located a short drive from the capital city Panaji, Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is a compact reserve, spanning about 1.8 square kilometers (.69 square miles) of mangrove swamps. It's Goa's only bird sanctuary, attracting a variety of native and migratory birds, including kingfishers, coots, egrets, black drongos, and pintails.
After arriving at the sanctuary, visitors travel on small boats through the mangrove forests that dominate the area. Along with all sorts of local and migratory birds, the sanctuary is home to a variety of other species, including jackals, flying foxes, and crocodiles. During low tides, it’s often difficult to get around the area by regular boats, though canoes can still pass through the channels and a watchtower offers great bird’s-eye views.
Things to Know Before You Go
- This is a must visit for nature-lovers or families with kids.
- Bring binoculars for the best bird spotting.
- Don’t forget your bug spray, especially if you’re visiting around dawn or dusk when mosquitoes are at their hungriest.
How to Get There
The sanctuary is located on Chorao Island on the Mandovi River. If you're coming from Panjim by car, it's fastest to head to the Ribandar ferry wharf (a 10-minute drive from the island) and take a ferry across the water. Alternatively, if you’re coming from destinations further north, such as Mapusa (45 minutes away) or Baga (an hour away), you can get there more quickly by driving.
When to Get There
The Sanctuary is open from sunrise to sunset throughout the year, but the best season for bird watching is between October and March when migratory birds from as far away as Siberia fly south to spend winter in warm Goa. Early mornings and late evenings usually yield the most avian sightings.
Dr Salim Ali, AKA The Bird Man of India
India's best-known ornithologist, Salim Ali was influential in the establishment of bird sanctuaries in the 20th century. Throughout the course of his illustrious career, he wrote volume upon volume of books about birds; he also helped create the Keoladeo National Park bird sanctuary in Bharatpur, not far from the Taj Mahal.