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Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park

Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary is a nature reserve in South Goa bordering the state of Karnataka. The main gate of the sanctuary is 30 kilometers from Polem beach by the NH 66, and 22.5 kilometers from the popular Palolem resort area. Spread over 86 square kilometers, Cotigao is the 2 nd biggest forest area in Goa after Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary. Established in 1968, it was set up to preserve the rich biodiversity of the area, and conserve the many floras and fauna species.

The Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary is home to many tall trees that reach up to 30 meters. There are many deciduous trees and evergreen trees in this forest. There is a treetop watchtower that gives a nice view of the canopy. The wildlife is diverse with flying squirrels, mouse deer, panthers, hyenas, sloth bears, gazelles, four-horned antelopes, vipers, golden-back gliding snakes, and many species of birds and reptiles.

Cotigao Map

Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary in Goa

There is a nature interpretation center and many hiking trails to explore. Treetop perches are strategically placed overlooking watering holes. Cotigao is a nice day trip from the beach areas of south Goa – Palolem, Polem, Galgibaga, Colomb, and Agonda. You can stay overnight as well at the rest house of the forest department or in a watch tower with prior permission.

Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary – Quick Facts

Where is the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary?

Canacona in South Goa, close to the state’s border with Maharashtra. It is close to the south Goa beaches like Palolem, Polem, Galgibag, and Colomb.

Distance

30 kilometers from Polem beach, 22.5 kilometers from Palolem beach, 58.3 kilometers from Margao.

How big is the sanctuary

Spread over 86 square kilometers, it is Goa’s 2 nd biggest sanctuary.

Trees and wildlife

Deciduous and evergreen trees, many species of plants and animals including rare panthers, sloth bears, hyenas, antelopes, mouse deer, flying squirrels, snakes, monkeys, reptiles, and birds.

Rivers

Talpona and Galjibaga originate within the forest.

Nature trails

There are 8 nature trails within the park ranging between 500 meters and 5 kilometers.

Watch towers

There are 6 watch towers in front of watering holes. They are at a height of 25 meters offering wildlife sights when they come up to drink.

Timing

Open daily between 7 AM and 5.30 PM. Tickets cost Rs. 5. Camera fee is Rs.25.

Wildlife At Cotigao

The region was once the home of many leopards and tigers. Many of them were hunted down, while the others fled. There are still a few panthers and hyenas, but these predatory animals are rarely sighted now. You have a better chance of spotting the sloth bears, gazelles, porcupines, wild boars, Indian pangolin, mouse deer, and the four-horned antelope. Monkey, wild boar, and gaur sightings are almost guaranteed in their natural habitat. You are also sure to sight many species of colorful birds here.

The best time to see wildlife is early in the morning and in late afternoon just before dusk. Go to one of the 6 watch towers in front of watering holes. Wait for the animals to turn up to drink water. You may have to wait for a while, so be patient.

The Forest

The Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary is better known for its trees or flora. It’s a rare sight for nature lovers to see the 30 meter tall trees with thick branches that block sunlight from reaching the forest floor in many places. The canopy is very dense. The flora is mostly moist-deciduous, semi-evergreen, and evergreen trees. You will see many creepers, and old, rare trees in the forest.

The Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary is part of the same forest stretch that extends to Anshi National Park in the east, and the Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary to the north. There is a thin corridor that connects it to Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary further north. It is a nice forested corridor for the animals to pass undisturbed.

Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary is one of India’s few forested areas that allows walking tours within the core area.

Nature Interpretation Centre

There is a small nature interpretation center where you can learn more about the flora and fauna of the forest. There are photos and displays of its trees, animals, nature trails, and the watch towers, which will give you an insight on what to expect inside. You will also learn of its history and why the sanctuary was established in 1968.

Hiking Trails

Private vehicles are allowed inside the wildlife sanctuary. But hiking through the park is always going to be more productive. Choose from 8 trails that vary between 500 meters and 5 kilometers. You can also have a forest guard walking with you, who will show you the many trees, and help you spot the animals and their pugmarks.

There are very few nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries in India that allow hiking within the core area. The Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary is an exception. Hiking is generally safe here, especially with a forest guard. The best time to walk inside the park is early in the morning and in late afternoon.

Watch Towers

There are as many as 6 watch towers or lookout posts at Cotigao. They are at a height of 25 meters in front of small lakes or watering holes that are frequented by wildlife. You will find the first tower a little after entering the forest from the sanctuary gate.

Climb the ladder to reach the top. You will be close to the canopy and will be awarded with a stunning view. If you are lucky and patient, you may see wildlife. But make sure that you stay quiet while you are on the tower. Carry a water bottle and some snacks with you, but don’t leave anything behind.

The Tribal’s

The wildlife sanctuary is home to some villages where you can meet members of the ancient Kunbil and Velip tribes. They are the descendants of the ancient aboriginal people of Goa. Kunbi, a popular folk dance of Goa originated from the tribe.

You can visit their villages and interact with them to learn about their lifestyles and unique culture. This will be a nice anthropological study.

Best Time To Visit

The best to visit the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary is between October and March when the weather is more pleasant and there is little rain. The monsoon will make the forest lush green and beautiful, but the roads and hiking trails will be muddy and difficult.

There is no organized safari expedition here. You can hike or drive on your own – it will be safe. But remember, most wildlife sightings are in the morning or just before sunset.

Where To Stay

The forest department has a small cottage facility just after the forest gate and sanctuary office. The facilities are basic. There is another facility at Poinguinim, which is 2 kilometer from the sanctuary gate. The forest department also provides canvas tents, mosquito nets, and snake proof camping sites. Another option is to stay overnight at a watchtower for a unique experience.

For a night stay at Cotigao, you need prior written permission from the Deputy Conservator of Forests in Panaji. This is a good idea if you want to get inside the sanctuary early in the morning for the best chance of animal sighting.

Top 5 Reasons To Visit The Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary

  1. To appreciate the natural beauty of Goa
  2. Wildlife viewing, see tall trees more than 30 meters high
  3. Rare plants, birds, and reptiles
  4. For an overnight stay in a watch tower
  5. To see a different side of Goa, away from the beaches, shacks, and nightclubs



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