Goa has wonderful natural attractions, fun beaches and lovely churches. If you live in and around Goa then there can be no dearth of tourist attractions where you can go for a nice relaxing 48 hours trip. The Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is one such option that can form the highlight of your 48 hour trip.
Where to Go
Salim Ali Bird sanctuary is a beautiful estuarine mangrove habitat that was declared as a bird sanctuary some years back. It’s situated on the western tip of Chorao Island along the River Mandovi in Goa. The sanctuary and the Chorao Island are both accessible by a ferry service that runs between Chorao and Ribander. Hire a vehicle from the self-drive car rental Goa and drive to Old Goa from Panaji. Very soon you will reach the scenic Ribandar ferry crossing. This ferry is operational from 7 a.m. and it’s better to catch the first boat to reach the Chorao Island.
What to Do
There is a nice paved walkaway here that can be used as an evening walk/ morning walk route.
Many types of birds are found inside the Salim Ali Sanctuary and it is indeed a delight for the striated heron, west reef Heron, red knot, pied avocet, jack snipe, kingfishers, white egrets and cormorants etc. the sanctuary is also filled with fiddler crabs, mudskippers and mangrove dwellers. This park is also credited with the discovery of a new species of crustacean…the Teleotanais Indianis.
The sanctuary possesses a bird watching tower that’s reachable by boat when the water levels aren’t too low. You can hire a dugout canoe and take a leisurely aquatic stroll around the mangrove swamps. Remember that Mandovi is a tidal river and boat trips will depend on the timing of the tides. Lots of boatmen manning dugout canoes will wait around the ferry landing and you can choose to go with any one of them.
Admission fee for entry to the sanctuary is INR 75
If you rent a forest department boat it will cost you INR 900. This can accommodate 12 people. The standard rate for a private boat 1.5 hour trip is 700 INR
In case you are an avid birdwatcher, photographer or simply an ornithologist then don’t forget to bring a good pair of binoculars and a standard field guide
Hours: the sanctuary is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.…reach at least by 8 a.m. if you want to see all the attractions in the park and maximise your bird watching opportunities.
The next day in your 48 hour trip can be devoted to some amazing attractions around…you can see the Houses of Goa Museum that contains models of old houses and mansions in Goa. The lovely Reis Magos Fort has a rich historical past…its just 2.8 km away. You can also visit Church of the Immaculate that’s 3.5 km away. When you are tired with all the sightseeing…hop in to Mall de Goa and indulge in some shopping and snacks.
Where to Eat
There are plenty of nice restaurants and bars a couple of kilometres away from the sanctuary. Hop in to the Star Bar for traditional Goanese snacks and drinks…it’s about 2.5 km away. The Bottle jack Bistro is 2.3 km away and it’s a good place to relax and enjoy standard Indian and European food. For a full-fledged Goanese Thali you can visit the Ritz Classic that is 3.34 km away….if you have self-driven car in Goa then going to these places on your weekend trip is a piece of cake. Venite is just 32 km away and it serves continental and European fare.
Where to Stay
The Highland Heritage Hotel is just 2.3 km away from the bird sanctuary…it’s on the Salvador Do Mundo Road. The Country Inn and Suites by Radisson is 3.2 km away and is another good accommodation option. The Crown Goa is in Bairo Alto Pilotos and its 3.3 km away from the sanctuary.
Distance from Goa Panaji
The sanctuary is in Chorao Island that’s 6.6 km away from Panaji via the Ponte de Linhares Causeway
It will take you 37 minutes (rent a vehicle from the best self-drive car rental Goa) to reach the ferry dock and then 15 more minutes to reach the island. www.ziphop.in has a good branch in Goa that supplies cars and bikes.