About Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is a piece of ornithological heaven on the bank of River Mandovi which is home to more than 473 species of birds and rare animals in the midst of thick mangrove vegetation. The place gets its name after the renowned ornithologist Dr. Salim Moizuddin Ali and fairly boasts of its uniquely rare eco system where you can gain an insight into the habits and habitats of wild animals and birds. Located on the Chorao Island on the southern tip of Goa the sanctuary abounds an estuarine mangrove ecosystem providing a suitable environment for the breeding of some rare species of animals and birds.
The Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary got its first recognition as a national park in 1988 by the Forest Department of Goa and hence forth attracting birders from different parts of the world. However, the sanctuary is home to numerous other wild animals that have made the place their natural habitat. The crisscross water channels running through the mangrove vegetation of the park are inhabited by mudskipper fish and marsh crocodiles that can be spotted during low tides.
The park offers boat trips in dugout canoes across its mangrove swamps giving you a pleasurable outing experience along with fair knowhow about the aquatic fauna of the park. From the watchtower inside the park, you can enjoy an aerial view of the surroundings and watch the intriguing behaviour of the birds and animals.
Apart from wildlife expedition, Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is also a great retreat for outdoor activities such as boat riding, nature hiking, sightseeing, outdoor picnic and bicycle tours. Below we have provided some additional facts about this sylvan retreat in Goa.
Flora and Fauna
Spreading across a vast acreage of approximately 108 sq. km, Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is the only bird sanctuary in Goa which is home to exotic wildlife in an estuarine mangrove setting. The diverse flora of this region comprises of Teak, Red Sandalwood, Rosewood, Jungle Jack and many more tropical evergreen and semi evergreen trees providing a safe refuge to numerous birds.
The swampy ecosystem of the sanctuary makes it a perfect breeding ground for fish and insects lying at the foot of the food chain pyramid. The meandering water channels accommodate fish, pythons, Saw Scaled Viper, cobras, mudskippers, crustaceans, fiddler crabs, otters and crocodiles that can be spotted from a safe distance. According to the latest survey, there are about 473 species of migratory and local birds which makes Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary an ornithologists’ heaven in the true sense of the term.
The most commonly spotted birds in this park are white egrets, drongos, woodpeckers, blue tailed bee-eater, black kite, spoonbill, white throated kingfisher, sandpipers, brown wood owl, purple herons, cormorants, jungle myna, common redshank, curlews and many more. If you are a keen birdwatcher you can watch the intriguing behaviour of the birds (coots and pintails in particular) during winter time from the three-storeyed observation tower built inside the sanctuary.
Apart from being a peaceful haven for rare species of birds, Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is home to outlandish faunae which include flying foxes, little and black bittern, jack snipe, rodents, jackals and other animals. In a guided tour conducted by the Forest Department of Goa you can explore the length and breadth of the sanctuary. You can also observe the sanctuary’s unique flora and fauna by a bicycle ride along the paved hiking trail or riding on a canoe across the watery canals amidst the mangrove vegetation. Going on a leisurely canoe trip round the shady strips of the Chorao Island will make you watch over the activities of crocodiles, snakes, fish and other aquatic animals from close quarters.
The mangrove foliage of Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary spreading across the banks of Cumbarjua Canal and the Mandovi Mapusa Rivers provides the right conditions for a flourishing biodiversity in that area. It also facilitates the conservation of the park’s unique wildlife ranging from arthropods to mammals that thrive on the tropical evergreen vegetation of this area. Whether you are an ornithologist or a common tourist, Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is the right place for anything related to wildlife and birds in particular.
How to Reach Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
- From Panjim: The Aguada Fort lies at a distance of 16 Km from the Kadamba Bus Stand at Panaji and is connected by road network from places such as Pune, Mangalore, Kolhapur, Belgaum and other cities. There are government and private operated buses from Panjim to Aguada Fort that can be availed at affordable rates. There are motorcycle taxis and auto rickshaws for easy conveyance within the city limits. Besides, rental cars, bikes and taxis are also available that ply between Panjim and Aguada Fort.
- From Goa International Airport: The Dabolim International Airport (Goa Airport) is located about 42 Km form Aguada Fort via NH 66 and is connected with the major cities of India and abroad by regular flights. From Goa Airport you can hire a taxi which may cost you around Rs. (950-1200) and reach Aguada Fort in 38 minutes.
You can also choose a self-drive trip to Aguada Fort from the airport and reach in 38 minutes. It will cost you around Rs. (260-380).
Best Time to Visit Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary remains open every day from 6AM-6PM. You should reach the sanctuary by 7Am latest. Early morning is the best time for watching birds in their best playful gestures. Also, you can take a boat ride in the nearby Mandovi River.
Winter is the best season of the year to visit Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary when the migratory birds fly over to this region from distance places and stay for months. The sanctuary receives a maximum number of traffic during the months of October- March. Also, this is the ideal time to spot wild animals at dusk and dawn.
What Not to Miss at Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
Things to do at Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
1. Boat ride through the mangrove forest- Give a break to the beach activities and head on to the nearest Mandovi River for a laidback boat ride in a canoe. It is a one hour river cruise which includes sightseeing, dining, DJ music, Konkani dance, entry to the Carnival Village and watching live performances by King Momo and group.
2. Hike to Christ Hill- The imposing stature of Jesus Christ atop Christ Hill stands as a symbol of pride and faith to the natives of Chorao Island. From the summit of the hill you can enjoy the stunning view of the sunset. Christ Hill was constructed in 1930 for the local Christian folks of the Island.
3. Village tour- If you want to see the real picture of Goa, take a tour round the nearby village to the Choran Island. The people living there follow a traditional lifestyle retaining some old school values that are reflected in their culinary habits, dress code and behaviour.
4. Bicycle tour- Tour round the Chorao Island on an eco friendly bicycle and get to see its floral abundance. If it is your day, you can spot dancing peacocks, crocodile waiting stealthily for its prey amidst the swamp or listen to the melodious songs of the birds inhabiting in the asylum.
5. Explore the sanctuary- The sanctuary houses a well paved walking trail amidst dense mangrove vegetation. You can go on a bicycle ride and spot the exotic fauna of the park as they will often surprise you with their interesting gestures. But, if you want to explore every nook and corner of the park, going on foot will be a more rewarding experience.
Places to visit near Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
1. Mandovi River- If you are looking forward to spending your vacation in luxury and style, embark on a cruise on the Mandovi River in a boat. The cruise comes along with a lot of fun activities for tourists such as DJ, Konkani dance, sumptuous dinner and many more for an eventful day. The breath-taking view of sunset at the skyline of the Arabian Sea is a bonus to your cruise. The cost of a one hour cruise for one person is Rs. 500 approximately.
2. Sunaparanta, Goa Centre for Arts- For the connoisseurs of fine arts, the quaint heritage setting of Sunaparanta is truly a piece of heaven for viewing art exhibitions and interacting with fellow artists. The galleries housed inside the mansion showcases artworks of local as well as overseas artists. There is an open air theatre where films are shown by the movie club. Sitting at the patio café with a cup of coffee and some morsel, you can enjoy watching the sun disappearing in the Arabian Sea.
3. Chorao Island- It is located about 2.3 Km from the sanctuary and is divided from the mainland by the River Mandovi. During monsoon the entire region is enveloped in a blanket of greenery which makes it a sight to behold. The serene picturesque setting of the Chorao Island allures nature lovers and common tourists for venturing on day trips, boat ride and sightseeing.
4. Reis Magos Fort- The history of this fort dates back prior to the arrival of the Portuguese at the end of the 15th century. A great place to learn about the history of Goa’s freedom struggle from the paintings, artefacts and photos you can see inside the fort. The Reis Magos Fort is one of the finest specimens of Goan and Portuguese architecture and a must visit tourist spot.
5. Casino Royale Goa- Located at a distance of 3.2 Km from the sanctuary Casino Royale offers an array of entertainment for all age group visitors. Music, dance, playing casino, kids’ zone and a lot more things are available without burning a hole in your pocket. One of the hottest attractions of this floating casino is good food with live music shows by prominent artists.
Other Essential Information About Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
-Location: near Ribandar Ferry, Chorao, Panaji, Goa- 403102
-Timings: The sanctuary is kept open all days in a year. You need a prior permission of the Chief WildLife Warden of the Forest Dept. of Goa. Every day the park remains open from 6AM- 6PM.
- Fee: Entry fee Rs. 50 per person, Tour Fee Rs. 1000 per person, Boat Ride Charges, Rs. 75 per person or Rs. 900 (group tour), Camera Charges Rs. 50 per camera (still), Rs. 100 per camcorder
Tips for Visiting Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
To make your trip to the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary enjoyable, you just need to remember these few basic rules:
1. Do not litter the sanctuary premises. There are dustbins placed at regular stops inside the park for public use. This is an ecologically sensitive zone that needs to be preserved for maintaining the ecological balance of the sanctuary.
2. Keep our camera handy so as to capture the rare moments of the animals’ behaviour.
3. Take sufficient water for your daytrip as you may not get drinking water inside the sanctuary.
4. Do not make clamour while visiting the park. It may cause disturbance to the inhabiting animals.
5. Move in a group inside the sanctuary and follow the trail used by the public. Do not roam around aimlessly inside the park or tread into unknown areas.
6. Carry comfortable shoes for walking inside the sanctuary. Wear caps for protection against the sun.
7. If you plan for boating in the lake inside the sanctuary, equip yourselves with safety guards. If you do not know swimming let the authorities know before you venture on boating.
8. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is an ornithologists’ paradise. Do not harm the birds by any means. It is a punishable offence.