Located at the southern edge of Goa, bordering Karnataka, this lesser-known Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary is a nature walker’s delight. It cuts you off from the mundane world and surrounds you with sheer greenery amidst flowing water almost everywhere.
Eco-tourism complex at the entrance of the sanctuary will give you entry tickets for you, your camera, and your vehicle. They would also give you a map of the sanctuary and tell you the main points to be visited. There are a few cottages here where you can stay, an interpretation center, and a butterfly park.
The first point we visited was Bela Lake – about 7 KM’s from the main gate. It is an artificial lake with a small watchtower by its side. The day we went it was raining so there was no chance of any animals visiting this small water hole. We noticed some vegetation at the base of this shallow lake – a beautiful yellow plant with a red tip making it look like a flower.
A few varieties of fish were also present in the lake. The mud road through the tall trees makes it a beautiful path to walk around. The only bird we spotted was a giant eagle.
Lush Green Nature at Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, Goa
Tree Top Watchtower
We then moved towards what is called Tree Top. Now, this is a tall tree with a fragile ladder attached to it. And has a watchtower kind of stand on top. To reach this point you have to walk around 700 meters meandering with and sometimes through a narrow stream of water. As you walk the path you see the stairs made of mud and leaves that fell between two fallen trees. And slender branches of some trees hugging the other trees.
Some twisted branches make you wonder how they got twisted. And stones of different colors and make at the bottom of the stream.
Our best find on this trail was wild mushrooms that were growing on broken tree trunks and on the ground. Once we realized there were mushrooms there, our eyes started spotting many of them. We also spotted some flowers that we had not seen earlier and quite a few crabs in and around the stream.
The third spot was a seasonal waterfall that lies in a village called Kuskem about 15 km from the main gate in another direction. We see the waterfall striding down the nearly vertical and lush green hill. And looks beautiful with a front drop of light green paddy fields. A small 15-20 min trek took us to the base of the Kuskem waterfall where we could see it falling on a spot from where it begins flowing like a stream through small and big rocks. What I liked the most is the sound of water and the twittering of the birds.
Goa Tourism website indicates that you can camp inside the sanctuary if you want to, though you would be pretty much on your own. I think a good birding trail can be followed post-monsoons in the forest. I remember a Goa forest officer’s presentation on birds of Goa and lots of them were from Cotigao. He also mentioned some sacred groves in the forest. I think I sighted one but I am not sure if it is one, so would write about it only after I have validated it.
There are villages inside the sanctuary making it a very living place from the human population perspective.
It is a perfect day outing for tourists staying on southern beaches like Palolem and Agonda. There is public transport that takes you quite close to the sanctuary though it is quite sparse. Unless you are willing to walk 25-30 KM’s, you would need your own transport.