Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary
It’s that time of year again – when you’re just longing to escape from your routine and the hustle and bustle of city life. If a long holiday is not on the cards, don’t worry, there are plenty of fine places in and around Goa that are just waiting to be explored. The Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary, tucked away in the Kali river basin forests is just perfect for that relaxing yet adventurous short break. Having made the decision to see Goa’s latest sanctuary for ourselves, we set off for the 40 km drive to Netravali from Margao. Be prepared for an abundance of nature and thick dense forestation along your drive. We leave early to avoid the intense summer heat and are rewarded with magnificent views of the sun rising through the swaying coconut palms. This picture perfect scene continues for a while, interrupted only by a slew of trucks near the mining areas, until we reach the Netravali base camp, located in the Tanshikar’s sprawling spice farms. This is a great place to set up base for the weekend. Although the accommodation is basic, with a couple of double bedrooms and tents with attached toilet and shower, it’s very atmospheric to be surrounded by aromatic spice trees and fragrant herbs as well as quaint little wooden bridges. We feel adventurous already and we haven’t even stepped foot in the sanctuary yet! After stretching and relaxing for a short spell over hot chai and vada-pav, we’re back in the car heading to the sanctuary. And en route we decide to stop and hike to the Savarde Falls, an unmissable photo-op! The relatively quiet hike up is punctuated by little brooks and views of dense jungle. The hike is about an hour long and while it was hot, the dense vegetation provided good cover from the sun rays beating down on us. The unspoiled and idyllic waterfalls are perfect for a refreshing swim. Luckily, when we were there, there was no one else around but we have heard stories of the waterfall attracting quite a crowd on public holidays. Our early start meant we avoided the crowds so that’s another good reason to set that alarm and leave before sunrise. We return to our base camp at Tanshikar’s to enjoy the hospitality of the charming local family. A simple meal of local dal and bhaji with a cold cold beer and we’re ready to hit our beds. A lingering breakfast later, we’re ready to explore the sanctuary. Since it was declared a wildlife sanctuary a few years ago, Netravali has quickly gained a reputation for its stunning forestation and diverse wildlife. Spread over 211.05 sq. km, Netravali is a major attraction for nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers as well. Its location is also quite unique as it lies between the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary to its north and Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary to its south. It is connected to the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary and together the two parks cover an area of 420 sq km. You’re really quite spoilt for sanctuaries here! But, since we’re here to concentrate on Netravali we try and find out what we can about the vast landscape we’re in. An interesting fact we learn is that Netravali is an extremely significant source of fresh water and is known to be named after the Netravali or Neturli which is an important tributary of the Zuari River. One can also see a high range of mountains here which the local habitants consider religious and which are of socio cultural importance to them. We spy a number of exotic birds and some animals and our cameras are constantly clicking. Some of the wildlife found here are the great pied hornbills, black panthers, slender loris, king cobras and the giant squirrels. Apart from the diverse wildlife, the variety of forestation in Netravali also deserves appreciation. Netravali has moist-deciduous forest interspersed with semi-evergreen and evergreen forests and nature enthusiasts will enjoy identifying the many species in full and wild bloom! Do also stop by the charming and aptly named Bubble Pond. Kids will love this quaint water feature. Tired but thrilled with our encounters with creatures of the wild in the heart of nature, we return to our humble accommodation. The next day, we drive back to Goa, refreshed, rejuvenated and humbled by the sheer majesty and beauty of Goa’s natural landscape.
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