Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary
Located in the northeastern portion of Goa, 16 km (15 miles) from Valpoi, Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary is a popular tourist attraction of the Ponda taluka. Spread in a vast area, the wildlife sanctuary is home to some of the exotic birds and animals of the Western Ghats. The place has also been associated with the successful breeding of the Indian Bison. Being the only zoological park of Goa, the place is frequently visited by children and animal lovers.
The well-planned infrastructure of Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary makes it's suitable for an overnight or day trip. Spread in the area of 8 sq. km. the place is home to Indian peafowl, sambar deer, Rose-ringed parakeet, wild boar, and so on. Visitors can explore and know more about the Indian flora and fauna with a safari park and botanical gardens. The Nature Interpretation Centre is a great place to learn about the regional animals and about the several initiatives taken to preserve them.
Keynotes on Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary
Address: Usgao-Ganjem VP, Goa 403105
Opening time: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (Monday closed)
Major attractions: Botanical Park, deer park and zoo
Accommodation: Small eco-tourism cottages available (prior booking required)
Suitable for: Day or overnight trip
Things to do: Safari, hiking, and nature walks
Entry Fee: Adults - INR 5; Children – INR 2 (Ticket prices are subjected to change); Additional charges for parking and cameras
Where is Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary?
This wildlife reserve is situated in the North Goa district and is accessible from Margao (38 km/23.6 mi) and Panaji (50 km/31 mi). Located in the Ponda Taluka (to be precise), there are numerous buses available from the important towns of Goa.
Ideal Time to Visit
Being a moist-deciduous forestation, Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary is visited by the tourists throughout the year. However, during the winter season (mid-October to March) visitors can spot the wildlife more easily. Additionally, the month of July to August marks the monsoon seasons, when nature comes alive.
Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary’s Flora and Fauna
The area covering the wildlife sanctuary is surrounded by a mix of moist-deciduous forestation and evergreen vegetation. Few of the common trees found in the region are Rosewood and Terminalia Crenulata or Matti (the state tree of Goa).
While talking about animals, Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary is home to several panthers, leopard, jungle cat, toddy cat, Malabar giant squirrel, scaly anteater, wild boar, and the porcupine. From the watchtowers, visitors can observe the animals of the sanctuary in their natural environment. Apart from that, the Bondla is also home to numerous birds – common grey hornbills, Ruby-throated yellow bulbuls, golden-backed woodpeckers, and silver pheasants. On your trip to the park, you might find helpful park rangers helping ornithologists and photographers in spotting the birds from most suitable vantage points.
Other Attractions of the Park
Apart from bird-watching, you can indulge in several other activities at Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary. Few of them are:
1. Exploring the Green Botanical Gardens
Bondla Sanctuary has numerous gardens, with exotic and rare trees, that are well-liked by nature-lovers. The nature center is a treasure trove of information for students and researchers of botany. During the blooming season, the green tapestry of the forest is covered in flowers of different colors and smells create a beautiful sight.
2. Interacting with Animals at a Zoological Park
The tiny Bondla Zoo within Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary houses numerous local and exotic animals like the tigers, panthers, Indian gaurs (bison), elephants, sambar deer, porcupines, sloth bears, reptiles and wild boars. Being Goa’s only zoo, parents frequently visit the place with their children.
3. Enjoying the Deer Safari Park
One of the most popular attractions of Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary is the deer safari. On the trip, visitors can come across several species of deer like chital or spotted deer, barking deer (Muntjac), mouse deer (Chevrotain), Indian hog deer, and so on. Overall, the entire trip can be an interesting learning experience for kids.
4. Trekking and Hiking at Bondla
Trekking or hiking at Bondla draws enthusiasts from different parts of the country. The crisscross hiking and trekking trails of the wildlife sanctuary give nature lovers a chance to experience the beauty of nature up-close. The knowledgeable guide helps the trekkers in spotting rare and exotic flora and fauna spread all over the park, making these expeditions more interesting.
5. Learning about the Rehabilitation Center
The rescue center of Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary began as an initiative to help and preserve the ecological balance of the nearby forests and its inhabitants. A commendable initiative, under this program special attention, is provided towards helping and attending wounded birds animals. The Nature Education Center houses several exhibits and a well-stocked library containing rare documentaries and articles which can be screened on demand.
Traveling to Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary
Nearest Railway Station: Kulem (QLM)
Located on the Mormugao-Hubli line, it is the nearest railway station to Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary. Among the few trains passing through the station, Vasco da Gama - Kulem Passenger Trains can be boarded to reach the destination. The train takes around two hours to commence the trip.
After getting down from Kulem, travelers can board a bus or hire a cab to cover the remaining distance. Usually, Collem-Mollem-Sancorda-Shivddem-Bondla (28 km/ 17.39 miles) is preferred by many tourists. The cab fares are subjected to change.
Nearest Airport: Dabolim (48.5 km/ 27.96 miles)
The nearest airport to Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary is Dabolim International Airport. From the airport, visitors can take a cab or bus for the remaining leg of the journey. One of the most preferred routes for the trip is Dabolim-Ponda-Usgao-Ganjem-Bondla.
Since Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary is located by the National Highway 4A, the place is on the Belgaum-Panjim route, visitors taking this route have to branch off at Mollem.
State transports offers numerous buses from cities like Margao and Panaji at regular intervals. The tickets for the bus ride usually cost around INR 80 to 100. Adventure seekers can book two-wheelers for the journey. These bikes can be booked for the entire day at INR 800. However, ticket prices are subjected to change.
Some Important Pointers to Remember
1. There is a small diner within Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, which has a basic menu. You will find basic Indian dishes and sandwiches made from the local ingredients. The items are priced reasonably so that you can satisfy your hunger pangs without burning a hole in your pocket.
2. The sanctuary has several comfortable cottages maintained by the forest department. Visitors can stay overnight at these beautiful cottages, enjoying the natural beauty. These lodges available here can provide accommodation to around 24 people. Additionally, there are dormitories with 48 beds for guests.
3. Since Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary is an eco-tourism site, there is a complete ban on plastic usage in the area. Littering is a punishable offense.
4. Guests staying overnight at the park must experience the sunset. From the watchtowers the view is spellbinding.
Goa is filled with sunny beaches and interesting colonial history. However, these attributes do not completely define Goa. The pint-sized state is home to several natural reserves and beautiful wildlife reserves like Bondla that make Goa an interesting destination.
So, if you are interested in exploring some unknown facets of Goa, then do make it a point to visit Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary.