Goa is situated on the western coast of India about 400 km south of Bombay and is a popular package holiday destination. The coastal area can offer a good introduction to Indian birding with the added advantage of being within easy striking distance of several good sites within the Western Ghats complex.
John Gregory plus Richard Sutton and myself booked a 7 night package holiday based at Candolim, at a cost of just over £500 each. This was a little more than a normal as it was over the Easter period but it meant that only 3 days holiday needed to be taken! Our main aim was to see as many of the Western Ghat specialities as possible as we had all visited the Indian Subcontinent before (inc Sri Lanka).
30/03 Arrive Goa 11.00 and book into hotel at 14.00. Arrange local taxi to Baga for the evening and for the journey to Molem. Evening spent around Baga.
31/03 5.00 catch taxi to Molem, arrive at approx 7.30. Day spent birding around tourist complex and first few km of trail to Devils Canyon..
01/04 Am Sunset Point, pm area to north of Nandrem Village.
02/04 Am Dudhsagar Falls, pm small reservoir to north of Nandrem Village.
03/04 Am Sunset Point, depart 14.00 for Carambolim Lake, evening around lake, return to hotel Candolin.
04/04 Am Morji Beach, pm Aguada fort and marshes.
05/04 Am Baga, pm Candolin saltpans.
06/05 Fly back to Manchester.
The journeys between sites were made by local taxi. All transport around Molem and back to Candolim was by jeep, which was arranged at the Molem tourist complex reception.
On the coast all meals were taken at the hotel, where meal vouchers were provided or local cafes such as at Baga. At Molem all meals were taken at the restaurant in the tourist complex.
The exchange rate was Rs50 = £1.00, all cash and travellers checks were changed at the hotel.
Molem (Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary) is situated on the eastern edge of Goa and lies on the Northwestern edge of the Western Ghats. The journey time is about 2.5 hours from the Candolim. Accommodation is very comfortable and is in chalets with en-suite showers and toilet; some also have air conditioning and TV. The cost for an air-conditioned chalet for three (two single beds and a mattress on the floor) was Rs. 400. Permits are required for all the trails; the jeep driver obtained these on the evening prior to your entry. (Insist that the permit is brought in advance as you may have to wait for the park HQ to open, which can mean an after dawn start).
The main areas we birded were:
a) Area around HQ and the first few Km of the adjoining trail, which leads to Devils Canyon.
b) Several Km to the north of the Tourist complex are a series of trails (one of which leads to Sunset Point) just north of Nandrem village. A small reservoir lies in this area.
c) Sunset point, situated at 600m, offers a good vantage point over the surrounding woodland and is marked by a bamboo shelter. We found this area and the first few Km back towards the road very rewarding.
d) Dudhsagar falls are about a 1.5 hour jeep drive from the tourist complex, we birded the falls first thing and then walked back along the road for several Km. As we were walking back we were passed by over dozen tourist filled mini buses and jeeps all heading for the falls!
The main attraction is the hill to the north of the river known as Jungle or Baga hill, we birded the track from the church to the summit and around the clearings around the summit itself.
The fields and football pitch to the south of the river are also productive.
We birded around the fort, the dyke between the mangroves and river (the start of this path can be difficult to find, it starts behind the white cross) and the marshy fields to the west of the mangroves.
Candolim Salt Pans
These are situated a couple of Km to the north of Aguada, on the east side of the river, just north of the road bridge. From the road bridge follow the path north along the edge of the river.
This is a large Lilly covered lake, surrounded by wet grazing land, it situated about 3km East of Old Goa, just south of the road to Ponde. We viewed the lake from the road to the south of the lake which passes between the lake and a large area of paddy fields.
This site lies on the northern shore of the Chapora Estuary about 10km north of Baga and is good for gulls, terns and waders.