Most people picture white-sand beaches and turquoise waters when they imagine a cheap holiday in Goa – and while you’ll definitely come across these, the Indian region is also home to some fantastic wildlife sanctuaries. Here are a few not to miss.

Cotiago Wildlife Sanctuary

Animal lovers should definitely make a trip to Goa, as India’s western coastal province is a great location to visit to see some of the nation’s indigenous species. One of the first places to head to is the Cotiago Wildlife Sanctuary, the second largest in Goa.

The reserve is covered with thick forest over 105 sq km, giving you plenty of opportunities to spot wild animals. There are several nature trails you can follow, so you can explore the area at your own pace and you can stop by watch towers or watering holes to see the creatures up close in their natural environment.

Although you are unlikely to spot India’s larger species here, including big cats and Asian elephants, it is worth keeping an eye out for any movement in the leaves or listen for rustling in the woods as you could see smaller creatures, including frogs, insects and monkeys.

The great thing about Cotiago is that, as well as nature trails, it is also home to a zoological park, so if you do want to catch sight of Goa’s larger – and perhaps more intimidating – species you will be able to do so. Panthers, lions, deer, crocodiles and reptiles reside here, as well as the gaur – the state animal of Goa, also known as the Indian bison.

Bhagvan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary

Somewhere else to include on your itinerary is the Bhagvan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary, spread out over 240 sq km. Look out for monkeys swinging between branches and squirrels crawling up trees. You might also spot a deer or even leopards and tigers in the dense forest.

Bird enthusiasts may also want to bring their binoculars to this wildlife sanctuary, as it is well known for its vast collection of birds. You may spot the likes of the drongo or barbet on a trip here, so keep your eyes peeled!

Fauna in the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary in Goa. Photo courtesy of

Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary

If you want to see a variety of Goa’s creatures, make a daytrip to Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary. The small reserve at just 8 sq km may not be as big as the others, but it has a deer park and mini zoo where holidaymakers can take a look at animals close up. You have a good chance of spotting the gaur and sambhar deer, while the panther, leopard, wild boar, anteater and flying lizard are also residents here. This is the ideal place to visit if you’re travelling with children, as kids can spot these exotic creatures without having to walk too far!

Natural sites

Goa has a host of exciting wildlife sanctuaries for you to visit, but its natural environment is also brimming with indigenous creatures, so don’t forget to be on the lookout when simply walking along the beach or through quieter villages. If you head to Agonda, Morjim and Galgibag beaches, you may spot some olive ridley turtles. These areas are the largest nestling places for these creatures, so if you come at the right time of the year, you might see crowds of tiny baby turtles make their journey into the sea for the first time.