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Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary

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The Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, 10km southeast of Chaudi, was established in 1969 to protect a remote and vulnerable area of forest lining the Goa–Karnataka border. Best visited between October and March, Cotigao is a peaceful and scenic park that makes a pleasant day-trip from Palolem, 12km northwest. Encompassing 86 square kilometres of mixed deciduous woodland, the reserve is certain to inspire tree lovers, but less likely to yield many wildlife sightings: its tigers and leopards were hunted out long ago, while the gazelles, sloth bears, porcupines, panthers and hyenas that allegedly lurk in the woods rarely appear. You do, however, stand a good chance of spotting at least two species of monkey, a couple of wild boar and the odd gaur (the primeval-looking Indian bison), as well as plenty of exotic birdlife. Any of the buses running south on the NH-17 to Karwar via Chaudi will drop you within 2km of the gates. However, to explore the inner reaches of the sanctuary, you really need your own transport. The wardens at the reserve’s small Interpretative Centre at the gates, where you have to pay your entry fees will show you how to get to a 25-metre-high treetop watchtower, overlooking a waterhole that attracts a handful of animals around dawn and dusk. You can also stay here at a rather unprepossessing little room, in the compound behind the main reserve gates. Food and drink may be available by prior arrangement, and there’s a shop at the nearest village, 2km inside the park.

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