Thursday, June 6, 2013

Goa & Castle Rock - In search of the Herpatofauna (16th to 18th Aug, 2013)

Bookings for Goa / Castle Rock Herpetofauna trip from 16th Aug to 18th Aug 2013 are open (travel days excluded)...for details see at the end..... Hurry up and register fast as this trip is eagerly awaited by many...

Please read any one of these trip reports to experience what happens in such a trip.


Goa - A Herpetofauna Surprise

Goa is a former Portuguese enclave, now India’s smallest state, variously known as "Rome of the East", "Tourist Paradise" and "Pearl of the Orient", the state of Goa is located in the Konkan region along the west coast of peninsular India, the Arabian Sea forming its 110km coastline. It has long been a popular destination for birders, enticed by the diversity of birdlife and remarkable ease of birding..... but what is surprising is that Goa also hosts a magnitude of herpatofauna, very unique and abundant. Infact a vast diversity that is rivaled by few places and which are less studied.

The low-lying coastal plain with its mangroves-lined estuaries and marshes, the central dry, rocky plateau of scrub and savannah grassland, and the undulating forested interior along with the close proximity to the Sahyadri Range of the Western Ghats which run the length of its eastern boundary less than 70km away, has resulted in a rapid variation in habitat across Goa’s length & breadth that is reflected in the significant diversity of species found within its borders.

During monsoon, the whole terrain transforms in a heavenly abode with abundance of bio-diversity. The lashing heavy monsoon showers changes the visual sense of the forest completely and recharges the whole environment. Life emerges from the forest floor in a myriad forms. Such is the variety and diversity, that it is just unbelievable. This breath-taking natural wonders has to be experienced to be able to believe. The forest floor is now littered with reptiles, amphibians, flowers, crabs, bugs, beetles, spiders, caterpillars and what not..... it is a dream destination for all naturalists and photographers. 

..... Come with Nature India & explore these fantastic places in Goa - Tambdi Surla, Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary, Castle Rock.....Great walks, beautiful scenery, loads of biodiversity to look for, waterfalls, balmy climate and local delectable Goan food…perfect menu set for a short holiday. (some images in this blog are contributed by participants)

Situated in the north of Western Ghats, Bhagwan Mahavir WLS is a 240 sq km of protected area situated along the eastern border of Goa and forms a part of one of the largest contiguous patches of protected areas in the central Western Ghats.  The region has Mahdei Wildlife Sanctuary to the north and Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary to the South.  Dandeli Anshi Tiger reserve borders the area to the South-east. The annual rainfall exceeds 3,000 mm. While, Castle Rock is located in the Western Ghats on Karnataka state's border with Goa at an elevation of 621 m (2,040 ft). Located at height in a heavily forested area, Castle Rock's vegetation is moist tropical deciduous and harbours a variety of Biodiversity including some amazing Orchids.

Home to innumerable species of animals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and medicinal plants, this region has contributed generously to our country’s bio-diversity. The valley, hemmed in at all sides, looks protected, sheltered, unexplored, and holding in its secrets. Dense brown green foliage, roots above and below, intertwined branches, creepers, and moss hanging like an afro-braid from branch after branch. Layers of fog surround us, weaving a shroud of mystery as to what lay ahead. At times the strong winds clear the path before us, unfolding a   panoramic view of the scenic forest. The walks to Tambdi Surla, Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary & Castle Rock offer fantastic opportunities to explore these rich forests and also offer spectacular views of the forests, waterfalls and the valleys in the Konkan area.

Though Goa is a well known tourist place, not many know that this place is extremely rich in Herpetofauna, wildflowers and birds. Home to myriad species of Amphibians, Goa is a must visit place in monsoon for all the nature enthusiasts. The star attraction here are the wonderful array of reptiles that includes Hump-nosed Pit Viper, Malabar Pit ViperGreen Keel BackTravancore Wolf SnakeBeddome's Cat Snake, Ornate flying Snake, Coral SnakeGreen vine SnakesShield tail snakesDeccan-banded Gecko etc. While in   Amphibians, the Malabar Gliding Frog (Rhacophorus malabaricus), Wrinkled frog (Nyctibatrachus sps)Dobson's Burrowing Frog, Bicoloured Frog, Bronze Frog, Ornate Narrow-mouthed Frog, Jerdon's Ramanella, Common tree Frog, Common Indian Toad, Cricket frogFungoid frog and the Caecilians will take your breath away.

Goa & Castle Rock is also a hot spot for the variety of wildflowers that bloom in monsoon.....It is also a heaven for wildflower enthusiasts with some rare plants recorded here. You may find many ephemeral flowers like Ground & Epiphytic orchids, the Rare Ceropegia's, Impatiens and even the Bio-luminescent Fungi.....

The Birds, though difficult to see in monsoon is well represented with Scarlet MinivetsPuff-throated BabblersBrown-cheeked Fulvettas, Emerald Dove, Red-whiskered &  Yellow-browed BulbulsCrimson & Crimson-backed Sunbirds, Leafbirds and many of the Western Ghat   endemics.

Beautiful insect life dominate the surroundings with all sorts of bettles, bugs, lantern flies, butterflies, moths, spiders and what not. Surely, this is one place which you wont like to miss.

Tambdi Surla Temple


The Tambdi Surla temple situated at Tambdi village is historically important as the same has been built by the Kadamba kings during the 13th Century. . It is notable as the oldest temple in Goa, located just 13 kms from Mollem. The surrounding forest is dense and harbours quite a variety of Western Ghat bio-diversity. The Hump-nosed Pit Viper is especially abundant here.

At night we move about the forests with torches and look for reptiles along a quiet road lined by forests on either side. On an average day/night we can see on an average 8-10 snakes that reflect on the torch beam as also under rocks and on trees. The Thrill of spotting the camouflaged reptiles and amphibians in the dead of night with the hammering rains is an experience that is un-forgettable. Besides the herpatofauna, there are myriad other interesting creatures like insects, spiders, moths, orchids to look out for that make the trails enthralling.

While Goa herpetology trip is our first.... Here are some photo stories of Nature India participants who did similar trips to Amboli forest, Maharashtra..... 

The "Leeches" too are in plenty, but with leech guards and the enthusiastic spirit of the participants, coupled with the great sightings, you would not be bothering much about them :-)


Nature India tours has meticulously organized a Herpetofauna trip to this bio-diversity hotspot from 16th Aug to 18th Aug'13 (travel days excluded) with eminent experts in the field.

Though the Camp will be focused on Herpetofauna and to learn more about them, we will also try to look for and learn about everything that we come across including Wildflowers, Birds, Insects, Mammals ….

Date: 16th Aug 2013, morning 10.45 am to 18th Aug 2013 eve 6.00 pm

Resource person:  Mr. Ramesh & Omkar Dharwadkar (Local Experts)
Assistant resource persons: Mr.Mandar Khadilkar & Mr. Adesh Shivkar

TRIP ITINERARY (Itinerary is Ex. Madgaon) 

Day 1: Friday 1
6th Aug, 2013 .

Pick up from Madgaon Station, Goa @ 10.45 am.… Drive to "Nature's Nest" campsite near  Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary in minibus/trax jeep…. Check-in….. lunch…….Mini nature trail around the camp …return to camp ...slide show/talk on Herpetofauna of Goa… dinner… night trail to the periphery of Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary 

Day 2: Saturday 17th Aug, 2013

After breakfast, morning visit to another trail in Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary …lunch….Discussion on sightings…..late evening trail to Castle Rock area…dinner.... night trail near the campus

Day 3: Sunday, 18th Aug, 2013
After breakfast, morning visit to Tambdi Surla forest trail…..return for Lunch…..Proceed to Madgaon.... Reptile watching along the way...reach Madgaon by  17.00 Hrs to catch Train / Bus.

More details on the Itinerary will be given to those who register.....

Please note: This is primarily a herpetofauna watching trip. We do not have any provision for sight-seeing in our trips.

Trip Charges :Rs. 9200/-.Ex. Madgaon (This includes stay in Nature's Nest Campsite on twin sharing basis, Veg / non-veg food delicious food, breakfast, tea, local transport by minibus/jeep to & from Madgaon, entry fees, expert charges, Articles on the places to be visited & on board snacks ……)

This does not include travel charges from Mumbai and Back or any charges other than the above.

Travel options to reach Madgoan / Goa:Kindly note that there are several travel options available (given below) to reach Madgoan, but the best one is 10111 Kokan Kanya Express that leaves Mumbai at 23.05 pm and arrives Madgaon at 10.45 am next day.

By Road:

Mumbai to Madgaon (500 km/ 10 hrs). There are also regular AC buses (Volvos) from Mumbai to Madgaon

Stay Arrangement: In Natures's Nest on a twin sharing basis. The cottages are very simple but spacious & clean and suit the best to local climate and culture. .……The camp is situated around the forests and offers plenty of Birdwatching inside the campus. Please visit their home page @

Food : We will relish the delicious Goan food (including the famous "Sol Kadi" :-) by the ever smiling kitchen staff of Natures Nest.... its a treat for Fish lovers and Veggies alike :-)

Registration: You can register by sending a confirmatory mail to and by paying a non refundable advance of Rs.5000/- after our registration conformation by email…..the remaining amount will be collected on the day of travel.

Mode of Payment: You can either...

1) Transfer the advance money directly to HDFC A/c : (please call Mr. Mandar Khadilkar for the A/c no.) .... please mention your name, date and other details…. OR

2) Courier a cheque of Rs.5000/- to the following address

Name: Mr. Mandar Khadilkar
Address: Flat No.2, Blossom Apartments, LM Road, Below Shantighan Hospital, Kandarpada, Dahisar (West), Mumbai-400068
Ph.: 09930318665

Please Note:
1) Once registered, the advance amount of Rs.5000/- is strictly non-refundable
2) Alcohol & Smoking is strictly prohibited on Nature India Tours
3) We expect heavy rain throughout, hence will need to brave the rains during the trails.....please bring all the rain wears
4) Kindly register on this trip only if you agree with  Nature India's rules and policies

For any other queries, please contact:-
Adesh Shivkar – 9820455713 /  9869071091
Mandar Khadilkar - 9930318665 / 9967518665
Or Email:

Hope to see you for this wonderful trip !!

Thanks for your patience.

Warm Regards,
Adesh Shivkar & Mandar Khadilkar
Nature India
Appreciate, Respect & Conserve

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Appreciate, Respect & Care for Nature