Karnala Bird Sanctuary

Weather :

Timings : 7:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Time Required : 3-4 hrs

Entry Fee : Adults: INR 35,
Children: INR 50

Karnala Bird Sanctuary, Panvel Overview

A little away from the Mumbai-Pune Expressway is the Karnala Bird Sanctuary filled with species of both flora and fauna that are sure to astound you. The Sanctuary was established in 1968 and initially covered an area of 4.45 sq.km. However, in 2003 the area was increased to 12.11 sq.km. Today the Karnala Sanctuary is popular among bird watchers as well as hikers who want to get away from the busy urban jungles of their cities. Located around the Karnala Fort the sanctuary also has an added historic attraction besides being a wonderful weekend getaway for hikers, picnickers and of course, bird lovers.

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Fauna and flora in Karnala Bird Sanctuary

The sanctuary is home to over 222 bird species out of which 46 species make their way here during migration. There are eight species that are endemic to the Western Ghats which are the Nilgiri  Woodpigeon, Grey-fronted Green Pigeon, Malabar Parakeet, Malabar Grey Hornbill, White-cheeked Barbet, Malabar Lark, Small Sunbird and the Vigor’s Sunbird. Other elusive species found in the sanctuary include the Malabar Trogan, Three-toed Kingfisher, Ashy Minivet, Rofous Bellied Eagle, Slaty Legged Crake. The migratory birds that make the sanctuary their home during the winters are the Blackbird, Bluethroat, Blue-headed Rock Thrush, Ashy Minivet, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Black-headed Cuckoo and more. Around 114 species of butterflies are also found here, and the sanctuary is also certified as an Important Bird Area (IBA).

Besides the birds, the sanctuary is also home to various wildlife species. One can often spot the wild boar, muntjak, langur and four-horned antelope. A leopard was also spotted once in the sanctuary.

The forest cover is mainly moist deciduous type with the different kind of trees found here including the Kulu, kalam, mango, nana, asana, teak and umber. The forest provides for perfect conditions for a thriving bird as well as wildlife population.

How to Reach Karnala Bird Sanctuary

Karnala is very much accessible via all means of transport. The nearest airport is Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport at a distance of 33 km from the bird sanctuary. It is also a major railway station and lies on NH-17. The most convenient way of traveling to Karnala is hiring a taxi.

The Sanctuary is slightly off the Mumbai-Pune Expressway and on the Mumbai-Goa Highway or NH17 making it easily accessible. At a distance of 65km from Mumbai and 112km from Pune, the sanctuary is well-connected by roads.

Mumbai is the nearest airport and the nearest railway station is Panvel, merely 12km away. Regular public buses ply from Panvel bus stand at intervals of 30 minutes from 5:00 am to 8:00pm. However, private taxis, cars and even auto rickshaws are available from Panvel to the Sanctuary.

The sanctuary is also at proximity with other tourist destinations of the Western Ghats, such as Matheran (53km) and Lonavala (56km).

With many resorts and hotels around the sanctuary, as well as two government rest houses within the sanctuary premises, the Karnala Bird Sanctuary is a perfect weekend destination for nature lovers.

Trekking Trails and Entry at Karnala Bird Sanctuary

The Sanctuary is open from sunrise to sunset. The ticket costs are Rs. 35 per person and Rs.100 are charged for a professional camera. Parking charges are Rs. 25 for two-wheelers and Rs. 100 for light wheelers.

The best way to explore the sanctuary is to trek along the forest. There are two entrances into the sanctuary, and for first-time trekkers, the pathway starting at the water pump house is preferred. Arrow marks on the trees show the way for trekkers to follow the hiking trail. The second entrance deemed the more challenging trek starts from the human-made steps that lead directly into the forest.

There are four nature trails in the sanctuary and is always advisable to hire local youths as guides. The Hariyal Nature Trail is one of the best for spotting birds, whereas, the Mortaka Trail is suitable for sighting butterflies.

Karnala Bird Sanctuary map
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Karnala Bird Sanctuary Attractions

Trekking along the forest and sighting the beautiful bird species as well as flora and fauna is the sanctuary’s main attraction. One can also visit the Nature Interpretation Center for more information about the sanctuary before embarking on exploring it.

The Karnala Pinnacle is the area where the endangered birds are kept, such as the peregrine falcon, crested serpent eagle and king vulture.

However, besides exploring the wildlife, the sanctuary is also home to the famous Karnala Fort. The fort also called Funnel Hill stands at an elevation of 475m. It is a great trek up the fortress that is fraught in rich history having passed through Muslims, Portuguese and Maratha dynasties and rulers.

Best Time to Visit Karnala Bird Sanctuary

October to April is the best time to visit the sanctuary. During the winter season, the migratory birds are the biggest draw of the sanctuary. On the other hand, at the onset of the monsoon a large variety of birds, such as the paradise flycatcher, shama and Malabar whistling thrush churn out soulful melodies that ring through the forest. The pre-monsoon months are also the time for many bird species nesting periods.

The monsoon from June to August is best avoided because the rains are torrential. During summers the temperatures are from 33-40 degrees Celsius and sighting of birds and animals is pretty low too due to the heat.

Tips for visiting the Karnala Bird Sanctuary

1.       Carry your drinking water. Though there is a food joint available for breakfast and lunch, it is best to carry water since there are no refilling outlets within the sanctuary.

2.       The sanctuary takes its ‘no plastic’ policy very seriously. At the entrance money deposit is taken for every plastic item that is being carried inside and refunded if the same items are brought out. In case a plastic item is left behind the refund for it is not returned.

3.       Wear good walking shoes and carry your binoculars for betting sightings.

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