Jeep safari to Dudhsagar waterfalls Goa via wildlife sanctuary

“Jeeps cross several streams through a dense forest”, we had heard of the drive to the Dudhsagar waterfalls through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary. This line had stayed with us ever since we had stood outside the railway engine to get to the Dudhsagar waterfalls in the monsoon, back when it was still allowed.
The western ghats are always enticing, especially in Goa, where the forests are well preserved. So on our visit to North Goa, we decided to spend a day at the Dudhsagar Waterfalls, this time to the foot of the waterfall.

“Dudhsagar

Getting to the Dudhsagar Waterfalls

To visit the Dudhsagar waterfalls along this route via the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary, we had to get to Kulem. It’s a roughly 2-hr drive of around 80 km from Baga to Kulem.

Once you cross the bridge to Panaji and take the road to Ponda, the winding road starts. It’s a beautiful forested route, through the hilly villages of Goa. This isn’t your typical landscape of Goa of the sand and waves.

We didn’t feel like venturing on such a long undulating route on a bike. And it’s a well-known fact that cabs can be prohibitively expensive in Goa. We felt it made sense to sign up for a tour of jeep safari to Dudhsagar waterfalls.

Map of the route from Baga to Kulem, Goa

Pick up and drop right at the hotel, arranging for the tickets to the Dudhsagar waterfalls, lunch clubbed with some sightseeing in old Goa was all included. It was a good deal, freeing up our time to soak in the sights of Goa we weren’t familiar with.

The driver called us the previous night to confirm the pickup location and time. Ten minutes prior to our pick up time, we received another call from the driver to ask if we were ready. Promptly at 6 AM, we were picked up from the Baga-Calangute road, 2 minutes away from our Hotel Santiago Resort. We were impressed with this promptness of service, right at the start.

The jeep safari starts at Kulem

Everything about Kulem suggests that it has been woken up from its long hibernation by the sudden fame of the Dudhsagar waterfalls. Otherwise, it’s one of those little villages that minds its own business.

Kulem does have a railway station, though. Because it is at the base of the Braganza ghat, long distance trains have to halt here to attach an additional locomotive to pull them up towards the Dudhsagar waterfalls and further up to Castle Rock in Karnataka.

“Dudhsagar

Now, you see a series of breakfast joints no bigger than holes in walls but overflowing with tourists – both Indian and international. Our mini bus dropped us at the parking lot in Kulem parking lot from where we walked to the Dudhsagar taxi stand (just outside the Kulem railway station). While we had our breakfast, our driver went ahead to sort out our jeep tickets.

“Refreshment

Not surprisingly (this is India after all!), chaos reigned at the taxi stand. It was a huge relief having someone take care of these logistics for us and not having to scamper in the unruly semblance of a queue. Instead, we busied ourselves in some people watching. Some excited, other restless, everyone waiting. Some local grocery stores were opening up. Only in Goa, you have a grocery store clubbed in with a “wine shop”!

Meanwhile, our driver had split us in groups of seven. And instructed us, repeatedly, to not disperse. “If the group is not together, there will be grave problems”. We appreciated that he was taking his responsibility to send us to the Dudhsagar waterfalls so seriously. After around 30 minutes, we were finally seated in our jeeps to take us to the Dudhsagar waterfalls.

The jeep safari through Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary

The dirt track started right after we left the taxi stand. An arc saying Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary welcomes you in. The jeeps halt here to pay the sanctuary entry fees. This is also where you pay the camera fees.

Interestingly, among the list of attraction listed by the forest department, “Nature all through the route” makes an appearance! The sanctuary is a plastic free zone. Our jeep driver asked us if we had any plastic bottles with us. You have to report the count here and on the way back they ensure you’re carrying them all out.

“Inside

We were now in a dense forest, mostly evergreen. This is part of the western ghats. We were just settling into the unsettling feel of the rickety drive when we were faced with a huge river. Our driver deftly drove the jeep through this water body without even a slight flinch. The seven of us were however holding onto the seats in front, like our lives depended on it.

This route opens only in October, way after the monsoon ends. The river was swollen enough to give us goosebumps even as the water levels had started receding. We shuddered to think what it would look like in the monsoon!
A few locals take tourists on bike rides through the sanctuary in the monsoon. The forest department doesn’t officially approve of this. And after seeing the might of the river in late November, we do not recommend venturing out in the rains to the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary.

The dirt track continued with the Dudhsagar river now flowing to our left. We were driving through the stillness of the forest now. It was late morning, around 10 AM. The birds had retreated. The mild breeze rustled some leaves.
It takes around 45 minutes to reach the end of the motorable track. We saw a temple towards the end and a tribal settlement of a handful of huts. We were surprised that someone actually lived here inside the forest.

“Dudhsagar

The driver now gave us the life jackets (these are compulsory) and told us to be back in an hour. There’s a watch tower here which gave us the complete view of the Dudhsagar waterfalls. But this we had seen before. This time we were more interested in being in its waters at the base pool.

“The

The walk through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary

A few steps took us to the floor of the forest and we began our 15-20 minute walk. It’s a rocky uneven patch. The rocks can be slippery, so appropriate footwear is recommended. It’s an easy walk and anyone with moderate fitness can easily reach the Dudhsagar waterfalls. However, it is not suitable for those needing wheelchair assistance.

“Monkey

Playful monkeys gave us company throughout the walk. By now, they are quite used to having humans around. They might even give you a nice pose for you picture, but please do not feed them. They live in their natural habitat, the forest and are smart enough to gather their own food, without human assistance. Let’s not ruin that pleasure for them by introducing them to the evils of chips and the likes.

We crossed a small wooden flatbridge and got the view of the Dudhsagar waterfalls cascading down. The railway bridge is clearly visible.

“Dudhsagar

The pool of the Dudhsagar waterfalls

We made our way through the rocks, found a safe (and dry) place to keep our shoes, tucked our camera bag under a bigger rock and stepped into the water. The freshness of the cold water at the base of this Dudhsagar waterfall hit us like a bolt.

From within the pool, only the bottommost tier of the Dudhsagar waterfalls is seen. This itself can qualify as a nice big waterfall to chill under. The pool is safe to swim and you can reasonably easily reach under the waterfall. Even with the sun above our heads, the water however is pretty cold! The water is also clear enough to see several mid sized fish swimming in.

“Sandeepa

The force of the waterfall in the winter is prohibitively massive to feel anything other than the spray of its water at a distance of several meters. We were delighted that we had finally stepped foot in the Dudhsagar waters and spent a long while soaking in the natural pool.

“Sandeepa

It struck us after a while that none of our co-passengers could be seen around. We had lost track of time and imagined our jeep driver fuming with rage at our delay. We got into dry clothes (changed at a pretty sketchy arrangement, right there on the rocks) and ran through the rocks and forest.

The driver smiled as he saw us run. He probably was used to his passengers losing track of time. He knew the time wasn’t enough. But he had to stick to the schedule to enable smooth functioning of the Dudhsagar jeep safari tours. We took the same route out, through the dirt track and the Dudhsagar river.

Lunch at a spice plantation and strolling through old Goa

“Spice

All the swimming and adventure of the river crossings meant our bellies were all fired up. We drove to a spice plantation that seemed hidden in the forest. A quick tour through the plantation and introduction to the spice trees later, we attacked the lunch spread. Fried mackerel, chicken curry and of course, the Goan feni were waiting for us.

“Visit

Our return journey took us through the quarters of old Goa, stopping at a few churches.
We reached our hotel in North Goa just in time to enjoy an orange streaked sunset at the Baga beach.

“Water

Tips for going on a jeep safari to the Dudhsagar waterfalls

  • You have to reach the ticket counter for the jeep safari in Kulem early in the morning.
  • We started from North Goa at 6 AM. By the time we entered the sanctuary, some jeeps were already returning back from the Dudhsagar waterfalls.
  • The Dudhsagar waterfalls close at 4.30 PM and tickets are not sold after roughly 2 PM.
  • It’s best to have a pre-decided group of 7 before you buy your tickets so you don’t waste time waiting for your jeep to fill in.
  • To avoid all this logistical management, we are glad we pre booked our jeep safari tour for the Dudhsagar waterfalls.
  • Wear comfortable footwear on this journey as it involves a 15-20 minutes walk through the rocky forest patch.
  • Life jackets are compulsory and should be worn before entering the pool at the Dudhsagar waterfalls.
  • Women can feel free to wear a swimming costume inside the pool at the Dudhsagar waterfalls. Sketchy changing facilities do exist near the pool.
  • Toilets are available inside the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary. Their cleanliness is a whole other topic, but the facility exists.
  • Locker facilities are not available. If you need to take a camera, it’s security and safety (keeping it dry) is entirely your responsibility.

Other travel stories from Goa

Majestic Dudhsagar waterfalls and magic of Castle Rock

Beaches in North Goa

Need help planning your trip to the Dudhsagar waterfalls? Let us know.

This trip was made in collaboration with Tripraja. We were thrilled by the jeep safari experience to the Dudhsagar waterfalls and impressed with the efficiency with which this tour was conducted.

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Sandeepa and Chetan. Married. Indians. Exploring Travel as Lifestyle. Featured by National Geographic, Yahoo. We hope that through our travel stories we inspire others to make their dream into a reality.

20 thoughts on “Jeep safari to Dudhsagar waterfalls Goa via wildlife sanctuary

  1. renucas

    I always wanted to visit the spice plantation of Goa. wasn’t sure how it would be. Dudhsagar looks fantastic! You guys have a created a helpful guide to visit it. Thanks.

  2. ansh997x

    Lovely pics, reminds me of the time when I walked inside Bhagwan Mahawir Sanctuary to reach the waterfall. It took us 2 and a half days to reach there.

    1. sandeepachetan

      Whoa! 2 and a half days inside the Bhagwan Mahavir sanctuary! What an experience that must’ve been! Did you take any permission? Where did you camp? So many questions come to mind!

      1. ansh997x

        Oh, I was volunteering for an NGO that was recording the number of snakes in the region. We went on the hills and traveled upto Karnataka.

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Hey Shubham, in the last few years we have received a crazy amount of queries regarding visiting the Dudhsagar waterfalls. So needed to have a place where all the details would be in place. Glad to know you think it’s comprehensive.