Join butterfly expert Dr Simon Spencer for an exploration of the Western Ghats of Goa!
Winter in a lot of European countries can be cold, damp, and rather dull. Many people seek an escape by travelling to sunnier & warmer climes and we are inviting you to do the same, on this easy-going butterfly watching holiday to Goa in India.
Our first trip in 2022 was a great success. The group saw 135 species of butterflies, more than half the number found in Goa, though there are over 400 species of butterfly in the Western Ghats that include Goa. A few of these are local endemics but many are found throughout India. Some are spectacular like the Malabar Banded Peacock and Southern Birdwing. The more interesting butterflies are inland in the hills and forests to the East rather than the crowded coastal strip. There is such a diversity of butterflies that unless one has been studying Indian butterflies for years you are going to see new and spectacular butterflies every day.
The tour will be led by Dr Simon Spencer, with his wife Anne. They have led several Greenwing’s tours and also enjoys winter holidays in Goa – a perfect winter time destination to combine the two! Simon will be accompanied by our local guide Parag, a real expert who has been looking at butterflies in Goa for more than 20 years. He will take us to some amazing places, and he is also a great ornithologist, the bird list in 2022 was 157 and included many endemics – an added extra on top of the butterflies! We will visit Mystic Woods Butterfly Garden that your guides first visited in 2020 and is run by Yashoden Hebdelkar, a local butterfly enthusiast who has helped us to develop this unique tour.
India is a bit of a shock for most Europeans. The driving is chaotic, the roads throng with traffic and speed bumps are everywhere. There are dogs, people, and sacred cattle all over the road. We will use a minibus with a good local driver. To some there is an anarchic charm as exemplified in the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel but not everyone finds India very easy.
We will stay at a private villa which has its own staff and swimming pool and good WiFi. The gardens and the local area are good for butterflies with Southern Birdwing often drifting overhead. We will have exclusive use of the villa which has a limited number of rooms. The local Goan cuisine is delicious but mainly mild curries. Vegetarians are easily catered for. We will eat there in the evenings usually taking packed lunches. As butterflies are best seen in the morning before it gets too hot, we will often take a picnic breakfast and leave early to be on site when the butterflies wake up. We return in the afternoon in time for a swim or a local walk before supper. Beer and wine are available. There is no alcohol tax in Goa.
Guests will need to be reasonably mobile as the paths are often rough. Butterflies are often near rivers, but distances covered on walks will not be huge. November is a good time to see butterflies as it is just after the rainy season and usually dry and sunny all day. We can expect temperatures be in the 30’s with sunshine nearly all the time.
We suggest guests might want to stay longer and spend some time on the coast or at other venues. We can advise other good wildlife venues to stay at. Simon and Anne Spencer will probably stay in Benaulim, which they have visited often and recommend.
We have arranged to do two trips back-to-back with a maximum of 6 guests. The first will start at the beginning of November and the second towards the end. Each will be 12 days, and we will fill the first tour first. The single room supplement reflects the limited accommodation at our villa, but naturally if guests are willing to share room, the supplement won’t apply.
Direct flights with TUI are about £800. There are other alternatives by scheduled flights. They are building a new airport in North Goa which may be used as the international airport.
There are good websites, pdfs, and books. The butterfly fauna is well known and well documented. As a tropical destination there is a stunning variety and diversity which very few will have met before.
We hope to welcome you on this exclusive new trip!