Tuesday, 14 August 2018
When the monsoons have diffused most of their torrential fury and the rain arrives in fits and starts, it’s time to take a walk outdoors. Trekking in Goa is one of those active meditative things to do – it calms the mind and still offers a chance to explore.
Goa is more than a patch of sand with blue sea and some shacks. There’s a whole world of hinterland beauty – colourful insects and birds, thick green forestland, tribal communities, all encountered through trekking. Goa is outdoors.
Here are our top 5 offbeat places to go trekking in Goa:
This has always been Goa’s star attraction in terms of waterfall, but there’s something certainly charming about trekking to Dudhsagar, rather than taking a bumpy jeep ride to its pools. The milky white froth after which it gets its name foams down the bundle of boulders, and can get quite dangerous particularly when it rains heavily. Trekkers start from the Castle Rock railway station, walking 11kms through the dense forests of the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary to reach Dudhsagar Falls.
Deep in the heart of hinterlands lies a temple most tourists miss. Built in the 12th century, it is the oldest known temple in Goa with magnificent architecture and pristine beauty. It continues to be an active place of worship and the black basalt structure teems with people during Mahashivratri. However, on most other days, it is quiet. Trekking here is fairly straightforward; the pathways are not very steep but the undergrowth can be quite thick in some spots. It’s only an hour and a half of trekking to reach the waterfalls that bring many nature lovers to the foot of the Anmod Ghats.
Trekking in Goa doesn’t have to be all flat land. Heading to the Hivrem Falls in Valpoi presents a slightly higher level of difficulty, what with slippery rocks to climb during the monsoons. The trek usually kicks off in the village of Hivrem, just 15kms from the town of Valpoi. There are a number of small streams to splash through on the 8kms trek and high chances of spotting avian life. You may also run into some shy deer and the sprightly giant Malabar squirrel; perhaps even an extremely rare glimpse of a tiger. The dense vegetation and steep uphill climbs require trekkers to put their backs into it, but the views of the Sahyadris and waterfalls make it all worth it in the end.
Netravali is one of those places where the brevity of the trek belies its difficulty. The Mainapi Falls lie in the heart of the Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary, an excellent place to go birdwatching or looking for larger mammals such as black panthers during the summer. In the monsoons, when animals rush for the cover of the thick forest foliage, it’s the perfect time to test your mettle by trekking to the falls. There are guides at the entrance of the sanctuary to lead you through the forest, where you will first pass the more popular Savari falls and then make the tricky climb up to Mainapi where you will be treated to pools of chilled water at its base.
Chorla is the point where Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka meet in a paradise-like union. Miles of tree-covered hills spread as far as the eyes can see and the sounds of birds and insects bring you closer to nature than ever. Take a chance and hike up the Vagheri hills for an absolutely stunning view of the Chorla Ghats around you. There are steep trails leading up to the summit but the labour is well worth it. During the monsoons, the hills are swarming with clouds and there’s a distinct feeling of being in heaven on earth.