Off the Beaten Path

Taking occasional deep breaths, the people walk through green foliage. The beauty of their surroundings overrides feelings of tiredness. Sweet melodies of birds gently descend from the trees above; the air feels fresher and cleaner. And finally, when they reach their destination, it is welcoming and beautiful like an oasis in the desert. Yes, this is what it’s like to trek in Goa! Here are some great operators who can help you fulfill this dream experience.

Text: Sheryl Gonsalves

Goa Trekking Club

This club rose to popularity with their Dudhsagar trek. In the beginning, they had only 8 participants, but now 60-70 people are there for each weekend batch. What do they do? Beach camping, trekking, rappelling, tours and heritage walks! All these experiences help people to explore and connect to nature and the scenic beauty of Goa.

Participants book the slots well in advance through their Instagram and Facebook pages. They especially go for beach camping and the Dudhsagar trek. The approximate price range of Goa Trekking Club’s services is between Rs. 800-1200. It includes breakfast, lunch, entry fees, local guide, expertise fees, and of course also making sure the best experience is given to their participants.

“Goa has got its own beauty surrounded with lots of greenery and beautiful climate. Though it’s a small state, there are endless places to explore which makes this place more unique and adventurous. And obviously being in Goa is fun too,” says Mrunal Gaonkar of Goa trekking club.

Soul Travelling

Soul Travelling has a vast set of experiences for different kinds of concepts that travellers would like to indulge in. If you are a person who enjoys being in nature they have activities such as a short trek to historical ruins of a monument, a boat ride for spotting birds or exploring hidden caves in the hinterlands of the state. Similarly, there are experiences/trails that revolve around the rich and diverse culture, delicious food, and beautiful houses with the most hospitable community of Goa. Their tour ambassadors are led and trained by experts in the respective fields, be it folk culture, heritage or expert environmentalists.

One of their most popular experiences at the moment is ‘The Nature Trail at Chorao’, which happens on the beautiful island of Chorao in Goa. Even though this particular experience starts at 7 am in the morning, the guests actually rise early to join them to explore the island and spot some beautiful migratory birds. Apart from this, they have various other experiences like the Divar Island Exploration and Latin Quarter Walk which are frequently requested for.

Their prices start at Rs.599 + GST per person for an experience that lasts for a minimum of two and a half hours and goes upwards for unique culinary experiences and customized group tours.

Soul Travelling’s services can be mainly categorized into village excursions, nature and wildlife, culinary experiences, history and culture, music and dance and team building that can be offered to corporates and free individual travellers. Over the years they have curated so many unique experiences to showcase the darker side of the moon which is the other side of Goa to everyone that visits.

ItsIn Goa

Rocky hills along the coastline, tropical jungles, and wildlife sanctuaries that Goa is abundantly blessed with are some of the places ItsIn Goa takes trekkers to. Every Sunday, they trek to different picturesque locations. The level varies from easy-difficult which provides opportunities for people of different age groups and abilities to come for the journey.

What’s unique about the treks is how well they’ve integrated a local experience as well. In terms of popularity, it’s their weekend treks that make up for a huge chunk of the activities that they do. They also offer a wide range of adventurous experiences as well as local experiences such as camping, dining by a waterfall, kayaking, snorkelling, rock climbing, rappelling and a lot more.

The local experiences they offer include dining in a Portuguese mansion or living a traditional village life in a mud house, eating food cooked on fire which is usually grown in village fields or fished out of the rivers nearby.

Their price range varies from 1k-5k/person. It entirely depends on the type of experience that they will be providing.

“With ecotourism picking up in Goa I would like to make a request to all participants and organisers to please work towards protecting the forests and uplifting the inhabitants of the place. We so often intrude to access the waterfalls and pools in the locality. We should pick up plastic trash or the least we could do is not add to it,” says Anthony of ItsIn Goa.

Khoj Aao

The name ‘Khoj Aao’ means to ‘get lost’ or ‘wander’ which is exactly what they do. They curate offbeat experiences for explorers of all ages. One of their popular experiences is the ‘Backyard Nature trail.’ It is a two hour walk, either in the morning or in the afternoon, to explore different ecosystems across Goa. These trails are mostly in North Goa in places like Siolim, Succoor, Moira, and Assagao. This involves beautiful local paths where there are plateaus, hillocks, etc. The second one is ‘Overnight Camping’, which they run in the dry season. It’s usually a private campsite in places like the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary.

For visitors who are here for a short while, other than the nature trails and camping, they have something called ‘A Day in the Forest’ where they actually spend a full day in the forest. “We leave in the morning around 10:00 am and we stay in the forest until 5:00 pm. There is a beautiful path to walk on and a nice small waterfall to swim in. For all of our trips we take binoculars and magnifying glasses. It is a slow walk, not very fast-paced. The idea is to explore flora, fauna, fungi, and enjoy the view.” says Pooja from Khoj Aao.

Children who are staying in Goa for a longer period of time can join the ‘Young Explorers Club.’ Women who want to explore different ecosystems and are in the state for 4-5 weeks can join the ‘Women’s’ Hiking Club’. They also have river boat experiences during sunrise or sunset to see mangroves, birds, and have a nice picnic. Corporate teams get to participate in a treasure hunt in nature where they use compasses and find clues.

Khoj Aao takes safety very seriously. The whole team is Wilderness First Aid certified and every 2 to 3 years, they renew their certifications. They carry a First Aid kit and collect contact information/ emergency information from the participants.

Goa is amazing. On the western side, we have the beautiful Arabian Sea and on the eastern side, we have the Western Ghats. There are mountain ranges and everything in between like the rivers and hinterland which is full of beautiful villages and mangroves. There are so many different types of ecosystems here. When the seasons change, the monsoons are totally different from the winters and the winters are totally different from the summers, so every time you go out, nature is different. Sometimes you see more birds, sometimes more flowers. The nice thing about Goa is that you have all of these and you don’t have to travel too far. You don’t have to travel for 5 hours just to reach a forest. Sometimes, if you want to go for a short walk, the best place could be behind a person’s villa and they may not even know it.

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Author: Sheryl
Goa is a special place for Content Writer, Sheryl Gonsalves, with its picturesque beaches, gorgeous sunsets, rich heritage, and delicious food.

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