After more than a 3 month hiatus from blogging about my travels I am back. Why was away from it for so long you ask? Reasons – some personal, some otherwise. However all that is now over and what matters is am back.
Those of you who have been following me on Facebook might have seen that I was frequently posting updates From the Road. I toured a bit of Goa, Karnataka and Tamilnadu. And you’ll hear stories about all of those in the coming few weeks. For now let me start with Goa.
Exploring the lesser known side of Goa has always been something I wanted to do and thanks to the trekking and sailing expedition (more on sailing later) with YHAI, I was able to do that. YHAI is the same organization with whom I went for these treks. Other than organizing group treks/expeditions in the less touristy areas of a given region what also makes a YHAI trek special is that you get to meet people from across the country. And to top it they are extremely inexpensive. I mean no one can beat an all inclusive (all meals, stay, transport) 9 day trek in Goa during the height of its tourist season for a little over Rs. 2500, can they?
Although it is a 9 day event, the first couple of days are spent at the base camp located in Panjim where the participants complete the registration formalities; attend orientation activities for the hike ahead and getting to know their trek mates better. As the participants are picked up from the base camp on the morning of third day and dropped off at Mobor beach located in southern Goa the trek begins. The next two days would be spent hiking along the shore from Mobor to Velsao. A 26 km long unbroken stretch of beach with vast empty stretches intermittently interspersed with typical Goan beach shacks, water sports facilities and tiny fishing villages.
We camped at some old dilapidated government building a couple of minutes walk from the beach in Benaulim before we reached Velsao next afternoon. Strolling along the streets of Benaulim in the evening was a pleasure. There were little Christmas cribs, made and decorated by the locals, every few meters along the street and most of them depicted the birth of Christ.
The next morning our group departed for Velsao. Everyone was excited about getting to Velsao since we’d heard in the orientation talks at the base camp that the campsite here was actually set up on the beach. Also the group was excited about getting to celebrate the New Year’s Eve here (it happened to be afternoon of 31 December 2012 when we reached Velsao). I am not sure if my trek mates celebrated the event as I dozed off peacefully in my tent by 10 pm.
The Velsao campsite also happened to be our last camp on the beach leg of this trek. The next morning we left for Collem for the jungle leg of the trek. Located in the interiors of Goa, Collem lies in the eastern region of the state bordering on the Bhagvan Mahaveer National Park. The sanctuary along with being home to the Giant Indian Squirrel, Indian Bison and various species of reptiles and birds also houses the famous Dudhsagar Waterfalls.
Though the trek along the densely populated jungle provided respite from the sun it was as hot and humid as the beach. Thankfully all along the trail that we followed to reach the Dudhsagar campsite were numerous streams and we took frequent breaks to take a dip and cool ourselves. The Dudhsagar waterfalls were half an hour’s hike from the campsite. The waterfalls were the definitely the biggest I ever saw myself. We reached the lower part of the waterfalls well before the tourists started trickling in and by the time they did we climbed the trail leading to the upper part of the falls which is rarely visited.
From there it was close to a 4 hours walk through dense jungle before we reached the Caranzol campsite. Another campsite with a stream flowing by and after a tiring trek nothing refreshes more than being able to jump in the water and splash around like juvenile. The breakfast the next day morning at this site could be called the best in trek – Piping hot Bhature and spicy and steaming Chole.
Unfotunately on this day there were no streams enroute and it became as hot, sticky and sweaty as it possible. There wasn’t any stream flowing by near the campsite like the previous couple of days. All that was there was this well and taking a bath required a considerable amount of effort having to draw the water from the well using a bucket. This was our last night in the wilderness and we spent it lying on the ground and watching the stars fall into oblivion before we started feeling sleepy.
The final day of the trek was the most boring of all. After a bit of walk through the forest one had to walk the road until the Kadamba temple at Tambdi Surla where there would be a bus waiting to take us back to base camp at Panjim. The temple a 13th century monument was very beautiful and never came under attack owing to it being situated deep in the interiors away from the prying eyes of invaders. After a short while at the temple the bus arrived and we were taken back to the base camp at Panjim. And that was the end of the trek.
To tell the truth I was not very interested in going for the trek. The main motive behind going for the trek was to be eligible for the sail (they accept participants for sailing only if they completed a trek or a mountain biking expedition in Goa). But I would recommend you to go trekking in Goa. Go for the small fishing villages along the sandy beaches. Go for the Christmas –New Years’ celebrations in these villages. Go for the jungles and for the wildlife that resides in it. And most importantly go for the Goa that you never get to see otherwise.
PS : For more photos from the trek check out Scenes from YHAI Trek album on Facebook