As part of a recent visit to India with the Nomadness Travel Tribe, I extended my stay for an additional three days to visit the Indian state of Goa, a former Portuguese province.
Having secured accommodation in North Goa, my friend and I were keen to explore as much of the state as possible within the limited time frame.
We spent the first day making the most of the nearby Mandrem and Ashvem beaches. Tranquil and clean, the beaches are populated by sparse groups of families with young children, local people, yoga enthusiasts and visitors like ourselves seeking some downtime after the intensity of our earlier stay in Jaipur.
Having decided to arrange a day tour of Goa, we realised that we were pretty late in securing a group to tour with, therefore we arranged a private tour with a taxi driver from the hotel.
At a day cost of 3,200 rupees (est. £34) for air conditioned transport only, our driver agreed to leave the hotel at 7am from Ashvem Beach for the following itinerary:
- Dudhsagar Falls
- Tropical Spice Plantation with optional elephant shower and ride
- Old Goa
- Basilica of Bom Jesus (Panaji)
The fee that we paid to the taxi was exclusive of entry fees however it’s the most expensive outlay for the trip, the entry fees are minimal.
After a two hour drive to travel to the Dudhsagar Falls, all visitors are required to hire a 4×4 vehicle that carries up to six passengers to get to the falls as they are a 30 minute cross-country journey from the ticket booth. Reassuringly, it’s also compulsory to hire a life jacket.
Upon arrival at the falls, it’s a further 10-15 minute walk to the waterfall across some rough terrain and bridges. Whilst you walk to the falls you’re certain to be entertained by the hoards of monkeys that will follow you in the hope of being fed. If you have any food on you at all, either eat it yourself or prepare to lose it!
After the short walk, we arrived at the falls. An incredible sight of the four tiered falls with the kolkan train line and the water flowing into a deep pool of cool water.
Tropical Spice Plantation (includes lunch)
We paid around 400 rupees entry to the plantation however there are add-ons for an optional elephant shower and ride which we refused to do, however we did visit the elephants for a photo opportunity only.
After crossing quite a long bridge across marsh-type land, we were presented with a simple flower necklace and lemongrass and ginger tea – refreshing in the heat of the day.
We started the journey with a tour by a friendly, knowledgeable and interesting guide as she showed us around the land discussing the range of spices. In groups of around 6-8 people, the guide told us about how the spices were grown, harvested and processed on the land as well as letting us smell and occasionally taste the spices. I learned a lot about the range of spices from green and black cardamom, to male and female pineapples, saffron, bay leaves and the 100 year old coconut tree.
I found it to be informative yet fun to experience the plantation as well as a great opportunity to buy some of the spices to take home. Again, the prices were pretty reasonable but slightly more than at markets or local stores.
The cost of the tour includes a lunch buffet which I found delightful.
Clean, homemade and tasty for an authentic taste of Goan cuisine, with a suitable mix to cater for all appetites. The entry cost was certainly worth the experience and I’d highly recommend the tour.
Old Goa was constructed by the Bijapur Sultanate in the 15th century serving as capital of Portuguese India from the 16th century. The city was later abandoned in the 18th century due to a plague and now remains as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Old Goa contains churches affiliated to various congregations which in my opinion is the main focus of the city.
Basilica of Bom Jesus was my personal highlight however it is the most populated by tourists and locals alike.
As one of the oldest churches in Goa, it is a must see for both history buffs and religious Christians that want to see the unique building that has retained a stony red brick colour. Inside the church visitors can see the representative artwork, statues and smaller chapels as well as the resting place of St. Francis Xavier.
As the capital city of Goa, Panaji has plenty to offer to all visitors. With shopping, a market place and several dining options, it’s a vibrant city.
We arrived in Panaji towards the end of an already full day however our driver offered us the chance to shop. Instead, we headed to a business hotel nearby to enjoy Masala Chai and pancakes.
The tour lasted until around 5pm when we asked the driver to leave us in Panaji for the evening – I’d recommend this for a chance to join a fun, sunset cruise for just 300 rupees!
It’s also a great place to stay for dinner; head to Delhi Darbar for fine dining at great prices and look out for Sinu, a waiter that offers great recommendations and may even give you a parting gift.