The Olaolim Backyards in Goa is an ideal holiday spot for families. With a river running by and pets that include a donkey and a guinea pig there can never be a dull moment.

Thirteen-year-old Manuel, a Std. VII student of Sunshine Worldwide School and his sister Shameena (Std. IV) are lucky because they have a fairytale farm and a river to go with it. Tucked in a remote village in north Goa, their home — the Olaolim Backyards, is the brainchild of their parents Pirkko, from Finland, and Savio Fernandez, a resident of Goa. Both Pirkko and Savio are certified divers and the children too are often on the river. Shameena loves swimming and kayaking, while Manuel loves wave boarding.

Other members of the family are Kisu-Misu the cat, Max the Rottweiler mix, Shibu, the Great Dane, Laku the mixed breed dog, Caio the pony, Mantra the donkey, and the guinea pig Mola.

Idyllic

“Caio has been with us for 13 years. He kind of found his way to us. Mantra was looking for re-homing,” says Pirkko. She adds, “I wanted to start a riding school but could not find good vets around. So we shelved the idea and concentrated on the farm.”

The three-acre farm has coconut, chickoo, guava, passion fruit and many other fruit trees. It also has medicinal plants and an all spice- tree. The leaves are used to flavour dishes instead of using cardamom, clove, bay leaf and other spices individually, says Savio.

It is a good getaway for family holidays. The three guest cottages, named after local birds Hornbill, Sun Bird and Golden Oreole, are constructed with material available locally. There is also a tree house. 

Organic rice grown in neighbouring farms, fresh catch from the river and home grown vegetables and fruits make for a filling meal. 

Shameena and Manuel have their classmates staying over and they take them out on the river in their kayaks.

The creek meets the Mandovi where one can find the Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary on the Chorao islands. 

You can learn scuba diving, pottery or go white water rafting and bird-watching here. A destination just right for nature lovers.