Travel

Protecting paradise

colorful huts under palm trees in palolem beach in goa,india. typical tropical scene  

The real Goa is often lost amidst the beach shacks, pub crawls, and endless pints of cheap beer. Some businesses, however, are bucking the trend and offering travellers a choice: enjoy Goa, but also give back where you can and help make a difference. Here are four options for an ethical traveller to explore this season.

Serenity with the cetaceans

Protecting paradise

Ignore the fleets on the touristy beaches that ‘guarantee’ dolphin sightings, with thumping Bollywood music to keep you company. Instead, head to the quiet back roads of Chapora village, where Puja Mitra, a former WWF officer, leads the sustainable tour operator Terra Conscious.

Mitra’s mission is to educate operators that it is possible to have a business that is both profitable and sustainable. Unlike many others, her team does not chase the dolphins or harass them. The boat heads towards where dolphins usually visit, but once they are spotted, the engine is turned off and in the stillness, you watch these magnificent creatures do their acrobatics.

Even if you don’t spot any dolphins, you come back with an immense sense of satisfaction and a full belly (from fresh and healthy snacks on board). The tour ends with a sandbank clean-up, leaving the area clean for the gulls that gather there. It’s a win-win trip for everyone.

The four-hour tour starts at 8 am, at ₹2500 per adult and ₹1000 for kids between five and 12, excluding taxes. Make reservations on terraconscious.com. 8308600699

This, that, and the otter

Protecting paradise

“Otters are the animals you never knew you needed to know about,” states the website of conservation group Wild Otters. Founder Atul Borker and his team document the habitats of otters along Goa’s river banks, as well as educate school children and other local people about the animals (especially farmers and fisherfolk, who view them as a nuisance).

If you love animals and enjoy nature, you could spend a holiday being a Conservation Buddy. You can choose which activities you want to participate in, including field surveys to document otter signs, setting camera traps, and documenting other wildlife in the same habitat. The programme costs ₹1,750 per day for professionals and ₹1,250 for students, which includes food, shared accommodation on the lovely island of Chorao, and field travel expenses. With a minimum one-day commitment required (maximum one month), anybody can get involved.

Mail atul@wildotters.com to sign up. Visit wildotters.com.

Living off the land

Protecting paradise

On the Goa-Karnataka border, nestled in the lush forests of the Western Ghats, this homestay is unlike any you are used to. Run by potter Sylvia Kerkar and John Pollard (who pioneered white water rafting in south India), Off the Grid lives up to its name: this serene space has only basic electricity, and no internet or telephones.

The property uses solar energy for electricity, gets its water from a waterfall, and uses local firewood for their cooking. Food? Enjoy oven-baked pizzas, rice from their own field and fruit and vegetables from their gardens. How much more connected with the earth can you get? You can also go hiking in the hills and forests, or take a pottery class with Kerkar.

At ₹3,500 per person per night on twin-sharing basis and ₹5,000 per person per night for single accommodation, including food and trekking. For details, visit offthegrid.in. 9623451758

Nature’s lullabies

Protecting paradise

Imagine being whispered to sleep by the rustle of the forest canopy and waking up to bird calls. You can do just that if you spend a few nights in the middle of the forest, at Nature’s Nest. It’s located in the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary, not far from Goa’s popular (and glorious) waterfall, Dudhsagar.

You’ll live in simple rustic cottages; televisions and screens are replaced by stunning vistas. Pankaj Lad, one of Goa’s best-known birders, is a partner in the venture, and you can go bird-watching with him, absorbing excellent and accurate information about the area’s wildlife. You could also take a guided nature trail walk, or a boat trip down the Cumbarjua Canal.

A two-night, three-day birding trip starts at ₹7,500 on a triple-sharing basis, up to ₹14,000 for single occupancy. Visit naturesnestgoa.com for details and reservations. 8322227888


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Printable version | Jul 26, 2021 1:56:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/travel/protecting-paradise/article22259907.ece

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