Suresh Babu (65), a retired engineer now settled in Goa, looks forward to his Sundays. Not because he can get in some extra hours of sleep, but because it’s the day when trekking enthusiasts get together, thanks to the initiative taken by the Goa Tourism Department.
‘Monsoon Treks,’ started in 2015 by the Goa Tourism Department, saw great traction, but had to be shut down in March 2020 due to COVID-19.
Speaking to The Better India, Anil Dalal, manager, Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) says, “We have been waiting to re-launch this and are glad to have done so on 3 July 2022. The initial participation has proved that this is a great initiative.”
Goa takes on a different persona during the monsoons. While some travellers steer clear of visiting between mid-June to October, others wait for this season to explore the state. Suresh, one amongst the many trekkers, says, “The fun of exploring trekking in Goa is best during monsoons. The flora and fauna come alive. The waterfalls remain dry in the summer months, and the terrain is also not very lush.”
If you love the monsoon and the lush green countryside, then the newly launched monsoon treks organised by the Goa Tourism Department are just for you.
Conducted keeping in mind all safety protocols, the Goa Tourism department invites people to join their Sunday treks. Each week, the department charts out a new terrain and route to explore. The upcoming trek on 10 July 2022 will be a 8 km trek at Hivrem at Sattari Taluka. This trek will take you through picturesque waterfalls and allow you to explore the lush greens.
Walking through orchid fields and hills, one finally reaches a cascading waterfall.
Neelima Mahatme (69), who joined the group on 3 July 2022, says, “I must admit being skeptical prior to the trek. I wasn’t sure if I could do it. However, every step of the way, I had help and support from the department officials. They encouraged me and not once looked at me in a way that made me feel conscious of my age.”
She describes the trek as one of the most rejuvenating experiences of her life. “There is a lot of meticulous planning that goes into these treks. We only see the final product.”
On the food served after the trek, she says, “After a good two-and-a-half-hour trek, we are all famished. The hot dal bhat, pulses and vegetable preparation were just what the body needed. The food was local cuisine and is made in collaboration with local communities.”
Adding to this, Anil says, “We wanted to engage the local communities and find ways to provide additional income to them as well. We have found that this has worked very well for both of us.”
According to a report on Goa Investment Promotion and Facilitation Board, more than three million tourists, including half a million foreign tourists, visit Goa every year. The number is growing at a healthy pace. While most of these tourists come to enjoy the sun and sand, the Goa government is now actively focussing on hinterland tourism.
The guides who are part of the treks are all trained by the GTDC and Forest Department. “Only certified guides will be permitted to accompany tourists,” added Anil. With the youngest trekker being five years of age, Anil says that as long as one is physically fit there is no bar to joining the group.
Adding to this, Suresh says, “Only when we go on these treks do we realise how important the ecology of this region is. Being on the trek with like-minded people is also great, since we get to discuss and deliberate on so many environmental concerns. With no human settlement in these regions, the trek is absolutely blissful for us.”
Neelima in fact echoes the same sentiment and says, “It was so fabulous, I cannot wait for the next one.”
Things to be mindful of:
- Interested trekkers are requested to carry along an extra pair of clothes.
- Since it is monsoon time, rainwear and good trekking shoes must also be carried.
- Each trekker should carry their own water bottle. Please note that no plastic bottle should be carried on the trek. A small snack can also be carried.
- Trekkers keen on bird watching may carry binoculars.
- No smoking and consumption of alcohol will be permitted while on the trek.
- There is a registration fee of Rs 1000/person, which includes lunch and a pick up from pre-decided points.
- The treks will be organised only on Sunday.
How to register: You can contact Anil Dalal at +91- 9422057704 or +91- 8379022215. Online registrations can also be done here.
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(Edited by Divya Sethu)