Goa is a `break from routine life’ destination for most of its visitors.
People do not come here to drink moderate quantities of alcohol and engage in nothing less than serious chill. As necessary as that release is, tourists miss out on seeing other unique dimensions of Goa’s personality.
This itinerary takes a backpacking approach to Goa; it is the opposite of lazy, and with plenty of soul relaxing and mind revitalising moments.
It actively explores the territory for scenic, pleasing, and thought-provoking sites. Prepare yourself to take scenic bike rides, picturesque colony-strolls, tipsy pub crawls, humid hikes, rural wildlife walks, go for sunset swim, explore a passionate island settlement, and more.
If the intro sounds interesting, let’s explore Goa, responsibly.
~ Start with a pledge that on this trip you will enjoy to your fullest, and will choose healthy alternatives that don’t harm the environment. E.g. carrying your own water bottle and not buy the plastic-bottled water, carrying a garbage bag to collect your trash, etc.
~ Make the journey from your hometown to Margao via train, airplane, or car.
Leave the place better than you find it. Let travel be mutually beneficial, for you and for the destination.
~ Reach Margao. Ideally in the morning.
~ Rent a scooty from Margao. (Scooty allows more luggage carrying ease than a bike and gives greater mobility than a car)
~ In Margao, visit the Goa Chitra museum as a warm-up.
~ Ride to Palolem.
~ Get a room at Palolem. Look for one with a kitchen & a refrigerator.
~ Have a few cold ones.
~ There’s an animal rescue centre with cute and damaged domestic animals; if you like to visit such places.
~ Chill at Palolem Beach. Take a swim. Visit the island next to the beach. ~ Visit one of the many happening cafes for dinner. ~ Don’t stay too late past your bedtime.
It is good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters in the end.
Enjoy the enchanting scenery during ride between the destinations.
~ Start your day early. Have a good breakfast, charge your phones / power banks, carry some filling snacks, and set out to explore south Goa.
~ Explore the circuit, Palolem -> Bhupar waterfall -> Netravali bubbling lake -> Green island -> Usgalimal -> Rivona cave + spring -> Cabo de Rama fort or Cola beach lagoon. Take an evening backwater boat ride at Agonda beach. Have dinner after the boat ride -> Get back to Palolem. ~ Make yourself a nice drink and chill out with fellow travelers or with a book.
~ The circuit can be exhausting. Sleep well.
Meat is tasty on the surface, but you got to go behind the bones to get the marrow.
Discover the rural, wild, less explored side of Goa.
~ Visit Cotigao wildlife reserve. Check out animals, plants, tribal life. Hike through the forest to Keri waterfall (https://goa-tourism.com/cotigao_wildlife)
~ Return to Palolem.
~ Try a local eatery in the market or go grocery shopping and cook yourself a nice dinner.
~ What are you thinking? How are you feeling so far? Observe your thoughts & feelings; write them down on paper.
~ Breathe deep. Sleep deep.
Climax is one moment built up on several patient plays; don’t rush it. Turn the commute into a trip and make the most of your travel time.
~ Leave Palolem and ride for Panjim.
~ Carry some chikki, nuts, other filling snacks. Always carry some food and water. Stopping to buy snacks and bottled water slows the moment and encourages unnecessary expenditures. (Applicable for all the day outings)
~ Let’s turn the commute into a fun, scenic circuit.
Palolem -> Safa Masjid, Ponda (picturesque architecture) -> Tropical Spice Plantation (botany, spice farms) -> Manguirish Math / Shree Mangesh temple (pleasant, good looking temple structures) -> Banastari wetlands (birds are definite; crocodiles, if you’re lucky. Great spot for sunset.) -> To your hotel in Panjim.
~ Take a nap. Freshen up.
~ Visit the famous and friendly Joseph Bar. Go on a pub crawl tour of Panjim. (https://traveltriangle.com/blog/nightlife-in-panjim/)
A line is a dot that went for a walk.
~ Go for a morning walk/Scooty stroll through La Citadel Colony -> La Campala colony -> Lake View Colony -> Mandovi Riverfront Promenade -> Goa Museum -> Immaculate Conception Church -> the Fontainhas -> Sunaparanta Art Centre.
~ Have breakfast at one of the cool cafes of Panjim.
~ Freshen up at your hotel.
~ Explore Old Goa in the late morning. (https://www.trodly.com/blog/article/10-top-attractions-to-see-in-old-goa)
~ In the afternoon, ride on to a ferry for Divar island. Explore the picturesque settlements and its ‘susegad’ life.
~ Take the evening ferry back to mainland Panjim.
~ Checkout a restaurant or a cafe for dinner.
~ Get back to the room and hit the bed.
Loud & insensitive or thoughtful & considerate guest? Be the guest you’d like to have.
Goans are a little light on hospitality. Be respectful of their attitude and way of life.
~ Wake up at a leisurely hour. Have a good breakfast.
~ Ride for Arambol in north Goa. Find a place to stay by the beach or near the town market. We rented a flat in an expat-used building called Sea Princess. It was conveniently located.
~ If you’ve been holding up on the drinking, let loose; no circuits in Arambol.
~ Spend the evening chilling by the beach.
~ Get with the hippie vibe. Find a beach drum circle to jam with.
~ Reflect on your thoughts, views, and the life you want to have. Have a constructive conversation with yourself.
~ Do some stretches and meditate for before going to bed. Good night, wet dreams.
How’s the high-intensity interval travel going so far?
Replenish yourself with rest, nutrition, and reflection.
~ Dial down on the exploration and chill out in Arambol.
~ Visit the Aronda fish market. It is in a village that commerciality has not yet overrun. Bring back fresh fish to cook lunch for yourself.
~ Explore Armabol’s laid-back cafes.
~ Visit Mandrem Beach.
~ Go for a sunset swim.
~ Sit with a drink and write a 500 word story.
~ Have dinner. Call your friend back home as you take a night walk on the beach. Sleep well.
Hope you’re having a good and a different trip so far. Be careful about your belongings. Ride with caution. Don’t mess with the locals. Be mindful of your actions and their impact.
~ Visit the Arambol sweet water lake.
~ After breakfast, ride back to Margao.
~ Return your bikes.
~ Take the afternoon ride back to your hometown.
~ Recap the trip you just had.
Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.
~ Reach home.
~ Unpack. Rest. Realign.
~ Use the trip inertia to drive your routine life.
Take it easy, don’t burn yourself out.
~ Two hours on the map differ from two hours on ground. This is trip is timed on the map; realistically, you may not be able to do everything.
~ Don’t rush things, enjoy the moments, savour them, and move on.
~ Allot time to various destinations and activities. Follow the plan and go with the flow.
~ If you’re serious about doing everything on this itinerary, you will most likely require one more day somewhere in between. Having 1 or 2 buffer-days is a safe practice while backpacking.
Why take this trip:
Major costs of this itinerary are lodging, food, drinks / beverages, and bike with fuel. (Excluding the train/flight between Goa and your hometown)
This backpacking trip should cost under Rs. 15000 / person.
It is a worth investment. Doing just half of this itinerary will give you feel good returns that’ll last for two months at least. Provided you do it properly; with enthusiasm, effort, and presence.
This was the 8th time I visited Goa, and never had I enjoyed these sides of Goa before. Goa in Jan 2021 was the first multi-day trip after spending 10 months in lockdown. Hence this trip was created to see the coolest of south, central, and north of Goa. While keeping space for the usual, it explores a richer, deeper, and a more beautiful side of Goa.
Keep in mind: It is not cool when travelers intrude on the natural setting of the place, so let’s be responsible travelers and make the travel experience pleasant for ourselves and everyone else too.
We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. ~ T. S. Eliot