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Reconstructing Goa, an Indian beach retreat

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Goa, India (CNN) – In July, as the threat of Covid-19 waned, the Goa government declared India’s popular state open to domestic tourism after months of suspension.

Since then, thousands of travelers have flocked to this safe beach. Daytime traffic jams are back and decibel levels soared at local nightclubs as the party returned to Goa.

But has this destination ever been associated with an uncontrolled belief and rampant commercial tourism, without thinking of negative economic, environmental and social impacts?

Founded in 201

8, more than 20 quirky travel businesses are committed to cultivating and promoting responsible and sustainable travel.

Here, we’ll take a look at some of those businesses’ offerings and see how they work to transform Goa for the better.

How to consciously look at dolphins

The Terra Conscious Ocean Biodiversity Expereince tour includes dolphin watching.

The Terra Conscious Ocean Biodiversity Expereince tour includes dolphin watching.

Ulrich Müller / Terra Conscious

Puja Mitra is a founding member of RTCG. She runs a social enterprise with a marine conservation base called Terra Conscious that offers both land and water tours.

The most popular is the Ocean Biodiversity Experience, which includes dolphin watching and takes about three hours.

After dawn, we push the brightly colored fisherman’s boats into the estuary of the Chapora River before taking off to sea.

Mitra presented a briefing on humpback dolphins in the Indian Ocean and even using stuffed dolphins as demonstration equipment.

But not the dolphins we encounter when we go into deep water. Under the water’s surface there are many jellyfish.

Mitra said they were attracted to the increasing numbers of plankton near the coast as a result of global warming as their predators. (Sun fish and turtle) decreased for the same reason.

“We have to think of marine ecosystems as a connected world where everything impacts other things rather than being isolated,” Mitra said.

After a while, gray and pink rays appear as mammals dash through the ocean to find prey. They rise to the surface and move so rapidly that they are harder to catch than at a glance. Still, it is exciting to be able to get closer to these beautiful residents in the deep.

Boat people do not try to chase them and provoke stress reactions.

Mitra explains that Terra Conscious has partnered with traditional dolphin-watching operators to grow their business while leveraging their operational standards in line with globally accepted ethical norms of action. Such travel

But the most innovative program may be in collaboration with Goa Forest Department, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) India and Drishti Marine Services, which reports on (And help if possible) Marine life is trapped in numerous Goa beaches.

Terra Conscious’s unique role in conjunction with the IUCN is to coordinate day-to-day actions, while the two groups maintain a database of association, which will be sent periodically to the Forest Service.

Fresh Food, Fresh Ideas

Goa's Prana Cafe serves meals made with organic, local ingredients.

Goa’s Prana Cafe serves meals made with organic, local ingredients.

Courtesy of Prana Cafe

Some of Goa’s restaurants have also answered the call to make more promises of sustainability.

Prana Café is a guide located a short distance from Ashwem Beach at the top of the state. Providing a comfortable, friendly atmosphere, the menu focuses on health and nutrition In fact, its name comes from the Sanskrit word for life force.

“Prana’s concept is first of all, with food that is served fresh at the table. (It will not be stored for another day) and the second is to focus on using locally sourced organic ingredients, ”says founder Vikram Malaney.

Dishes range from gourmet shrimp dumplings cooked with ginger and garlic to hummus and couscous salad. Innovative smoothies made with unique ingredients such as goji berries, almond milk and dates.

Housed in a towering thatched hut, this cafe is built in the traditional Tamil Nadu coast style using wood and palm leaves, without the use of concrete or nails. Solar panels are used to heat water.

The creative works of art scattered across the area were donated by painters invited to the artist’s annual retreat.

Once a week, a farmers’ market is held, while once a month guests are invited to participate in a drive to clean the beach.

Profits are donated through a family foundation and used to support educational films focused on environmental issues, and also provide free consulting services to local NGOs looking to help shape action ideas. And follow up on their projects

Prana Cafe, Vaayu Village, Ashwem Beach Road, Ashwem, Mandrem, Goa; +91 98500 50403

Enhance the local experience

Make it Happen offers a walk through Goa's colorful Fontainhas district.

Make it Happen offers a walk through Goa’s colorful Fontainhas district.

Courtesy of Make it Happen

Goa has a rich cultural heritage stemming from centuries of Hindu, Muslim and Christian rule that has been under Portugal, often overlooked by the crowds running to beaches and casinos.

Make It Happen, founded by travel expert Maria Victor in 2015, is an experiential travel company aiming for tourists to experience this heritage through guided walking tours and local experiences.

Victor is a strong believer in community-based tourism, which means Make it Happen contributes to the local economy through tourism by building a livelihood. (Sponsoring cafes and restaurants along the way and supporting local musicians and dancers)

“We put together a life lesson experience to spread every personal interaction on our tours,” Victor said.

The flagship tour is a walk through Fontainhas, Panjim’s Latin Quarter, the largest and oldest district in Asia.

The Fontainhas are named for the little spring that bubbles up at the base of the Altinho hills, narrow streets filled with standing terraces with wrought iron railings and walls painted in a myriad of colors, from yellow to magenta. Fun things to explore

During a recent tour, our young guide sampled Goan sweets at a famous bakery on January 31st, with the tour ending at another cafe called Nostalgia where we will be given a performance. To “The Girl from Ipanema” by local musician Maxie Miranda.

Our second cultural foray was an ebike tour on Divar Island, a large midstream island on the Mandovi River.This is a rural area of ​​Goa fiercely clinging to the past, with 6,000 residents reject all efforts. To link them by bridges to the mainland

We ride our bikes on the old, demolished ferry that leads across the Mandovi Cross and is transported to the peaceful world of rice fields, winding roads and beautiful churches.

Across the lush island, there are intriguing traces of the Hindu civilization that were obliterated under Portuguese rule, including hidden idol caves and the ancient ruins of temple baths. After three hours of exploration, the hearty vegetarian meal at Devayaa Resort was a delightful conclusion to the tour.

Educational adventure

Konkan Explorers offers tours of Goa's beautiful mangrove forests.

Konkan Explorers offers tours of Goa’s beautiful mangrove forests.

Ranjan Pal

For those seeking adventure, a river trip with Konkan Explorers is a must. This unique tour experience is the brainchild of the enterprising French Pascal Ribo.

“As a trained anthropologist, I have always been amazed by the complex relationships that Indians have with the natural world. As a trained sailor, I was able to draw on my growing naval experience. It’s part of the maritime family in Marseille, ”he told CNN Tourism.

“The Konkan Explorers is a very clear way for me to combine these two passions.”

We boarded a small, custom designed fiberglass Red Mangrove from the Chopdem Ferry, and were soon headed down the Chapora River following the stream as the tide pulled out.

Conservation is part of the package and the rooftop solar panels provide the power to run navigation devices and marine toilets.

We sailed for about an hour before dropping anchors in the middle of the water near the enormous mangrove swamp, where we climbed into the kayak, explore the sit-up, and sailed the marsh.

We are soon engulfed in a mysterious shadowy green world as the gray lemur monkeys sway and the mangrove crabs scramble down the gnarled tree trunks. The water was pretty shallow here, and at one point Ribeau jumped into a small biology class.

Many of us followed suit, sinking into the nutrient-rich black sediment, where Ribo encouraged us to plaster our faces and arms to look like an invisible commando.

Then back to the mother craft and time for a stand-up paddle.

The entire trip was fun and fulfilling the extreme professionalism of the crew, and the detailed knowledge briefing given by Ribo ensures a great experience with the water.

Behind the scenes, Konkan Explorers is committed to protecting the environment run by the entire team, taking part in a bi-weekly cleaning drive in the river. Twice a year, the team brings together local schoolchildren as part of an effort to educate villagers about the importance of protecting the area.

Luxury in nature

Cabo Serai cottages have easy access to the sea.

Cabo Serai cottages have easy access to the sea.

Courtesy of Cabo Serai

Cabo Serai is not your typical luxury resort. This nature retreat is located on the Cabo De Rama peninsula in South Goa and was established in 2019 and features 5 eco-friendly cottages and 3 tents.

Luxurious cottages are all luxurious and have easy access to the sea, complete with secluded bays with steep black cliffs. Built on stilts and on high ground to minimize the impact of the structure on the forest environment, all constructions use native wood and materials such as laterite stone, mud and coconut thatch.

Water is served in a copper cabinet to dispose of single-use plastics and the waste is handled carefully through waste sorting and composting.

“At Cabo Serai, we pride ourselves on cultivating a culture of consciousness in our employees and products that enable us to deliver a true guest experience of well-being and sustainability,” said Trupti Wesley, Resort Director. explain

This commitment to sustainability extends to the resort’s restaurant menu. The food is made with fresh, local seasonal ingredients.

In terms of community involvement, Cabo Serai employs a large number of employees from surrounding villages, organizes drives, cleans the beach and disinfects and feeds stray dogs nearby the resort.

For those wishing to explore Cabo Serai, there are many interesting trails with panoramic cliff-top views, including one way to the distant Cabo De Rama Fort, one of Goa’s five major forts.

Built by the Hindu Sunda dynasty, opposed by the Portuguese invasion in 1763, it was used as a main fort to defend the coastline. The sprawling forts had collapsed, and there was nothing left but battlements and a handful of iron cannons. But it has great views over the Arabian Sea and has a working church dedicated to St Anthony.

Kabosera, Canaguinim, Goa 403703, India; +91 788 788 2414

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