When someone thinks of Goa, they immediately picturise beaches, parties, and bike rides. And this is what we’ve been doing in Goa for the last seven years that we have been going there. But for our 2019 visit, we wanted to shake things a bit and explore a different side to Goa that we hardly get to see – the Goa hinterlands.
So, what are the Goa Hinterlands? These are the regions in the state that are away from the beaches. The Goa hinterlands comprise of the majestic Western Ghats, lush green farm areas at the foothills, and the scenic riverside hamlets. Upcountry Goa is the next big tourism trend in the state, and we are lucky to have experienced some of it during our trip to Olaulim Backyards.
We knew of a handful of visitors who have shunned the beaches of Goa and holiday in the hills, which are home to Goa’s best-kept secrets! And Olaulim Backyards is probably the best representation of the Goa Hinterlands.
Our experience at Olaulim Backyards
Olaulim Backyards is not a run of the mill homestay or resort, but we would like to think of it as a homestead. There are the farm animals – three dogs, a horse, a donkey, two cats, and others that you will see for yourself.
The owners, Pirkko and Savio, grow some of their fruits and veggies and source the rest from a farm next door. Their property has their own house, five guest cottages, a bar, and a kitchen area and a gorgeous swimming pool overlooking the calm waters of the Mandovi River.
The idyllic setting of Olaulim Backyards is what draws people here, and the fact that its well-hidden from the typical Goan tourist, make the stay an even better experience. The rooms are plush, cosy, and much bigger than a standard hotel room.
All of them come with their cute sit out, and an open-air bathroom with a rain shower! Don’t worry; there is enough privacy in the washrooms! All creature comforts have been tended to in the rooms, but well, once you’re here, you will hardly find yourself in the room since there is so much to do here.
And the best thing you can do at Olaulim Backyards is NOTHING. Laze by the pool or get comfy in the beach chairs looking at the Mandovi River. Watch the locals fishing, or maybe take a nap under the shade of the tall coconut trees surrounding the pool.
And if you are up for some more quiet time but with a dash of adventure, take the kayak and enjoy the stillness of the Mandovi backwaters. Everything in Olaulim Backyards will put your mind and body at ease.
To go well with the muted surroundings and serene atmosphere is the delicious food. Mostly organic and comprising of fresh fruits and vegetables, the food here is simple, free of calories, and doesn’t bother your tummy at all! In fact, this is one of the few places in Goa we have eaten authentic, home-cooked Goan food.
Some of the fantastic dishes we tasted were Pork Vindaloo, river prawns, Pomelo, an assortment of chutneys, daal, rice, eggplants, and much more. Savio was kind enough to let us have some of his home-brewed Feni. Now we’ve had Feni before, and due to its peculiar smell, never had it after that. But Savio’s Feni was a treat to the taste buds, and we were told that home-made ones are much palatable than the ones we buy from the market.
At the end of our trip, we realized that we had barely seen any other travellers around the Olaulim area. Maybe that’s why it’s so serene, quiet, and offbeat. But Pirkko told us about how she gets travellers from all over the world, throughout the year. These are not the budget travellers who come to Goa to party.
In the hinterlands, it is the more conscientious traveller who comes calling. The ones who would instead attend a quiet, simple dinner organized in a heritage home, or study the architecture of a 13th- century temple, or wait for weeks to catch a glimpse of an elusive bird or just kayak in solitude through the calm backwaters of the Mandovi river.
Who will like staying at Olaulim Backyards?
Even though everybody is welcome to stay here, we think nature lovers will like the place the most due to its seclusion in the Goan hinterlands. Families looking to spend some quality quiet time, couples looking to relax, or travellers looking to explore Goa beyond its crowded beaches will prefer staying at Olaulim Backyards.
Five place to see near Olaulim Backyards
Basilica of Bom Jesus
Basilica of Bom Jesus, often called as Basilica of Good Jesus is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Possessing the example of Baroque architecture, the church is India’s first minor basilica named after infant Jesus. Holding the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier, the church is situated in Old Goa. The monument was constructed by extremist Portuguese rulers on the original site of a temple of Lord Shiva.
Reis Magos Fort
Reis Magos Fort was built in 1551 by Sultan Adil Shah. The church is situated in the fort that is often visited by travellers visiting with Candolim and Calangute beaches. In 1760, the fort was rebuilt by Portuguese rulers to protect their territory from the states of Goa’s invaders. The fort contains a church ‘Reis Magos,’ which is located at the base of the fort.
Mapusa Friday Market
Mapusa Friday Market is a traditional regional weekly market in Mapusa, North Goa, and a significant tourist attraction. Each Friday, many vendors from the sub-district of Bardez and the neighbouring sub-district of Tiswadi, besides other sectors, descend on the stalls selling a variety of local produce brought in by farmers and small entrepreneurs from all over Goa which are sold directly to the consumer.
This market reflects the essence of Goa, and it is a riot of colour and noise. Goan vendors dressed in their colourful clothes come in from the surrounding villages to sell their locally grown or manufactured wares, including spices of all kinds. Fresh fruits, mostly organically grown, is sold in abundance. The market is well known for its jewellery, pottery, seasoning, and carpet shops. Many of the stalls in the bazaar are grouped by type of goods, with select areas for straw hats, Goan home-made chouriço, and the like.
At Bambolim Beach, you can indulge in an experience that is a perfect combination of fun, adventure, yet serenity. The sea breeze, combined with extraordinary views, adorns the elegance of this shore. The peace from the aura of the beach is perfect for rediscovering oneself and refreshes your mind and soul. Endless rivers, spectacular scenes, and aqua actions can be witnessed at once in this impressive beach.
Now, this is a truly unique experience and can’t be replicated anywhere else in India. The floating casinos are a major Goan attraction and a must-visit destination.
The casinos don’t look much from the outside, but from the inside, the glittery surroundings, well-dressed people, and the casino look straight out of a Las Vegas set! While you enjoy the gambling, you can also savour exclusive liquors at the whiskey lounge with fantastic hand-rolled cigars.
Best time to visit Olaulim Backyards
The ideal time to visit Goa is between October to March, when the weather is pleasant, not cold, not hot. All the beach shacks are open, and water sports, including banana boat trips, jet-skiing, parasailing, etc. will also be open to tourists on the majority of the favourite beaches.
In December, the entire state is covered with Christmas trees, lights and decorations to celebrate Christmas. Popular midnight masses and feasts are incredibly popular at this time. New Year celebrations take place with enthusiasm, complete with music festivals and parties, fireworks.
How to reach Olaulim Backyards
Olaulim village is only 11 km from Panjim, the capital of Goa and 8kms from Mapusa, renowned for the Friday Market. While Thivim and Karmali Railway stations are a distance of 20 km, Dabolim Airport is 42 km away. You can reach Panjim using the below-mentioned options.
Goa’s airport is Dabolim, which is 29 kilometres south of Panaji. This airport has chartered flights that usually come in from Europe and from significant parts of the country such as Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Thiruvananthapuram, and Kochi, which makes how to reach Goa- Panaji easy.
The nearest train station is located at Margao, which is approximately 39 kilometres away. Travelers can easily hire a taxi or take a bus from the railway station to reach Panaji.
The Kadamba Bus Terminal is located in Pato, which is approximately 1 kilometre east of the main square. It is one of the busiest bus junctions with buses that come in from neighbouring towns. These bus terminals are located at a long distance from Maharashtra and Karnataka.