Goa has always had an image of parties, alcohol and late-night fun. We hardly see another side of Goa.
Goa -of history, birds, animals, nature, mountains, rivers and most importantly – a tranquil Goa is which anyone’s hardly seen.
Olaulim helps us break this Goa stereotype! Read further on “How” it is doing this beautifully!
Where is Olaulim?
Located in North Goa, India, 10-20 km away from the touristy places like Baga, Calangute, Mapusa etc. lies in nature’s lap -Olaulim. A 40 min auto ride from Thivim railway station took us to a wonderful eco-friendly Olalulim Backyards!
Why Olaulim Backyards?
If you love nature, getting up in the morning with birds’ chirping, staying in beautiful cottages with trees ambushing you, kayaking in the river right opposite the cottages then Olaulim Backyards’ got you back!
Olaulim Backyards will give you the relaxation and peace you need since they have maintained their distance from chaotic and crowded party areas in North Goa.
They want to maintain an offbeat side of Goa which is rich in flora and fauna, and hence they have beautifully called themselves ‘the other side of Goa’!
Things to do in Olaulim Backyards:
Despite visiting Goa many times, I was surprised to read about Olaulim Backyards housing their own backwaters! Kayaking- this in-house activity can be done till your heart is satiated with kayaking on the private areas of Mandovi river! We kayaked through groves, spotted a LOT of birds and picturesque house hidden amongst a million palm trees!
You can ask for fishing rods here and spend a nice pristine morning catching your meals for that day!
Ocean Biodiversity Experience with Terra Conscious Discover
Goa’s incredible marine biodiversity, including the Humpback dolphin, pelagic birds, estuarine habitats and other marine life with the conservation-orientated organization, Terra Conscious. Booking with them contributes to ethical dolphin watching and other practices.
Another in-house activity gives us an opportunity to spot numerous birds without even trying! This is the kind of bird watching that I love. While many of them chirp around, you can try to figure out the species from the book in the library of the backyard!
We spotted common kingfishers, herons, storks (these are the only ones we could recognize) and numerous other beautiful and never seen birds before!
Yachting Adventures with Konkan Explorers
Based out of Morjim Bay in North Goa, Konkan Explorers take you for an exceptional cruise on the open sea or along the quiet Chapora river, to discover Goa’s rich and beautiful coastal habitat.
You can find more information on this eco-friendly tour operator and activities’ details here!
(source: http://www.olaulimgoa.com/services.php )
Otter spotting with Wild Otters Research Facility in Chorao Island
Surprised, right? Well, even I was when I learned there are Otters in India! Asia houses 13 otters and India 4 of them.
We visited Wild Otters to learn about the otters and how the facility is trying to protect them from various animals and humans by talking to local government, creating awareness amongst locals and travelers.
We also participated in an otter research expedition! Of course, it was a role play but why not be happy about it?! We were handed over a research document and were taken on an hour’s expedition for a search for otter shreds of evidence like scat, paw prints, their burrows, etc after Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary by a French and British research associate rich in their knowledge of zoology, where they helped spot us many birds, fishes, and reptiles!
80% of the funds from your booking go towards Otter preservation! Also, did you know you can also learn how to build your own Kayak here?! You can contact Mr Kshitij on +91 8879335165
Cost: INR 400 in pick and up and drop from the facility. Approx ~INR 800 – 1000 per person for these activities.
If you are interested in pottery, make some pots or simply purchase some local glazed pottery for your home from a studio, you can fix an appointment with a pottery expert- Sylvia. You can contact her on sylviakerkar.com
Explore the world of Scuba with Barracuda Diving India, Goa’s premier PADI 5 Star Dive Centre (around ~INR 5000+)
Cottages, Open Kitchen and Honest Bar!
Oh! so you like to relax and cuddle up in a room while you’re traveling vs the sightseeing? Olaulim Backyards’ got your back here too with spacious rooms inside nature with only nature sounds around, away from the city hustle!
- The cherry on the cake is all the rooms are built with love and from natural resources found around (like bamboo, local stone, coconut wood, and palm leaves) without destroying the surroundings for their monetary gains.
- They compost and recycle, clean with bio-degradable agents, cook with organic ingredients, heat the water with solar panels.
- They also adopted the animals in the area and have sheltered them.
- The toiletries are handwoven and made by the local women with local ingredients which smell so could I could hardly resist eating them!
Do notice some space in the roof in all the cottages for the natural light to dance inside the cottage?
Perched upon a rock, big enough for a family of 4 or 5, this cottage ensures that you feel you’re staying in a cave with the natural porous boulders unharmed and unscathed. With an outdoor private bamboo bathroom.
Cottage Indian Pitta
Right opposite Mandovi river, a sunrise and a personal hammock is another cottage with the name Indian Pitta. A basketball space, sitting area, and pool is just 10 meters from this cottage. It also boasts of a small garden in the bathroom!
Cottage Paradise Flycatcher
The architecture of this house is inspired by the Goan farmers’ houses. It is the smallest but coziest cottage built partly with recycled waste and architecturally smart for the winds to circulate and natural light to bounce inside the house from the roof! It has a bathroom inside the house– just in case, you are not comfortable with an outdoor bathroom, you can opt for this quaint cottage.
Cottage Golden Oriole
This cottage, situated at the highest level amongst all the cottages is where we crashed in! We climbed a few porous rock steps and crossed the foliage to reach our beautiful abode perched on top of boulders with a balcony view of trees and birds found in abundance! It also has a beautiful open (without worrying about privacy) bathroom to climb down on the bamboo stairwell from inside the house!
Right opposite Mandovi river, a sunrise and a personal hammock is another cottage with the name Sunbird. A basketball space, sitting area, and pool is just 10 meters from this cottage. It also boasts of antique ancestral furniture and a four-poster bed.
How often do you get to dine with nature? As far as I can think, this was the first time I have gobbled down local produce in an open kitchen!
Olaulim backyards also have Tavera Hama Hama – which is their honest bar overlooking the Mandovi River while you relax with a drink.
They also have a sitting area under the towering trees and Goan charming skies, if you want to sit closer to the river.
Pirkko, a Finnish born married to Goan Savio are the wonderful hosts and curators of this backyard! Each cottage is spun from their love, imagination, and creativity!
The best part is that the couple leaves no stone unturned in making you feel comfortable. Their 16-year-old daughter, Shameena made us feel at home and we admired her way of hospitality at such a tender age!
Do not miss seeing Shameena’s paintings framed in most of the cottages 🙂
The hosting doesn’t restrict till themselves. It extends to their furry friendly family members too. My heart pounded of happiness when I saw three adopted dogs run towards with wagging tails to welcome us home while we got out of the auto.
My friend who isn’t comfortable with animals roaming freely was not going all bananas later, all thanks to Pirkko and Savio’s patience and teachings!
We were accompanied by another Goan couple- Toni and Mario, who were celebrating their 40 years of marriage – beautiful, isn’t it?! We heard their stories over meals and were enthralled by their experiences in Africa where they stayed for a few years for uplifting the area.
You are in for a treat if you’d love to the idea of relishing Goan dishes for the first time!
Pirkko and Savio help the local economy by employing the local ladies in cooking for the guests and purchasing fresh local organic ingredients right from their field for the guests!
Being a vegetarian, I had a chance to savor Goan food of various curries, local red rice and an Olaulim Backyards’ special crafted feni by Pirkko herself! If you are a nonvegetarian, fear not since you are in for a treat of freshly caught fishes/ prawns, chicken, wild boar (if you are lucky), pork, etc!
We were also showered more love with an Indo- Portuguese dessert called Bebinca – a 12 layered pudding on one day and a delicious lip-smacking locally baked cake on the other!
How to reach Olaulim Backyards?
We had booked an overnight train (Konkan Kanya) from Mumbai to Thivim in Goa for INR 800 return ticket. The backyard is a mere 40-minute auto (INR 500) / cab (INR 700) ride away from Thivim station.
Alternatively, you can also fly in at the nearest airport – Dabolim airport in Goa which is 42km from the backyards. Thivim and Karmali railway station is 20km away, while Panjim is 11 km away from the backyards.
Who should come to Olaulim Backyards?
A couple, a group of friends, family or a solo traveler – any and everyone can!
But, if you are a person who enjoys 5-star resorts/hotels, wants AC, room service, TV, all other modernities, if you jump out of your seat just with the mention of ‘spider’ then this isn’t the place for you.
But, if you love walking on sprawling acres of greenfield, watching numerous birds chasing sunsets, do not mind some frogs jumping here and there, listening to crickets stridulating the entire night, kayaking, being mentally prepared with a probability of a prawn or tiny fishes accidentally jumping in your kayak, cycling in narrow lanes surrounded by paddy fields and smiling locals welcoming you, then THIS IS THE PLACE FOR YOU!
They have a swimming pool and WiFi in the common area.
Please note: This backyard is amidst nature and the chances of spotting insects/reptiles are on a higher side. But that’s the beauty of a place which is amidst nature, right?!
Costs and reservations:
Please check the rates here and for any other queries, you can contact Pirkko / Savio here. They are pretty quick at responding to you so be rest assured of your answer notification popping up anytime!
Things to carry:
Do remember to carry mosquito repellant and some snacks to munch around between meals along with your other luggage.
Thank you, Olaulim Backyards for hosting me! While this was a collaboration with them, the photos, honest opinions and feedback, and the newfound love for Goa is entirely my own!
After bidding them and the furry members a goodbye after breakfast, we headed to explore Panjim for a day before catching the evening train back home.
Read: A day in Panjim
So, have you packed your bags for Olaulim yet? Share this blog with your friends/family with below social media quick links!