Start your day with a little kayaking adventure on the backwaters of river Sal. The Sal river twists across small fishing villages and beautiful Indo-Portuguese houses. Rowing through the marshy grasslands, dotted with gorgeous lotuses, dense bamboo jungles and thickets of mangroves, filled with exotic birds, will definitely give you an offbeat and enriching perspective of South Goa. A kayaking trip usually lasts for 2-3 hours and requires basic physical fitness levels. These trips can be purchased on TripAdvisor, Viator, Thrillophilia or directly from the company website. After spending your morning indulging in this beautiful activity, head back to your accommodation to freshen up and get ready for the rest of the days adventure.
Next head to Loutolim, and join Soultravelling in an amazing Royal Dining experience which costs Rs 2000 per person and is completely worth the money. On reaching Loutolim a Soul Travelling ambassador will meet you and take you on an educative and entertaining walk around the village where you will see the Salvador do Mundo (Saviour of the World) church, renowned artist Mario Miranda’s mansion and hear plenty of local legends from the area. You will then send a customized postcard back home from the local post office which is very exciting. Following this you will head to the 500year old Figueredo mansion owned by one of Goa’s most influential families. After meeting with the family you will explore the mansion which even predates the Taj Mahal to admire all its treasures. The highlight of the tour is the 3 course sit down meal that you will have with the family prepared by the family butler. This experience will truly let you understand how Goa was during the Portuguese empire and will let you make some fond memories with the family. Oh and let me tell you that the food you taste will be some of the tastiest food you will have ever eaten.
Spend the next two hours visiting Ancestral Goa, which is an artistic recreation of a Goan village designed with utmost detail by artist Mahendra Alvares, to see and experience what life in rural Goa would look like hundreds of years ago. Ancestral Goa has a sculpture of famous poet Mirabai which has a record in the Limca book of world records for being the longest carved laterite sculpture. Ancestral Goa is also popularly known as Big foot because of an impression of a large foot that is present at the site which has a very interesting legend behind it. Admire the artwork of upcoming Goan artists at the Big Foot Art gallery and the photos of the 1062 crosses from around the world at the Bigfoot cross museum. Visit the Bigfoot handicraft fair to pick up some traditional handicrafts as souvenirs to take home.
After this head to the village of Rivona to see the lesser known natural laterite caves which were believed to be used by Buddhist monks in the 7th century. The entrance of the cave is next to a pretty step well. On entering the caves you will immediately feel like you are transported back into history. And don’t forget the ‘Pitha’ which is carved out of laterite and believed to be the seat of the teacher.
A little further on visit the village of Usgalimal to see the prehistoric Usgalimal rock carvings which are around 100 distinct figures carved in laterite stone spread across an area of 500 sqm. These rock carvings are known to be 20,000 to 30,000 years old and are believed to be the earliest traces of human settlement in India.
The Rivona caves and Usgalimal rock carvings are slightly difficult to find on your own and are best explored with archaeologist Savani Shetye from Exclamations.goa who is brilliantly knowledgeable and highly passionate about showing everyone the pre-Portuguese history of Goa. However if you do want to visit these marvels on your own, ask villagers around for directions and they will be more than willing to show you the way.
If you still have some time before sunset, head to the bubbling lake (Budbudyachi Tali) at Netravali. Located next to the temple of Lord Gopinath, this lake mysteriously has bubbles that surface when one talks or claps.
Have a Hindu Goan fish thali at Sharda Classic, which has a huge assortment of seafood, and head back to the hotel.