Thursday, February 25, 2010

One with nature

What makes for a great vacation spot? Relaxation, peace of mind, fun, adventure and novelty are just some of the things people look for. Whatever be the choice, before any vacation, there comes research. Places are ‘googled’, phone calls made, friends consulted and before you know it, you’re heading either to a beach, the mountains, a forest or just another city. But what if you discovered a place that has all of it. A place high in the mountains, bang in the middle of a forest and yet, not too far from a beach.

Sounds unreal?
Welcome to Wildernest Resort. 

Located 2500 ft. above sea level, it’s one of the finest nature resorts of the western region. Overlooking the Varza falls and a panoramic view of Goa, it’s tucked away amidst the thick jungles of Chorla ghats in the Swapnagandha valley. What makes its location even more unique is that this hidden paradise is nestled at a spot where the borders of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa meet.
Even before you reach the gates of the resort, you know you’re in for something special. Our pick up from Goa airport took us up the hills and after about a good two-hour drive, you get off the tarred road, onto a muddy path, just a couple of minutes away from heaven on earth. It’s only when the winding path leading to the resort began, did we realise that its more than just a forest resort. It’s a place where you can unwind, relax and seek adventure, all at the same time. A couple of days here and then off to the beaches of Goa make for a perfect vacation for anyone.

We were welcomed by birdcalls and all sorts of other forest sounds. A couple of the resorts friendly care takers, dressed in camouflage attire but unable to hide their warm smiles were waiting for us at the entrance of the muddy path. So off we went in our open-topped Army jeep into the thick forest. The virginity of the land was like a breath of fresh air. Away from the hustle, crowd and noise of Mumbai, we greedily lapped up the silence.

Our eyes wandered from the scenic beauty to the colourful butterflies and small temples scattered along the path. As we passed by the open meditation spot against the backdrop of a waterfall, we knew we were at the right place. A quick round of formalities at the Reception hut and Kamala (their head caretaker) led us to our cottage - Basanti. Naturally carved out steps lead to 12 beautiful eco-cottages, each named after a flower, spread across the property. The interiors of each cottage are rustic and lovely, with king-sized beds, wooden wardrobes, lounge chairs, open verandas and a spacious bathroom with beautiful brass buckets and herbal powders for soaps and shampoos. It was quite an experience getting acquainted with these herbs.

Entertainment here doesn’t mean flipping through television channels. In fact, there aren’t any televisions on the property. Instead, you could lounge around in the infinity pool, which by the way is one of the prettiest in the country. It overlooks the Western Ghats - layers of mountains and during the monsoons, a huge waterfall at a distance. Or you could pack your rucksack, fasten your shoelaces, arm yourself with a bottle of water and insect repellent and set foot into the wild. We did both. The trails vary from village treks to the highest point and a waterfall trek; none of which should be done without a guide. You wouldn’t want to loose your way in the middle of the thick forest, replete with various birds, insects and sometimes even a Leopard or two!

For us, the most thrilling experience was the waterfall trek. It’s a must if you’re there just before or after the monsoons. The waterfall is in its prime and even though the trek is a little tiring, the view at the end makes it absolutely worth it. Wear your swimsuits beneath your clothes and covered shoes to avoid the leeches (we ended up giving some a ride to our room). No amount of speculation can prepare you for what lies ahead - a stunning waterfall. The urge to just jump into the lagoon surrounding it is greeted with a yes by the guides, who keep a vigilant eye on everyone who does so. The non-swimmers can sit on the rocks and take in the gigantic beauty or even hunt for crabs.

Whatever you choose to do, every activity ends with a growling stomach. Be it breakfast, lunch or dinner, the delectable cuisine at Wildernest makes me salivate even today, just remembering it. The variety of authentic Goan, Maharashtrian and Karnataka cuisine cooked and served by Shiv and his boys will definitely leave you wishing for a second tummy after every meal. We spent our evenings at Cloud 9, their garden bar where Ramanand, the local barman entertained us with some rather interesting stories about the forest and his encounters with its inhabitants. Don’t forget to try ‘Hurrak’, a local cashew extract if you’re there in summer. Most nights, locals from the villages nearby perform at the resort and it’s great fun trying to shake a leg or two with them.
What makes this place so special is its non-commercial existence. The owner and caretakers are in love with the property and it’s amazing to see their dedication towards it and the animals around. If you’re a nature lover and someone who looks for novelty in every travel experience, you must visit. It's places like this that make you realise there are so many unexplored places out there. And trust me, these non-commercial ones are the true gems one must visit.

They say travellers seldom travel alone - sights, insights and memories are constant companions. It’s been three years but the memories and experiences of Wildernest are still etched in our minds and will stay there forever. A tryst here is a must because nothing you read can possibly sum up the picturesque setting of this haven.

So next time you plan a trip to Goa, make sure to add a couple of days more to your itinerary and hop across to Wildernest. You won't regret it.


  1. nice post..i have been here and i quite like the place

  2. Hey thanks Lakshmi! I know its a brilliant place. Would love to go sometime again.

  3. Hey Manjari....I'm quite impressed....not only by this place...but also by your skill in writing about it, that makes it so enticing...and the you loads of luck for this new venture in your life=)

  4. Thank you so much. Hope it's enticed you enough to go make a trip too!

  5. loved the so dying to visit this place!

  6. And visit you must my friend. :) High time.