Ordo Sounsar - Patnem, India
Another 12-hour coach journey brought us to Canacona, a small town in South Goa. Lugging enormous rucksacks, we hailed a rickshaw and began our picturesque journey through lush greenery. After fifteen minutes, we arrived at the small village of Patnem. Patnem is relatively unknown, as it is often overshadowed by the popular tourist destination of Palolem, which is only a five-minute rickshaw drive down the lanes. Patnem is tiny. It has a small row of shops along the road to the beach and an equally small selection of restaurants scattered amongst the many beach huts.
Nevertheless, the scarcity of amenities is entirely excused by the fact that we managed to find a relatively deserted beach in Goa in mid-December! Soft sand and crystal ocean are cocooned between two giant, rocky hills on either side. At high tide, the only access to this spectacular beach is through the tiny village. There are a string of beach bar/restaurants serving a mixture of Eastern and Western cuisine. The mood of this beach is exactly how I hoped Goa would be- there are no beach merchants desperately trying to sell merchandise, the sun loungers cost nothing but a smile to hire, and the locals are relaxed and wonderfully friendly. We stayed at the Secret Garden- a collection of eco-huts run by the delightfully accommodating Tracey and Nazir. Our hut was a thirty-second walk from the beach, surrounded by vibrant plants and lazy daybeds.
In the evening, we travelled into Palolem and strolled through the lively markets. The atmosphere is much busier at Palolem, but equally as beautiful. If you would like a truly unforgettable taste of Goa, wander a far along the beach to the right as you can possibly go to Ordo Sounsar. The name translates as ‘another world’, and that is literally what you will discover.
Entry to Ordo Sounsar is via candlelit rickety drawbridge, and when the owners feel the vibe is right they will raise the bridge to keep the peaceful environment. The pace of work is incredibly relaxed, so enjoy the barbequed seafood and some candlelit conversation surrounded by whispering trees and swinging hammocks.
- The Secret Garden Eco Huts are on Colomb Bay, Patnem. You can contact Nazir on +91 9850 925668, +91 7875774512 or email at email@example.com They are also incredibly helpful with travel advice.
- The Secret Garden can organise a taxi (which will take a maximum of one and a half-hours) from Dabolim Airport for 1100 Rps.
- Margoa is the nearest mainline station, around 40 km away over the Western Ghats. There is a pre-pay taxi line outside the station. The trip to Patnem is around 600 Rps. Visit Indian Railways for booking www.irctc.co.in . Seats on Indian trains book up fast so try to book your ticket at least three weeks in advance. Canacona is smaller but is the local station for trains and buses.
- www.ordosounsar.com Do not be surprised if one of the owners Mr Fernandes joins you for a drink of two!
Emily Rycroft (follow Emily on twitter @emilyrycroft22)