There’s more to Goa than just beaches and beer, says Jolanda Gonsalves as she tries canyoning in Palolem.
We were on a short trip to Palolem, south Goa, where we chanced upon Goa Jungle Adventures. Run by a French guy Emmanuel also known as Manu, they operate jungle canyoning day trips from Palolem. We had just one day left, so at around 11 pm the night before we were to go canyoning, we met up with Manu and Chris, who was going to be our guide the next day. We spent only 30 minutes discussing the details with them, but we could tell we were going to have a fun adventure. Since I’m not a very good swimmer we opted for the non-swimmer Sauri package, an intermediate vertical canyon, which included abseiling and seven jumps, the highest being 8 m high. The package also included wet suits, helmets, trekking shoes and a light lunch.
We met Manu and Chris the next morning at Crunch cafe on the main beach road in Palolem, our meeting point, where we tried on our gear and then set off in an open-top jeep for an hour’s drive to Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary. And so it began…one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life! We started off with a 30-minute uphill trek. Journeying through the jungle, we were surrounded by chirping birds broken by the sounds of the gushing waterfall and the vivid colours. Chris was a great guide; he was informative, attentive and loads of fun. Our first task was to abseil or rappel. I had never abseiled before, so I was a little nervous. But halfway down, my nerves calmed. The next was a series of thrilling jumps– from 3 m, 5 m and 6 m, ensued with some fun sliding on slippery rocks. Until then, we didn’t chicken out of any jumps, although we had the option since we had taken the non-swimmer package. Then came the tough abseil, approximately 12-15 m, down very slippery rocks with water gushing from above. The drop below was steep and I was petrified. My boyfriend having abseiled before was much calmer. So off I went harness et al, slowly and not-so-steadily down the rocks. Of course I slipped! Chris had earlier instructed me “In case you slip, release one hand and push yourself off the rock,” but I was petrified to let go. I kept trying with my legs to get back in position, but that didn’t work. So I followed the instructions and voila! Not to gloat and all, but later he said I did it beautifully!
After our successful abseil we stopped for a light lunch and fun stories. We were still waiting for the big 8m jumps and I knew they weren’t far off. When we finally got to the first one, Chris told us we had two options, “You can either do the jump or abseil”. Of course we chose the jump. There was no stopping us now! What a thrill! It was possibly the craziest thing we’ve done. The second 8m jump was even more terrifying, what with a big rock protruding out of nowhere. A few deep breaths and a quick prayer later we managed just fine.
For approximately ₹2, 600 and an additional ₹130 for pictures and videos, it was all totally worth it. So the next time you’re in Goa and looking to do something different and adventurous, you know where to go.