Hanging from a cliff, four fingers gripping rock and defying gravity. Testing the raw power of a 15-pound white snapper’s jaw when he’s hooked on your line. Slipping into the inky quiets of the underwater. Adventure is all about crossing that invisible line of comfort. When that happens, when we soar through the air high… Read more »

Thrills & Chills of Adventure Sports in Goa

by Ashley do Rosario

Hanging from a cliff, four fingers gripping rock and defying gravity. Testing the raw power of a 15-pound white snapper’s jaw when he’s hooked on your line. Slipping into the inky quiets of the underwater. Adventure is all about crossing that invisible line of comfort. When that happens, when we soar through the air high above the sea, or confront an abyss at the edge of a cliff, or charge through rapids over glistening rock, something inside our souls is touched. We may scream in ecstasy, close our eyes in rapture or freeze in fear. It turns out Goa is not a bad place for any of this to transpire. Below, Streets’ Ashley do Rosario suggests ways to pump up your adrenalin in Goa and push the envelope of comfort to the edge and beyond.

Dive into the Deep

The Indian Navy loved ‘Bomb Rock.’ Off Goa’s coast, this rock formation located in the middle of the sea has perhaps taken more battering from naval gunships than Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has from his allies. And that’s not to mention what it’s done to the gunships.

Until recently, countless naval pilots and gunners have vented their fury on this rocky formation, also called Netrani or Pigeon Island, firing their guns and missiles at it during their practice runs. A High Court order banned the practice in 2012 because the island is a biodiversity haven.

The sea off this island is now one of the most sought after scuba diving sites.

Why wouldn’t it be, especially if between schools of fish you also stumbled upon unexploded torpedoes and spent bullet casings?

“It has left some truly unique underwater objects such as torpedoes, air bombs and bullet shells which can be located, but not touched,” 35-year-old Darshan Javadis, an IT professional, tells Streets.

“Bombing or not, the site is full of life, with the biggest schools of triggerfish and snappers, just swimming around the divers,” he says.

Darshan has been scuba diving in the Caribbean and Andamans over the last five years, but sighting the defence ministry-sponsored relics off the Goa coast has a different charge to it altogether.

Netrani apart, there are other scuba diving jaunts which promise sightings of centuries-old ship wrecks (in addition to a fabulous array of corals and fish). Some are even believed to be Portuguese ships dating back to the 1500s, when the Lusitanians first wet their feet in the affairs of their new colony.

“It’s hard to describe the feeling. You got to experience it. It’s a magical feeling underwater. You are weightless and there’s no sound. For me, it’s the only time I feel at peace,” says Darshan.

For more details contact:

• Goa Aquatics
136/1, Little Italy, Gaurawado, Calangute
08326454252

• Dive Goa
O Pescador Resort, Dona Paula, Panjim
+919325030110

• Goa Diving
Beach Road, Bogmalo
+918390862942

Defy Gravity,

Cling to a Rock

ands dusted with chalk, Anil Salelkar hangs from a crack in the rock face at Quepem. With only the fingers of his right hand gripping the crevice, he seemed relaxed, as if it’s the easiest thing in the world. Within seconds he builds enough momentum to swing his left leg into another crack and vaults over the cliff, pumping his fists.

Seasoned rock climber Manoj Joshi explains the thrill as kind of emotional catharsis.

“You are overwhelmed. Some sort of ‘yes I’ve conquered’ kind of feeling engulfs you, when you get to the height you started out to reach when sport climbing,” says Joshi, who has clocked over a dozen trips to the Himalayas over the decades.

Goa’s Sahyadri mountains and its crags provide excellent opportunities for rock climbing. For those who do not prefer the natural, sometimes hazardous environment and want to play it safe, the trend of artificial rock climbing is just catching up (see Camp in the Woods section).

And sometimes in a rare moment, death brushes past your tired forearms, testing your nerve.

And it doesn’t have to be because of outside forces. Sometimes the danger is in your own psyche. Take this experience Manoj had.

“There was this one time when I glanced down from a height and it instantly sent a chill in me … gosh the only thing that’s holding me from falling was my fingers holding on to the permanent anchors fixed to the artificial wall,” Manoj revealed,  adding, however, that he soon regained concentration to finish the task.

For more details contact:

Bianca Offtrail Adventures, Goa.

Pick up fun mountaineering, trekking, rock climbing, river crossing techniques from trained professionals Socorro, near Porvorim. +91 9960054428

Parasail Above

the Arabian

The feeling of elevation. First timers sometimes call it spiritual, that rise from the water, buoyed by the parasail which soars in the air as the boat moves further away. Parasailing as an adventure sport has come to stay on Goa’s beaches. Nearly 70 watersports operators along Goa’s popular beaches like Calangute, Baga, Colva, Arambol and Morjim cater to the hundreds of thousands of tourists who flock here. For a lot of them, their baptism to adventure sports begins with a parasail ride on a Goa beach.

Mumbai-bred Atul Lodha’s paid an interesting price for going straight from the Kingfishers to the parasail.

“I was already a few beers down and the water was cold. I must have wet my pants as the parasail lifted me up because of the sudden pressure. But there was no way I would know that,” Atul said, explaining that the thrill drowned out the sensation. At the end of the ride, the sail drooped and plopped him back in the sea water.

He thinks he screamed when he was high in the air, but he’s not sure.

“It’s an unbelievable scene from up there. The waters, the beach… it’s worth that frightening feel … those mixed emotions at take-off time and the Rs 300 the trip costs,” says Stephen Rodrigues, another fun-seeker.

He parasails whenever time permits.

But isn’t it dangerous? What if the rope snaps?

Like the time it did when 25-year-old Natalia Saldanha, from Mumbai, was seriously injured in a parasailing accident in the summer of 2010 at Cavelossim beach in South Goa.

Here to participate in an advertising festival, Natalia came crashing down from a height of 200 meters into the sand after the safety belt of her parasailing gear snapped. Though severely injured, she miraculously survived the fall.

It’s true that safe parasailing requires strict maintenance and replacement of the parachute and lines. The best assurance that water sports operators are conducting this maintenance is their knowledge that accidents can be deadly not just for participants, but also their business. The record of only two parasailing accidents in the past four years in Goa is not a terrible one.

Adding to the safety factor, the life jacket buoys you back to the surface and the water sports operators haul you back with the rope which connects the boat to your parasailing tackle.

For more details contact:

• Atlantis water sport
Baga Beach
+919890047272
Email: info@atlantiswatersports.com

• Prince of Sal
Cavelossim, Mobor
+9199211144420/ +919850480101
Email: lester@princeofsal.com
www.princeofsal.com & www.watersportsingoa.com

• St. Michael water sports
Cafe Laval Lario’s, Baga
+919637838106

Fish in the deep sea

Ernest Hemingway got a book out of his experiences rod-fishing the spear-nosed Marlin. The least you can get out of a deep sea fishing jaunt is an adventure. Reserve a space on a boat and get dressed for fun. The fishing expedition organisers look after the rest. Right from bait to beer to biryani. On a lucky day, you can wrestle and hook red snapper, grouper, barramundi, threadfin salmon, barracuda, the ray (kite) fish and many others.

Joaquim Fernandes has been guiding day-long fishing expeditions like these for several years now. He relishes the joy his guests feel when they fish out a 10 kg white snapper, whose fried fillets are the perfect accompaniment to beer.

 “None get landed without a good 15 to 20-minute fight,” Joaquim says, cautioning those who think deep sea fishing is a snap.

The scars these battles between an amateur angler and an adamant fish cause are plenty, he says. But reeling in one of these powerful creatures is like winning a bout with a prize fighter.

“There was this case some months ago, when a client’s line snapped after a big bite. He switched to fishing with a new line. It so happened that as he was reeling in, the snapped line got entangled to his new line and to his surprise, there was a nearly two-kilo sized ray fish hooked to it,” revealed Joaquim.

Sometimes you think you’ve won and just as you’re about to scoop out the fish, the line snaps and the fish jumps back into the sea.

Some fishing boat operators offer you a spearing experience, where a harpoon gun with an attached spear is used to kill the fish.

“It’s almost like hunting on land. Only there there’s a deathly quiet underwater and the guide is only communicating to you using basic sign language and telling you how to (psyche out the) fish,” Amretto  Alvares says, recalling one of his spearing trips.

The stingray he killed landed in the curry pot at his Margao home.

The biggest white snappers, Indian salmon (rawas) and red snappers are caught at river mouths, especially where the two major rivers, the Zuari and Mandovi, flow into the Arabian sea. These are spots frequented by angling maestros with over two and three decades of regular angling under their belt.

And each spot has its peculiarity in terms of type of fish caught and what lure or bait to use.

“It could be squid, a fresh mackerel or sardine or an alive, finger-sized mullet,” says Valeriano Fernandes, a veteran angler. It depends on where you fish and what kind of fish you wish to catch.

For more details contact:

• Tony Estrocio, Goa-fishing Sea Zone,

Near NIO Circle, Dona Paula, Ilhas.

Tel: (91-832) 2453854 / 3292240 / 9422059303

 

Charge Through the Water on

a Kayak

Kayaking is catching on fast in Goa. The sub-35 age group, kayak operators say, is taking to the sport like ducks to water. Slipping into the cozy kayak and rowing through the backwaters or even charging into the sea if you wish to, is a new kind of excitement adventure lovers have stumbled upon in recent years.

No wonder Prakash Alphonso, who runs the Goa Kayaking club, has no hesitation saying, “We’ll show you Goa like never before.”

Kayaks are originally paddle boats used by the Eskimos. They look like giant surfboards, with a cavity in the middle, just big enough for one person to fit in waistdown.

Sheila Khetrapal thought kayaking would be a great workout on a holiday, which had until then only meant vodka, food and lounging. During her ride down river, she was moved by what she saw.

“Yes we were bleary eyed because we started off at 7 am. But the rising sun and the flocks of birds heading out and the quiet church spires of Old Goa was a very calm and quiet Goa. Something we who party in Baga normally are not used to,” she said.

Over 900 tourists signed up for kayaking trips last year with Alphonso’s firm. As awareness levels about kayaking increase, the number is expected to swell.

For more details contact:

• Goa Kayaking
No.6, Plot No.721/A, Airport Road, Chicalim
+918322541715/+919422056037
Email: goakayaking@gmail.com

 

Go to War, With Paintball

If the bullets weren’t stuffed with soft gelatine instead of gunpowder and lead, this could have been a war. Dressed in SWAT-like kits armed with mock guns and paintball cartridges, hunt down your ‘opposing’ team and shoot them down in various scenarios like drug bust, rescuing the hostage and capturing enemy flag.

Two military simulation ranges, one in the north and the other in south Goa, offer paintball shooting, which apart from burning your adrenalin, also helps in honing your planning and strategy building skills.

“I had the opportunity of playing at (paintball operator) 8-10 MilSim with different war objectives … and it has been fun,” says Joyston Colaco from Margao.

It’s fun that can come with a bit of pain. If you get hit from close range, it hurts. That’s why participants wear gloves, a mask, elbow pads, knee pads, plus a protective collar and full-body vest.

Still, it’s a great way to play out your aggressions in a non-threatening, safe way.

If, however, paintball, rock climbing, kayaking, diving and parasailing don’t suit your fancy, the beach shack and the beer still beckon.

For more details contact:

• Splat
De Mello vaddo, Anjuna
+918326451873 +919552929873
www.splategoa.com

• Milsim Goa

Anterez Mansion, NH 17, Beside Royster Garage, OppMaruti Service Center, Gounlloy, Nuvem
+919552888000
Email : lance@milsimgoa.com
www.milsimgoa.com

Camp in the woods

It’s like playing Rambo in the wilds. Rappelling down cliffs, riding horses, crossing a river using zip wire flying techniques, you could momentarily rue the fact that you never joined the armed forces.

Prajosh Adventures offers these facilities at a wildlife camp called ‘The Woods’ near Valpoi, in northeast Goa. Sleep in tents or small treetop huts called machans. There’s even a 45-foot artificial rock climbing wall thrown in.

“I have an artificial rock that can be dismantled and set up anywhere. We use it in several of Goa’s starred hotels whenever called for,” Prasad Joshi of Prajosh Adventures says. Clearly a case of moving the mountain to you, if you don’t want to go to a mountain.

For more details contact:

• Camp in the woods

Prajosh Adventures
G-5, Noreen Apartments, OppGomantak Press, St Inez, Panjim
+918322427424/+919923903788/+918975605011)
Email: prasad@prajoshadventures.com or

dhiren@prajoshadventures.com
www.prajoshadventures.com

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