A Better Way to Holiday

From eco lodges to living in an Ashram, travel journalist Sarah Dawson shows us how to navigate our way through alluring southern India by road and rail – and return with a clear environmental conscience.  Ever since a yoga holiday in Goa where I practised yoga on a podium surrounded by exotic birds, swaying palm trees and brightly coloured butterflies I have longed to return to this spiritually pulsating sub-continent. I also wanted to make as low an environmental impact as possible which meant ‘no’ to domestic flights and profit-driven companies and ‘yes’ to public transport and ecological, community or fair-trade tourism. I started my journey in Goa and hailed a grinning rickshaw driver to take me to the state’s most southerly developed beaches where I’d heard there were some coveted environmental resorts. Located next to Palolem, one of the world’s top ten beaches boasting three kilometres of white sand fringed by palms and casuarina trees, Patnem is a chilled-out, family-oriented beach with many bamboo cafes and cabins, some delicious seafood restaurants and a small swell of surf. At the northern end of the beach a dusty yet well trodden track led to the popular ecological resort of ‘Bhakti Kutir’. Set within its own palm-tree sanctuary, ‘Bakti’ is full of the flavours and rhythm of Goan village life and offers community living in a natural environment. The resort has daily social events and runs courses in everything from yoga to belly dancing, as well as ancient Ayurvedic therapies and delicious organic cuisine. Accommodation came in the form of simple cabanas made from local rice straw, bamboo and mud, equipped with eco biodegradable compost toilets and al fresco showers.

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