Wildernest, a sustainable getaway
- An ecotel wedged between the tri-state boundaries of Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra in the lush Mahdei Bio region, Wildernest is based on the sound principle of minimal interference
A project-driven by pure passion for the environment and wildlife, Wildernest offers an incredibly fulfilling holiday experience…especially for urban souls. It offers pristine views of waterfalls, birds and nature’s bounty, all the while respecting the sanctity of the jungle. Interestingly, the land in Goa’s Chorla Ghat where the ecotel stands today was degraded, mined and deforested. Apart from being rich in biodiversity, the forest is also rich in minerals, making it a hotspot for mining – the ultimate threat to the equilibrium of a jungle. It was adopted by Capt. Nitin Dhond, a merchant navy captain who invested his life’s earnings to buy small plots of land here in the late nineties. He kept expanding it every time adjoining areas became available. Together with herpetologist and conservationist Nirmal Kulkarni and a host of other dedicated experts, Capt. Dhond began reforestation efforts in the area by selective planting and natural regeneration. Over the years, it has flourished into a 700-acre Private Sanctuary called Swapnagandha that also hosts an ecotel called Wildernest. It has preserved the biodiversity of the region, considerably curbed illegal mining and protected a vital corridor for large mammals to sustain in the wilderness. It is home to tigers, leopards and many other threatened species.
True to the principle of minimal interference, Wildernest takes up only three acres of the property and another 15 acres are used for activities such as trekking and nature trails. The remaining 670 acres or so make up the core private sanctuary that hosts researchers only after screening.
Wildernest has preserved the biodiversity of the region, considerably curbed illegal mining and protected a vital corridor for large mammals to sustain in the wilderness.
Says the Director of Ecology at Wildernest Nirmal Kulkarni, “Conservation and respect for all life forms is an intrinsic value of our eco resort. We feel the need for the youth and adults alike to understand that we are connected to our environments globally; that issues like global warming, human-wildlife conflicts and climate change are now neighborhood issues. Our role is to connect and engage with guests and make them aware that their children will inherit this Earth and that can happen only if we are aware.”
‘Conservation and respect for all life forms is an intrinsic value of our eco resort.’ – Nirmal Kulkarni
What’s on offer?
18 eco-cottages, a restaurant serving local cuisine, a beautiful ionized infinity pool that uses minimal chlorine and an Ayurvedic rejuvenation centre apart from an array of outdoor experiences such as nature walks, treks, village visits, folk dances etc.
What makes it a sustainable project?
- Demonstrates fine use of sustainable materials such as Australian Accacia (a social forestry wood), recycled railway sleepers, Khanapur stones, bamboo and other natural materials
- Every cottage interior is designed as prescribed by international ecotel standards – this includes use of alternative energy, natural lighting etc.
- Wildernest has its own bio-waste plants that create manure and has a strict implementation of plastic reduction as well as a recycle and reuse policy
- The cottages are positioned in a way that they don’t interfere with the forest and vice versa
- It creates employment and provides livelihoods to hundreds of local villagers in six neighbouring villages
- Works at raising awareness about the biodiversity in the Mahdei region
- Works towards ecological restoration in the deforested land and conserves natural, cultural and historical heritage of the region
- Eco cottages as well as other built structures resemble village huts that are designed to provide an authentic feel of a forested habitat without compromising on the levels of comfort
Activities at Wildernest
A Trek to the Highest Point
This 15-minute trek to the tri-state boundaries of Goa-Karnataka-Maharashtra is a unique experience as it gives a 360 degrees view of the entire Chorla Ghats and Mahdei Wildlife Sanctuary. It is guided by a naturalist and is suited for all age groups.
A trip to the village of Chorla to view age-old icons that lay hidden in the forests. Guests can also visit the Rameshwar temple, which holds center stage in the village landscape. The village beautifully demonstrates the thin balance between ecology and economy.
Trek to the Waterfall
This 45-minute trek is a rich experience for those who appreciate the virgin forests of the Sahyadris. The trek culminates near a waterfall. Along the way, if lucky, you can spot Gaur and hornbills apart from butterflies and other of birds.
Visit to Organic Farm
This jeep trail to the organic farm near Chorla village is a great experience of witnessing the functioning of a small organic village farm. Guests can also get information about the various veggies that are sourced from the farm for the resort.
This is an opportunity to observe over 20 plus species of birds, some of them like the endemic Malabar Whistling thrush and the Paradise Flycatcher.
This highly interesting trail will provide the guests with the first-hand experience of the nightlife in a forest and help understand the role of lesser-known creatures in the wilds of the Western Ghats.
For more information, please visit: www.wildernest-goa.com
We’re a team that is unlearning modern-day, convenient living to be able to lead an environmentally ethical life, and in the process sharing our insights with our readers.