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Published: April 19th 2020
Today, our last in Goa, finds us up early and waiting outside for our driver at 6.30am, as we're heading to Dudhsager Falls. These falls form part of the border between Goa and Karnataka and are India's 5th highest waterfall.
At around 120klm for the return journey, this trip is well outside our 80klm daily allowance, so will cost us extra but I'm sure it will be well worth it. It was our driver's idea to start this early, to avoid the traffic and the expected long ticket office queue later in the day.
Heading south, ninety minutes later we drive into the almost deserted parking area at the entrance to Mollem National Park. A small queue is already apparent at the unopened ticket office, and we join them.
When they eventually opened, we couldn't believe the chaotic process that evolved just to purchase an entry ticket. What we have noticed in India is that a business will open and then spend 20 minutes getting ready to open instead of the other way around. There were two girls with A4 pads and pens behind the counter, and another standing in front of the counter counting people and taking
payment. This counter had no eftpos facility, cash only. At first they tried to sell us a private Jeep, another R3500 ($70) for the trip up to the falls. We said 'no thanks', we're happy to travel with the locals. Eventually they told us the fare, R1000 each, which we paid, though no paper tickets were issued. The girls behind the counter wrote down our ID in their pads and we were done, at this counter anyway.
What we have found in India is that businesses here NEVER have change, or start the day with a cash float, regardless of whether they're a fruit vendor or manning the counter at a major tourist attraction. Smaller vendors disappear with our cash and reappear minutes later with the required change. If we hadn't had enough cash on us today, we would have had to drive to the nearest town and hope for a working ATM or call it quits.
Next step was to hire the mandatory life jackets at a different counter, then we waited around with everyone else until we were beckoned by a driver and directed to his jeep. One more stop to pay another mandatory charge to
the Forestry Department, and we were finally underway.
The ride into the falls was only 12klm, but it was the most bone shattering 40 minutes we have ever experienced. If you have back issues or suffer from motion sickness, I don't recommend coming here. We crossed the river five times, on causeways and through the water, a trip only a four wheel drive could make. Dudhsager Falls was rather impressive, the water pounding into the river. A railway track over a stone ached bridge runs in front of the falls and we could hear the trains approaching, their whistle echoing above the roar of the water. Three freight trains passed whilst we were there and I've read that passenger trains will sometimes make an unscheduled stop in front of the falls so passengers can enjoy them too.
We sat on the rocks near the water and were joined by some very friendly monkeys. They never sit still for long, usually staying out of arms reach and fighting amongst themselves, but one sat next to Ginny and took mandarin segments from her hand, sucking out the juice and spitting the pith everywhere. Many local tourists went into the water
with their life jackets on. I don't think any of them could swim but they sure know how to enjoy themselves. They splashed around like children, laughing and showing off to their friends.
Everyone is limited to a ninety minute visit, so eventually we retraced our steps, scrambling back over the rocks, crossing the foot bridge over the water and returning to the now crowded car park to find our vehicle. It was a good idea to come early as there was now a continuous flow of jeeps and people coming and going, seems this is a popular destination.
When we returned to the ticket office area, after another torturous 40 minute jeep ride, a huge queue was patiently lined up, along with a lone cow. We were pleased not to be one of them. On our return to Panaji, we asked our driver to drop us somewhere nice for lunch and we ended up at The Fisherman's Wharf Restaurant. A very pleasant dining experience followed, the restaurant was situated in a beautifully restored heritage Portuguese house, with very attentive staff and live music.
After lunch we returned to our homestay, as our eight hours with the
car were up and we were looking for some down time. We had some hand washing and repacking to do, ready for a flight to Mumbai early tomorrow morning.
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