09 Jul 2024  |   04:55am IST

A source of life can also be dangerous in the wrong weather

As the monsoon makes its presence felt in a big way, the greenery and wilderness of Goa comes to the fore as the State’s touristy beaches take a backseat. The waterfalls in the hinterlands of Goa are the most preferred and yet dangerous places to venture into. With the heavy rains on Sunday leaving over 150 trekkers stranded at Pali waterfalls, it is important to look at what precautions should be taken to be safe in this weather and while visiting waterfalls even after the ban is lifted
A source of life can also be dangerous in the wrong weather

Dolcy D’Cruz

Visiting a waterfall or other natural water bodies during the monsoons is a common picnicking or trekking practice. Goa is blessed to have wonderful waterfalls with rain water that makes its way over rocks or boulders to gracefully descend over a pool of water. However, with all the excitement of walking into the wild in search of these natural wonders, taking Mother Nature for granted or underestimating its power is a terrible mistake, especially if you are facing it head-on, in a new setting or activity. 

Many a times, we neglect to take note of various important factors, such as the flow of water and how the water rises while visiting these water bodies in the wild. There are certain precautions to be taken before venturing into the water and being too adventurous can also be risky. The Sunday outing has to be planned well with someone who knows the terrain and when to cross the water streams that lead to the waterfalls. Goa has a number of adventure-based organisations that work with experts who have been trained to access the areas concerned and learn about it before venturing with larger groups. 

A waterfall can be dangerous in the monsoons but even walking across a low stream of water on slippery stones can make you fall and hit your head. You have to be very careful while placing your feet in the water and consuming alcohol is a strict no-no. If it's a family outing or even a trek with friends, drunk trekkers can be quite a nuisance with their loud ruckus behavior and of course breaking of bottles in pristine clean places. 

A word of caution before heading out on any road trips, keep yourself dry in the monsoons. Even if you have a bath under a waterfall, keep a change of clothes ready. Travel with proper gear as it might be a thrill at the moment but one has to pay for a long time. Suryakant Shet from Vasco has been organising treks since 1986 and since he has been trekking since his college days. He is well trained in managing difficult situations in the forested areas and plans his treks well, keeping in mind the safety of other trekkers. “I plan waterfall treks only post mid-August when it is safe to venture into the water. Trekkers should listen to their leaders as we have experience and we know where to take precautions. One should enter only knee deep water cautiously and avoid rocky places. During the monsoon, one should be also aware of the wildlife existing in these forest areas. At this current time, when it is raining so heavily, one should not even go near a small gush of water as you don’t know when the water force will hit,” says Suryakant. 

He also informs that trained swimmers also have very less chances of surviving if they are washed away with the water flow. “One should not play with nature because when nature starts playing with you, it can only lead to disaster. I inform fellow trekkers not to climb n hills and boulders especially wet stones. 

If one ventures close to the waterfalls during the morning, and then it rains, they should be aware that the water from all the neighboring mountains comes down the waterfall with great speed and force. Even those waterfalls which are on the road side and look safely can be dangerous in this weather. If one is going alone to the waterfalls later in the year, they should contact the locals and most importantly, listen to them,” explains Suryakant.

Prathamesh Naik from Carambolim is part of Ya Mare Goa Ecotrails and they operate from June to February showcasing the hidden side of Goa since 2014. A first responder himself, Prathamesh makes sure the participants are well aware of their surroundings. “So far, we have kept all waterfall treks on hold till July 18. We are waiting for good weather to organize treks to waterfalls. As we focus on hinterland experience, we inform trekkers to wear good shoes and proper rain wear. Our treks are usually from 8.30 am to 4 pm and we don’t allow the trekkers to venture into deep water at the waterfall. They have to wear their life jackets and swim within the set perimeter. We don’t allow them to go without the leader,” says Prathamesh. 

Pramod Divgi from Porvorim is part of Fit Swaggers Goa that organizes an annual trek for their group members which involves a run and then a visit to a waterfall. However, with a few friends, he makes it a point to visit a waterfall on the weekend in the neighboring states of Maharashtra and Karnataka. “July is very risky month and the heavy showers can be unpredictable. We usually plan our treks in mid-August when the rainfall is normalised. 

We recently visited Sindhudurg area and the Chorla Ghat for a drive. Gharapi waterfall in Sindhudurg where we had to walk 17 kilometres through a rubber plantation to get to the waterfall but it was very safe,” says Pramod.

In Goa, they organise one trek with 40-50 participants but only members and not children or senior citizens. “We usually watch YouTube video blogs about different places and the walks to the waterfall. We don’t go to waterfalls that require river crossings and we prefer waterfalls that have more facilities by the government. 

For children, Baba waterfall which is 80 kilometres from Goa is very safe,” says Pramod, who was on waterfall run on Sunday which involved a 15 kilometre run from Dona Paula to Neura and a stop at a waterfall behind St Mathew Church in Azzosim.

“People should be responsible when they visit waterfalls. The government should also develop the areas and the Forest Department should be responsible. Amboli Ghat had one waterfall but now there are three that too well maintained with fabricated steps to enjoy the waterfalls. Some waterfalls should be enjoyed only for the view as it can be very risky to venture into the water,” he adds. 

Monsoon is the best time to explore these natural wonders. However, it's better to be safe than sorry when heading out in an unpredictable weather, where the water level can rise within 15 minutes.

IDhar UDHAR

Idhar Udhar