Earthen Nest in Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary founded by journalist-turned- entrepreneur, Basuri Desai is an unusual example of tourism blending with the nature with least disturbance to the environment, reports Abdulla Khan
While tourists from across the world come to Goa to enjoy picturesque beaches, the locals prefer holidaying in the state’s hinterland. Understanding the need and demand, journalist-turned- entrepreneur, Basuri Desai took up a challenge and transformed his 20,000 sqm ancestral land into a perfect place to relax and sooth the nerves.
Earthen Nest nestled in the forest area of Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary is an eco-tourism venture located few kilometers inside of the Goa-Karwar highway, Cancona taluka. The resort aims at providing diverse experience to visitors. Dwellings are in four well-designed mud huts surrounded by lush landscape with all the modern amenities give one a feeling of home rooted in nature.
The Cotigao wildlife sanctuary is known for its dense forest of tall trees some of which reach 30m in height. A special feature of the resort is a tree top watch tower at 25m above ground that overlooks a watering hole where animals arrive to slake their thirst. From the tree-top tower visitors can watch animals at leisure and safely. The sanctuary is a home to the Gaur, the Indian Bison which is the state animal of Goa. The fierce looking Gaur can be spotted at the sanctuary which is also home to the majestic tigers and wild cats.
“The resort is wild animals free zone surrounded by certified power fencing for a worry free eco-luxury experience,” discloses Desai, pointing towards the power fencing.
When he first came up with the idea of transforming the land into resort with concept of building mud houses of 360sqm each he decided to rope in all the local artisans. He successfully managed the difficult task of getting together diverse artisans and their work can be seen displayed at the site.
“I had worked into electronic as well as print media for more than 12 years. As a traveler I was always fascinated with concepts of tourism in the hinterland and the back of my mind always thought of doing it here at my native place, which I did,” says Desai. He adds that, journalism is his passion and it is likely that he may be back again after putting the entire setup in proper hands.” Desai is assisted by his brother and
Rightly proud of his handiwork, he explains that the resort falls between Cotigao and Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary and the site is designed without disturbing the topography of the land. For sure the ambience of the resort is such that, visitors are certain to be fascinated with the tranquil location, eating in dry grass thatched roof restaurant which serves traditional Goan meals prepared with homemade spices.
One of the surprising findings is a high-deck swimming pool surrounded by thick forests. The property is not only power fenced but illuminated with minimum lights to sync with the ambience of wild life. “It took one long year for the entire resort to be completed. I had to consider local factors while selecting the raw material for construction and keeping the forest ambience intact,” reminisces Desai. He discloses that, river water is pumped and treated to fill up the pool giving “chlorine free experience” to guest who step in for a swim.
“These houses were constructed with rammed mud and then covered with mud plaster. I have planned for four- tree houses here so that guests who stay here to explore the forest enjoy an unique experience,” says the former journo. When asked why he went for mud houses which are very expensive considering lack of skilled labour, Desai says that, he does not mind the extra expenditure. “Imagine if all of these were to be converted into concrete houses! It would be a ecological nightmare,” he says.
To give guests host of experience, Desai has designed special jungle safaris and in monsoons there are seasonal waterfalls to enjoy which mushroom in large numbers in the sanctuary area. “I have been doing organic farming at the site and plans are for all my kitchen items for preparation of food will be sourced in-house.” He also plans to develop the property to create a recreational space in coming days.
“I haves plan to develop the resort so that it has something for everyone, irrespective of taste and the age. I am sure this concept is first of its kind in Goa with mud cottages and added with two tree houses providing unique adventurous experience for the guest here”