A Complete Guide To Spice Plantation Tour In Goa

The Indian food is known for the aroma and strong flavor that comes from spices. What better place to learn about Spices than the Spice plantation itself. I had visited Spice plantation in Munnar (Kerala) where the guide focused on Spices and their medical properties.  Since I enjoyed the Munnar spice plantation visit, I thought of visiting the Goan Spice plantation to understand spices used in Goan culinary.

There are many spice plantations in Panjim – Tropical Spice Plantation, Savoi Plantation, Pascoal Spice Village, Rustic Plantation, Sahakar Spice Farm, Sai Herbarium and Parvati Madav Park Plantation. Savoi offers a tour to a cashew factory, Sahakar offers elephant ride, Sai Herbarium gives you an insight into organic farming; every farm has its own specialty. Almost every plantation offers a guided spice plantation tour and a lunch.

After reading reviews on few websites, we decided to visit Tropical Spice Plantation.

Our Tour – Dabolim to Ponda drive -> Spice Plantation Entrance -> Welcome Drink -> Spice Plantation Tour -> Lunch -> Buy Spices -> Back to Guest House

On our way to Ponda

A drive to Ponda is a good 45 km one side trip from Dabolim. We were a group of 6 people and had rented a Toyota Innova. The road to Tropical Spice plantation was a beauty with Mandovi River on one side and the colorful Goan houses and coconut trees on the other. I am a great admirer of the Goan houses. Their architecture is inspired by the Portuguese culture – tiled roof, bright and startling exterior colors, white painted arches and pillars give these houses a unique look.

It was a 70 minute drive from Dabolim to Tropical spice plantation. I would recommend you to reach the farm by 10:30 am, so that you can finish the tour in an hour and head towards the buffet before noon.

Parking and Spice Plantation Entrance

The area surrounding the plantation was a dense forest with narrow roads. You enter the plantation through a small rustic gate which is not visible at a first glance. Drive through the gate and you will find ample parking area. You feel that you have just entered a wonderful oasis away from the crowded North Goa beaches.

Park the vehicle and walk down few stairs to reach the ticket counter. Per person ticket to Tropical Spice plantation costs Rs. 400 ($6). Guided tour and buffet lunch is included in the ticket.

Enter the spice plantation by walking on the bridge built over a beautiful lake. As soon as you enter the farm, you will be greeted with a garland and teeka. Relax for sometime at the food court and enjoy the refreshing herbal tea served as a welcome drink.

Tropical Spice Plantation - A glimpse of the bridge built over a beautiful lake
Tropical Spice Plantation – A glimpse of the bridge built over a beautiful lake
img-20170128-wa0011
Tropical Spice Plantation – Food Court

Spice Plantation Tour

Usually there are 15-20 people per tour. The tour is guided in English language. Few staff members can also speak French and Spanish. The guide takes you around a small area of the farm, showing specimens of the freshly plucked leaves and barks. She asks you to smell and identify the herb/ spices and later explains their qualities and uses. She also talks about the country of origin of the spices, how seasonal changes impact the growth of the plants and how they are processed and sold to people across India.

The guide talked about cashew nuts, Coconut, bamboo apart from some popular spices like nutmeg, 5 spices (All spices), Cinnamon, coriander, cumin, vanilla, nutmeg, mace etc. Most of the Indians would be well aware of the spices shown in the farm, but still you get some nice insights from the tour. For example – I came to know that Vanilla originated in Mexico and is the 2nd most expensive spice in the world after saffron. Vanilla is a parasite and takes nutrients from other plants. Cinnamon is originally from Sri Lanka and you can peel it from the tree after the tree is more than 10 year old. 5 spices (all spice tree) is a Jamaican pepper and it gives you berries every year only after it is 15 year old. Overall it was a good multi-sensory educational tour.

  • The red colored Cashew fruit is used to prepare the famous Goan Feni. The cashew is sent to factory where it is processed and packed for selling.
Cashew Fruit
Cashew Fruit

.

  • India has three seasons – summer, winter and rainy. The trunk of the tree grows by 4 segment every year. That’s how they find out the age of the tree.

cashew-fruit-segments-of-the-tree

.

  • That’s the famous Peri-Peri Chili. Peri-Peri was first discovered in South Africa. The chilies can grow up to 2 cm. They are extremely spicy. All species of spicy chilies comes in upward direction (as can be seen in the image) whereas the not so spicy ones grow in downward direction
Tropical Spice Plantation - Peri Peri
Tropical Spice Plantation – Peri Peri

.

  • The plates prepared from the Betel nut palm leaves are a better replacement of Anti-Environment plastics or polymers. These are sturdy and can be reused.
Betel nut palm leaves sent to factory to prepare plates
Betel nut palm leaves sent to factory to prepare plates

.

  • Brazilian Bamboo – It is a yellow colored bamboo. It grows 10 cm per day. Bamboo is the latest grass in the world followed by banana and sugarcane. The Indian bamboo (not in the picture) is green in color and stronger compared to the Brazilian one.
Brazilian Bamboo
Brazilian Bamboo

.

Once you are done with the tour, the guide splashes a little lavender flavored cold water down your neck. It is done for relaxation. You can enjoy your lunch and buy spices & some locally grown items. The spices here are very expensive compared to what you get in a local grocery store.

Water splashed down your neck after the tour
Water splashed down your neck after the tour

.

Lunch

The seating arrangement for lunch is basic with wooden tables and benches.The fresh perfectly ripe yellow bananas in the food court were a delight. It just melts in the mouth. The buffet was freshly prepared by the locals and has a Goan taste to it. The buffet included chicken curry, prawns curry, 2 vegetable curries along with rice and bread.

I would rate the food as mediocre. This being a spice plantation, I was expecting a burst of flavor of various spices in the curries. To my surprise, I was disappointed with the quality of food served.

They also serve you locally produced Feni in a coconut shell cup along with the lunch. You can also purchase Beer, cold drinks and mineral water.

 

That's how they serve Feni
That’s how they serve Feni

.

Tour Cost: For a group of 6 people

  • Rented Innova: Rs. 2200 per day
  • Ticket: Rs. 2400
  • Fuel: Approximately Rs. 500 (I was shocked to see Petrol cheaper than Diesel)

.

Few more images from the Tropical Spice Plantation Tour

Tropical Spice Plantation Goa
It is definitely not easy to climb a betel nut tree within seconds
Chewing paan or betel leaves helps digestion
Chewing betel leaves (Paan) helps digestion
Tropical Spice Plantation Goa
Perfectly Ripe Bananas
Jackfruit
Jackfruit
Feni Distillery
Feni Distillery
Ant Hill
Ant Hill

22 thoughts on “A Complete Guide To Spice Plantation Tour In Goa

  1. Such an interesting post! I had no idea there was even such a thing as a cashew fruit – and the peri-peri pepper tidbit was so informative as well! Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As I recently have made the conscious decision to eat more plant based, spices are a huge ingredient in adding flavour. I am just starting to really understand the different types of spices out there. Thanks for the post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I used to think that there are only beaches and churches in Goa. However, after checking out this blog I was surprised to know about the spice plantation tour in Goa. I found through this blog that it is in Ponda, and there are many agencies that plan a tour for the tourists. I shall surely check it out in my upcoming vacation to Goa. Thanks a ton for the share!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s