The day started very early by taking the Tempo traveler drive to reach the Baratang Island. This is a long journey by road through the forest reserve. You will have to reach the Convoy check post by 4:00 AM. Once you pass the check-post, you are not permitted to stop your car anywhere in between through the journey as this passes through the Jarawa Tribal belt.
DAY 5 : BARATANG ISLANDBaratang is around 4 hours from Port Blair and the best way to go there is to hire a Cab which will cost around Rs. 4500/-. Start early by 2:30 AM so that you will be first to reach the check post at Jarawa Reserve forest by 6 AM. This will help you avoid the crowd at the following places.The other transport option is to board the first bus from Port Blair which starts by 04:15 AM, travel time is of 4 hours. Bus ticket needed to be booked prior to the travel day. Once you reach Baratang Island, you will find the transits auto-rickshaws/boats to the above mentioned places.
This island which lies between South and Middle Andaman has beautiful beaches, mangrove creeks, mud-volcanoes, and limestone caves. Limestone caves can be explored with the permission of the Forest Department at Baratang and proper local guidance. It is located at 100kms from Port Blair. Regular boat services run from the Port Blair jetty. From Baratang island (Nilambur Jetty) Lime Stone Caves are half an hour boat ride through a wide creek which leads to Nayadera Jetty and a further one and half km walk through the tropical forest. There is a boardwalk winding its way through mangroves from the main creek to Nayadera Jetty for about 240 meters. Tourists either may directly reach by boat or walk through the boardwalk to reach the jetty. Some caves are so dense, deep and dark inside that you need to light a torch to be able to see anything. Also, it may get slippery inside the caves, so it is advisable to come in floaters or shoes. Another attraction is the mud volcanoes. Mud Volcano is approachable by road from Nilambur Jetty. One must reach up to Jarawa creek by vehicle. From Jarawa Creek, Mud volcano is at a walkable distance of 250-300 meters. A mud volcano is created by natural gases emitted by decaying organic matter underground. As the mud is pushed upwards by the gas, it deposits and hardens above the ground. As more mud oozes out and spills over the edge, it grows, gradually forming a miniature volcano with rich, creamy mud crater at the top. It is a very unique thing to witness!!
At 2.30am, we were ready to start for Baratanga Limestome Caves. It took us an hour to reach Jirkatang check post; here you need forest permission to pass through Jarawas Tribal Reserve area. The vehicles pass in four conveys in a day at an interval of 3hrs starting from 0630hrs. Ours was fourth vehicle in row; pretty sure that we are gona reach first and can avoid the sun and crowd. There are small stalls that server freshly cooked breakfast and have water and snacks. We witnessed another picturesque sunrise from Kali Mata Mandir. Photography is prohibited in reserve area, the convoy started by 0630hrs and in 2hrs passing the lust green forest we were at Middle Strait. Here we boarded a big ferry to reach Baratang island along with two buses and trucks.From Nilambur Jetty the caves are half an hour boat ride through a wide creek of Mangrove forest and then a 1km walk to the sedimentary rock. The cave is 100m wide, only 40m is open for public to see. Limestone is a sedimentary rock formed at the bottom of the sea. It is formed by the compression over millions of years of the gradual deposits of many ingredients such as marine life, shells, skeletons and corals. Depends on your imagination as our guide said, you can figure out shapes of deities, flowers, human faces and animals here.Mud Volcanos are 1km from Nilambur Jetty and can be reached by road. As the mud is pushed upwards by the gas, it deposits and hardens above the ground. As more mud oozes out and spills over the edge it grows in size, gradually forming a miniature volcano with rich, creamy mud crater at the top. At Nilambur Jetty, there are shops for snacks. We boarded the ferry back to Middle Strait and waited for 12:30noon convey to start back. Reaching back we collapsed into our bed and relaxed till our stomach grunted and went rushing to Milky Way for dinner.It may sound tiresome waking up at 1.30 and reaching destination after 9hrs, waiting 3hrs for the convey to start . But as said the journey is more beautiful than destination, we enjoyed passing through the lush green forest, hopping from car to ferry to speed boat, sailing along the mangrove trees. Indeed the journey was more beautiful than destination.