The last ship was gonna leave in a few minutes. So, we had to hurry and got into the same ferry that we used to reach here. From the Middle Strait, we got into our respective vehicles and left. Everyone dozed off and had some sleep at some point in time once we got into our respective vehicles. 3 hour journey back to the apartment. On our way back, we were hinted that the cyclone Asani was nearing Andaman by the drivers and possible flight cancellations depending on the severity of Asani. By 6pm, we reached Airbnb. It was a tiresome day.
As told, we were all ready by 3am. But the cars came a little late and by the time we left, it was almost 4am. Our heartbreak happened when we had our first pit stop and we were told by the drivers that there's a long waiting list and there's a high chance that we might end up having to choose between two places as opposed to covering both. As per the plan, the primary place was Baratang Island and from there it was going to be Mangrove Creek, Limestone Caves and Mud Volcano. We stopped there for more than an hour. Drivers were in constant touch for updates with some officials and tour operator. But all of that was in vain. At the end before resuming our journey, we were asked to choose. After a lot of digesting news and thinking of which place to go for, we ended up in two different groups. 4 of us chose Mud Volcano (I was one of them) and 5 opted for Mangrove Creek and Limestone Caves.Baratang Island lies between South end Middle Andaman. When we reached this place, we traversed through the Jarawa Reserve Forest Area and we need special permission from the government to enter. All this was taken care of by ExperienceAndaman. The Jarawa Tribe is one of the most primitive tribes known to us. More than the journey, time spent in a long queue of vehicles was tiresome. We witnessed some occasional showers. In the Jiraktang village, there were nearby stalls and hotels and in between the gap, some of us had breakfast. Then we resumed our journey through the forest. Army personnel in their vehicles are to be escorted all the vehicles in and out of the island. Stopping the vehicles, taking photographs, or entertaining any kind of activity is prohibited here. There have been cases where things were stolen, vehicles were messed with and all such things. So even if we spot the tribal people, we were told to not do anything. Once we reached the checkpost, our drivers got down for the formalities and we entered the island. At the docking point, there was a vast parking space where we parked the vehicles and then headed near the ship. It was around 9am when we reached. This is the Middle Strait Checkpost/Jetty. The ferry here was so huge that big vehicles like cars and even the buses fit in, apart from the passengers. We need to buy a ticket once we get in, it costs 12/- for each. It has a facility where we can go to the upper floor and from there we can see as much of the first area that's visible. We were able to spot the dense mangrove trees. On the ship, we finally got to see the indigenous Jarawa people close up. From my guess, I would say all of them in that small boat are from the same family. This ferry took us to Nilambar Jetty, Baratang Island.
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!!