Kaala Patthar - The Leech Forest Trek

18th Aug 2014

"So you mean Havelock is not happening?"

"Naah !! The entire week is booked and they won't even agree to include us as crew members"

This news struck us halfway through the first day on our Andaman Trip and that's when Mount Harriet National Park came into the picture.  Mount Harriet happens to be a part of Bambooflat Island and the third highest peak in Andamans. This place is known for its wild pigs, saltwater crocodiles, turtles, crabs and .... And the protagonist of our story - The Leeches.

A half an hour ferry ride from Port Blair, followed by about an hour of uphill drive to the entrance of the National Park, we met this guard at campsite.

"So is the Kala Patthar trek still on?", we asked.

"Yeah. Only if you want to run upside down trying to protect your bloody legs. It's raining and the forest is festering with snakes and leeches. I suggest you guys sit here, have a drink and go back from where you came from", this reply came from an obviously irritated guard waiting for his shift to end

We had the answer to our question. The trail was open and we didn't need to trespass to reach our destination - Kala Patthar.

Photo of Kaala Patthar - The Leech Forest Trek 1/4 by Harsh Singh
Campsite - Mount Harriet National Park

"After having conquered so many rocky peaks in Sahyadri in last few months, a plain 5 km trail should not give you guys a jitter. Let's rock through it", I said, like all those times when I had made everyone jump Photo of Kaala Patthar - The Leech Forest Trek 2/4 by Harsh Singhinto something we were not prepared for.

"But what about the leeches?", a concerned Chinu asked

"Just keep your phone into your pocked and look where you land your foot. We should be more concerned about snakes and pigs rather then those tiny leeches"

"But what exactly is this place we are going to - Kala Patthar?"

The Mr. Google in our group, Rohan, instantly replied,"Don't you guys know anything? Kala Patthar is a Beach. Now let's get going and be ready to enjoy some vodka on the beach"

And so we set forth for the trek. The forest canopy was so dense that a major part of the rain was blocked away from us. Merrily, we kept walking through the trail. Clicking pics, singing songs and passing some friendly remarks on each other, it was hardly 10 minutes into the forest, when a helpless cry echoed through the surroundings.

"Help! Somebody get these leeches off my foot", there were three leeches who were clinging on to Chinu's feet. Everyone came with their own tools - twigs, stones and leaves. It was a task to get them off. Even if you cut a leech into half, its mouth still keeps on sucking your blood.

We managed to get them off but the deadlock was now broken. What we had seen just now was just a trailer and as the forest kept getting denser, the leech attack just kept on getting stronger. For the initial part of trek, it appeared that it was only Chinu who was at the receiving end of the attack.

"Why aren't the leeches attacking us? Is our blood so sour?", I echoed my thought on not being attacked.

"Don't you know that leeches only suck impure blood? That's why we are still safe. We are pure bloods while he is a mudblood", again an instant reply came from our Mr. Google.

The pure blood assumption was based on null hypothesis, which shortly proved to be wrong. Midway through the trail, the leeches started attacking all of us without any discrimination, from left, right and center. The twigs, stones and leaves were left behind as the new plan of attack was to muscle the leeches to death with our bare hands. We didn't know from where they were coming from or how were they managing to latch on even after utmost precaution we took. After hip hopping and running, we continuously reviewed each other, scanning for any possible alien parasite.

No signs of a beach. No signs of even a pool. We were tired and thirsty but didn't care to wait for drinking water. Standing still meant being an easy prey and no body wanted that. 2.5 kms and just over an hour into the forest, we were finally there. Kala Patthar stood right in front of us.

It was a big rock. There was no beach. I repeat, there was no beach. It was just a big black freaking rock.

Photo of Kaala Patthar - The Leech Forest Trek 3/4 by Harsh Singh

"Now I know what place is this. Prisoners were tied to rocks and were executed by throwing down from this point", Mr. Google struck again.

We gave Rohan an angry look and started hip hopping and running back to the camp site. The return was not marked by any photography, singing or friendly remarks. Like robots, we were just going through a loop - Hip Hop as fast as you could - Post 30 seconds, scan for the guests on your body - Muscle them to death - Repeat.

The return took us just 30 minutes. Sweaty body. Bloody feet. Drained energy. We came out alive.

Kala Patthar Trek was one of the best trek experiences I have had and if you happen to visit Andamans and like to explore places, I would strongly recommend this trek.

Photo of Kaala Patthar - The Leech Forest Trek 4/4 by Harsh Singh
Explore ! Explore ! Explore !