We started our journey at 3:30 am and even that was half an hour late!! I woke up at 2 am and thought is this a leisure trip or I am going back to an ill prepared exam in my school days. But we had to catch the first convoy at 6 am in the morning to cross the Jarawa reserve checkpost 1.5 hours away from Port Blair. We reached at 5 am and we were still behind 100 cars in the convoy. Our driver was a grumpy and serious-looking Tamil ex-army-man living in Andaman (if you can imagine one!!) and he was really unhappy that we were 30 minutes late and behind 100 vehicles in the convoy, even though we reached one hour before the start. Perils of starting at 3:30 am in the morning!!
The convoy started at 6 am and the view of the dense forest was surreal. I wouldn't have been surprised by a certain 'Tarzan' jumping in front of our car from a tree. This is a perfect location if an Indian director wants to shoot a 'Tarzan' or 'Jurassic Park' movie. However, I was surprised to see Jarawas, a lot of them. In the middle of the forest, the Jarawa children were naked and happy. At the end of the forest, the elder Jarawas were wearing Ray Ban sunglasses and pair of Levi's, stolen from or gifted by tourists, and restless to get more. They are getting the addictive taste of civilization and they don't know what vicious trap they are falling into.
We reached Baratang cave ferry point at around 7:30 am and went to the island other side by the large ferry. Then we took the speed boat for 10 people to Baratang Limestone cave. The group tickets are arranged by the tour operators or drivers but you, as a tourist, need to stand in the queue to get the permit, at least one of you. This is true everywhere in Andaman. It's beautiful and it's full of Indian bureaucracies.
The speed boat ride was awesome. In the beginning, we were going through the channel with the dense Mangrove forest on both islands beside us. But the last stretch was through a narrow canal inside the mangrove forests and it was again a Jurassic park moment. The limestone cave was 1.5 km from where the boats left us and the walk was interesting. Don't miss the exotic village 'nimbu-paani' on the way to re-energize at 31 degrees C. The nimbus (lemons) can aspire for a Guinness book award for their size and amount of juice that can be extracted from them. Please... I am only talking about lemons.
The cave was good but those who have seen other bigger limestone caves (such as Bora caves in Vizag, India) can give it a miss. For first-timers like us, it was enjoyable. Some photos below.