The Andaman and Nicobar islands are an amazing combination of the azure sea, white sands, dense tropical rainforests, and terrains formed by the hillocks. People from all parts of the world come here to enjoy the beaches and nature in its purest form. But what most people do not know is that Andaman is also known as a trekker’s paradise. It has some of the best terrains and trails that lead you to places which nature has kept secret from the rest of the world. These unique places provide shelter to many rare, endangered, and exotic species of flora and fauna. An interesting fact about the island is that over 270 species of birds alone reside in this cloistered place out of which 106 are endemic.
There are around 572 islands in this archipelago out of which only 36 are accessible. Usually, the places most popular among the tourists are the capital centre and places close to it which are easier to reach and ideal for a short trip but the souls which feed on adventure venture out to more difficult and captivating places. Andaman has some very rare places ranging from the Saddle peak to the Alfred caves and mud volcanoes.
Let us have a look at places that are ideal for trekking in Andaman:
- Mount Harriett to Madhuban
Mount Harriett is an excellent reserve of the various species of birds and animals but did you know that it is best known for the collection of butterflies? Back to the trekking part, the route to Madhuban from Mount Harriett is one of the most sought-after journeys taken by the trekkers in Andaman.
You will have to hire a jetty to the Chettam island to reach the Bamboo Flats, from the bamboo flats to Hope Town which is the base of the trek, and then take a 7 km stroll into the thick vines and climbers to a 365-meter summit. The complete trek takes about 4 exhausting hours and it is advisable to hire a guide.
Elephants can be spotted here doing the lumbering work in which specialists are trained for the purpose. You will witness the rich collection of the species like reef heron, whistling teal, kingfisher, local teal, white-bellied eagle, and many beautiful butterflies along the way.
2. Chidiya Tapu to Black Mountain
Chidiya Tapu is most famous for its sunset and is also popularly called the Sunset Point. During the trek from Chidiya Tapu to Kala Pahad, you will pass through dense tropical rainforests home to a wide range of birds which are its speciality (hence the name Chidiya Tapu) along with the coast of Andaman adorned with huge black rocks (hence the name Kala Pahad). The elongated trail will take you to the brink of Chidiya Tapu from where you can see the vast expanse of the ocean. It is a short and easy trek so you can take your family along with you and it is best you start the trek early afternoon or latest by 3 pm. That way you can return to the beach by 5 pm and see the glorious sunset.
3. Havelock Island to Elephant Beach
There are only two ways to reach the gorgeous Elephant beach one being the water and the other being trekking from Havelock. Since there is no other way to reach the beach, the place is often found at the bottom of the list of most crowded places of Andaman. Tourists tend to visit places that are easier to reach and have luxurious facilities.
So, if you set on this 2 km long trek which takes you through the forests of Swaraj Dweep and 300 m of marshland and again through the mangrove forests, you will be rewarded with complete privacy and me-time accompanied by the amazing beach view. The trekking trail is located almost 8.6 km from the Havelock Jetty which can be reached by cabs. So you see, it’s not that tough, it’s just unpopular.
4. Baratang to Limestone caves
Baratang Island, which is located more than 100 km away from Port Blair, comprises many difficult places of Andaman including the Limestone caves. The limestone caves are a phenomenal depiction of the art of nature. The structures are formed due to millions of years of corrosion and keep changing throughout the year.
To reach here, you first have to pass through the Jarawa Tribal Reserve but remember that you are not allowed to interact with these indigenous people. After passing, you will have to cross a creek on a ferry ride from Middle Strait to reach Baratang. Now that you have reached Baratang which in itself is a task, you need to take a ferry ride again and get off at the Nilambur Jetty where you have to acquire a free permit to the island.
If you are already tired, let me tell you there is yet more to come. After taking the permit, take a speedboat ride through the mangroves and reach the Nayadera Jetty. The Limestone caves are a 10-minute trek from the Nayadera Jetty. You can tell by the picture portrayed that the trip is going to be exhausting and it will require a full day.
But if you are still bubbling with the energy you can visit the nearby mud volcanoes of the island. These volcanoes do not eject hot molten lava but rather emit springs of methane gas. It is quite fascinating.
5. Saddle peak
Saddle peak is the highest peak of the Andaman and Nicobar islands and is located in Diglipur. En route to the peak, you will notice the most mesmerizing combination of the evergreen forests and emerald coasts of Andaman. When you finally reach the top, you can see the sea as well as Kalipur islands, Craggy islands, and the Lamia Bay on one side and thick wild forests with mammoth trees on the other. This is the most difficult trek of the entire island and is a 10 km ascend as well as 10 km descend. You need to strengthen your mind and your body to complete the trek. The path requires walking to reach a stream from where the complete trek begins. The only provision of shelter is 2 to 3 eco sheds made of bamboo seating and a freshwater stream also flows at the top of Saddle Peak.
You also have to keep in mind that a forest permit from the forest department is needed to visit this place and the department does not take littering and natural destruction lightly.
6. Alfred caves in Diglipur
These are a group of 41 caves situated deep in the wilderness and is named after the scientist that discovered it. It is a completely wild and non-tourist location and not for the faint-hearted. It takes a trek of almost an hour to reach this place through the forests. A guide is very essential for reaching these caves as you are most likely to get lost. After you have walked an hour in the direction of the forests, you will find trekking paths for 2 to 3 caves which are separate for each.
It is recommended that you go on this trek in the dry months from October to April as the trail can get slippery and unsafe in the monsoons.
The beautiful caves are a natural habitat of many fruit-eating bats, swiftlet birds that make edible nests, and other bird species. There is a narrow entrance that leads to the other caves inside. This is a very tiring trek and will most probably consume an entire day of your trip to Andaman but it will be a nice tale to tell when you get back home.
These stunning places are heaven for the tough backpackers that relish every bit of the tour through the dense woods and being as close to nature as is possible. Do not miss out on these special locations just for their remote nature if you want your holiday to Andaman to be the most venturous out of all.