Baratang island is one of the prime tourist attraction spot and the love for spot increases due to its immense topography. A convoy ride amidst the forest that belongs to the most fierce Jarawa tribe, a vehicle ferry, mud volcano, fiber boat ride through the mangrove, a hike to the limestone caves. If the thought of the trip excites you, then its time. Time for you to plan your Andaman & Nicobar vacations and put this spot in your travel list.
The distance between Port Blair and Baratang island is approx 150 km. Setting off early in the morning or late in the night is the best option to save the daylight for some tremendous trip, if you just want to visit Baratang. For people having plan to stay there and visit the northern Andaman can start a little late in the morning.
Starting your journey at around 3 a.m is a very good option to have a fullish trip. It takes around 2-2.5 hours to reach Jirkatang post which is the starting point of the great Andaman forest of Jarawa reserves. There you can have your breakfast and click pictures. But, don’t forget to bring your photo identity proofs. It is required at the checkpost.
The first convoy of the day starts at 0600 hours with patrol officers present after every 10 vehicles and all of them follow a straight line pattern keeping a minimum safe distance and speed limit. Furthermore, riding through the dense forest is both exciting and fearsome. One can see signs of landslides as the road is pretty narrow and one may expect a flying arrow racing towards a vehicle (Oh sorry! That came out in the flow).
But, expect to see a few Jarawas, the most fierce tribe after SENTINELESE in their red attire and dark skin. As per the instructions, you are not allowed to click pictures of them or throw any eatables. Probably after 3 hour journey you will then reach the Jirkatang jetty.
The scenery is indeed beautiful and the essence is worth capturing. The other side is Baratang island and continuation of Andaman trunk road that leads to Rangat. There are two operating ferries which helps people and vehicles cross the bay. The charge for crossing the bay is also very minimal and that is INR 10 only.
Andaman has as much as ferries, an island can have. There are ferries connecting to Neil and Havelock islands owned by both private and government which one may find.
It takes 15 mins to cross the bay and as you proceed nearer to the Baratang jetty, you can come across the fiber boats which will route you through the dense mangrove forests to the limestone caves.Your journey planner or travel agent (if any) will take care of the rentals which includes a guide. If you are going alone, you have to check with the help desk present for availability. Rental charges may vary from 500-1200 INR.
The journey through the mangrove creeks will leave you mesmerized with the beauty of the nature as one can see the pictures below.
The ranging from the jetty to the limestone caves is a 1.6 km through well paved road. During the course of walk, one can see various boards instilling the flora and fauna of Andaman and Nicobar islands. Starting from king cobra, dugong to teak wood, one can find a brief information about them to enrich encyclopedia.
As you reach near limestone caves, you can have lemonade (nimbu pani) to revive your energy and calm your thirst. The guide provided with you will take you inside the caves which has formed by deposit of calcite layers. The structures have been formed over ages and retained their form since the beginning.
After the trip, you head back to Baratang jetty where you can have your lunch at an affordable rate and track back to Port Blair or toll towards Rangat, leading to northern Andaman.
P.S – Mud volcano is also a special attraction to tourists but it would be wise to stay near Baratang jetty so that you can start early in the morning to reach the spot early. Gypsy take you to near the volcano and it takes 10 minutes walk to reach the vicinity.
If you are wildlife lover, Parrot Island is a must visit for you which is nearer to the place. The landscape is worth watching as variety of parrots visit the island during dusk.