The Andaman Trunk Road – Limestone Caves, elephants and Jarawa people 

After driving through Jarawa tribal land on the Andaman Trunk Road which runs the length of three of the main Andaman Islands, we boarded boats to the famous Limestone Caves in the Homfrey Strait. 

Some of the tourist boats that ply the route to the Limestone Caves
 

After a ride of about 25 minutes we came to a timber jetty at the end of a boardwalk. Rather than stop there we headed into a narrow opening between the mangroves and bumped our way along the narrow channel, jostling with other boats in a chaotic but cooperative manner – rather like Delhi traffic.

Negotiating our way through the mangroves

Inching forwards we stopped to let other boats out and took our turn at a small pier while we disembarked. 

The waterway was so narrow that it was a struggle passing a boat coming the other way
 
Arriving at the disembarkation point
 

The walk to the limestone caves was one of the highlights of the day. A board walk through the mangroves gave way to a rocky path through a wood and out in the open to farm land with a village in the distance.  

A lovely walk amongst the trees…
 
….by the water…..
….and through some fields
 

After walking through more copses of trees, the path started to become rougher with more rocks to pass through – allowing single file only which proved to be tricky when meeting people coming the other way. 

Some parts of the path were very narrow

The caves were a good example of the effects of water on limestone and there were some interesting stalactites and stalagmites but they were absolutely heaving with people and it was very hot. 

Inside the Caves

 In some places there was room to allow only one person to go through at a time. A nightmare for a anyone who hates crowds and is a little claustrophobic. 

It was hot and crowded!
It wasn’t easy getting out!
 

Picking up our boat after the cave visit was a typically Indian affair. We were sent along a further piece of boardwalk which took as to the entrance to the mangroves.

The boardwalk leading to the jetty
 Everyone crowded onto the small and rather fragile jetty and as the boats jostled to come in to pick them up, the crowd surged forwards and tried to get down the jetty steps. 

Everyone crowded onto the jetty
The boatmen would unexpectedly push in front of each other so that the people on the steps would have to let the ten other people whose boat had arrived through the crowd to load the boat. Goodness knows how, but everyone managed to board their own vessel without falling in or the jetty collapsing – despite the boats banging into it at full tilt like dodgem cars at a funfair!

It was a scramble to get into your boat
Back at the ferry stop we waited to board in the shade of some trees. Goats and cows foraging for food pushed passed us, one giving a none too friendly but quite gentle butt as he passed the Yantaras. 

The good ship Lapathy unloads ready for us to board

We were among the last to board the ferry figuring last on would be first off.  

Time to reboard the ferry

On the other side there were some thatched open sided huts where we unpacked our picnic on the bench.

 After a delicious lunch organised by the famous Ravi – former taxi driver, and a “go to” person in Port Blair we prepared to get back in the car for the trip back. 

Just before we got back in the car…

Just as we were getting in our driver pointed out to elephants walking through the shallows, taking a break from the logging work going on to one side of the ferry terminal.
…. our driver spotted elephants!
On the drive back we passed one group of young male Jarawas but apart from a policeman on patrol standing guard in the middle of the forest saw no one else. 

A young Jarawa tribesman
Once through the checkpoint it was interesting to see the large areas of wetlands covered with many ducks and other water birds that had been created as a result of the 2004 Tsunami. 

Paddy fields inundated by the Tsunami

The inundation of seawater into what were once rice paddies and other farmland areas, resulted in the brackish water wetlands that now attract a variety of different species of water birds. 

The inundated fields are now s haven for water birds

Before going back home to our boats we stopped in at the new Kalapani museum which sets out to describe the history of The Andaman and Nicobar Islands using dioramas, photographs, original documents and a few artefacts. 

Too many documents in glass cases and not enough in the way of introductions

 It was very interesting but desperately needed some proper organisation with summaries at each point where the subject matter changed. There were many old documents which gave the visitor a little insight into life during for example,the Japanese occupation or at the time of India gaining her independence but there were very few artefacts that could inform and bring exhibits to life. 


 The museum was definitely worth visiting but needed someone to pull all the information together and give it context and help link the information all together.

For more information on travelling through Jarawa tribal land go to 

https://dotsailing.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/the-andaman-trunk-road-a-highlight/

Or for another blog update about cruising the beautiful Andaman Islands go to:

https://dotsailing.wordpress.com/2017/05/20/engine-troubles-sorted-we-head-southwards/

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

6 thoughts on “The Andaman Trunk Road – Limestone Caves, elephants and Jarawa people ”

  1. Hi Dot. Its Melian here from Indian Summer. We are hoping to go the Andamans in Jan. We are in Oz atm and trying to organise our visas. Did you get yours here and did they stamp them with ‘prohibited places restricted’ we believe the normal indian visa does not cover the Andamans but that Port Blair gives a 30day visa on arrival. Very conflicting advise online. Thanks for any info. Loving your blog btw – well written. Take care.

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    1. Hi Melina thanks for reading my blog really appreciate your comments. Yes we did get our visas in Australia. Because we had planned to spend last Christmas with our daughter in Delhi we paid for a multiple re-entry visa and that came back unrestricted. I’ve just been in touch with our friends and they just asked for a single entry visa and it came back unrestricted. When we checked in at Port Blair we were given a special permit which is probably what will happen to you. So in a nutshell I would just go ahead and get the normal visa. If you are sailing there I would recommend Rathnam as an agent. It really does make everything quicker and smoother and he can help with all sorts of things. There is another Mr Fixit there who friends engaged and it seemed to me that he was very friendly and helpful on the surface but didn’t have the good relationships with customs, immigration etc and was making as much money out of us as he could. (Meals were always more pricey if he was with us for example). If you want Rathnam’s details let me know. We are thinking of going back to the Andamans next year so hopefully we might see each other there!

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