We were expecting the current we had experienced on the way south to Little Andaman Island to work against us but we made good progress towards Sister Island and arrived in plenty of time to have a relaxing afternoon and a pleasant dinner on Bali Hai that evening.
Sister Island is composed of two small and rugged islands (one really just a big tree covered rock) joined by a wicked looking reef.
The main island has a pristine white beach but when we tried to land on it the following day, the breaking waves coming off the reef meant there was the distinct possibility of getting swamped when we tried to land on the beach.
After receiving one big wave over the dinghy we decided it was just it too risky to attempt so instead we took a ride round the island and were treated to the sight of a pair of majestic White Sea Eagles fishing close by to us.
That evening, over sundowners, the three yachts – Smart Choice, Yantara and Bali Hai – decided to head on to the next island on our itinerary even though we had a day in hand.
Sister Island was pristine but rugged, isolated and rolly. The peace and beauty of this island were magnificent and in smoother weather we would have stayed longer. However, leaving early felt like the right decision.
Before taking off we all agreed to go early the next morning to look for the rock pools at the north eastern end of the beach which are mentioned in our cruising guide.
However, after an uncomfortable night in a fair sized swell, we flagged that plan away and took straight off to take a look at Passage Island.
We had a great sail over to Passage Island but it was only just over 4 nautical miles away so only lasted 45 minutes. The cruising guide told us that there was great fishing there so we were looking forward to the possibility of fresh fish for dinner but on arrival our hopes were dashed as the anchorage was taken up by six fishing boats who were bound to be in the best spots. So we decided to keep going and sail on to Chiryatapu on South Andaman Island where we had enjoyed the hospitality of the local dive school less than a week earlier.
On our way we sailed passed the Cinque Islands which looked absolutely beautiful. We were looking forward to visiting them in a few days time (you have to pay an extra fee to visit and nominate the date(s) you intend to visit so we couldn’t just drop in).
When we arrived at Chidiyatapu (also known as Chiryatapu) there were hoards of people lined along the sea front even though there is really nothing there except for Infinity Dive School, a couple of small cafes serving chai and very limited menus, a gift shop and a couple of general stores selling packet snacks and other bits and pieces. We learned that the people were tourists from mainland India who came to Chiryatapu to view the sunset.
The sun dipped prettily and disappeared quickly over the horizon and just as quickly afterwards all the people suddenly melted away, leaving just a few locals and us to enjoy the dusk in peace.
We took our dinghies into the steps leading up the sea wall from the landing area before the sun had disappeared altogether. Some of us (i.e. me) were a tad nervous about paddling in the water at dusk after hearing from our friends on Shakti that they had seen a three metre crocodile cruising near to their boat only a couple of weeks earlier.
As it turned out our landing was uneventful and we were picked up by the restaurant’s six seater and taken for a delicious meal at a restaurant called Bamboo that Ravi, one of the Mr Fixits of the Andaman Islands, organised for us. Part of a resort, the restaurant serves really delectable Indian food and the bar sells beer, white wine and even a quite drinkable Indian sparkling wine.
On the drive back we saw some huge tree trunks at the side of the road and Ravi told us that if we came back the following day we might be able to see an elephant working with them.
So the next day, after a delicious breakfast at the little Infinity Cafe on the seafront, we retraced our route to the restaurant and found the logs but there was no sign of an elephant. We popped our heads round a childcare centre which wasn’t open but there were two ladies there who were doing some administration work. They said we would find the elephants up a track which ran alongside the building.
As we came out of the centre we met three little school boys (they were very small but later they said that two of them were 12 and one was 13) who were rolling tyres along with sticks. We asked them if they could take us to where the elephant was working which they did with great enthusiasm, all the way asking questions that they obviously remembered from their English class – “What is your favourite colour? What is your favourite sport” etc
A short way up the track we came to a pile of logs and signs of an elephant- namely a saddle. We were getting warmer!
Around a bend we came upon a logging truck and a group of men. And then we saw her – a smallish female elephant hiding in the bushes.
Who would think that such a big animal could make herself almost invisible?!
Her mahout fetched her and we were able to see her at work, pushing massive tree trunks off the back of a big logging truck. She used her whole body weight to heft the trees off the back of the truck.
As she pushed the whole truck moved and as the tree trunks fell off, the truck would give an enormous shudder.
It was fascinating to see the elephant think through how to get the logs off. Sometimes they wouldn’t roll off from the side she was working from so she moved round to the other side to tackle them from another angle.
After she unloaded the logs she was taken back into the shade where we had first seen her where she could rest and eat to regain her strength.
We walked back slowly and made our way to the Cheryatapu Biological Park, a fairly new facility housing some animals and birds from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands including crocodiles, giant water dragons, birds of prey, deer and the crab eating Macaque. Still under construction, the park will eventually rehouse many of the creatures currently living at the mini zoo in Port Blair.
It took us a couple of hours to stroll round the park and despite some of the enclosures being empty, enjoyed the shady walk listening to the birdsong and seeing occasional glimpses of native animals.
If you would like to read more about our magical experience in the Andaman Islands go to:
Or read the previous blog post at:
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