30 January 2008

Andaman Trip : Summary & Retrospect

It took me 6 posts in a series to narrate my detailed experience of my trip to India's largest archipelago Andaman. Now it’s time for summary and retrospect.

How we got there ?
We took a ship from Chennai to Port Blair. The journey was 60 hours. It was initially exciting, but got bored in the later part. Anyway, it has to be done once in a lifetime. The return journey was by flight and it took just 2 hours.

11 days: From 21st Dec 2007 to 1st January 2008, including 3 days of ship journey.

Because of Christmas and New Year vacation season, this trip turned out of very expensive. Total expenses were around 20K+ per head. It is difficult to provide the individual break-up. However, here are a few important expenses(per head)
  • Ship: Chennai->Port Blair - Rs. 4600
  • Flight: Port Blair->Chennai - Rs. 8500
  • Accommodation: 8 days * 500 - Rs. 4000 [including food]
Places We Saw:
  • Ross Island: A self reliant island during British era, is now in ruins. From Port Blair, it is 30 minutes ferry ride and has to been seen under guidance.
  • Cabyns Cove Beach: Nearest beach to Port Blair. Frankly speaking it's not worth visiting, especially after traveling thousands of kilometer from mainland India. Waves are very less and the landscape is not that great.
  • North Bay: This place is famous for corals. Because of proximity to Port Blair it will be usually crowded, so not recommended for snorkeling. But glass boat ride for 50 rupees is worth.
  • Baratang: Enroute to Baratang one can have darshan of Jarawa Tribes. Prominent places of interest around Baratang are Limestone Cave and Mud volcano. While visiting these places one can have sufficient glimpse Mangrove forests. Usually, all these stuffs are covered in a single package for 200 rupees.
  • Wandoor and Mavadera: 30 kms from Port Blair, this place is famous for live corals, so snorkeling is a must here. We gave up plans of Scuba diving as its cost was 9000 per head.
  • Cellular Jail: A must visit place for every Indian. In day time one can visit musuem and can go inside the premises of jail to Veer Savarkar Cell, Central Tower etc. In evening there will be light and audio show in which complete story of Kaalapani is narrated.
  • Mount Harriet: Highest peak in Andaman can be reached by a ferry from Chattam and from there by a Jeep to the peak. Enroute to the peak there is a viewpoint and the landscape view from that point is on backside of our 20 rupee note. From the peak, there is 1.6 km mini trekking trail to Kalapathar.
  • Local Sight Seeing: In Port Blair we saw places such as Samudrika museum, Anthropological museum, Chattam Saw Mill and Aquarium. If you are traveling on your own then don’t allocate explicit time for these place, but do visit them in buffer time.
Places we couldn’t see:
  • Havelock Island: It is one of the must visit places in Andaman. Radhanagar beach of this island has been rated as best beach in Asia. The problem is that this place is not properly connected to Port Blair. The ship tickets to Havelock from Port Blair are very difficult to get, especially during peak season courtesy nexus between authorities and travel agents. By the way, there is an alternate round about route to Havelock i.e by a bus from Port Blair to Rangat(8hrs journey) and from there by a ferry to Havelock. In case you are coming to Andaman by package tour make sure that Havelock island is there part of itinerary. In case it is not then extend your stay to go on your own.
  • Jollybouy, Mayabandar, Cinque Island: Not much info about these places.
Shopping: Shells & Gems:
We shopped for shells at government emporium - Sagarika. For Corals and Pearls we searched at many places, and the search ended at the shop of SK Sarfaraz. His shop had large variety of fresh gems and good thing is that he proves genuineness of each one of them. Address is: SK Sarfaraz, Medical Road, Aberdeen Bazar, Port Blair, Andaman -744101(walkable from cellular jail) and mobile number 09474202007. His shop will be open only after 3 pm.

We stayed at Palm Groove Eco Resort. Many rooms in this so called resort were in pathetic condition and service is not up to the mark. The food is served in the hotel itself and it's hopelessly monotonous. Since the place is 10 kms from heart of the city, there are no decent restaurants nearby. Curd is not served with the meals. Many a times we bought curd from a nearby shop at Brijgunj Junction. We became so much familiar with the shopkeeper that in last 2-3 days he used to take out curd from the refrigerator the moment we used to step into his shop ! So, if you are coming on your own to Andaman, make sure that your accommodation is in 2 km radius from Aberdeen bazaar. All the important places(including ferry terminal) will be at 5-10 minutes distance.

Trip Organizer:
Our trip was organized by YHAI, TamilNadu but many a times it was outsourced to a third party such as Darshan Travels. Our guide Subramani had a good knowledge about the place but betrayed us because of his personal benefit. He had booked a very pathetic accommodation. Also a very stubborn person as he used to intentionally speak to us in Tamil. I don’t want to be harsh, but the reason YHAI conducts these kind of tours is for national integration and holding on to ones mother tongue for guidance doesn’t serve the purpose. Since I had heard so many positive feedback about YHAI himalayan treks, there were high expectation from this trip. Actually, the way of conduct didn’t even met half of my expectations.

Adventurous Activities:
Of all the adventure activities we did snorkeling. We skipped Scuba Diving as it was very costly and also basic swimming skills are required for the same. One suggestion, in case you wear spectacles, make sure you carry contact lenses for Snorkeling. Otherwise you won’t be able to enjoy the activity to the fullest.

"Known enemy is better than unknown god"
This saying was perfect for our attempt for booking tickets to Havelock. Since our stubborn guide Subramani disagreed to arrange tickets for Havelock, we caught hold of another travel agent Vinay(of Vivek Travels). He turned out to be very cunning and ditched us twice in order to make money by selling cruise tickets in black.

To conclude, even if missed a few places it was a memorable trip. In future, might be revisiting the place just for Havelock and Scuba Diving.

For more detailed moment by moment narration read the following posts in order.


  1. Good post.

    Good to put all things one platter and serve. People can easily pick what they need most and get it :D


  2. Anonymous9:43 PM

    Hello, Can you send me details on the travel agent through whom you made this trip. Kindly mail in to malini.vinod@gmail.com. Thank you in advance.

  3. Interesting blog, keep up the good work. I found a good site about Andaman Islands. Click the link..

  4. Anonymous9:52 PM

    hi..came across this post while searching for something..i think its been a while since u came here..its unfortunate that u havent been able to go to the most enjoyable and imp places...havelock and jollyboy...hope u get to go there sometime else..esp since u took so much pain to come all the way here...enjoyed reading ur post..wiish i could write like u.

  5. very informative. Thanks shande

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  7. Anonymous10:45 AM

    hi i am ajay form Andaman ,Andaman scuba driving is amazing and mind blowing , once you decide to diving with elephant swimming in andaman island tour you have to be mentally planned ready to make enjoy and dream.

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  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  15. Hello :)very informative! It was fun reading your post, almost felt like I was there myself......incidentally, how did you procure the tickets for the ship ?

    1. Thanks and please find details at http://www.andamanbeacon.com/andaman_ship_schedule_fare.html#

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  17. Anonymous5:25 PM

    The food is served in the hotel itself and it's hopelessly monotonous. Since the place is 10 kms from heart of the city, there are no decent restaurants nearby. 3d animation virtual reality