Shall we talk a bit about Kabini? Because I don’t think we have done that enough. Even though it’s quite popular amongst a relatively small group (inclusive of many novice as well as some professional wildlife photographers), it’s almost unknown to the rest. So what is Kabini or rather where is it? At the origin of it all, there is a river – a river called Kabini. It’s a short and sweet river that starts somewhere in Kerala and runs across the state of Karnataka touching upon many villages and towns on its way. But it’s not the start that concerns us, nor does the end. It’s actually a patch in between, somewhere in its path, where it passes between two beautiful forests. Or rather it divides a forest into two parts – Bandipore National Park and Nagarhole National Park. Around this place the river also gets wider as a result of a manmade dam ahead on its route. And this is the area that is famously known to tourists as Kabini and this is the area I am referring to in this blog.complete article
Neil Island – last stop on our Andaman itinerary. It’s almost like a drop of land in the big wide ocean. The island is about one fifth in size compared to Havelock and it sits right under it in map. There are ferries connecting these two islands, as well as connecting Neil to Port Blair. We arrived from Havelock in the boat Green Ocean 2, on a Friday morning at 10:30 AM. The journey had been smooth and shorter than our previous voyage to Havelock. The jetty was relatively quieter and less crowded. Late morning sun was already quite bright and under the shining dome the sea looked incredibly green. The water was calmer here and it seemed even clearer than what we had experienced so far, if that was at all possible. Probably the reason that tourism had extended to this tiny piece of land, was man’s everlasting desire to explore the unexplored, which eventually Havelock would have stopped satisfying. Aside from that, the landscape remained quite similar to Havelock and the activities designed for tourists were also quite the same.complete article
Havelock Island – probably the most sought after location in Andaman. It’s a place with promise of undisturbed green water, blinding white sands and plenty of indulgence. A destination for a perfect vacation. It didn’t go missing from our itinerary either. On day five of our trip we finally headed for Havelock Islands (Now changed to Swaraj Dweep).
Reaching there was quite easy – easiest part of the trip in fact. The island is perched in the northern east corner of Port Blair around 50 km of oceans apart. The only method of transportation is ferry, which is available by various operators. The cheapest option is government boat with less than 500 Rs. per ticket. But based on advance ticket booking facility, we chose a private operator called Green Ocean. It was 1,250 per person and with that we had booked seats in their ‘Luxury’ class, middle slab of their three classes (Economy, Luxury & Royal). complete article
The day began bleakly, as I woke up inside the wooden cottage cooled by AC and oblivious to the outside world. The cottage was neatly decorated with wooden furniture, all in the shade of chestnut brown, which were gleaming by the dim light seeping in through cracks in the blackout curtains. The room, in general, reflected of adequacy and not luxury and gave an impression of a beach hut rather than a resort cottage. This surely didn’t nullify my gratitude for having a comfortable bed to sleep on after a long terrible journey, which was whole of yesterday.complete article
The room was mostly dark, except for one little light shining directly above the couch where we sat with our bags. At the other end of the room, a staff leaned over the reception desk trying his best to look awake and waited patiently. I felt a pang of guilt at that, somewhere probably in a deep untouched corner of my heart. But apart from that, I mostly felt worried and frustrated. Time was ticking away, quite literally and louder than usual, and the car was running late.
This was a day of travel for us. A long undesirable journey. The main island of Andaman stretched for a little over 300 km and we were going to travel the whole distance in a day. Months ago while planning, this didn’t seem much. I had travelled more than that in a day and with quite an ease. But only when we started to research on rental cars few weeks before the trip, did we realize how much time that meant in the island. With couple of boat rides across rivers, driving in a convoy through a reserve forest area and long patches of extremely poor and narrow roads, it was expected to take us around 15 hours. Lucky for us though, they were all ready to start early. Way too early.complete article
My heart sank as I looked out of the flight window towards the land that we were descending at slowly. It was a gloomy day with a shade of grey across every other colour. The morning sky was full of darkened clouds and the ocean below reflected the same dull mood. Where was the deep blue sea and the bright green lands bordered with white sand? Where was the sunny day that inspired tinted glasses and airy summer dress? Where was the magical land that I had been looking forward to for so long? Four months of anticipation, rigorous planning and this is where we ended! Talk about bad luck!complete article
Kanha – even the name sounds so sweet in my ears. Before I ever visited Kanha, I always pictured it as the forest from The Jungle Book. So basically green landscapes, vast meadows, some scattered hills and shallow rivers. It’s something that is beautiful because of its simplicity. And when I finally arrived there I wasn’t disappointed. Kanha turned out to be more beautiful than I could imagine. It’s hard to describe Kanha because the forest changes with every season. During monsoon the greenery increases and thick green grasses covers the whole land, by winter the grasses turn golden brown and the trees start to blossom with colourful flowers, in the summer you see a dry forest with leaves shed from the trees and bare naked ground and by end of summer new leaves in shade of pink and red start to grow bringing a different colour to the forest. Except for the hardest part of summer, Kanha is always a pleasure to witness.complete article