Introducing Middle & North Andaman
The Andamans aren’t just sun and sand. They’re also jungle that feels as primeval as the Jurassic, a green tangle of ancient forest that could have been birthed in Mother Nature’s subconscious. This shaggy, wild side of the islands can be seen on a long, loping bus ride up the Andaman Trunk Rd (ATR), framed by antediluvian trees and roll-on, roll-off ferries that cross red-tannin rivers prowled by saltwater crocodiles.
But there’s a negative side to riding the ATR: the road cuts through the homeland of the Jarawa and has brought the tribe into incessant contact with the outside world. Modern India and tribal life do not seem able to coexist – every time Jarawa and settlers interact, misunderstandings have led to friction, confusion and, at worst, violent attacks and death. Indian anthropologists and indigenous rights groups such as Survival International have called for the ATR to be closed; its status continues to be under review at time of writing. At present, vehicles are permitted to travel only in convoys at set times from 6am to 3pm. Photography is strictly prohibited, as is stopping or any other interaction with the Jarawa people – who are becoming increasingly reliant on handouts from passing traffic.
The first place of interest north of Port Blair is the impressive limestone caves at Baratang. It’s a 45-minute boat trip (₹300) from the jetty, a scenic trip through mangrove forest. A permit is required, organised at the jetty.
Rangat is the next main town, a transport hub with not much else going for it. If you do get stuck here, UK Nest has clean rooms. There’s an ATM nearby. Ferries depart Long Island (₹7) from Yeratta Jetty, 8km from Rangat. Otherwise Rangat Bay, 10km outside town, has ferries to/from Port Blair (₹55, six hours) and Havelock (₹195, two hours). A daily bus goes to Port Blair (₹95, seven hours) and Diglipur (₹90, four hours).