- Dhiraj D Sharma
Tour of Andaman, Edition - 3!
"Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable." Mary Oliver
Cycling in Andaman is a wholesome day of exploring in the right direction what feels like being lost and finding oneself in No Man’s Land. The road passes through great patches of Andaman forest, the pristine beaches and warm people. The road in-between the forest and the oceans, cycling through the forest on your left and ocean water to the right and you shall notice many streams joining the ocean here as you ride from Rangat to Mayabunder. Cycling here, one shall experience not just a thing but all that one looks for: People, place, food, birds, butterflies, roads and everything that passes by the road.
As we move away from the South of Andaman - Portblair you experience a different world, I would say you would be back to 2000 the low or no network era, with people having time to enjoy the little things that they do. Play in the evening, go fishing or just sit back for an evening conversation with a cup of tea, you will witness people playing carom, cards by the road greeting you with a smile and sometimes offering you a place to halt by and eat something.
As I pen down my experience of riding there in Andaman and hosting the Tour of Andaman from the year 2019 I’ve so many rich experiences to share with you all and I’m sure you will all experience the same when you’re here for the Tour this time offering breathtaking views around every corner.
The Tour of Andaman is much more than the sum of its numerous attractions. It’s constantly evolving itself, with people who are passionate about cycling with new possibilities. Every year as we approach hosting the event we look forward to exploring new opportunities and more: Edition - 1: 2019 Portblair ->Baratang ->Rangat ->Mayabunder ->Diglipur ->Ramanagara ->Ross & Smith ->Portblair
Edition - 2: 2021 Portblair ->Chidiyatapu ->Baratang ->Rangat ->Mayabunder ->Diglipur ->Ross & Smith ->Portblair
Edition - 3: 2022 Portblair ->Mount Harriet ->Chidiyatapu ->Shoal Bay ->Baratang ->Long Island ->Rangat -> Mayabunder ->Diglipur ->Ross & Smith ->Portblair The current plan that’s more exciting than the previous tour while we experience 2 Islands visits (Ross & Smith in Diglipur, Long Island in Rangat) with 4days of cycling spanning over 300+ km, through the entire Islands of Andaman from Portblair in the South Andaman, Mayabunder in the Middle Andaman, and Diglipur in the North.
I got to experience some astounding terrains which I’m sure is to test the rider’s endurance, temperament, and physical and mental limits. The tour will be promising for foodies, explorers, collectors, action seekers, culture shapers, and socializes meet - and new experiences are created every day.
Don't stop at finding out what you can do when you visit. Let our Passion for exploring show you what you can be when you're here. Because we are where Passion meets Possibilities.
Read on to experience Tour of Andaman, Edition – 3.
Day 1: Pre-tour Briefing: D-Day
On this day we receive everyone and the excitement gets rolling, you might see plenty of islands from the flight just before the touchdown and we would strongly recommend you to take a window seat and the last few minutes are just amazing sight to behold. The touchdown minutes are an adrenaline rush without a doubt and the eyes look for new friends to make and mind thinking of the unknown. Well, we make sure you feel comfortable and join us in celebrating the adventure. On your arrival, we pick you up from the Airport or you can just make a choice of walking to the hotel room at Diviyum Manor which is just about 200mts away from the Airport. You get to meet the Team and strangers who turn out to be your friends over the days you spend on the tour. Get accustomed to the weather – be surprised, the Sunrise here is at 05:00 AM and Sunset at 05:00 PM, not something you get to experience on the mainland, it might be raining and it would just leave no clue after it stops. Every time I narrate the weather conditions of Andaman over the year I just remember my friend narrating it as HOT, WET & HOT & WET.
a. HOT: 27°C to 30 °C is the average temperature and during the last tour we have also noticed 32°C
b. WET: Well there is a reason why we choose to do the tour in the month of Sept last week and not any other months, it’s because it’s a monsoon retreat here and one can expect light showers which makes the riding conditions much better. Over the years we have seen riders enjoying these light showers and hate to ride in the HOT & HUMID Conditions
c. HOT & WET: Expect the unexpected, just when it’s HOT it might rain and when you feel it's pouring hard it would just vanish without a clue and nothing in between but to my surprise I saw a foggy morning on my previous visit for the recce here in the month of March.
In the evening you would have an icebreaker session over the pre-tour briefing followed by dinner for a good night's sleep and the great adventure awaits!
Day 2: Portblair ->Mount Harriet ->Chidiyatapu ->Portblair: (70km approx)
During all the riding days we would start riding by 07:00 AM after breakfast. Today on the ride we would take you to the second highest peak of Andaman - the Mount Harriet National park for a glorious Andaman sea view. The riders shall take a small ferry ride before they head to the peak and from there on a ride towards a heritage site to 1943 flag point where the country’s tricolour was first hoisted, you can also see the views of Ross and Northbay Islands and from there on you shall head to the seaways enjoying the views of classical beaches up to Chidiyatapu - Biodiversity hotspot at Andaman. The roads are simply amazing with a perfect view around every corner, along the way you can stop over for a view and rest at a support station which would be placed every 20 to 25km depending upon the terrain and weather conditions. This day of riding will also introduce you to the life of people living in Andaman while you ride away from the city and ride through the market areas for about 2km.
We would finish lunch at Chidiyatapu and head back to the hotel - the start point will be the endpoint for the day and the ride would be a loop of (70km approx). Dinner shall be served by
08:00 PM on all the riding days.
Start Point: Hotel Diviyum Manor End Point: Hotel Diviyum Manor
Above are photos from the first Recce of Tour of Andaman, Edition - 3!
Day 3: Portbalir -> Shoal Bay ->Baratang: (55km approx)
Today the riders would have a busy day riding for a promising view at Shoal Bay pristine beach on the other side of Mt. Harriet, unlike day one riding where you will witness tourists around the corner you would now move away and just own the beach for the team, this is not the only time you would experience owning the beach for self but there are many other times it would be just us riding through or playing in the serene side of Andaman most of all having the ME time. We would quickly finish our lunch here at Shoal Bay and head to catch convey by 02:30 PM at the Jirkatang check post - Jirkatang Check post is one of the two 2 Jarawa Reserve areas where riding bikes/motorbikes is not allowed for 45km. Riders shall be advised again on the does and don’ts at the reserve for safety.
The roads passing through the reserve are overwhelming to ride but due to prohibition, we are not allowed to ride in the tribal reserve forest. As compensation for the missed opportunity, we ride towards Shoal Bay. The riders might get to see the Jarawa and this is not a tribal safari – no photography is allowed and we are not promoting any act against the law. By the end of the day, you will leave the South Andaman crossover to the middle straight through the help of a ferry again and reach Baratang.
Start Point: Hotel Diviyum Manor End Point: Coral creek resort
Day 4: Baratang ->Long Island ->Rangat: No ride day
Trying to take a break and add a new thing to the tour itinerary while we explore the beautiful Isles of Andaman. Today we finish breakfast at the hotel and head toward the Yeratta Jetty through the longest bridge of Andaman which is about 1.45km making a very beautiful viewpoint and the second Jarawa Reserve where riding of bikes/motorbikes is not allowed and all the other laws of the previous day prevail. On reaching the Yeratta Jetty from where we take seaways – a ferry ride and 90 minutes walk to reach the less explored Long Islands in the heart of middle Andaman which might turn out to be your dream destination forever until you visit the Ross & Smith Islands in Diglipur. This island accommodates a small group population and a hotel managed by the forest department; we shall get ample time to play in the stunning sapphire blue water, finish lunch and head toward Rangat for an overnight stay.
Start Point: Coral creek resort End Point: Ross & Smith Hotel
Day 5: Rangat -> Mayabunder
This is the most scenic route of the Tour of Andaman, passing as close as possible to the pristine waters of Andaman. One can see the blue water crashing against the black rocks and many water streams joining the ocean blues as we see and play at Morice Dera. The current roads are paved making it an amazing experience for a perfect photoshoot as well.
The day holds many attractions for the riders followed by a 700meter Mangrove walk at Dhani Nallah adjacent to the Great Andaman Trunk Road (ATR) and start cycling towards Mayabunder. The riders are exposed to the raw beauty of these moist deciduous forests home to a variety of species. The last stretch of roads is not in good shape and just before you end you shall experience the gentle climbs of Andaman that would help you understand the next day's ride.
Start Point: Ross & Smith Hotel End Point: Sea ‘N’ Sand Hotel
Day 6: Mayabunder ->Diglipur
Today would be the longest riding day of the Tour of Andaman and is considered to be the most challenging one from both the editions of the tour so far. You shall pass through the dense forest of Andaman, and cross over through the second-longest bridge: The Austin Creek that connects the Middle Andaman to the North Andaman.
This stretch of road is long and away from people and places. Be careful not to miss the lunch point today as you will not find any hotels till you reach Diglipur Junction. At Diglipur you would be welcomed by sweet stalls all over the place and if you’re a foodie you would love to explore before you finish the ride towards the hotel that is about 18km from Diglipur via Aerial Bay. The roads are very good till Diglipur and the last stretch of 18km is a concern as the tarmac disappears and the road is under construction.
We positively hope and wish the tarmac will be laid out by the end of August 2022. After all the action with one more day to go, we would have a cool off party to acknowledge all the efforts that each of us would have contributed to make the tour a successful one.
Start Point: Sea ‘N’ Sand Hotel End Point: Pristine beach resort
Photo Dump from the Recce of Tour of Andaman, Edition - 3.
Day 7: Diglipur ->Ross & Smith ->Portblair: 2nd No ride day.
This is the day I wait to be back so that I reach one of my dream destinations and I’m sure you would fall in love with this heavenly place. Ross & Smith is an individual island connected by a natural sandbar; one can walk from Smith Island to Ross Island when the tides are low. Every day there would be 2 High tides and 2 Low tides which would prevail for 6 hours each.
This is one of the 2 islands less popular that you would love to explore and those islands that you would have for yourself. The white sand beach with clean and blue waters makes a perfect destination along the coconut grove, space for resting and changing is a great delight for one to be on board.
We would usually have our Breakfast/Lunch depending upon the weather conditions and timing of the day. Well, that’s not all for the day, you shall have a great end to the tour with sailing from Diglipur to Portblair on availability else take a road trip back to Portblair.
We have been fortunate so far to get the sailing back to Portblair witnessing some amazing sunset views and marine life along the way including turtles, dolphins, and ray-finned fishes delighting one to heart’s content.
A journey which began as a bunch of cyclists’ strangers to each other, we have witnessed the same bunch sharing laughter, joy, cracking jokes on the decks of the ship playing cards, singing and dancing through the magical night.
The overnight journey by Ship from Diglipur to Portblair is no less of an Adventure, on a clear night sky one shall witness the mesmerizing dance of infinite stars where none can find neither the origin nor the end and fail at counting them miserably. The food you get on the ship is simple and great.
Start Point: Pristine beach resort -> Travel overnight towards Portblair
Day 8: Portblair
On arriving at Portblair we would have arranged for rooms only to freshen up and have breakfast at Diviyum Manor to official end the tour until next time.
End Point: Portblair>Diviyum Manor Adventurously,
Dhiraj, Team Parikrama