“Looks like it’s going to rain any minute”
I started walking on the trail into the forest, the trek which is said to be a piece of cake on a clear sunny day seemed to be a daunting task on this rainy afternoon. Andaman is known for its moody weather patterns and today was no different. A monsoon hike to this secluded beach called for all the adventure needed for the trip. The omnious grey clouds hung thick in the sky and the entire expanse of tall green trees in front of me started swaying to the rhythms of the wind. Sun was playing hide and seek with the clouds while the mud beneath my shoes was begging me not to take even one step forward.
How it all started
While I was contemplating whether I should do the trek or drop it and head back, I met a couple on their way back, “the route gets murkier as you go, and with rains you might get lost, we had to return midway”, the guy was advising me to reconsider. I looked at the watch, it was 12 in the afternoon, I still had enough day light to make it to the beach even if I lose the trail on the way.
Hike to the beach
I made up my mind and continued walking further inside. With each step, the light was fading out, the forest was growing denser and the route murkier than ever. Rain started pouring slowly and steadily over the canopy of the jungle. Sounds of cickadass and frogs grew louder and louder as the trees slowly started closing in on me. Not a single human in sight. I craned my neck and looked up to see how tall a tree can grow, and Oh boy! It took my breath away to see how gigantic, trees on this island can be! As I stepped forward, a raindrop hit my forehead, rolled over my eyelids finding its way into my eyes making the scene fuzzier than it already was.
With the dark clouds and incessant rain, the intensity of the situation was only building by the lonesome sound of the leaves scratching and scraping one another. I crossed a huge tree root, only to slip and fall on the other side. The minute my hands landed on the mud, a black forest lizard moved rapidly to hide itself behind the tree. “woof!!” , I caught my breath, not cause of the fall but since I had to come face to face with a skink! Lizards probably are the last thing that I ever wanted to face in this world, especially in a place like this.
With panic slowly kicking in, I picked myself up, swallowed hard and took a deep breath. I noticed my surroundings, the route was no longer distinguished, my shoes were caked in mud, everything around me was overgrown and the rain had no plans of giving up. I clearly was in the middle of nowhere.
Help out of blue
Apart from continuing to walk, the only thing I could do at that point was to tell myself that all is well and pray I should reach the destination safe. “Ei pathe” “Taratari Cholo”
My heart started to beat a little faster as I could hear the voices somewhere close by but still, I couldn’t see anyone. I took a couple of more steps in the direction where the voice was coming from, and then saw two men with fishing rods walking ahead of me.
Two of them turned to take a look, “Hello mam, going to beach?” “Oh yes yes! Can I come along?” I spurted even before they offered. One thing I learnt while travelling is that you need to be shameless when you seek for help. Help will not be offered to you on a red carpet always, sometimes it’s better to ask for it when you need it. “Okay, no problem, follow us” one of them was generous enough to let me tag along.
Gratitude to the Almighty!
They were local fishermen who were seasoned and knew the route at the back of their hand. With just rubber slippers, a fishing rod and a handy knife, they were moving in jet speed even on the slush. Me, being the rookie was struggling to catch up with them, the fear of losing track of them was higher than the fear of falling and facing the lizards.
After 20 minutes of crossing the tangled tree roots and jumping on the silt, we reached a slightly flat surface. I checked my watch, it was 2pm. The rains had stopped, and the sun was trying its best to push the clouds away. I could feel the humidity raise as the beads of sweat rolled behind my neck, I was feeling hungry, tired and sweaty as shit.
I was exasperated at myself for of my decision. Maybe I should have listened to the couple who warned me at the beginning itself.
“How much more Bhaiya?” He noticed my dullness and cheered me up saying “This is mangrove forest, next is beach, we are almost there”
The sun was shining bright now, I let a sigh of relief and continued following them. As I proceeded further, I could hear the waves. I wanted to see the beach but only when I heard the waves, did I know how much I was yearning for it. With each step, the sound grew louder. “Here we are”, he said standing on a stretch of white sand on the other side, while I was still finding my way through the bushes. I moved the leaves aside and then the view opened up.
A vast expanse of pristine turquoise waters fringed by white sand on one side, luscious green forests on the other.
“We are going to the other side for fishing and the beach is all yours” he cheered me happily.
“What!” “Am I the only one here?” “How can it be possible?”, I bombarded him with so many questions, even before he asked one.
“Yes. The boats to this beach are stopped during monsoon. The only way to reach here is through the route we came.”
He was patient enough to give me all the answers. “Now go enjoy”, both the men waved at me as they continued to walk to the other side.
All the beach to myself
I turned to soak in the entirety of the scene bestowed on me. I have been to Andaman twice but never set foot on this beach for some reason. Every sweat, every fear that I came across to reach this place was palpable and totally worth it. Maybe I dint get to see this place before cause it was reserved for an experience like this. Some places are better experienced not cause of destination but cause of the journey towards them. This was definitely one such!
If you’re planning to visit Andman during winter or summer, take a look at the guides provided for each season. Here’s how you can explore Neil island on the bicycle or the how-to-guide to witness bioluminescence in India