Next morning I woke up early in the usual fashion… hit the tea stall opposite to my guest house… It was again prepared from tea bags and milk powder… geared up to trek Saddle peak and boarded the bus to Lamia Bay.
Shoreline along Saddle peak park
Comprising the highest peak of Andaman Archipelago, Saddle peak national park is a prime tourist attraction of North Andaman. Hiking the trail to Saddle peak is the best trekking experience of Andaman Islands. Open and closed canopies created by gigantic trees of tropical forest are a unique offering of the trail. Outside the lovely coastline of archipelago, Saddle peak is quite a diverse experience bit inland and must for those who want to go underneath the tropical rain forest. Known for its diverse, unique and some endangered flora, Park is a favorite of naturalists.
Saddle Peak National Park Andaman
Shore of Saddle Peak Park
Trek till saddle peak is some 8 km long from the park entrance. The initial stretch of 3 km runs along the coastline and does not involve any hiking at all. Trek is well outlined with Red mark on the trees still it’s not recommended to do it solo. National park is mostly uninhabited so you won’t get any help from the locals in case you get lost. Following the tree with Red marks on the trunk is the best way to proceed and it lessens the risk of getting lost in the thick jungle. The shoreline along the trail is truly marvelous with little patches of white sand and coastal rocks. Tropical flora is spectacular with sky high trees fighting for the sun light. In some part, jungle is too thick for sun rays to penetrate till the land which makes it a dark and dreary landscape. The first 3 km are more like a nature trail beneath thick jungle where I encountered some lost temples and perennial water streams. At Every 500 meter, Forest department has built huts and benches for the trekkers to relax.
Through the groves
After 3 km, the trail winds uphill taking the steep route through the dense forest. Except poison reptiles and bees, there is no danger from other tropical fauna. Although it’s just a 5 km trek with no challenge from thin air, stormy winds, sub-zero temperature or indomitable rock patches but Humidity of tropical is solely sufficient to make you pant and sweat like a hog. You must carry 2-3 water bottles before taking this trail. Every 500 meter hike was wearing me out and thoughts of quitting begin to build. On the top of weariness, I was also chased by a bee which tried to scare me by circling around. I did not drop the idea to climb uphill but I realized it’s not going to be that quick as I expected.
Approaching Saddle Peak
That day I was the only trekker in the national park so getting help from anyone was again out of consideration. Drinking water was already out of stock and It was at least 3 hours away from that point…. 3 hours in tropical without water…..It’s quite a deal I bet…. Except the trail, you won’t be able to see anything through the thick jungle. After some 2 hours of trek, I came out of that dreaded tract of dense forest and touched the hill peak which offered the awe-inspiring view North Andaman Islands covered with lush green flora. Not far from the forest was the blue seascape fringe with islets. Saddle peak was still far but at least visible. 30 minutes of exhausting walk took me to the Peak of Saddle Mountain, the highest in Andaman archipelago. Peak is also surrounded with long grass and bushes so they created a view point (Machan) for the trekkers. Vantage point offers a panoramic view of forest and surrounding Island. Afternoon haze impeded the view to some extent but still it was a relieving moment gazing out to open ocean from the highest peak of Andaman Island. Had oranges, mangoes and hoped that I won’t faint till I reach the bottom
View from Saddle Peak
In tropical, it generally rains in the second half of the day so I quickly start descend soon after accomplishing the peak. Descending on the wet trail multifold the difficulty level and was not ready to take any chance to slip through the forest. Shortly afterwards, it started to drizzle…I accelerated…desperately wanted to cross that bee infested stretch before the actual downpour… fumbling and tumbling, I made it to the bottom of the trek in some 2 hours. Parched and bruised, all I was imagining to jump into that thin water stream which I encountered on the way… and here I was inside that tiny pool of a tropical stream… plunging in that pool was the only reward of all the exertion I endured.. Wholeheartedly, I embraced the reward.. Closed canopies of huge trees were shadowing this thin water stream lessening the temperature on the ground.
Dense Tropical Rain Forest North Andaman
Under the shade of thick grooves, bathe in that natural pond was truly rejuvenating and it helped me relishing the lush green landscape again. When you look up you see the light among the trees reflecting gorgeously over the leaves.. Branches tangled up in greens.. Little ones tangling with the roots of higher ones.. Competing for sunlight, every tree is in the race to grow high and higher and reaches to the height where they belong… from soil to canopy, every layer of tropical strata has its own story of struggle quite similar to our lives…Despite being the prime tourist destination of the country, It’s sad to see that not many travelers visit the tropical rain forest of Andaman Islands which in my opinion is the aura of the place… Although I am not a naturalist or into botany yet trekking to Saddle peak was the most enriching experience I had in Andaman… honestly spell me bound….
Light among the trees
Even now whenever I look up, I hope to see closed and open canopies of those high rising trees of that lush green world which had receded somewhere deep into my memories…
To the Tropical Rain Forest…let perpetual Greenery shine upon them….
Yaa…I had seen another world ----- Private witt, Thin Red Line…
Giant trees of Evergreen Tropical
Leaving those green memories to sink, I came out from the forest to catch the bus to Diglipur. Another day went without lunch and I could sense its effect on my stamina. Lemon water …Samosas…Pani Puri….quick meal at south Indian restaurant…fruits…
Slumbered to get up early for a long day journey through North and Middle Andaman… to the capital, Port Blair…