The Andaman Islands

Backpackers Guide to Kalipur – India

There does not seem to be very much information available for backpackers online, so I am writing my post a Backpackers guide to Kalipur in the aim to help my readers get the most out of their time in this fantastic corner of the universe.

Far From the reach of mass tourism, Kalipur is laid back, and the locals seem quite indifferent to visitors. They are more interested in tending their lush fields, and that means we can stroll around and take it all in without the pressure of a hard sell. It provides the traveller with the chance to see what it is really like to live in This tropical paradise. The interior is mountainous and covered in thick forest. Taking a hike in these ancient forests is enthralling.

As soon as you arrive, you can almost feel yourself winding down a gear. After a week or so, you will probably move just as slowly and relaxed as the local people seem to do. With beautiful beaches, endless walks and striking landscapes all wrapped up in a laid back way of life. There is enough to keep a backpacker happy for weeks on end. Welcome to the real Andamans and what just might be the Garden of Eden.

Kalipur – A taste of the wild.

Backpackers Guide to Kalipur

Everywhere you look, there is wildlife. The forests here will provide any nature lover with many hours of joy.

Not many people make it this far north, and that’s a shame as there are plenty of white sandy beaches and its a paradise for nature lovers. There are 270 bird species and many endemic to the Andaman Islands. The thick emerald jungles of the north offer a refuge for many of its avian inhabitants. If you are passionate about birds, I recommend you pick a field guide to make sense of what you are seeing.

There are also 76 species of terrestrial reptiles here and of that 24 are endemic without any natural predators reptiles reign supreme. Some of the snakes are prisoners, and Some of the pythons that can be found are really big. So do take care when walking around the rainforests, especially in the night. Even given the lack of large predators, there are still 58 species of mammal to be found across the Andamans. The forests themselves have a truly primordial feel to them and are a joy to explore on foot. The travellers who do make it this far north tend to flock to the tiny coastal village of Kalipur.

The joy of Turtle watching

Kalipur animals

The start of the show, but by no means the only natural treasure to discover here.

Most people only come here for the turtles who come ashore from mid-December to April. Four species come to lay in this time, the Olive Ridley, Hawks Bill, Green Turtle and Leather Back. Despite this being reputedly one of the best places in the world to see turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs when I visited, I only saw the one.

In all fairness, I didn’t wait long, and it is done responsibly in small groups. In fact, at that time, there where only two other tourists on the whole beach and me. No flash photography and no one is allowed to play with or touch the animals. Tourists wait in a small thatched hut to be guided on to the beach at night a few at a time. This is, without doubt, the best organised and most compassionate turtle tourism project I have ever seen and provided me with a non-intrusive and very intimate experience.

I would not expect masses of turtles coming ashore as many people do, but this experience was magical, and the sound of hearing the mother panting as she laid her eggs will stay with me forever.

The gorgeous islands of Smith and Ross.

The nearby Islands of ross and smith are stunning! Connected by a fifty-meter long sand bar in the middle, these two tropical gems are sure to impress. The turquoise waters and emerald green rain forests would do just perfectly on the front of any postcard.

Access is by private boat that’s a little costly at 2500 rupees for the whole thing. I split the cost with other guests, and it cost 500 for me divided between five. It would be best if you also had a rickshaw to the dock that you can also split. It does not cost much as it is not very far to Areal bay ((the place where all the boats leave from.)

Kalipur beaches

You may have to venture out a little to find the perfect beach from Kalipur, but what a find! The adjoining beaches of smith and ross are simply perfect.

I have to mention this as there is a lot of confusion online if tourists have to pay to get on the islands as it is a protected area. I can confirm Smith Island is free, but you have to pay for ross (there is no logical reason why?) Your trip here will be hampered by having to stay on one island and probably leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth. You are only here once so pay the fee. The ticket will set you back another 500 rupees that all seems unnecessary, but hey that is Indian bureaucracy. So just a heads up there is an entrance fee, and yes people will check.

why go to Kalipur

The beaches here may not be as pretty as some of the others, but for the animal lovers among us, this place is an endless source of pleasure. I am one of them hence me writing my Backpackers guide to Kalipur. I genuinely want to share this treasure trove of wonders.

The other significant activity available in the Kalipur area is a hike up Saddle peak. It is the big mountain that takes up most of the skyline in Kalipur. It is, however, only 732 meters. I would strongly recommend an early start as this will be very taxing in the midday sun. The walk into the rainforest takes around seven hours, and although I did not walk it myself I hear from the tourists that did, they wished they took a guide as they got lost a lot and that will set you back around 500 rupees.

The 250 rupee entrance fee to the park is paid at the forestry office and is open from 6 am to 2 pm. I would get there as it opens to make the trek more palatable. I hear the view from the top is obscured by trees and the views are better on the walk-up.

Getting a nights rest.

As for places to stay, there is only one clear winner in the area, Pristine Beach resort.  There are other hotels in the area, but they have accommodation geared towards domestic tourists so it will be very costly. Pristine can be, but they have huts for 1500 rupees that are outstanding value considering where you are and very comfortable.

It is in a beautiful spot next to the beach, the food is good, and the owners are helpful. The whole area is so peaceful, and it is nice to hear nothing but the sounds of the jungle at night to lull you to sleep and the sound of the birds in the morning is Intoxicating. Do Book Infront for the cheaper rooms as that is all there is in the area. Use the link above to book your bed in this little paradise.

Getting there and away

Getting to Kalipur is straight forward enough, Diglipur is the second largest town in the archipelago and is the nearest big transport hub. It is a 12-hour bus journey. There are two in the morning and one-night bus direct to the capital. There are ferries three times a week to port Blair stopping at some of the other islands. I got my boat from long island, and it is long but very comfortable. You have to get a Rickshaw from there, but Pristine Beach resort offers a pickup service so I would recommend using that method to save haggling for a ride.

Navigating your way around India can seem daunting, so I have written an in-depth post on all you need to know about getting around the country. You will find it is packed with useful tricks and tips to help you make sense of it all. Most importantly, it is written in the aim to help you save a little money.

In summary of my Backpackers Guide to Kalipur.

Why go to Kalipur?

You will find a profusion of wildlife here in the coral ecosystems, that is as just as varied as you could imagine. All of this is just waiting for you to discover. But it is reserved for those who make an effort to get here. So what are you waiting for?

A trip up here is a world away from the tourist hotspots down south. At the same time, there is little infrastructure and little in the way of creature comforts. This place makes up for that with natural splendour.

Not to mention it provides a chance to mingle with the local culture you won’t be able to find on the popular islands such as Havelock or Neil. Waking up and going to sleep to nothing but the sounds of nature is heavenly and in today’s world is a scarce experience.

I would recommend a trip to Kalipur for anyone who wants something a little more rugged and authentic from there holiday. If this sounds like what you want, then it would almost be a crime to miss out. It is surprising how few tourists make their way up here even though it is only a bus ride or boat trip from Port Blair. But that is a blessing for all those who want to make a real adventure for themselves.

If you have any more questions or queries about visiting this beautiful part of the Islands then feel free to ask away and if I know the answer I am more than happy to help.

I  like to make my posts as honest and concise as possible. However, if you can think of any way I can provide a better service to you or you would like me to write about anything specific then leave your comments below. Until the next time happy travels my friends.

 

 

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