Published: June 7th 2011June 7th 2011
Option A: Half Day tour: Rs 500/head
Leave your heels and fancy shoes behind: this one’s for the adventure and nature lover. Don’t forget to apply mosquito repellant even during daylight hours…it’s pretty much a jungle out here. Remember the hat.
This 30 acre mass of overgrown flora, legally referred to as ‘The 5th Island’, is nothing more than an organic island-plantation. Situated six km from the airport by road, the last point of drivable land ends at the Attam Pahad village football field that doubles up as a parking lot. From there it’s a 300mtr stretch of offroad, followed by another 200mtrs of a walkable path that ends in the sea.
This sea is part of a bay called ‘Flat Bay’. And from this final point of land you will be transported to this Island in a fisherman’s row boat. From this point your ears become extremely sensitive, possibly for the first time, to the sound of wind, the calls of birds you cannot spot, the sound of the sea lapping against your boat, of crabs scampering into their burrows and tiny fish leaping in and out of the water.
It seems a bit unreal at first, till it all actually starts to sink in.
Once on the notorious ‘5th Island’, locally referred to as ‘Capt. Noble’s Island’, you have a choice between a Nature Walk
– where we show off our beautiful organic farm, comprising of wild orchids, medicinal plants, fruits, spices, and cash crops; we show you the difference between the endemic plants and the hybrids, teach you to identify the various fruit and spice trees, and explain what goes into organic farming; alternatively, you could go for the Mangrove Tour
where we then take you either kayaking or walking (depending on tide and comfort) through the mangroves – where one can clearly grasp the extent of destruction and subsequent natural regeneration of the mangroves since the tsunami.
After or during this tour, refreshing coconut water is served to replenish all necessary minerals.
Then we remount our water-limousine and head back to the traffic jams and loudspeakers we know so well.
Option B: Overnight Tour: Rs 1500/head
This is for the quiet-seeking hunter-gatherer inside each one of us. Here we begin our journey away from electricity and toward the silence of solitude after a hearty lunch. Please do not forget your mosquito repellant, your cap/hat, your mosquito coil, and switch off your phones for one night – the planet will not perish without it.
After your Nature Walk/ Mangrove Tour
, we shift focus toward the water-bungalow to prepare for sundown. Since there is no electricity, no television, and no refrigerator, we’d recommend that you either buy fresh vegetables, seafood and necessary rations from the Island-plantation itself or bring them with you from mainland Port Blair when you come.
There is a barbecue at your disposal, along with a gas stove and all necessary cutlery. Although a man will be provided for general cleaning and basic cooking, we recommend that someone within the group should know more than telling a pot from a pan.
Strict instructions: Sit on your balcony in your hammocks/easy chairs and watch the Sun set over a hot cup of tea.
During the night, you will understand the difference between a city sky and an island sky; of being without electricity on land and without it at sea; and that some things, like sea-sparkle a.k.a. bio-luminescence, cannot be caught on camera. Please refrain from swimming at night.
Next morning, if you’re a sun-rise type, watch the morning batch of the State’s watersports team being chased across the bungalow by their tireless coach. And when you’re ready, we head across to the farm to finish up what we’d started.
Here we have a choice between one of the previous day’s activities or doing some serious Farm Learning
where we guide you through the actual work of seasonal-fruit picking, cleaning and preparation of coconuts and arecanut, how to make seedlings of various plants and trees, and how composting (organic) is developed and applied.
After this we pack up and head back into Port Blair’s version of the ‘hectic city life’.