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Known in the British era as Port Cornwallis, Digilipur, North Andaman’s largest settlement, is another disappointing market settlement, useful mostly for its connections to the orth. On the hill above the main road, the APWD Rest Houses offers the village’s nicest accommodation the Maa Yashoda Lodge is a cheaper alternative. Resonable veg and non veg fare can be found at the central Ganga Devi resturang, while Ice Cube, on the road north ,serves Chinese and tandoori cuisine, and you can get your whistle at the Kalyani bar. It’s better, however, to head 9km on to Arial Bay, where an APWD Rest House stands on a hillock overlooking the settlement’s tiny Bazaar. The best place to while away time with a snack or beer while waiting for a boat is the Annu General Store. From Arial Bay, the boat that has made its way up from the capital returns direct to Port Blair overnight.

Better still, continue another 9km to Kalipur, served by several daily buses, where A&N Tourism’s Turtle Resort, occupies a perfect spot on a hilltop with superb views inland and out to sea. It’s an unfeasible large hotel for such a remote location, with spacious, clean rooms (some a/c) and a restaurant. Their only competition is Pristine Jungle Resort, whose bamboo huts of various sizes lie on the opposite side of the road below. Just five minutes’ walk down the path by the sharp bend in the road there’s an excellent deserted beach, backed by lush forest and covered in photogenic driftwood. Swimming is best at high tide before the water recedes across rocky mud pools, unless you head left to the corner of the bay opposite a small offshore island, where there is sand at all times.

It’s possible to walk from here to Saddle Peak, at 737m the highest mountain in the Andamans, which rises dramatically to the south, swathed in lush jungle. A permit to make the three to four hour climb must be obtained from the Range officer at the Forest Check Post, but don’t attempt it without a guide and plenty of drinking water. The staff at Pristine can arrange a guide for Rs. 100 per person.

Many of the tourists who make it up here do so in order to explore the various islands dotted around the gulf north of Arial Bay, particularly Smith and (joined to Smith by a sandbar at low tide, and not to be confused with its namesake near Port Blair), where you’ll find splendid white sand bars, coral reefs and flora. Neither island is officially listed on the arrival permit, but day trip can be sanctioned on payment of Rs 500 at the Forestry Dept in Arial Bay trips can be sanctioned on payment of Rs.500 at the Forest Dept in Arial Bay you will need to charter a dinghy for around Rs. 400 to reach the islets.

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Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India