A land of rich natural beauty and diverse flora and fauna, the Andaman and Nicobar islands to the south east of mainland India, is one of the greatest places to visit on this earth. Endowed with inexplicable natural beauty and rich historical heritage, this group of islands has some of the very important centres for the conservation of nature and marine life around. It is home to some of the world’s most exotic varieties of flora and fauna, rich and diverse marine life like fishes, corals, turtles, reptiles etc. Hence there are many national parks and wildlife reserves that serve to protect the ecosystem of the islands. The hillocks and the jungles, the beaches and the villages, the protected areas and historical sites, all make these islands one of the most visited tourist places in the world. People come here from far and wide places to get a slice of its natural beauty and diversity.
Among the many interesting places to visit out here, the Mount Harriet in Andaman is a very popular one. It is the highest peak of these islands and stands at an altitude of 365 metres above sea level. It is a great place for trekking and hiking and the best way to come close to nature and experience the richness of the natural vegetation of this area. One needs to take a permit to visit this place from the Chief Wildlife Warden. Visits are allowed only during the day, if you wish to stay back you need to take additional permission from the warden at Port Blair for overnight halt. From this point you can have a majestic view of the nearby surrounding, especially the two islands called the Ross Island and Havelock islands. It offers a majestic and a spectacular view of these islands that will melt you with its beauty. From here you can take a taxi or a ferry to bamboo flat to enjoy more beautiful views. Every year hundreds of tourist visits this place to enjoy the scenery and the purity of nature that this place is replete with.
There are beautiful guest houses run by the forest department which provides cheap and comfortable options for accommodation. These guest houses located at high altitudes offers awesome chances to witness the most beautiful sunsets and sunrises. The long walks along the beautiful trail, the peacefulness and quietness of the surroundings, the richness of the ecosystem all come together to give you a feeling that is most relaxed and serene. It will make you forget all your tensions and worries and will make you melt in the joy and beauty of nature.
The richly forested slopes of Mount Harriet can easily be visited as a day-trip from Port Blair. You can either take one of the passenger ferries from Chatham Jetty to Bamboo Flats or, if you want to have your own transport on the other side, there are eight daily vehicle ferries from Phoenix Jetty Between 5.30am and 8.30pm, costing a few rupees. From Bamboo Flats it’s a pleasant seven kilometer stroll east along the coast and north up a path through trees hung with thick vines and creepers to the 365 metre summit, which affords fine views back across the bay. An intermittent bus service runs between Bamboo Flats and Hope Town, where the path starts, saving you 33k. Alternatively, jeeps and taxis are available to take you al the way to the top but they charge at least Rs 300.
There’s a charge of Rs 250 (Indian Rs 25 students teachers Rs5) to enter Mount Harriet National Park, but the checkpost is on the road so you probably won’t be asked to pay if you take the path. It’s 2.5 km from the checkpost up to the resthouse and viewing tower at the summit. If you have strong legs you can reach Madhuban on the coast northeast of the mountain by the sixteen kilometer round route via Kala Patthar (Black Rock) and back via the coast. There’s a decent beach at Madhuban and the area is still used for training logging elephants, so you stand a good chance of seeing them learning their trade.