Andaman Chronicles – Part 1

S and I were toying around with the idea of going to Andaman for the past 1.5 years. My sister went there for her honeymoon and came back with amazing pictures and reviews of the place. After multiple bookings and cancellations in the past we finally stuck with our plan this time,. The idea was to have a beach anniversary  since the last one was at  the hills..So Thailand and Andaman were the only two plausible options. After having a series of discussions with various tour operators, friends , posting in various forums it was decided that Andaman would be a better bet during October end.

I kind of had an idea that  Andaman was beautiful place since a few of my friends had been there and posted their pictures in Facebook. My sister, like I said was extremely satisfied with her vacation as well. But what I experienced there is beyond words. I would love to go back to Andaman once, twice and many more times.

If you are visiting this blog for the first time and reading this post, then chances are that you are planning to go to Andaman as well..If yes, please do it right away. You will surely not regret it..

So I have decided to document the whole trip here. I hope it gives some insight to people who are planning a vacation in breathtaking Andamans.

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The initial planning :-

I am a big believer of self managed trips and I feel if you have the time and energy to do the required research one can come up with beautiful trips. Most of our vacations in the past were planned by me and they worked perfect for us. With that motivation  in mind I started my initial research about all important places  in Andamans. I spoke to a lot of people who had been there in the past and gathered information about some ‘must visit’ places and some trashy ones that can be skipped.  The date was more or less fixed since it was supposed to be during our anniversary.  With a 2 page report about the rough itinerary I started calling up various hotels. That is when I found that most hotels were already booked or blocked by various travel agents. After repeated rejections from the selected hotels I could see the fizz going down.. Office work took a toll on the planning and the whole thing took a pause for a while. Finally, I decided to take help from the travel operators since I was sure they would have the hotels I wanted, I called up various tour operators and got all of their itineraries. Most of them had the group tours which meant we would have to travel with a group of people everywhere. The advantage here was that food was completely taken care of. Most of these travel sites has all 3 meals or atleast the breakfast and dinner included in their plan. But somehow the idea of going with group did not excite me.

Then I started looking for travel sites and agents who would just book hotels for us and the tickets and sightseeing would be done by us. With that plan I started negotiating the hotels. But the problem here was the ferry tickets. Most of the travel in Andaman is done by ferry and some of them did not have proper information about their booking procedures. The Government ferry tickets could not be pre-booked and some other ferry tickets bookings were not open yet. Finally I gave up the idea of self managing the trip.

After talking to both local tour agents and the ones from Andaman itself I found the latter to be more informative and efficient for obvious reasons.

Andaman Excursion:

I spoke to a lot of travel agents in Andaman, got all their itinerary and negotiated the cost. In the end I decided that Andaman Excursion was the best. The guy, Ganesh (for those who are interested) with whom I spoke was very polite and he gave  me multiple options considering my interests and options. The price was reasonable and they had packages at every price range based on the hotel we select.  After multiple rounds of calls, discussions and back to back itinerary change we came up with the final plan. It was at this stage that I told S about the trip and later booked our flight tickets, For Oct 26 there was Jet Konnect, Air India and one other flight from Delhi to Port Blair. Air India was an early morning flight so I booked it thinking it would give us enough time to roam about on Day 1.

The return trip was via Chennai since we wanted to celebrate Diwali with grandparents and my parents in Chennai. The return from Port Blair to Chennai was booked in Spice Jet. The flight was at 1 o clock in the afternoon and it reached Chennai at 3 PM.

Thus we bid goodbye to Andaman with heart full of memories.

All subsequent posts will have a day to day account of our Andaman vacation..

Stay tuned!

 

Sia

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8 responses

  1. Very eager to read your Andaman posts Sia 🙂

    1. GB :- Still in Chennai so blogging has taken a back seat.. Will do it soon..

  2. I knew I was missing something thats why I kept on asking about your vacation departure dates…So sorry to have missed wishing you Sia…Belated wishes for your anniversary 🙂 🙂

    Chalo, Andaman ki kahaani sunao 🙂

    1. Thanks Visha.. Ye to bas trailer tha kahaani abhi baaki hai, mere dost 🙂

  3. Hello Sia,

    I am contemplating on booking a 5 night tour package with Andaman Excursion. Yours is the only honest and crisp review I can lean back on since there isn’t a lot that has been said about their work online.

    I still am a little sceptical about going through with the trip with them since they aren’t as big and well known as the ‘Yatra’s or ‘makemytrip’s of today’s travel industry.

    What could kill my scepticism is probably a lil nudge.. A lil reassurance? Or maybe a glimpse of your experience with them? 🙂

    Looking forward to hearing from you..

    1. Hello Victoria,
      Thank you so much for stopping by and taking time to comment.
      First thing firsts:
      I went to Andamans in 2013 and it was a lovely vacation. I would love to go back and spend time there. Its a beautiful place and I hope you will have a good time.
      The reason I did not go with biggies like Y,MMT etc is because they were too commercial for my liking. Most of their trips were group trips, I was finding it really hard to customize the trip according to my liking for the price I wanted.
      I found Andaman Excursions in some blog or tripadvisor? I don’t remember. Like you I was skeptical too since they are not very famous. However, one thing that helped us the most was that they were locals. And that made a huge difference. I had absolutely no problem with the way they organised the trip. There was lot of personal touch . The representative Ganesh (who is a co-owner) was very helpful. He gave a local mobile phone with a sim, offered to send money if needed at Havelock since there are no/few atms there. He even arranged for an amazing snorkelling session with his friend who is a scuba diver. So we have a VERY good time thanks to Andaman Excursion.
      But again all this is 2 years old so please make sure you do a thorough research and see if you can find latest reviews somewhere, If they are what they were 2 years back then I highly recommend them!!
      Couple of small tips if you dont mind:
      1) Try to spend maximum time in Havelock. Thats the best.
      2) Don’t go for expensive hotels views etc in PB. And Ex booked Hotel J for us and it was simple and super clean. I loved the place. No views, nothing but we hardly spent time in the hotel.
      3) When you got to Ross island look for a lady who takes you on a tour. I hihly recommend her. An old lady. She is amazing! We paid her 500 or 1k in the end and came out feeling we should have paid more!! She is that good.
      4)See if you visit Baratang limestone caves.
      5) Stay at Neil can be missed. Just a visit should be good.

      Let me know if you have more questions. I hope you have a a wonderful holiday.

      Sia

  4. Hai Sia,
    A very nice and helpful post for those planning their trip. I have one concerning question though- should we worry about mosquitoes or flies and thus falling sick (around mid-Nov)? We will have a 3yr old with us. So… help me out.
    Thanks.

    1. Hello Vivek, I am sorry for responding sooo late. I had taken a break from blogging. Mosquitoes were not a major issue but its always good to carry repellent esp with kids. Besides we always carry an All-Out Advanced where-ever we go. Hotels invariably have a spare plug point.
      Do let me know if you have more queries. Have a nice vacation, Andaman is a really beautiful place..

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