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Forest to Sea 2023

Every year during the Indian summer months of March and April, we temporarily shift our Spiders And The Sea base to the magical Andaman Islands, a place that was home to us for many years this past decade. We do this trip to revisit our home away from home and to continue our exploration of the incredible natural wonders that are tucked away in these tropical islands. We have realised that it will take us our entire lifetime to truly uncover and understand the stories these emerald islands have to tell us and to this end, we are determined to embark on an expedition once every year! Most importantly, we do not do this alone. We take with us folks who are looking to explore nature, islands, the ocean, history and culture, while also wanting to take some time to peacefully pause from their busy lives.

Here is a photo story about our adventurous summer this year with the most fantastic fellow explorers!

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The very first views and hues are of the deep blue sea. At this point, it is often still hard to imagine all that lies beneath this seemingly endless seascape. 

Where land meets the sea. The quintessential Andaman scene. Lush green littoral forests touch the shore where fringing coral reefs begin to shallow up to the surface.

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When you are ankle-deep in the ocean, you get to see where the two worlds meet. People often say that coral reefs rival the biodiversity of tropical forests. In the Andaman Islands, you will find this to be most definitely true!

More inland, the canopy is easily upwards of 30 meters high. A mosaic of coconut and betel nut plantations form a thin buffer behind which old-world tropical wonders like the Gurjan, Padauk, Red Dhup and Thitpok trees tower into the sky.

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Beach Naupaka is a vibrant seashore beauty that lines all the beaches where we walk.

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Hours go by during our intertidal explorations. Especially once we have found an interesting tidepool, have squatted or knelt right next to it and just cannot get enough of watching all the small living beings going about their lives. Prajakta, JD and Hans staring with us into the shallow tide pools off Havelock.

Racket-tailed drongos, Andaman bulbuls, green imperial pigeons, hill mynas, collared kingfishers, white-bellied sea eagles, Andaman coucals, fairy bluebirds and many more birds make the constant craning of your neck bird watching, totally worthwhile. That is Varsha Yogish bright and early at 5:45 AM looking for the glossy starlings that were calling from the canopy.

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R-L: Sanjana, Saw Montu, Annie and Varsha busily logging their fun dives. Animated discussions that involve listing out the marine life they saw, referring to guide books and a good amount of chatter and laughter.

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Bhavani and Vishwanath are siblings who live in different parts of the country. They decided to spend a week with us in the Andamans catching up with each other while also immersing themselves in the wilderness of Havelock Island.

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A happy snorkeler after swimming with a school of fusiliers!

Sahil and Vijay, who are dive instructors, decided to join us on a forest-to-sea walk on their day off! A morning that started off with bird watching and looking at some incredible insects then turned into a slow and peaceful trail that ultimately led us to the sea.

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Happy, tanned, exhausted, content siblings Bhavani and Vishwanath on their last day in a beautiful patch of beach forest!

Fin.

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Testimonials

Thanks for opening up so much of the natural world to me in the Andamans - I loved walking with you guys because the surroundings really come alive with your knowledge and stories :)

Annie Philip

I think as we grow up and spend most of our lives in cities, we sometimes forget that this is after all a shared planet that is not just home to you, but also to millions of other organisms. This trip made me realise how amazing nature is, and I'll now make an effort to understand and appreciate it more! Already looking forward to getting a pair of binoculars and exploring Delhi gardens!!


Connectedness to the natural world- It hit me most in the intertidal walk that there’s so much life everywhere. I wasn’t able to walk on the beach after without looking out for all the crabs running around!

Bhavani and Vishwanath

About the Desination: The Andaman Islands are comfortably sandwiched between the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman sea. The 300 odd islands that make up the Andamans are actually exposed regions of an underwater mountain chain connecting Myanmar and Sumatra. These islands not only harbour a diverse set of coral reefs, but they are also home to dense tropical redwood forests, mangroves and thriving endemic wildlife. 

Before becoming a part of independent India, this archipelago was under British occupation and was used as a penal colony during the war. For at least twenty thousand years before that, the islands have been home to over 10 indigenous tribes, some of whom still live here today. 

Over the past couple of decades, the islands have transformed into a tourist hub. However, in our experience, what there isn’t enough of, are experiences that allow you to truly connect with this magical place- the elements, nature, people and culture. The Andaman Islands have enough on offer for us to dedicate an entire lifetime to explore. However, these islands are also fragile and their natural resources are finite. To enjoy a holiday in this place requires us to do this responsibly, leaving a minimal impact and finding ways to support the local community. Our explorative holidays are meant to do exactly this!

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