Paragliding Trip: Andaman Islands

A land lost in time

I have just returned from the Andaman Islands where I was asked to skipper ‘Discovery’, the yacht that we sailed around Tonga on last year. The Andaman Islands belong to India and are located on the Eastern part of the Bay of Bengal in the Indian Ocean. These islands are without a doubt the least touristy place that I have ever visited. Many of the islands are totally off limits to foreigners as our everyday germs could wipe out an entire tribe. In fact while we were there yet another tribe became extinct and with it one of the oldest languages in the world. In 2004 India sent helicopters over these islands to examine the extent of the damage caused by the Tsunami but they were chased away by tribes armed with spears and bows and arrows!

This fantastic adventure started in the capital town of Port Blair, where we spent 4 long days trying to provision the boat. There are no supermarkets in Port Blair. We were driven around the busy dusty port town in an old Ambassador car by our cheerful taxi driver, Ravi. He took us to buy chickens that were slaughtered right in front of us. He rounded up his friends to help us buy beer as by law we could not buy more than 6 bottles at a time. And he took us to the wonderful markets where we were able to buy endless fruits and vegetables.

We were desperate for a swim during these first few days in Port Blair but apart from not wanting to swim in the dirty harbour where we were anchored we had also heard of recent attacks on local fishermen by salt water crocodiles, so we were an excited crew as we sailed out into the turquoise blue waters of the Andaman sea with our newly arrived guests. I pointed Discovery towards a small island where we hoped to swim with one of the local inhabitants by the name of Rajan. Rajan is an elephant. There are a few elephants that still remain on Havelock Island where they were brought to by the English for logging. Unfortunately Rajan was not up for swimming while we were there but it was very cool to see elephants roaming around a tropical island.

The main aim of this journey through the Andamans was to kite surf and to paraglide, but the highlight for me was definitely the wildlife both above and below the water. On some of the islands elephants would freely roam, on others wild deer and brightly coloured parrots. Below the surface we swam with manta rays, were escorted into a bay by a school of dolphins and Clinton, one of our guests hand fed a giant morey eel. While spear fishing we would swim alongside humphead  wrasse the size of me and white tip reef sharks.

Paragliding over the Andaman Sea was awesome. Unfortunately we didn’t fly as much as we would have liked to. The wind was rarely right….either the wrong direction or too strong and often there was just too much reef to get the boat through. But we did get to do some wonderful flights over North Cinque island. The flying was not as good as it had been on my previous trip onboard Discovery in Tonga but it always feels such a privilege to fly above these wonderful islands and their startling blue sea that envelops them.

Mike is currently onboard Discovery in the Maldives and sounds like they are doing some insane flying…so stay tuned for some great stories and pictures from Mike coming soon. Next trip on Discovery will be in Madagascar in October where we expect the flying to be incredible!

Thanks to my crew….Jody, Mikey and Bobby and thank you Gav for trusting me to skipper your wonderful boat.

You can follow Discovery as she travels around the world on www.offshoreodysseys.com

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