For over 10 years, this leading local operator has been operating boat-based tourism to the Bangladesh side of the World Heritage-listed site at the Sunderbans. While the Indian Sunderbans experience features accommodation based beside the Sunderbans, in Bangladesh the experience is very different as it is entirely boat-based: well-serviced vessels park in smaller river channels of the massive mangrove forest and all meals are taken on board. This makes for a more intimate experience of the Bangladesh largest and most pristine wildlife sanctuary and far more opportunity to spend time inside the wilderness itself.
Several stops are frequented by most tourist boats visiting the Sunderbans. Your trip operator typically takes its guests to Kotka and Kochikhali, where nature walks, beach walks and morning cruises are the activities on offer. Kotka has a particularly empty and private beach, where guests normally have the rare opportunity to wear a western-style bathing suit and play in the gentle shallow waters of the Bay of Bengal.
Overnights are all taken onboard one of the operator’s three Sunderbans vessels. Accommodation is always twin-share, typically in bunk bed arrangements. Each vessel has an enclosed dining area as well as sitting spaces in the open air, although these tend to get hot during the day and make much better places to sleep in the evening with a mosquito net. The company has a reputation for sending its guests home heavier than when they came, which does say something about the high quality, freshly prepared food served on board.
Wilderness lovers, peace seekers, families and travellers should all consider a visit to the Sunderbans and especially with this operator, although the price of an organised tour might make it prohibitive for those on a tight budget. To catch a rare glimpse of a Royal Bengal Tiger is an experience very few visitors have had on these tours, so its best to come with an open mind, seek out other more easily viewed wildlife and also expect a lot of peace and quiet onboard the boat.
Environmentally-speaking, there are only a few pristine wildernesses left in the heavily populated country, and because of this they absolutely require conservation. This operator has proudly supported conservation initiatives throughout its operations. The only strike against them in this respect is that they have yet to incorporate the welfare of the residents surrounding Sunderbans into their activities in an explicit way, although they are actively involved in the region’s affairs as it relates to their operations (i.e. through the forest department).
Finally, there are sometimes special opportunities to join a special departure to the Sunderbans which is meant to experience the ‘honey-hunting’ phenomenon inside the Sunderbans. This is a very unique experience in which guests can travel with the local mawali, to see the honey being collected from the forest. The profession is slightly dangerous, given the presence of tigers in the forest and the need to deal with a horde of confused bees very carefully. But to see the collection with ones own eyes is indeed a very unique and unforgettable experience. While the current review describes a ‘classic’ Sunderbans trip, one need only inquire at the office a few months before early April to see if there will be a special departure of the honey hunting tours.
Day 1: Dhaka to Khulna
Day 2: Khulna to Kotka
Day 3: In and around Kotka
Day 4: Explore Kochikhali
Day 5: Back to Khulna and then Dhaka