Being spread at a staggering 40,000 square kilometers in area, the forest of Sundarbans or Sundorbon is one of the largest in the world. It is located in the delta of the rivers the Brahmaputra, Meghana and Ganges (Ganga) on the Bay of Bengal. It is well known for its scenic beauty and the amazing network of waterways. It is a home to a varied nature of species which include around 250 plus species of birds and some of the animals who are on the verge of extinction. Now, is it worth your vacation time? I’d let you decide that with my own personal experience at the Sundarbans.
Best Time to Visit
For enjoying the perfect essence of any place you would need to visit it at a time when it is most favorable. The Sundarbans is open for tourist visit from the month of October to March. I think, it is a wise decision taken by the administration to let nature be at peace during the summer. It would also benefit you in avoiding the hot and humid climate during your visit. I would say, the actual best timing would be to plan a trip during December and January.
Best Point of Interest
The Sundarbans being a massive area to explore, and the location being a delta allows the place to be rich in flora. Being a nature lover, I was amazed to figure out the number of places to slip into the arms of nature. There is the Tin Kona Island which fascinated me a lot for being naturally beautiful. I do not fancy bird watching but the Sajnekhali Bird Sanctuary was pretty interesting. The Dublar Char Island and Hiron Point were pure bliss offered at the Sundarbans. Now, what I liked the most was the thrill of adventure at the Sundarban Wild Safari which you would not expect to be like any other zoo safari. The biggest fascination there was the great Bengal tiger in its natural habitat.
The Issue of Transportation
I would say, the transportation in Sundarbans is quite interesting as it has railways and waterways, but it sure comes with a lot of problems as well. The area is backward in transportation and the transport cannot be dependent upon land routes only. This is followed by the task of hiring boats to travel across islands as most of the place is covered with water bodies. The only land route would be from a location known as Namkhana which is 105 Kilometers from Kolkata.
Lack of Tourism Initiative
What I genuinely felt, even before reaching Sundarbans is that there is a lack of marketing for the popularization of the tourism. The lack of routes and initiative by the government to make it feasible also made me think that maybe, there is a lack of budgeting to improvise tourism in Bangladesh. However, it also came into my notice that people are actually trying hard to make it a better place.
With some research at the ecological sites of Sundarbans, I can safely say that one of the major reasons that can be a constant threat is the occurrence of natural calamities. Yes, there are something that cannot be avoided. The high tidal waves and flood made the spotted deer an extinct species. But what can be avoided is the regular hunting and encroachment of the natural habitat. I have personally seen no such strict restriction over local hunters who degrade the natural habitat for their livelihood.
I am deeply saddened to say that you can only look at some animals of Sundarbans on internet and books. Over the years, there has been the extinction of many species at Sundarbans and some of them are on the verge of extinction. The list of endangered animals of Sundarbans’ includes the royal Bengal tiger, the saltwater crocodile, and the Ganges river dolphin. These animals are the victims of the rash behavior of humans towards nature. I somehow got to witness a royal Bengal Tiger, but it is extremely difficult to spot an endangered marine animal due to the lack of their count.
Hotels and Stay
The stay at Sundarban was not royal and easy due to the lack of proper hotel business infrastructure. No matter how much nature and scenic views compensated me, I had trouble finding myself the right place to stay. Although, speculations are there for the development of the hotel business in Sundarbans. For the time being, I would suggest you have a look at the Sundarban Gateway Resort and the Tiger Island Resort for your time of stay. They are reliable, clean and they offer good service for you to manage. Although, the traveling problem still persisted for me.
Food and Restaurant
For all the foodies out there, let me break this to you that you have a good news and a bad news. Starting off with the good one, there are a variety of local cuisines that you can try out. Now the bad news is, there is a serious lack of restaurants around the area. One of the very reasons I noticed is, the locals do not promote any arrangement for a decent restaurant as all the fancy meals are available to you locally. Also, a restaurant in natural habitat is likely to be possible so I had to travel a lot for a decent place to have my meal.
Maintenance of Sanctuary
The maintenance was not being considered until the past few years. Now, the seriousness of being a heritage site is clearly visible with the dedication of the locals and government officials.
Points of Safety
I had to be really careful during my boat rides, which is my first concern. Always board a reliable boat. Also, during the Safari, I had to be conscious of staying inside the vehicle which you should do as well. Overall, you need to be careful while moving around in Sundarban as the place is humongous and there are chances of getting lost.
Overall, Sundarban lives up to its hype of being a heritage site. It must be our responsibility to cherish and develop its habitat. I would definitely want to go back again.