Bangladesh: The Sundarbans
[This travel happened late December of 2015. I am just posting now because shortly after our arrival from that trip the external drive that carried all of my 2015 photos, including the ones from this trip which included Taipei, Bali, and Bangladesh, got corrupted and I lost everything. We tried to recover them, but to no avail. Thankfully, we also used cell phones and videocam to document the trip, which is why I am able to post this now.]
My husband was born and raised in Bangladesh, although he's lived longer in the USA than Bangladesh. Every few years we go visit relatives, especially his only sister who still lives there with her family. The past two times we visited we also included a side trip outside of the capital city to relax and sight see. On this particular visit, we decided that it's high time we got to see the Sundarbans.
The Sundarbans mangrove forest, one of the largest such forests in the world (140,000 ha), lies on the delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers on the Bay of Bengal. It is adjacent to the border of India’s Sundarbans World Heritage site inscribed in 1987. The site is intersected by a complex network of tidal waterways, mudflats and small islands of salt-tolerant mangrove forests, and presents an excellent example of ongoing ecological processes. The area is known for its wide range of fauna, including 260 bird species, the Bengal tiger and other threatened species such as the estuarine crocodile and the Indian python. [source]
(photo from Google photos)
The travel period was between Christmas and New Year and so it was a perfect weather for travel. From Dhaka (capital) we took an 11-hour train ride to Khulna, the day before the trip. We stayed overnight in Khulna and early in the morning the following day, we went to the port and got on the boat. This was going to be cruise/tour. However, as a foreigner, I was required to present a copy of my passport, which we currently do not have. Thankfully, in small operations like this one they are more lenient and allowed the husband to return to the hotel so he can make photocopies of our passports. We have digital copy, but we need wifi and printer.
The Sundarbans is huge and the only way to visit it is to join a tour (cruise). At the time of the trip, we paid $100 per person. Without access to my trip journal (also digital, also got corrupted), I cannot be 100% sure if this was a 3-night or a 4-night trip.
In the mornings, we took boat rides on the many narrow canals and in the serenity of the surroundings, we watch birds and other wildlife. We also got to go for morning (once even afternoon) walks in the forest and grasslands.
We pass the time on the boat by socializing with tour mates on the deck and by watching the tranquil scenery.
A Vietnam vet friend of mine said these photos remind her of Mekong delta.
The Sundarbans is also the home of the royal Bengal tigers and we all went on this trip with high hopes for a Bengal sighting. As a matter of fact, each time we leave the boat for a walk or an outing, we get an armed guard with us, just in case.
No sight whatsover, but we managed to find a fresh print.
We visited an eco-tourism park where they breed deer and crocodile and went to another one where the forest is filled with monkeys.
My favorite part of the trip, however, was when we walked through the forest to get to the beach, Jamtola beach. The beach is peaceful, clean and beautiful. Very picturesque. There are many trees on the side and there is a wide beach. We were the only tour group there at that time.
We also walked through a muddy plain, which was quite interesting - a new experience. However, as we were walking back to the shore to get on the boat, the late afternoon lighting was fantastic.
One morning, we woke up very early and decided to leave our cabin to breathe the fresh morning air. And this was the sight that awaited us.
Sunrise in foggy Sundarbans.
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