Wild. Exotic. Fascinating. These are just a few of the words used to describe the Sundarbans, a massive coastal mangrove forest nestled between eastern India and western Bangladesh. Sundarbans National Park is home to a variety of endangered species, including the Royal Bengal Tiger, Ganges River Dolphin and estuarine crocodile. No doubt you may have considered taking a trip to this low jungle area. Each year, the Sundarbans are visited by close to a million tourists.
When is the best time of the year to visit?
Considering that Sundarbans National Park is situated in the tropics, September to March is the ideal time to come here. April, May, and June are searing while July and August bring often heavy monsoons that limit travel and don’t make for a very pleasant sightseeing experience.
What is there to do?
There is no shortage of activities to partake in and things to see and do while you’re in Sundarbans National Park.
Take a river tour
Most tourists who explore the Sundarbans arrive in Khulna City. From there, you can join a boat tour that travels south the along the Ganges River through miles of preserved mangrove forest all the way to Kotka, where there is a beautiful beach along the Bay of Bengal.
Sajnekhali Bird Sanctuary
This sanctuary is a nesting place for dozens of tropical birds found in the Sundarbans. The best way to observe these birds is by climbing up the Sajnekhali Watchtower. If you’re lucky, you’ll also catch the famed Bengal Tiger making its rounds through the swampy jungle.
Mangrove Interpretive Centre
If you wish to spend some time indoors out of the sweaty heat, go to the Mangrove Interpretation Centre. This place is very educational with many posters, maps, and exhibits showing the wildlife and varieties of mangrove plants found within the park. You’ll also get to see river terrapins in a protected breeding enclosure and crocodiles in a small pond.
Tour local villages
Experience village life that has largely remained unchanged for centuries. In this vast tropical region, there are villages comprised of various ethnic groups including indigenous people who make their livelihoods fishing, farming and working in the local though growing tourist industry. Sundarbans is a UNESCO world heritage site where you can visit villages and talk to locals, who will gladly share their culture with you. There is a village in the Sundarbans that in Bengali translates to ‘Widow Village.’ Everyone living here has a family member or relative who has either been eaten or attacked by the feared Bengal Tiger.
For those of you interested in the local religious culture, you can visit the Netidhopani Temple to receive blessings. This 400-year-old Hindu relic is considered to be a prized piece of local history.
Bhagabatpur Crocodile Project
You’ll want to appreciate these scaly descendants of prehistoric monsters from a safe distance. Here, both saltwater and freshwater crocodiles are protected by law and live together in harmony. You can see crocodiles of various age groups and their behaviors.
Sundarbans Souvenir Shop
You’ve come this far across the world. Surely, you’ll want to take back home some memories of your memorable vacation. There are endless locally made handicrafts as well as area food such as curry, honey, and organic brown rice.
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