In the Realm of the Royal Bengal Tiger, Where Adventure Awaits 🐅🍃
Sundarbans Mangrove forest 🐾🌳
Sundarbans Mangrove forest is the world's largest single-block halophytic mangrove forest and home to an incredible faunal and floral diversity, including the world's most likely remaining population of Royal Bengal tigers, the endangered estuarine crocodile, Ganges River dolphins, and an incredible variety of birds.
Sundarban is in the lower catchment area of the Ganges-Brahmaputra (Padman-Jamuna) river system, which is the largest sediment basin in the world. This is the largest single block of mangrove forest in the world. Sundarban of Bangladesh are Ramsar sites (wetlands of global importance) and were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for Natural Heritage Sites of Global Importance. Royal Bengal Tour is a very specialized tour company in Bangladesh that offers an adventure or research cruise to this intricate maze of tidal waterways, a natural treasure of Bangladesh.
Tour Duration: Usual trips are 2 Nights and 3 days or 3 Nights and 4 days staying in the forest, the duration of the trip can be customized on-demand and the nature of the trip.
Good Time to Visit: October to February (winter), when the sun is mild and pleasant, is generally considered the best season for visiting though the Forest offers visitors spectacular sights and experiences all year round. From March to May (summer) and May to October (monsoon) temperatures and humidity are high, increasing chances for sighting snakes and nesting activities in the lush green vegetation. We organize trips throughout the year.
How to get there
All travel through the Sundarbans is boat-based. All of our Sundarban tours start and end from and to Khulna/Mongla. Jessore is the closest airport, well connected with a regular shuttle service to Khulna. Bus and train services exist between Dhaka and Khulna.
- Flight: There are quite many flights between Dhaka and Jessore in the morning, afternoon till early evening both ways, operated by Biman Bangladesh airline, Novo Air and US-Bangla airline. It is about 40 minutes of flight one way to Jessore. The airline offers cheaper shuttle bus services between Jessore Airport and Khulna at a very reasonable rate, and it takes about 2/3 hours depending on traffic and road conditions. And it will take 15/20 minutes more to the boat by rickshaw from the bus stop. Mongla is about an hour or 45 minutes more driving distance by private car. Public bus services between Khulna and Mongla are not recommended for our guests. We can arrange transfers by private vehicle from the airport to the boat on a hassle freeway. Please check the respective airline’s website for the latest flight table and fare chart.
- Train: There are day and overnight train services between Dhaka-Khulna, which take about 8 to 10 hours each way, plus the delay time. All the train on this route has AC and Non – AC seats, and the overnight train has sleeping cabins too. Please be informed that most of the sleeping cabins are 4 bedded, each compartment has only 2nos, two-bedded cabins. Almost impossible to reserve two-bedded cabins while booking online or purchase the tickets from a station counter, as they are in high demand; still, you can get it by luck. While a couple buying two seats in a sleeping cabin should be aware that there will be two other strangers in the same cabin.
Here is the Dhaka – Khulna – Dhaka train schedule:
Train – ETD – ETA – Day Off – Ticket Fare Range (BDT)
Chitra Express – 19:00, Dhaka – 03:40hrs, Khulna – Monday – 505 to 1771
Chitra Express – 09:00hrs, Khulna – 17:55hrs, Dhaka – Monday – 505 to 1156
Sundarban Express – 6:20hrs, Dhaka – 16:10hrs, Khulna – Wednesday – 505 to 1156
Sundarban Express – 20:30hrs, Khulna – 05:40hrs, Dhaka – Tuesday – 505 to 1771
- Public Bus: A good number of AC and Non-AC bus services are in operation between Dhaka – Khulna, during the day and night. Recommended bus companies are Greenline, Shohag Paribahan, TR-Travels, and Desh Travels. AC bus companies are providing quite good services, and the seats are very comfortable and spacious on VOLVO, Hino, Hyundai, Scania and Mercedes buses. It takes around 4-5 hours from Dhaka to Khulna by bus via the newly built Padma Bridge, roads are fantastic all the way.
- Waterways: BIWTA (Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority) operate some water transports between Dhaka and Morrelgonj. The famous old Paddle steamer Launch “Rocket” is one of them besides many modern public ships. Anyone availing of these water transports, should disembark at Hularhat or Morrelgonj and then reach the boat by a reserved transport from the Rocket station, which we can look after. Usually, Rocket (paddle Steamer) leaves from Sadarghat Rocket Ghat at 6:30 PM. In normal situations (of weather and tide) the Paddle steamer arrives in Hularhat by 11 AM. While travelling without a guide, please ask any of the crew onboard to be sure about your approximate arrival time at your destination. Traditional Bangla food can be ordered on the boat for dinner, please don’t forget to order the food well ahead. The Rocket has a particular schedule for trips, which often breaks the plan due to technical issues or so, which does not allow us to make any commitment for this ship reservation. We always try our best to get first-class A/C cabin(s) in the paddle steamer, which is mostly reserved for high government officials and has a minimal slot for public sale/tourists.
- Reserved car transfer: We offer private transport services between Dhaka – the boat, both ways at a reasonable cost.
Accommodation in Khulna: While you are arriving in Khulna by the night before the trip starts, we would arrange your accommodation either at a good hotel or on the houseboat, subject to its availability. Parjatan Motel “Pashur” is the only option for accommodation in Mongla. Pashur is owned and run by the Bangladesh government, and this hotel offers basic services with AC and Non-AC rooms. Nevertheless, this is the most secure place in the town.
[Please let us know how you would like to reach the boat from Dhaka?]
What to expect on the boat:
A trip to Sundarban is based on a Ship/launch/houseboat for accommodation and meals for the entire excursion period in the forest. Usually, two nights – 3 days or three-night – 4 days trips are conducted and preferred by most local and foreign travelers over the weekends (Friday – Sunday). It is also possible to organize a day excursion around the forest’s fringes through the most touristic spots: Koromjol and Herbaria forest stations. Khulna and Mongla are the stations for all the boats for Sundarbans trips. Therefore, the journey starts and ends at these (same) places; embarking on the ship from Khulna/ Mongla on Day 1 early morning and disembarking in Khulna/Mongla on Day 3/ 4 after dinner/lunch. Accommodations are twin-sharing bunk beds up to quadruple bunk-bedded cabins. None of the cabins is with attached bathrooms, and shared bathrooms are located on the boat’s backside on the same floor as your cabins. As of now, there are no ships with running hot water for showering. A person sensitive to cold showers may request warm water from the kitchen. The number of bathrooms is according to the size of the boat, low commodes and high commodes (western seats) are both available on the same boat.
Forming a group according to your budget:
Either on a smaller private boat or joining a bigger group (between 20 to 50 PAX) on a big ship is the usual way to travel Sundarbans. Joining a bigger group may pull down the costs to a reasonable range for budget travelers, worth costly to be in a private smaller boat. Private/ smaller boat trip connects you with the nature and forest. A small group tour is probably the better way to feel the forest and spot more wildlife. On the other hand, being a part of a bigger group can also be interesting because of the multicultural interaction among the group members but has fewer connections to the forest and nature. We do not insist you on a cheaper or an expensive trip but this is actually the fact. Your trip will be arranged according to your choice.
Forest Entrance Permission is Required:
Sundarban is a national forest and UNESCO world heritage site which includes many sanctuaries. Trips to Sundarban are controlled; prior permission is required for local and foreign travelers, which we will take care of on your behalf. While entering the forest, every tourist vessel must visit a forest ranger’s station to complete necessary forest permission formalities and pick up some forest-armed guards on board to accompany the group throughout the trip. All these formalities require some fees. We would need the passport copies of all foreign visitors during the trip confirmations or at least a week prior to (Sundarbans) trip departure, and that is all from your side; we will do the rest to make your trip memorable.
Areas we mostly cover
The Sundarban Forest is the largest single block of mangroves in the world and the only mangrove with tigers. Has the highest diversity of flora & fauna and a complex ecosystem, influenced by fresh-water inflow, proximity to the Bay of Bengal and human activities. At least one-third of the total area is permanently covered by water, therefore boat is the only way to explore the magic of this forest. The biodiversity is highest in the southeastern part. Wildlife diversity and visibility are best here, due to the open sea-facing meadows. Therefore, most of our excursions are within South-Eastern Sanctuaries named Kotka and Kochikhali.
Things to carry
For your comfort, we request you travel as lightly as possible.
However, we suggest you bring the following items: any medicine advised by the doctor for regular use | Binoculars | Towels | Umbrella or Raincoat | Torchlight | Suitable Clothes | Camera, memory cards and rain protector | Mosquito repellent | Board Games | Reading material | Swimming gears | Suntan lotion | jungle shoes & Sandals | and the drink you would miss the most.
Prohibited in Sundarban
- Visiting Sundarban forest without permission and forest armed guards from the forest department
- Drones of any kind, private firearms, and pets without proper permission from the respective ministry
- Bonfire, committing any harm to the forest or wildlife
- Poaching, buying, selling, consuming and opting to own any animal or products made from endangered plants or animals
- Catching or chasing any animals in the forest
- Cutting, extracting or damaging any flora
- Leaving behind any non-biodegradable elements in the forest, rivers or creeks
- Using any loudspeakers in the forest
- Getting off the boat except at any indicated places (for your own safety and to reduce the human presence in a wild place)
- Any actions that may bring a negative impact on the ecosystem
Special Trips to Sundarban Mangrove forest
Honey Hunting trip (April – May)
The Sundarban is one of the country’s richest sources of honey, every year groups of honey hunter enter into the western part of the forest in April-May. Hunting starts with an official inauguration ceremony of Annual Honey Collection Season, we will follow a group of Honey Collector’s (Mawali’s) in-order to join their search for precious honey in Burigoalini – a livelihood that has survived through the centuries. Every year over the season some 5 to 10 Mawali’s are attacked and eaten by tiger. However, this is a physically demanding tour, but unique and unforgettable – A true adventure in the Land of the Tiger.
Bonbibi (Goddess of forest) Mela in January
Sundarban provides valuable resources such as fish, shrimp, crab, wood, nypa, grass, honey and wax. Therefore, the community around the sundarban has been extracting and making their life from the forest resources, including fishermen (Jele), wood-cutters (Bawali) and honey collectors (Mawali), pray for a safe return to Bonbibi, guardian spirit of the forests venerated by both the Hindu and the Muslim residents of the Sundarbans. Along the forest edge permanent temples are built in her honor. The clay figurines are replaced and colorfully decorated once a year as like any other Hindu goddess in Indian subcontinent; a unique festive occasion with music, theaters and fairs.
Dubla Rash Purnima Mela
(Dependent on Lunar Calendar, normally end of November)
Dubla Rash Mela is one of the biggest fairs in the country and takes place on Dubla Island. Dubla Island is standing at the mouth of the Holy River Ganges at the coastal edge of the Sundarbans forest, inhabited by fishermen during the winter months. The fair on Dubla Island was started in 1923 by Hari Bhajan. The life of Hari Bhajan was very extraordinary. During his stay in Sundarbans Forest for more than twenty-four years, he lived on the fruits of the forest. In his memory, his devotees, especially the fishermen of the Sundarbans, organize the five-day fair every year during the Rash Purnima (full moon) which falls in the Bengali month of Agrahayan. Thousands of temporary fishermen are at the center of the festival, who are engaged in catching and drying fish on Dubla and nearby islands. The fair has become a grand occasion for many local and foreign tourists to visit the Sundarbans. Approximately 40-50 thousand Hindu pilgrims join the celebrations every year, the devotees congregate in long lines at the water’s edge in the early hours, holding their offerings and awaiting their blessing. This tour might be a special treat for photographers and travelers interested in local culture, traditions and festivals.
Fishing with Trained Otters
No other country will ever give you the excitement of such a unique traditional fishing technique. Bangladesh is the only place where fishermen still practice 200 years old tradition of fishing with their trained otters. This is way beyond anything you could ever imagine. Fishermen from the Narail/Gopalgonj area breed and train their otters to increase the catch. Mainly they work in the rivers north of the forest at night, they also enter the Sundarban forest. Normally this tour will take place in their home villages, but sometimes we follow them from their village to Sundarban.
Bird Watching in Sundarbans 🦜🌿
The Sundarbans is home to numerous rare and endangered species, such as the Bengal tiger, the Irrawaddy dolphin, the estuarine crocodile, and the fishing cat. It is a sanctuary for bird watchers due to the abundance of waterbirds, raptors, woodpeckers, kingfishers, bee-eaters, cuckoos, drongos, bulbuls, and warblers, among other species.
The Sundarbans have been helping endangered species such as the White-rumped Vulture (Gyps bengalensis), the Masked Finfoot (Helopais personatus), the Brown-winged Kingfisher (Pelargopsis amauroptera), and the Mangrove (Pittosporum megarhynchum). Little is known about the avifauna of the Sundarbans. The Sundarbans of Bangladesh are home to 299 avian species, including 160 resident and 139 migratory species. There are three species that are critically endangered, four species that are endangered, three species that are vulnerable, and 19 species that are near-threatened.
Best time for watching birds in Sundarbans 🕊️👀
Winter (November to February) is the ideal time for viewing migratory birds from Siberia, Central Asia, and Europe, as well as resident birds in breeding plumage. During the summer, some resident birds are more active and vocal, but it can be extremely muggy and humid.
Bird-watching routes in Sundarbans 📸🌅
Our bird-watching tour routes are meticulously chosen based on the species in which our clients are most interested. We have discovered quite a few distinct routes in the Sundarbans based on the residence and population density of particular bird species. You can go on a boat journey through the forest’s small creeks and channels to view wildlife and appreciate the natural beauty. With patience as our guide, we seek the rare prize. The elusive Masked Finfoot, a feathered surprise, Amongst the foliage dense, it hides and takes flight. A dance with the shadows, in the soft golden light.