Monday, April 6, 2009

The Sundarbans

After spending the majority of our time in Bangladesh in the central and northern area, we decided we’d end our time here with a cruise in the southern region of the country. The Sundarbans are the largest mangrove forest in the world. They are a natural UNESCO World Heritage Site, and home of the endangered Bengal tiger.

There is a poster in Bangladesh that has been in circulation for at least a decade. It has a picture of a Bengal Tiger and the caption says, “Visit Bangladesh before the Tourist Comes.” “… the Tourist …” Singular. Not a typo. The tourist industry in Bangladesh is still very small.

Our three day tour included two overnight bus trips (read “two long sleepless bus rides”), two full days of cruising on the boat to the Bay of Bengal and back, and a full day exploring various parts of the mangrove. The boat slept 30 people and our group consisted of 8 Westerners and about 15 Bengali men. This included a group of men who are part of a Tourist Club. They were a noisy group, and their loud voices and chattering pretty much ensured we would not see any wildlife during our tour. Oh well, it was part of the cultural experience, right?

Our tour guide dedicated himself to scaring the pants off of us as we walked through the forest. He pointed out the “tiger ferns” that are perfect camouflage for the tiger.

“The tiger could be sitting 3 metres away from us right now and we’d never know it”.

“They pounce on your neck and kill you instantly”.

We met a man who had been chased by tigers twice and saw one just yesterday. To add to the effect we always walked with an armed forest guard. We did not see a tiger and learned later that it is very rare to see them.

We did, however, see deer, beautiful king fishers and dolphins on the cruise up and down.

We saw one monkey. When we asked our guide what kind it was he replied, “a local kind, small.” This pretty much sums up the quality of the information he shared with us during the tour.

The highlights for all us were just being out of the city and seeing a different part of the country. We appreciated the chance to lie on the deck in the evenings and watch the stars. We also appreciated the company and the chance to meet and chat with new friends.


  1. I'm sure glad the boat stayed aright! Great photos

  2. Walking around looking for tigers! Reminds me of the story of you and Doug making a deal that if one was getting mauled by a bear the other had to video tape it!