For New Years 2007, we took a four day trip through the Sundarbans jungle, organised through an NGO that one of the VSO volunteers works for.
We started the journey from Khulna, travelling on this boat, operated by Rapuntar Eco-Tourism.
The Sundarbans are a littoral Mangrove forest, stretching across the South-West coast of Bangladesh. Covering over 3000 sq km, over a third of the area is water.
Almost no-one lives there all year round, but you might see the occasional fishing village, and boat-trains of fisherman, or supply boats. The boat-train and banana boat pictures were taken by Georgia.
There is an astonishing variety of birds, reptiles and mammals, which you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in the world, due to the Sundarbans unique environment. The Sundarbans are also home to the Royal Bengal Tiger, which we all were desperate to see. Although it also meant we had two guards, who also were incredibly knowledgable about the area. The guard’s photo was taken by Georgia.
In the early mornings, we were able to go on a small boat up the small channels. The dawn breaking through the mist was spectacular.
The days were spent enjoying the scenery, reading books, and wrapping up against the cold!
We were also able to walk across the some of the plains, and on New Years day itself we reached the Bay of Bengal and hit the beach.
We also went on land later in the afternoon, when dusk was setting in, and the barren scenery was spectacular.
The Sundarbans also gifted us some incredible sunsets.
We said goodbye to the guards on the fourth day, which meant we were now back in civilisation and safe from Tigers. We never saw one!
We were lucky though, because we travelled back to Dhaka from Khulna on the ‘Rocket’.
The Rocket is a paddleboat that dates from 1929, was of the few surviving relics of Bangladesh’s colonial legacy. We left the docks at about 2am, for a 30hr journey up through Bangladesh.
We were very fortunate to be able to travel first class, and spent the morning enjoying tea on deck, and exploring the boat, which still has many original fittings. As the journey went on, more and more people crammed on to the boat. Unfortunately, the Rocket also had preserved its steerage section, which was right next to the huge engines.
Eventually the next morning we arrived in Dhaka, coming in through the fog back to an urban jungle, all too different from the one we had left behind.