Hunting for tigers in the forest

Sunderbans Travel Blog

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Sunset in Sundarbans

After saying goodbye in the morning, I headed to West Bengal Tourism for a bus to the Sunderbans.  This is the world's largest mangrove forest and straddles both India and Bangladesh along the Indian ocean.   It is home to the Bengal tiger, as well as other animals.  I was seated next to Olle, a Swedish Phd student in theoretical physics.  In front of us was Bjarke, a Danish musician.  As the only "Westerners" on the trip, we ended up spending the entire trip together which was great fun. 

One long and very warm bus ride later through some very scenic countryside, we were dropped off the bus.  I was wrangled onto a "trolley" with one guy riding a bike in front and two kids pushing in the back that rushed me to the dock.  We then climbed on a boat that took us to our actual vessel.

Enjoying the view
  All of us were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the ship, rooms, and food onboard.  (This trip was incredibly cheap and run by the government so we were expecting much less).  We spent the next two days sailing through the forest, occasionally stopping to get off and walk up to a watchtower to hopefully see more wildlife.  We were told that the last tiger seen at the first watchtower was a year ago, needless to say we didn't see any tigers during this trip.  But we did see a crocodile, plenty of deer, some birds, and monkeys.  At one watch tower a monkey actually charged me for no apparent reason but the warden threw a rock at it to scare it away (and if he throws rocks at them maybe I understand why he charged me).  We saw monkeys jumping onto other boats which was pretty funny and entertaining.
Our boat

Most of the time we sat on deck sipping our tea and chatting while watching the forst breeze by.  We also met Benjamin from Chennai who was great to spend time with and gave us plenty of advice on India.  He even had internet access out there so I was able to show the guys pics from my trip by uploading my blog.  In the evening, the rest of the group played a game where they would sing songs back and forth, but most of the songs were in Hindi so we mostly just watched.  I was very sad when it was finally time to go back.

Luckily we got back an hour early (I was a bit worried since I had a train that evening).  I even had time to go to a local restaurant to try tiger prawns- huge shrimp that are raised locally.  The Kolkata train station was very nice and impressive.  I was surprised to see that people could actually drive right in and up to their trains.  In my compartment was an Indian couple traveling with their 1 1/2 year old grandson who was very cute and played with me most of the trip. 

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Sunset in Sundarbans
Sunset in Sundarbans
Enjoying the view
Enjoying the view
Our boat
Our boat
On the river
On the river
Transfer boat
Transfer boat
Bjarke and olle
Bjarke and olle
Port
Port
Village ferry
Village ferry
Method to get off boat
Method to get off boat
Traffic jam at the watchtower
Traffic jam at the watchtower
Pondering what it would be like to…
Pondering what it would be like t…
Small statue dedicated to tigers
Small statue dedicated to tigers
Myself, Olle, and Benjamin
Myself, Olle, and Benjamin
Ambulance
Ambulance
Farm on ride to Sundarbans
Farm on ride to Sundarbans
Ferry
Ferry
Tiger tracks
Tiger tracks
Sunderbans
photo by: nidge76