Sundarbans is one of the world’s most extensive mangrove forests located between a part of India and Bangladesh. About 1400 sq km (500+ sq miles) and a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. A third of the forest is covered by water and marshes and is considered a wildlife sanctuary. It is estimated that there are about 400 Royal Bengal Tigers and more than 30,000 deer in this area, but that’s not all. Many species are found in Sundarbans, such as hawksbill turtles, saltwater crocodiles, river dolphins, and many more.

Over the years, I traveled through Sundarban often, traveling between Dhaka to Khulna by launch, but I never had the opportunity to step inside the deep forest. However, I have seen the forest from the boat; therefore, I was thrilled to take a guided walking tour through the jungle for the first time.

sundarbans, bangladesh
Early morning view of a houseboat (launch) in Sundarbans, Bangladesh

Best time to visit Sunderbans

In my opinion, winter is the most pleasant time to explore the Sundarbans. This is Because the winter months are between November and February, with very little rain and temperatures between 15 – 25 degrees Celsius. In comparison, Summer between May to August is hot, humid, and wet. Moreover, the monsoons carry heavy and prolonged rains, which makes traveling rather difficult.

deer in sundarbans
Monkeys from the top lower the branches so that deer can reach the leaves

A Guided Walking Tour

Spent the 2nd night on the ship (launch) at Sundarbans, anchored near a suitable place close to the coast of the Bay of Bengal (Indian Ocean) and the forest. I woke up early in the morning and climbed up to the rooftop with my camera and expected to see some wild animals, but it was still dark outside; moreover, the entire river and the surroundings were blanketed with early morning winter fog. So I could only see many eyes glowing in the dark by the river bank. Therefore, I couldn’t do much but anxiously wait in the cold weather and wish the mist to clear up.

sundarbans, bangladesh
A canal deep inside the jungle

Landing To The Jungle by a Small Boat

We were scheduled to go for a jungle walk at 7 am, so with no luck in getting a clear view and a good shot of early morning wildlife, we had to wait a little until the heavy fog cleared up. Then, finally, we boarded a small wooden utility boat from our main ship (Launch) to be transported to the Kotka jetty managed by the forest authority. To make your jungle trip comfortable, the facility looked more like a rest area with a washroom and sitting area. So sit back and relax to enjoy the tranquility of the lonely, peaceful jungle environment. 

Sundarban, Bangladessh
We are going to start our safari through the forest from here

Thrilling Walk Through The Forest

A trail from Kotka runs through the jungle and open field to Jamtola sea beach. Walking on these long trails allowed us to discover the mangrove forest up close. Along the way, specific areas were scary, even though we had an experienced tour guide and two armed guards for protection. We needed to walk about an hour from the jetty through the deep forest towards our Kotka beach destination. Our guide told us it could be a dangerous walk, so we needed to stay together and appointed two armed guards, one in the front and one at the back of the group.

Sunderban, Bangladesh
Area in the forest where you need a arm guard for protection from Royal Bengal Tiger!

Hundreds of world-famous Royal Bengal Tigers are still in the forest. I’m not sure if I should say that we were lucky not to see or confront any tiger or unlucky because we could not see any in the wild and take pictures. But after hearing some scary stories from the guide I was walking with, I definitely considered myself lucky. But we saw their footprints walking by the riverbank and in the mud.

Sundarbans forest, kotka
While walking through the deep forest this tree came to my attention.

Inviting a Herd of Deer for a Treat

While walking through the jungle, our guides broke a few branches, knocked down small trees, and stepped away a few feet to give the wildlife a comfort zone. We saw hundreds of deer mass around them in no time. Their fascination with freshly cut limbs, branches, and trees made them unafraid of humans.

Trip to Sundarban, Bangladessh
Kotka wildlife sanctuary, we saw countless deer flocking in for a falling tree branch.

I was unsure if it was common practice for the tour guide to attract deer to come out of their hiding and feed them or impress tourists for a wildlife show. But regardless, it was spectacular to see a massive family of deers gather together. It was a spectacular scene and a great photo opportunity as well.  

Sundarbans, bangladesh
They were cautious but, on the other hand, also wanted to enjoy their treat.

Visiting Jamtola Beach at Sundarbans

After a long walk, we have just made it to Jamtola beach, located deep inside the forest of Sundarbans by the Bay of Bengal. Typically, beaches in Bangladesh experience overcrowding, but Jamtola was an exception to this. Maybe due to its remoteness and the difficulties of getting there, someone needs to walk miles through the dangerous forest (arm guard needed). Hence it is also one of the quietest, cleanest, and most beautiful beaches in the country. We spent some time relaxing at the beach and then headed back.

Jamtola Beach
After a long walk through the forest, we finally arrived at Jamtola Beach, Sundarbans

During the hour-long walk through the deep forest heading towards the Jamtola beach and returning to our boat, I saw birds, wild pigs, deer, monkeys, snakes, and much more wildlife. It was a fantastic experience. I took some pictures that will always refresh my memories in the years to come.

The watchtower in Kotka, Sundarbans
Colorful Woodpeckers in Sundarbans

Experience a Stunning view from the Watchtower

Don’t miss the opportunity to climb up and experience the panoramic view of the forest from the watchtower, especially in the evening, to watch wildlife. Animals usually come to the sweet water ponds and the open field close to the tower.

My Observation And Tips

My short visit has made me appreciate the Bangladeshi people and their culture. They are very hospitable and helpful, and Bangladeshi cuisine is among the best in the world, particularly delicious fish dishes.

For more comfortable weather and make your trip memorable, the best time to visit the national park of Sundarbans is during the winter months from November to February.

Hasan Mahmud

Traveler, Blogger, and Travel Photographer!

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