The word ‘SUNDARBANS’ originally means ‘Beautiful forest’.
Sundarban is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sundarban National Park has the largest ecosystem in the world. Spread over about 10,000 square kilometers (3861 square miles) at the junction of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers this magnificent forest is a true beauty.
There are around 102 islands, 54 islands are inhabited rest 48 are National Park.
There are plenty of travel agencies in Kolkata that operate Sundarban tour Package.
Generally, one starts from Sealdah Railway Station and reaches Canning by train & Canning to Sonakhali or Godkhali Ferryghat by Local Transport. Some prefer private vehicles from Kolkata.
There are many hotels according to your budget on Gosaba, Dayapur & Bali island.
It is better to go with a tour operator while traveling with your family to places like Sundarbans. Individual traveling is more suitable for solo travelers or bachelors. Picking the right Sundarban tour operator is essential as it can help to provide a safe cruise, Hygienic food, the best jungle safari & excellent hospitality.
Get the perfect deal, book a package for Sundarbans. Generally, 2 Night and 3 Day Package are ideal to start with. However, given there is more time to plan for the eastern and western Sundarban tour together.
How to visit Sundarban ~
While planning your trip to Sundarbans, some essential things need to be kept in mind. There are various ways to visit the Sundarbans, choose the one that suits you most. They are as follows –
Travel Independently ~
For the Sundarban tour, you must require a Sunderban Cruise for jungle Safari, So Book a private boat which you can ride around as per your wish, but must ensure the boat condition.
For night Accommodation you can stay at the Sajnekhali Tourist Lodge, operated by the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation.
You can also book any private hotel as per your budget but must be checked before check-in about power back up & basic facilities. However, remember there are only a few limited options for accommodations at the Sundarbans.
Traveling with group ~
#Pros – A planned tour is always tested and recommended. These are for groups with a specific set of tanneries and can be either day, overnight, or multiple night tours with a specific accommodation being included.
A boat ride through the waterways for visiting the watchtowers inside the national park is included in the package. Village visits are also included in the longer-duration tours.
Generally, your pickup and drop location will be Kolkata.
#Cons – A few things are to be considered and there should no compromise with them. Before booing any Sundarban tour be ensure there should be enough flexibility and privacy available or not?
A large number of tour operators crafts a commercial tour with a huge number of people. This can be noisy and hectic. The chaos may spoil your experience and also the serene beauty of the delta.
Large boats are hired for water rides but these boats being too large can hardly pass through narrow waterways which can be the hub of wildlife.
So before choosing an agency go through their reviews. The personal tour can also be designed but it may be costly.
A day trip ~
Some prefer a day tour in Sundarban and some prefer overnight trips too.
A day trip may help you to explore the waterways by boat but a longer stay means more exploration. Village visit by walking or cycling is also a great way to explore the local village Sundarban. Bird watching and cultural performances are also great ways to enjoy the time.
However, for the wild experiences of the forest, this trip is not recommended.
How to visit Sundarban without a travel agent?
Independent traveling is quite exhausting in remote places like Sundarban. But if you still want to go then follow this –
Kolkata to Sundarban traveling by car or bus is advised. Unreserved local trains are advised against because it remains crowded. However early morning trains are comfortable and less crowded.
Popular routes are ~
By Car ~ Drive from Kolkata to Sonakhali or Godkhali ferry ghat. After that, it’s best to take a ferry across the water to Gosaba.
From there take an Auto Rickshaw or Engine van to Pakhirala village on the other side of the island and then take another boat to Sajnekhali.
If possible to hire a boat and go straight from Sonkhali or Godhkhali (3/4hour), although it’s costly.
By Bus ~ Public buses travel hourly (first departure at 6.30 a.m.) from the Babu Ghat Bus Terminus (Strand Road in Kolkata) and ride up to Sonakhali (3 hours).
However, this bus terminus is being shifted to Santragachhi on the Kona Expressway in Kolkata. From Sonakhali take an auto-rickshaw to Godhkali as said earlier.
You can also take a boat to Gosaba (one and half hours), cycle rickshaw to Pakhiralay, and boat to Sajnekhali. Or, take a boat to go straight to Pakhiralaya (three hours).
By Train ~ Start from Sealdah station in Kolkata to Canning (around 1hr 10mnt) and take an auto-rickshaw or shared vehicle to Sonakhali or Godhkali, or take a boat to Sajnekhali from Canning (five hours).
There is the availability of Boats and guides from Sajnekhali for half or full-day excursions through the mangroves.
Note that all boats are not safe. Many times tourists are afforded the small type of boat, poor maintenance for saving money.
Remember-NEVER COMPROMISE ON SAFETY. Check the condition of the boat first.
You can arrange for a private or shared trip from Canning, Sonakhali, and Godkhali. This includes overnight or multiple nights. Prefer to take the boat from Godkhali as it is quite close to the National Park entry point.
For your convenience, choose a package that includes both – boat and food. Sundarban Wildlife Tourism offers a Sundarban Launch booking service.
Option for staying hotel or resort ~
Sundarbans is an ecologically sensitive area. The accommodations are basic and not luxurious. The focus lies in an eco-friendly approach. Remember one thing, the Power is very limited here (it’s either solar or produced by a generator). There may be some water scarcity. If your budget is humble then you can find several options in the Pakhiralay village area on Gosaba Island (this is the main island before the entrance to the national park).
Sundarbans permits and fees ~
Remember Indians & Foreigners will need a permit to enter the national park. Foreigners have to provide their passports as identification. The permit can be obtained from the Forest Department at Sajnekhali or the West Bengal Tourism Office, 2/3 BBD Bagh East (near the post office) in Kolkata. Ask your tour operators to take care of these formalities.
The entry fee for the park is Rs 120 for Indians and Rs 250 for foreigners. The boat entry fee is Rs 800 per day for all zones except for the interior Netidhopani zone (it is Rs 1600 for this zone). A guide’s presence is compulsory in the boat costing Rs 500 for Indians and Rs 1200 for foreigners.
When to go?
This entirely depends on your reason to go to Sundarban. If you are someone who loves to dwell amidst nature and soak in the beauty of the ambiance then avoid the peak seasons. Like December and January.
The weather here is cool and pleasant from November to February. Summer, from March until June, is hot and humid. The monsoon season, from July to September, is wet and windy.
Things to do in Sundarban ~
The real enjoyment of visiting the Sundarbans comes from appreciating its pristine, tranquil natural beauty. Take some time to wander through enchanting villages and discover the local way of life. Sample some honey, which is collected from the Sundarbans local Market.
Sadly, some people are disappointed by the Sundarbans, usually, they go with high expectations of spotting wildlife — especially a tiger.
Wildlife spotting is hampered by the fact that you cannot explore the national park on a walk or by Safari Car. There are no jeep safaris. In addition, boats cannot touch down anywhere along the river banks in the national park, apart from designated watchtowers, and must exit the park boundaries by 5 p.m.
The watchtowers are enclosed by fences and the reality is that they’re often full of loud, boisterous tourists.
There are a number of watchtowers that can be visited. However, some of them are far away and can require a full day return trip by boat. The most popular watchtowers, due to their proximity, are Sajnekhali, Sudhanyakhali, and Dobanki.
What to keep in mind?
Plastic is banned in the region, although the rule has been difficult to enforce. Make sure you don’t litter. In addition, remain as quiet as possible so as not to create a disturbance.
Be sure to bring plenty of money as there are no ATMs, apart from the State Bank of India at Gosaba.
Options for Organized tours ~
It’s always recommended to go on an organized tour. People are going for a trip for relaxation, So if you prefer a hassle-free holiday go with the best Sundarban tour operator.
It’s always recommended to go with them who is an expert in this field. Well-organized tours include everything from luxury cruises to backpacker-style adventures. So choose the best Sundarban tour operators & make your holiday unforgettable.
Sundarban is one of the most beautiful and famous offbeat tourist destinations in India. Tourists from all over the world book the Sundarban package for experiencing rich wildlife and mysterious ambiance.
Whether you are a naturalist, a wildlife lover, or a wildlife photographer, a trip to Sundarban can be rewarding for all. Tourists can observe and experience wildlife through traversing waterways, forest expeditions, and tangling mangroves.
Sundarban wildlife tourism can arrange Sundarban tours in multiple ways –
A traditional and popular route is to go with other groups of families on a Sundarban tour 2 night 3 days.
But if you are going for Sundarban tour 1 night 2 days then also have options depending upon the group size.