Archive for the ‘west bengal’ Category

Animals Spotted: Crocodiles, deer and monitor lizard

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Birds Spotted: A vast variety but sadly I do not remember their names except for white-collared kingfisher.

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Sunderbans: Night Safari

Posted: June 1, 2015 by obsesessivetraveler in India, west bengal
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Planktons- small or microscopic organisms that drift or swim weakly in a body of water, including bacteria, diatoms, jellyfish, and various larvae. Sunderbans night safari is when I first encountered them. It was a full moon night when we went for the night safari and hence to view the planktons we had to reach deep inside the forest where the water did not already shimmer in the moonlight. Then just dipping your hand in water and twirling it around you could see them glowing in the water. I had expected to see fireflies but planktons were an added bonus. Nature is so beautiful and so full of surprises.

In the night safari, the most interesting part of the Sunderbans adventure, we went in a small rowing boat on the water that had completely engulfed the land, presenting an entirely different landscape in the high time. Most of the trees around were submerged. Thereby we crossed over to the other side of the river and the boatman steered the boat into 1 of the channels that were part of the landmass during the low tide but now had water flowing through.

In the narrow channel the boat brushed though the trees and the multitudes of organisms on them- spiders, insects, crabs etc, reminding me of the floating forests in Cambodia. Fortunately the night spared us the sight of the organisms we were brushing against but our guide flashed his torch momentarily to give us a picture and caught a crab to make his point.

Sadly cameras are ineffective in the night and hence I do not have too many pictures but definitely an indelible memory.moonlight Lunar eclipse _DSC0234 _DSC0232 _DSC0230

Sunderbans Tour Itinerary: 3 days 2 nights

Posted: May 31, 2015 by obsesessivetraveler in India, west bengal
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I am usually not a proponent of tour operators but for this trip after doing considerable research I came to the conclusion that perhaps tour operator was the bet option, given that I was traveling alone and tour operators were really cheap. I finally signed up for http://www.tourdesundarbans.com , mainly based on their reviews on tripadvisor. The cost for two nights three days was INR 4500 per person, including food and stay and they didn’t charge anything extra, even though I was a lone traveler and was not sharing a room.

The detailed itinerary can be found on their website but the rough itinerary as below:

Day 1:

9 AM: Start from Tottee Lane at Kolkatta and 3 hours of road drive in a mini van to Godkhali.

12AM : Cross over to the island of Gosaba on a ferry ride that even transports motorbikes etc for an unbelievable rate of INR 2 per person.

Travel to the other end of Gosaba and by auto and take a ferry to Satjelia.

2.30PM : Reach the eco village abode on the island of Satjelia, followed by lunch.
4.00PM : A walk through the ecovillage.

5.30PM: Watch cock fight. The village has no electricity thus the villagers still adhere to the age old methods of entertaining themselves and thus every Friday the entire village gets together to watch the spectacle of cock fights, which turned out to be much shorter than I expected, each one lasting only about 10 seconds, till one cock successfully bloodied the other.
6.00PM: Watch the sunset during the boat ride.

7.00PM : Snacks at hotel followed by musical performance by the local musicians there followed by dinner.

9PM: Night safari, which turned out to be the best pat about the whole trip.

 

Day 2

6.30AM: The whole day we just cruised on the boat trying to spot some animals in the scorching heat and just managed to get some glimpses of spotted dear, 2 monitor lizards and a crocodile. , We try to start as early as possible, board our personalized engine boat. We stopped at only 1 watch tower- Sajnekhali, although as per the original itinerary we were supposed to stop at 3 but there were just too many people at these watch towers and the noise surely would scare all animals away. Thus it seemed to be a totally futile effort in the heat. Cant really say spending the whole day n a boat was worth it but definitely it had a meditative effect on all, where each was lost in his/her own thoughts under the calming effect of the water around.

4.30PM: Reach village. Walk around the village on my own followed by dinner and musical night.
Day 3:

9.00AM: Breakfast. I walked around the village on my own. At 10 Am we started for Kolkatta.

2.00PM: reach Kolkata through the arduous ride back via, boat, ferry, auto and cab.
The highlight of the trip was our 19 year old guide- Om and his incessant quips and stories, wherein it was difficult to discern the boundaries between fact and fiction.

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How to Reach Sunderbans in India?

Posted: May 26, 2015 by obsesessivetraveler in India, west bengal
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Sundarbans – literal meaning “sundari” or “mangrove” forests- is an archipelago originally measured to be about 16,000 square km (around 200 years ago) but now dwindled to only about 4,000 square km.

The most interesting part about Sunderbans is the complex ecosystem that thrives on salt tolerance surviving half or fully submerged in salt water as per the tidal activity each day. I loved observing the roots of different halophytic mangrove trees. The fauna too is said to survive on drinking salt water as fresh water sources are scarce and are hence said to live for half the normal lifespan.

To conserve and protect the diminishing ecosystem, most part of Sunderbans is protected under the National Park and only few islands have been permitted to house human villages.

 

How to get to Sunderbans in India?

Although Sunderbans are roughly about 75% in Bangladesh and 25%in India, I being an Indian have just accessed the Indian part.

Kolkata to Godkhali (about 85 km) 3 hours by road: by bus or cab.

Sonakhali to Gosaba: ferry (about half an hour)- INR 10 per person

The largest village or island is Gosaba. It is the last commercial stop where you can find autos, air conditioners and other luxuries. In case you are traveling on your own and not with a travel guide you need to book a hotel at Gosaba. Boats are available to take you to the National Park.

sunderbans map HISTORY