Sunderbans, West Bengal
The mangrove forests, the waterways, low-lying islands, mud flats and the Royal Bengal Tiger make the Sunderbans a must-visit destination for anyone who is interested in the natural world. Here a group of intrepid backpackers-turned-travel entrepreneurs have set up a travel company, Tour de Sunderbans, offering immersive tours. They also run an eco stay, the Backpackers Eco Village.
The travel company offers day trip, 1N2D, 2N3D, and 3N4D tours of the Sunderban region. All tours start with a pickup from Kolkata. The day tour is a day-long exploration of the more easily accessible parts of the Sunderban on a motarised boat with lunch and evening tea served on the boat.
The one-night and two-night tours are similar. The former ends late in the evening of day two, while the latter ends in the morning of day three. The latter is a tad bit more relaxed. From Kolkata you reach the Eco Village and the first day is spent in and around this eco-stay.
The Eco Village is set in two acres of land and offers 20 simple mud cottages, a community center, a farm house, ponds, paddy fields and plots for growing vegetables. You reach in time for lunch at this scenic ‘retreat’. The lunch and all the meals here are made by the local village women with ingredients that come from the property’s farms or from farms of locals along with fish caught by local fishermen. The meals feature local cuisine. Post lunch, guests can walk about the paddy fields and visit the local village, go on a country boat ride to bird watch in the waterways right around the property and to get the first proper glimpse of the mysterious mangrove forests. In the evening there will be folk performances and dinner.
The rooms at the hotel are basic and are fan cooled. While there is power backup, there is no piped hot water; instead you get hot water in buckets.
The second day is spent outside on the waterways on one of the boats operated by the travel company. The boat cruise starts early in the morning and goes on till sunset and includes visits to watch towers, cruising through the smaller canals to spot the local wildlife and enjoying breakfast and lunch cooked and served on the boat.
Tour de Sunderbans also offers a 3N4D tour for naturalists and photographers. This is a more immersive experience and includes more forays along the waterways and into the mangrove forests.
The tours are typically small, with the team restricting the group size to a maximum of 15 each day. They take great pains in disclosing that they offer a no-frills experience and so guests should not expect luxuries. They do promise an unforgettable experience and all basic comforts.
Price: The 1N2D trip costs Rs 4,200 per person all-inclusive and the 2N3D trip costs Rs 5,500 per person all-inclusive.
Read more: https://www.tourdesundarbans.com/
Tour de Sunderbans offers low-impact tours of the Sunderban region. The groups are always small. The Backpacker’s Eco Village comprises of mud cottages made of local materials. You will not find air conditioning or geysers here. The idea is to run a low-impact hotel operation. The eco village grows its own vegetables and sources what it doesn’t grow locally. The people employed are local, including local village women who are the cooks here. They have also undertaken such activities like planting mangroves in thousands around the eroded river front and assisting villagers in finding medical.