The Sundarbans- the largest continuous block of mangrove forest in the world covers an area of 5770 sq. km of land and water. It is the part of the world’s largest delta, which has been formed from sediments deposited by the great river Ganges and Brahmaputra the converge on the Bengal basin. The western part of the forest lies in India and the rest (about 60%) in Bangladesh. About one third of total areas of this forest are covered by river, channels and tidal creeks, varying in which from just a few meters to 5 km in some places! Along every creek and channel in the Sundarbans, the tide changes four times in a twenty-four hour cycle. The Bangladesh part of the forest is dominated by thick undisturbed forests that are the domain of the legendary Royal Bengal Tiger. The climate is mainly tropical with lots of rain, most of which falls during the monsoon, with clear blue skies through the winter.
The monsoon season (May – October) is hot and humid but the forests are lush green and alive with activity. Winter (October – February) is on other hand, the parfect season for holidays in the Sundarbans. The weather is mild and conducive for activities such as forest walks, boat trips, swims and wildlife watching. Also visible in winter is the phosphorescent plankton, which gives the waves of these tidal waters a magical green glow as they break against the shores.
The entire National park area is covered by mangrove forest. There are small patches of brackish marshes on emerging islands and riverbanks and sandy areas with grass and low shrubs on some of the outer island. The two dominant mangroves are Sundori (Heritiera fomes) and Gewa (Excoecaria agallocha). Sundarban is home to many different species of birds, mammals, insects, reptiles and fishes. Over 120 species of fish and over 270 species of birds have been recovered in the Sundarbans.
In facts the Sundarbans are reputed to be the largest natural fish nursery in the entire Sub continental. The Gangetic River Dolphin (Platanista Gangeticus) is common in the river. Not less than 50 species of reptiles and eight species of amphibians are know to exist including the only population of the Estuarine or Salt-water Crocodile (Crocodylus parasus). In Bangladesh, its population estimated at less than two hundred individuals. The crocodiles are a regular feature of the winter trips, seen basking on the bank of the river in the late mornings as the boat passes by.
About 32 species of mammal are also found in this forest. Among these are Rhesus Macaques, Clawless otters, Leopard Cats, Fishing Cats and Spotted Deer. The entire Sundarbans forest comprises the largest remaining tract of habitat for the Royal Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris).
Getting There: Because of its geographical location, the Sundarban forest is not easily accessible to tourists. One must go there by boat. For backpackers and the individual tourist it is very difficult to organize a trip to this forest on their own. Therefore, the normal practice is to join the group tours organized by a handful of operators. A trip to Sundardan forest for tourist starting from Dhaka, will first involve the journey to Khulna or Mongla to board the boat. There are different ways (air, road and river) to do this journey. However, once inside the forest, one must have a boat to move around. Because of the lack of infrastructural facilities, tourists are accommodated on board the vessel during their time inside the forest. Boats used for this purpose are normally equipped with rooms and meals facilities on board.