Searching for tigers in Sundarbans.

Our last stop in India was Kolkata. It turned out to be cheaper to stop there for a few days than to fly direct to Delhi, and being budget conscious we were happy to take the cheap option. Kolkata was all kinds of crazy, it is the second largest city in India and it is home to over 4 million people. It probably deserves a blog to itself and so this one will focus on our 2 day trip out of the city to visit the Sundarbans, a massive mangrove forest.

Mangroves!:

Mangrove trees in Sundarbans

Most visitors to the forest are searching for the Bengal tiger and we were the same, although we had pretty low expectations about actually spotting one of these elusive animals. The Bengal tigers of Sundarbans still like to eat humans, this is usually reserved to local fishermen or honey collectors.

We set off early from central Kolkata for our 3 and a bit hour journey down to Godkhali. At some point along the road we filmed one of the villages that we passed through and i’m sure I will put that up for Film Friday one day! We passed one of the biggest piles of rubbish that exists, known as rubbish mountains, there are many people who spend their lives fishing through in search of things they can sell. Kolkata really doesn’t do things by half.

We crossed the river on a local ferry, Pinion had to be coaxed on and pretty much wanted to abandon the trip by this point. The not too wobbly ferry made it across to the island of Gosaba, where we made the wise purchase of a bottle of rum. From here we hopped on the back of a motorcycle with trailer combo and set off to take another boat across to the island of Satjelia, home to the eco village and some of the best food we ate on our whole trip. The eco village was made up of a number of little ensuite mud houses and they were pretty comfy for our short stay, although Sonu our guide kept us busy so we didn’t spend much time hanging around in them.

Eco-village sunflowers:

Sunflowers in Sundarbans

A lady taking her goats for a walk:

Lady with her goats

The rest of the day was spent venturing around the village on the island, there were a lot of goats and a lot of mud. Pinion decided she liked the mud and took a tumble into it, she wasn’t the only one but the locals did think it was pretty funny.

Just a little muddy:

Muddy  Sundarbans

We went for a sunset boat ride and watched as the birds all flew home to their nests, it was easy to get the feeling we were in the middle of nowhere, that was until a party started somewhere down the river apparently at one of the hotels. With the pounding bass we made our way back to the eco village but got to play with the bio-luminescent plankton on the way.

Sunset along the river:

Sunset in Sundarbans

Trying to hide her fear:

Sheila enjoying the boat ride in Sundarbans

Music and rum in the evening:

Sundarbans music

The following day was tiger spotting day, the early rise was helped by the fact that we only purchased a small bottle of rum the day before and weren’t suffering. The Bengal tiger proved elusive but we did get to witness a bit of a cat fight between our fellow tourists, with one person telling someone to shut up and it all ending with an offensive comment about a hat. People are pretty strange. Pinion and I stayed out of it, I was certainly in no place to pass judgement on other people’s hat as mine barely fitted my head and I only bought it cause of a very friendly salesman.

Home of the tigers:

Sundarbans entrance

We did get to spot a few cool things including some wild boar who came down to a drinking area close to one of the viewing platforms. There were lots of birds, they all seemed to either be egrets or cormorants of some type. Our guide was friendly if not that enthusiastic, he even took a nap as the afternoon heat took its toll.

Wildlife snapshots:

Bird taking off in Sundarbans

Wild pigs not tigers in Sundarbans

The afternoon was spent puttering about on the boat, being attacked by massive bees that had been disturbed by the infamous honey collectors and then the trip back to Kolkata where we spent our last 2 days in India.

Pinion and Sonu:

Sheila and Sonu in Sundarbans

 

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