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Published: September 14th 2012
What is the objective of a passionate backpacker? To travel in comfort or to take trouble but getting to see the beauties of the world? If you fall under the category of traveler who will go through difficulties and hardship to get a glimpse of a remote area surrounded with hills, forests, river and massive rocks then Nafakum in Bandarban is the place for you.
I was born and brought up in Dhaka and I do not encourage you at all to come and visit Dhaka. Stay away from this city- there is nothing here for tourists- unless you come from a very quiet and peaceful country and want to experience what massive gatherings of people and extreme congestion of traffic means. But Nafakum is a different story altogether. This place is remote and very difficult to reach- which is the best advantage of this natural delight. Apart from the very small local tribal community, hardly any outsiders have probably set foot in this place and thus Almighty’s creation has not been tampered with. This place is wild and utterly uncivilized, showing you what this place was like thousands and maybe millions of years ago- not something you get to
see in many places because of human intervention to “preserve” it for tourism!
Even the journey to Nafakum is an amazing experience in itself. There is no civilized way of going there- there is no civilized facility of camping even. A bumpy and over packed local bus will carry you from Bandarban to a certain distance but from there you are totally dependent on tribal boatmen. You have to ride on boat for more than a day, eat the food cooked on boat (and that’s very basic and not a tasty meal), sometimes cross the river on foot, live in an insignificant cottage with absolutely no facility (and the boatmen will sleep on the floor of the same room as you) AND you have to use the jungle as your toilet! Now, if this isn’t true back packing experience, then what is?
The boat ride- though it sounds like a punishment (and it is very much so if you do not have the mind set), takes you through beautiful scenery. The river flows between hills, somewhere narrow and somewhere wide, somewhere shallow and somewhere deep and extremely quiet all the way down. You can hear every small sound
made by animal life around you as well as the sound of water splash as the boatman rows the boat. As you reach Nafakum, the river goes round massive ancient rocks. River is so shallow at these bends that you will have to get down and cross the rocks on your own while the boatman pulls the boat with a rope.
Then you reach the fall- Nafakum Falls is the name. The fall in itself is not extraordinary, you can see far nicer falls in much more civilized places, but the wild and remote waterfall is beautiful none the less. It has what I call “quiet beauty”.
You cannot camp over there as there is no human civilization; you have to start the equally painful return journey after a few hours. Yes, that’s about it- nothing more is there to do or visit. But the entire journey should give you a feel of raw tribal life- the hardship, the simplicity, the innocence of people who have hardly seen the developed world. And I guess for a true back packer who wants to see the world, the hardship of 2 days is a small price to pay in exchange
of this unique experience, right?
How to go there:
· Luxurious bus, comfortable train as well as flights available from Dhaka to Chittagong- or you can go straight from Dhaka to Bandarban in bus (but then the bus is not luxurious)
· Bus or car from Chittagong to Bandarban. Lodging facility in Bandarban town is not a problem- there are hotels, motels and guest houses available. There are more sightseeing options available at Bandarban which might be worth staying an additional day over there
· Local bus (over packed) from Bandarban town to Thanchi. Thanchi is a remote area with no modern facility of lodging or restaurants. Stay over for the night. Very basic cottage for spending the night and very basic food (biscuits, fruits and soft drinks available for those who do not want to eat locally cooked food)
· Thanchi to Remakri in boat. Remakri is more remote a place
· Remakri to Nafakum on foot
· No good transport facility
· No proper lodging or washroom facility
· Terrible food
Mobile network will probably not work
· No professional travel agents to guide you- its only local guides who can take you to Nafakum
· Anything else you might come up with
· Simply the uniqueness of the awesome experience of living life in the (almost) ancient way and seeing nature at its most authentic (as best as is possible after millions of years of creation of the earth) form
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