Tigerless in Sunderbans

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December 29th 2010
Published: December 29th 2010
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The Sunderbans Creeks and a Village

The visit to Sunderbans started with a 3 hr drive from Kolkata and then another 3 hr boat ride to Jamespur village, where we stayed at Mangrove Resort of ADPL company.

The Sunderbans are amazingly unspoilt - they retain their authenticity and charm. There are tricks to escape the "Xmas holiday noisy crowd from Kolkata" - for e.g. start your boat ride at 6:30 am instead of 10 am etc. Avoid anything the local tour operators will tell you - watch towers and canopy walks, interpretation centres, and other stuff like that.

We stuck to a simple plan -
Day 1- reach the resort, and go for a boat ride, visit the market, check out the drinks shop, buy as many masala peanuts and Lays chips as possible. Watched a lovely local dance by local artistes in the evening.
Day 2 - start early, go for a LONG boat ride.. full day.. visit the local market (again by boat) - stock up again on drinks and namkeens (!). Also added a visit to a "Textile cooperative" shop in the market, and shopped for batik and local work. Watched a local Baul music performance by local artistes.
Day 3 - A long walk in the village, including visiting an old couple in their hut. And lots of tree climbing attempts! The villages are amazingly clean, unspoilt, beautiful, and surprisingly not poverty-striken (which was pleasing to see). Solar panels and tata sky dish tv antennas were spotted on atleast 5 of the huts we saw (out of about 20 I think).

The boat rides are amazing. Breakfast, tea/coffee, lunch etc.. all served on the boat. Supplemented with our own beers and peanuts. We enjoyed checking the GPS on blackberry to see which estaurine creek we were in, and how close to which island! That was fun! We were able to make out the direction our boat was going in, and how much distance we were covering. We spotted a whole lot of wildlife.. deer, ducks, crocodiles, monitor lizards, birds, etc. The tiger remained elusive. Frankly I didn't mind not seing it. The boats are fairly open, and close to the shore... I think its best to not get upclose and personal with the tiger there.

The boat itself was spacious, and well designed with large comfortable beds below the deck area, and a basic but clean loo. You can sit on the boat for the full day as you cruise along the tributaries, and you won't get bored at all!

Our resort was clean, functional, and far from the madding crowds. We avoided some of the larger resorts, though on the last day we were invaded by a large noisy group which kind of took away some of the charm of the resort. I really liked it. Luxury isn't really a priority in the Sunderbans, since you spend most of your time on the boat anyways. And I think it isn't available either.

The village walk was the highlight of the trip I thought. Beautiful paths in between "pukurs" ie ponds, and fields. Mud huts with thatched roofs.

Additional photos below
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4th January 2011

Tigerless at Kabini
We went tigerless too. 3 exquisite days at Kabini. Highly recommended if you haven't already been there. But no tigers! Not even pugmarks! They've stopped taking you on elephants. Only noisy smoky jeeps. Boats too but they don't get too close to the animals (mainly elephants). A jeepload 4 days before us got to see a tiger and a noisy group who went after us saw a leopard. But exquisitely behaved as we were, all we got was deer (heaps of deer, difft shapes and sizes), elephants, monkeys etc. The forest is well maintained. All jungle roads (in Karnataka) are shut at night, so that the animals can do their thing in peace.

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