by Clinical Crossroads

The one other place that fills the bucket list for almost all travel-loving Bengalis, is the Sundarbans. Covering more than 10000 sq kilometres, along the delta of the Ganga and the Brahmaputra, the Sundarbans are no doubt the lungs of both West Bengal and Bangladesh.

Home to thousands of species, both known and unknown, this National Park occupies a significant place for its contributions towards sustaining biodiversity.

Named after the ‘Sundari’ trees that find predominance here, the Sundarbans are famous for being the abode of the Royal Bengal Tiger.

A ferry ghat of the Sundarbans
The water-life at Sundarbans
Season of choice

The National Park is open for tourists all the year round. While the ride may be more comfortable in the winter, the monsoon presents amazing cloudscape across the horizon.

There is no specific season that offers advantage to the chance of spotting the tiger. Chances are more that you’ll be able to see the royal animal during low tide, when they come out of the jungle to drink water. In winters, they come up to the shore to bask in the sun. If lucky, you may also be able to spot a swimming tiger.

However, you may prefer to visit the delta in winters, if you are a bird watcher. Birds that have been sighted here, include the White bellied sea eagle, Mangrove whistlers, Sandpipers and babblers.

How to reach and whether you should book through a Tour operator or not

In my personal opinion, it is better and easier to book through a tour operator, who arranges for your conveyance from Kolkata to the Sundarbans entry points and your boat ride as well. Tour operators are mostly Kolkata based. They pick you up from a  convenient point in Kolkata and drop you back there, after the tour is done.

However, if you have suitable contacts, you can book a boat on your own, which you can board from places like Godkhali, Sonakhali or Jharkhali. In that case, you’ll have to arrange for transport from your place of stay in Kolkata, to your place of boarding the boat and back.
Sundarbans tiger
Basking in the winter sun (Pic: Sanjay Banerjee)
sundarbans owl
Buffy fish owl, spotted at Sundarban (Pic: Sanjay Banerjee)
Route and halts (itinerary)
There can be a variety of itineraries possible, depending on the time that you wish to spend. I would recommend at least a night’s stay in the Sundarbans, if not two. A 3 day- 2 night tour is optimum to me, to get into the vibes of the National Park. You get a chance to visit more interior places, which increases your chances of spotting the tiger and also some other amazing wildlife, including birds and alligators.
Important landmarks that you may choose to visit include Sajnekhali, Sudhanyakhali, Dobanki, Netidhopani and Kalash.
Booking place of stay at the Sundarbans

In case you plan to spend a night or two in the Sundarbans, you’ll have to look for a suitable place to stay. Here you’ll have two options:

  1. Stay onboard (i.e. inside your boat)
  2. Stay at hotels on the banks.

While the 2nd option is easier to adopt, the 1st one is able to give an amazing experience.

Not all boats have provisions of staying at night. Cruises arranged by the West Bengal Tourism, as well as by some private operators like Sundarban Houseboats, have such provisions.

If you wish to stay on-shores, you can visit websites like MakeMyTrip and Agoda.

Adequate lodging and fooding arrangements are made with either of the options available.

Deck of a houseboat afloat on the rivers

Travel Permit for the Sundarbans

Travel permits are needed to enter the Sundarbans. The tour operators can help to get your permits made.

You can do it on your own as well. Permits are done at Sajnekhali. The charge varies based on the type of boat you choose, number of tourists and the number of days in your travel plan.


Weather is tropical. It is hot and humid in the summers. A comfortable breeze is often encountered. It rains heavily in the monsoons. Winters are cold, due to the cold breeze.


It is quite an easy going trip here. Not much physical exertion is needed. However, osteoarthritis of the knees can make boarding and de-boarding the boats difficult. Climbing stairs at viewpoints could also get difficult.


Depends on your preferences. 
A day’s trip might not be costly. However, staying over night might require you to shell out a good amount of money, approximately Rs. 4000-6000 per head per night.
That’s it then! See you soon at the Sundarbans!
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(Written with special inputs from Sanjay Banerjee.)
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