Home to the Royal Bengal Tiger, the dense forests of the Sundarbans have always held a unique allure to visitors to West Bengal. As the world’s largest delta, as well as its largest mangrove belt, the Sundarbans has earned its name as one of the world’s natural wonders. To help you navigate these dense forests smoothly, we have compiled this guide to visiting and getting around the Sundarbans.
What you need to know
With a name that translates to ‘beautiful forest’, the Sundarbans span a total area of 10,000 square kilometers, of which about 40% is in India, the rest in Bangladesh.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
As per the last count, the number of tigers in this UNESCO World Heritage Site is about 180 – of which only 74 are in India. Efforts are currently underway to collect more up-to-date statistics.
How to get there
The nearest airport to the Sundarbans is in Kolkata, from where most package tours to the forests begin.
While the Sundarbans have multiple points of entry, most tours begin from Godhkali Port, located by Gosaba, the last inhabited area before the forests deepen. Gosaba can be reached by road from Kolkata, or by public transport from nearby Canning, to where you can travel by rail from Kolkata.
The forests can only be toured via boat, which stop at various islands.
Fees and permits
All visitors to the Sundarbans are required to obtain a permit from the Forest Department. For locals, this can be done from the Office of the Field Director at the Sundarban Tiger Reserve office in Canning, and will cost about Rs. 60. Foreigners will have to obtain a special permit from Kolkata, at the office of the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporations, for Rs. 200.
Things to do
While a boat ride through the inner channels of the forest will let you observe and absorb the scenic beauty of the forests, there are quite a few stops you can make to spot animals.
From the Sudhanyakhali Watch Tower, deep within the jungle, you have the highest probability of spotting tigers. It’s a popular stop for most ferries. The Sajnekhali Watch Tower is yet another popular option for spotting birds, tigers, deer and other animals. The Dobanki Watch Tower offers visitors a unique opportunity to observe wildlife from the 20 foot canopy walk. Views span for about half a kilometer.
Besides animal sightings, there’s plenty of local culture to be experienced. The Chargheri Kali Temple, deep within the forest, is a popular stop. The Tripligheri Bazar – a small, remote local market – is yet another interesting spot.
Where to stay
Although it’s possible to join a one-day tour of the Sundarbans, most tours are more comprehensive and span multiple days. Sunderbans Tiger Camp is a popular luxury resort that offers a wide range of rooms from rustic huts to luxurious cottages. The Sundar Chital Tourist Lodge is yet another popular option, and offers over 30 double bedded rooms. On other tours, you can sleep aboard your boat.
How to stay safe
The Sundarbans is said to be the only remaining place in the world where tigers actively hunt humans for food. Some 50-80 locals are estimated to be victims of fatal attacks from tigers every year. This is one of the primary reasons visitors are recommended to navigate the forest with a government-approved tour operator rather than just by themselves.
The waters of the Sundarbans are also quite dangerous, as they’re home to predatory saltwater crocodiles. Swimming is absolutely prohibited, and visitors are recommended to ensure their boats are well stocked with life jackets and first aid kits.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.