From Diary 2, I
am now entering the Sundarbans.
19/1. When we wake up in the morning, the ship
have brought us into the
Sundarbans. At the ranger station in Chadpai,
we picked up two armed guards - which will protect the wild life from us.
The first bit is on the mighty Passur River, then we turn right on the
lesser Mirgamad Kha and then so some even narrower.
At ten, we all go into the smaller wooden boat, and paddled down a narrow
side branch. The sun breaks through, and chase away the mist and coldness.
The vegetation is dense, and the closest to water made up by the pioneering Sundri Gewa mangrove tree. In several of them a parasitic plant is flowering
with flowers, not that different from their host. Some low palms count for
another dominating species, and it is used for roofing and still harvested
in the not protective areas of the Sundarbans. It is real high tide, and the
water goes almost into the forest, only half a meter higher. The tide are
around four to six meters here, and at low tide, the wide mud-banks will be
the place to see the huge saltwater crocodilians sunbasking.
Here are many birds, among them Oriental White-eye, Blue-eared-,
Brown-winged- and Common kingfishers, Greater Yellownape, Greater
Racket-tailed Drongo, a big white egret, some bulbuls, Jungle Foul,
Oriental Magpie Robin - and others. In the trees, some Red-Faced Macaques are
foraging, and we can get pretty close without bothering them. After an hour,
we turn around, and by engine head back to the ship, where cake and
dub-tar awaits us. Our skilled guide
give a lecture about the area and our tour. It is actually The
Bengal Tours Ltd. which organises this tour. One, if not the most
serious I found from home, but their prices was way too high - then.
The general plan is to head down to the south-eastern area, which is
one of the three protected areas: Sundarban East in the Sarankhola Range.
Here, the trees reach fifteen meters, and the under-forest is more open,
giving us a chance to spot wildlife.
While he speaks, a small group of the pink Ganges Dolphins passes us. Hard
animals to get a photo of! We are heading the entire way down to Katka,
around 60 kilometres south. Several groups of dolphins passes us, and at any
given time, a Brahma Kite will hunt in the stirred water behind the boat.
We sit on the top-deck and watch the mangrove pass bye, and occasionally an
animal reveals itself on the shore. Here are rats, Jungle Fouls, Egrets,
Kingfishers, falcons, and deer.
A rare mangrove duck pops up a few times,
getting the Bangladeshi birdies all op and hype, making the rest of us think
of tigers. I get a lot of pictures with the rings after dolphins. A few
fishers and crab-fishers have their nets a teins here, some are arranging
their net along the muddy brinks.
At four, we reach Katka, and head out on a walk.
The wooden boat brings us in to a jetty and into different types of
mangrove. On the "beach", numerous small crabs have filled the area with
small sand-pearls. The first part of the trail is rather open with big trees, A large hurt of
Spotted deer crosses a opening.
Some pointy snails are found everywhere, while the rest of the animals have
vanished. The area is a bit like the Roskilde Festival, the day after: All
is bare mud, and it is completely covered in footprints - here it is by
There are two forms for epiphytic ferns, and vide and a narrow leaved.
The ground is dominated by the air-roots from the four different types of
mangrove trees in the area. Several times we see groups of Red Faced
Macaques and Spotted Deer, but the tigers have only left a few, old
We reach a few mounts, which will be dry at any given time. Here are
numerous old broken clay pots. The area was used for salt harvesting from
200-100 years ago. They heated seawater with firewood in the clay pots, till
there were only salt left.
Now, we reach an area with significantly lower and denser mangrove trees,
mixed with the bush-like palms. The guards want us to keep close together,
and they actually seem to be on alert. Then we reach the big river and it
feels like coming out to the sea. Besides from the snails, here are some
spotless, small ladybirds. Here are a lot of old, dead trees, victims of a
cyclone some years ago. What appears as giant bulbs, some over a meter tall
is found in the area. I ask the guard, which - wrongly for sure - tells me
it is parasitic plants. I have to check up on that! (I guess it is
asiaticum) .Here are also some
strange terrestrial ferns - can't figure how they cope with the brackish
environment?. We see the sunset, and
head out to the ship in the dusk.
We are served a small meal of noodles, and then a old BBC
film about the first filming of the tigers, some years ago. The supper is
served on the top-deck, which start to be a bit chill by now. I retreat to
the saloon to work on photos and diary.
20/1. A fast
of tea and bisques, then we sail down the canals in the little boat. Tigers have been spotted
here recently, but we only see some Small Herons, a White Bellied Fishing Eagle
some finches. Here are a few
plants I haven't seen before; one mangrove tree and a small bush with spiny
leaves. It is real high tide, and the lower leaves are flooded.
Then I spot a rather small but fat Water Monitor, strangely sitting at water
level on the brink this cold and sun-less morning. A single Spotted Deer
look at us from the water-edge. We head back to the mother-ship for
The tour is surprisingly cold, both due to the breeze and the mist, I guess.
The 15,3C and 91% humidity does its part. I had not expected to be freezing
at the sea level this close to equator! I sit in the slightly warmer cabin
and lookout out on the Spotted Deer in the mangrove, waiting for the tiger to do
its thing, while I eat my breakfast.
At half pass nine, we head out for a eight kilometre walk to Kockikali.
The mist and cold still dominates, when we leave the ship. A tall viewing
tower offers a misty glimpse over the different areas around. Some are with
rather tall trees, some with bushes, some low palms and some with grass. The only animals
are the deer.
A single yellow flowering Fabaceae and what almost look like tea
bush, is the only flowers I see, but the nature is still special and
A square pond is made to catch rainwater to the wild animals, but vacant,
except for some huge snails. We reach an area with white sand, covered in
trees. Then we are at the beach, facing the sea. A bit in from the beach,
the dense forest seems to be the perfect place for an ambush, but we are
left alone. Here are plenty of pore-prints in the sand: Jungle cat, monkeys,
birds, deer and crabs.
When we turn into the forest, we find a larger Water Monitor, basking in a
I have gotten a bit bored, and when Chris show me how he
spells his name in Bangladeshi (strange letters), I tell him I can do that
too. I get our guide
to do it for me, and when Chris show the guide how can
spell his, and the guide read "Finn??", I get the wanted laugh.
Then a new plant catch my attention: A small but fiercely spined
Solanaceae with purple flowers. It is quite common - in a tiny area.
The beach is almost perfect sand, only the inner part is covered in nuts
from the mangrove trees. A few animals have been washed up: Jellyfish,
mussels, snails and crabs. I find a nice snail-encasing, which is
tiger-striped, and I figure that might be my Bangladeshi souvenir.
We find two live Horseshoe Crabs, fighting their way up on the beach. Back
at the boat, we are met with some nice, cold yoghurt milk, and a bit later;
lunch. On the beach, some Wild Boars are having their.
At three, we head in to the tiger-jungle once again. Now,
the sun have gained full straight, and the temperature reach the perfect
is the area that usually are used for filming, but the guide admit; he only
see a tiger in every hundred tour. The area is first dominated by grass. In
December hundred Bangladeshi people are cutting the tall grass in the area,
to make shadow huts to grow plants in. Now, only their primitive huts are
back - and the short grass. The deer love it, and here are several Wild
Boars who dig-up the "lawns" quite effectively.
We walk for an hour, but beside the environment photos, showing dense forest,
I don't see anything interesting. The boat pick up us op at a canal, and we are
delivered to the ship. The tour out through the slack water canal offers
some good motives
including the air roots. A Crested Serpentine Eagle, White Throated
Kingfisher and Lesser Adjutant Stork spice up the adventure. Back at the
boat, I ask for a bucket of hot water, and while I enjoy that, the others
watch two crocodilians. I don't really feel cheated - until they tell me
one of them was six meters, the other one bigger. A bit later, I do see the
little Otter, running into the bushes.
grilled chicken and saltwater fish along with the
usual noodles, rice, vegetables, potato mash and soup, make up a nice supper, and then
anchor up, and onwards to Tambulbunia. I sit in the cabin and have a great
time with the others, and don't get to finish my work. Chris and I get good
laughs, looking at each others sparkling red faces. Strange the sun only got
to me now? And half the day, the mist dominated.
21/1. I get up early to catch up with work. When
it starts to lighten at half pass six, I realises it is a misty morning, and
the first tour of the day might be candled. No point running around as live
bait, if you can't see the tiger anyway.
I sit in the viewing cabin working, while I once again drink way too much
tea. Or rather: Condensed milk and sugar in the tea.
At ten, it clears up a bit, and we start a tour up a real narrow canal in the
We are heading up to the major river and the rest of the world.
Our guide know that crocodilians have been spotted frequently on this
particular canal, and we do this detour to try and spot some. No luck, but
after the sun came though, it was a nice tour. I spend quite some time
talking with Chris, till he spots some big pore prints in the mud,
and disappears like a ghost. We reach one of the ranger
stations at the mouth of the mighty Passur River, and head in on a long
Here are Red Faced Macaques and the national flower in a pond: The Pink
As we enters the jungle, the small Red Crabs hides in their tunnels
and the temperature start to reach something nice. I spot some long,
stick-like leaves, but it take some time for me to get close. It is
just another fern. Then a large plant of a orchid sit in a tree.
There are fourteen species of orchids in the Sundarbans, but despite
I have been looking for them, this is the first.
Many areas of the muddy ground is dominated by thick air roots, and
big, light green ferns cling to the tree stems. Only a few birds are
seen, and soon after, we are back at the rangers camp.
Here, a few Hoopoes are finding food in the
tall grass, mud-skippers on the muddy shore and some ladybirds sit
in the spiny-leaved bushes. Most are having a break, I try
desperately to find more interesting plants and animals. A group of
five different species of insect-eating birds are passing bye. Here
are Great Tit, flue-catchers, sunbirds, bulbuls and a treecreeper. I don't
bother to make any photos - it won't work anyway.
We are transported out to the ship, and we start sailing up the huge
river to Khulna. We passes huge silos and other industry along with
tiny fisher boats and super tankers.
I start to work, but once again, the file I've been working on for
days are empty! Luckily, I have a backup from this morning - nothing
lost at all!
The oppressions leader has been released, and immediately announced
a new strike, hitting the busses. Something about they burn a few
busses here and there, and the rest won't drive. They have done
pretty much the same with trains, de-railing some. I'm glad I
have some spare days to reach the northern boarder!
While we sail on the wide river, I start working. Among others, with
the Sundarban slideshow.
It was not the intense wild-life experience I had hoped for, but due
to the crew, travelling companions and the weather, it turned out to
be a great tour anyway.
The tour back is rather eventless except for several dolphins and
the beautiful "coastline". We pass more and more ships,
some rather large, some loaded a bit too much perhaps? When we close
in on Khulna, the refuge-like
ferries crossed frequently. We are all gathered on the front deck
for a group photo, and later on in the back for a de-breathing. The
crew is presented, and we have collected a tip for them. I gave 500
Taka, which might have been a bit too much, but they actually was
twelve and the guide and the guards to serve the fourteen of us. We
have been served some real great food, the tea water has been warm
all the time, so was my bathing water.
Then we tell what we think about the tour, and supper is served. One
of the small overfilled ferries drift by
in the dark with shouting people on.
Apparently, they have lost engine power, and are drifting fast down
the stream. Our crew catches them, and pull them to the harbour.
We are delivered to the dock at half pass seven, and a smiling Md. Shahadat Hossain from
Tours & Travel is waiting for me at the boardwalk. They have
deliver a fantastic service, and I can only recommend them highly.
He arrange transport back to the hotel, and I am so pleased I'm not
the one, having to spend the entire night in a bus to Dhaka. I get a
nice room, my laundry and my stored cloth.
Soon after, Shahadat returns with some cakes. Last time, I asked him
how the bakery with the palm-sap tasted, and he have found a bakery
selling some various types: Papapita telepits and tjitoypita. The first is with
some real sweet ingredients.
The second is cooked in oil, and reminds me so much about
ębelskliver. The third is not sweet at all, and it is served
with a spicy, green sauce. The palm sap is a great ingredients for
Despite the rather short page,
I think it is time to leave the Sundarbans Mangrove and start a