Since the beginning of time, the largest mangrove forest in the world has been glorified with the narratives of the legendary big cat. Sunderbans & the Royal bengal Tiger have thus almost formed a philial bond which has been instrumental in the protection of one of the last stretches of greenery that’s impenetrable by human beings. I fell in love with the mangrove forest way back in 2006 when I read ‘The Hungry Tide’ by Amitav Ghosh. Till this day, I have repeatedly gone back to this vast green retreat, amazed by a landscape that gets sculpted twice a day with the flow of ebb and tide.
February 2021 was no different as we took on another ‘pilgrimage’ to the Sunderban National Park & Tiger Reserve.
The plan was something like this –
Day 1 –
Start from Kolkata at 4am and drive down to Gadkhali Ferry Ghat (90+ kms).Park our ‘Silver Surfer’ and board the vessel which would be our floating home for the next 3 days. Full day safari and anchor somewhere mid-river for the night.
Day 2 –
Start early at sunrise (approx. 6:15 am) and full day safari.
Day 3 –
Similar to Day 2 with drop at Gadkhali Ferry Ghat by 6:30pm. Drive back to Kolkata.
This was mostly going to be a birding tour and we did have a few target species in mind. Hence we decided to maximize our time inside the forest by staying on the boat. The boats are not allowed to stay inside the core forest perimeter after sundown. However you can anchor on the main river (Gumti) near the forest entry. This enables a considerable head start at sunrise and paves the way for spotting truly elusive and rare species in the wee hours of the morning. As for the big cat, the chance of a sighting hovers between 0 and 1, true to the essence of Probability theory.