The secrets of unexplored and quaint forests of eastern India are just waiting to be unearthed. From mystifying mangroves delta of the Sundarbans to the spell-bounding vast expanse of tall elephant grasslands of Kaziranga, this trip will take you into the territory of few of the most elusive wildlife of the world. From the swamp tigers of Bengal, to the great one-horned rhinoceroses of Assam, be ready to see it all! The trip starts from Kolkata, the third most productive as well as the third-most populous city in the country. From there you will be taken to the Sundarbans which is a is a national park, tiger reserve, and biosphere reserve in West Bengal. It is part of the Sundarbans on the Ganges Delta, and adjacent to the Sundarban Reserve Forest in Bangladesh. The delta is densely covered by mangrove forests, and is one of the largest reserves for the Bengal tiger. There are no jeep safaris here due to the impossible terrain. Instead, we transverse through the forest in reserved houseboats. After spending a few days our of human civilisation, we will head towards our second pitstop, the Kaziranga Tiger Reserve, home to two-thirds of the world's great one-horned rhinoceroses, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Apart from the beautiful gentle giants, Kaziranga is has one of the highest density of tigers among protected areas in the world. Kaziranga is a vast expanse of tall elephant grass, marshland, and dense tropical moist broadleaf forests, criss-crossed by four major rivers, including the Brahmaputra, and the park includes numerous small bodies of water.
This is how your trip will go about
Arrival at Kolkata and transfer to Sundarbans
You will be meeting your tour IWS Guide at Kolkata airport/ railway station who will have everything arranged for you from beforehand. You will board your taxis and move right away towards Sundarbans. A 3 hour drive from the city, you will reach a place named Godhkhali, where the roads end, and you’ll board your houseboat with all the luggage and supplies for next few days, and you’ll set sail towards the tiger reserve area. In half an hour, you’ll enter the reserve area, and the rest of the day you’ll be going around in the world’s biggest largest mangrove forest. In the evening, you will exit the park boundaries and anchor right on the edge of the forest. You’ll spend the night on the houseboat.
Explore the Sundarbans Delta
Day 2, 3, 4
By 6 in the morning, you will enter the forest and spend the entire day in the delta, searching for the elusive most elusive fauna of the world, including the swamp tiger, fishing cat, leopard cat, estuarine crocodile, water monitor lizard, Gangetic river dolphin, and olive Ridley turtles, and countless more. All meals will be served on the boat itself. You’ll be exiting the forest range only prior to sunset, whereby you’ll anchor at different spots everyday, enjoying the beautiful moonlit evenings and the pure, salty breeze from the ocean around you.
Transfer to Kaziranga
Today you’ll wake up at leisure and start our journey back to land. Post-breakfast, you will dock at Godhkhali from where you will board our taxi back to Kolkata, from where you fly up to Guwahati. Guwahati is one of the biggest cities of the northeastern part of India, and is the gateway to the Seven Sisters of India. From Guwahati airport, you will board our taxi and travel to Kaziranga, which can take upto 6 hours. You’ll have lunch on our way, and the scenic highway goes parallel to the forest boundaries, where you can normally spot the beautiful wildlife even before reaching the park! You will reach Kaziranga before sunset, and check into your resort. The rest of the evening will be at leisure. You can relax and unwind after a day full of travelling.
Safaris into the park
Day 6, 7
After the one-of-its-kind boat safaris of Sundarbans, you’ll experience a more traditional safari set-up, in an open gypsy, on land. You’ll have back to back morning and evening safaris in the beautiful Kaziranga. You’ll be notified about the safari timings by your tour IWS Guide since they change depending upon the seasons and sunrise and sunset. You can expect to see the Big 5 of Kaziranga in your safaris, namely great Indian one-horned Rhinoceros, Indian elephant, royal Bengal tiger, eastern swamp deer and wild water buffalo. You’ll have photography opportunities like no other here. The sheer amount of wildlife you’ll see on your safaris is one of the most in any park of India. Your IWS Guide will make sure the zones you get are the best for animal sighting, and will take you through the best routes to ensure best sightings.
The final safari and transfer to Guwahati
The final safari you will do would be the special elephant safari into the park, whereby you can get particularly close to the wildlife, giving opportunity to make some awesome photos. After you fifth and final game drive, you will head back to your resort, freshen up, pack up and move back to Guwahati by your taxi. You will be dropped off at Guwahati airport/ your hotel/ any place of preference, where your tour IWS Guide will bid adieu and you can continue your journey thereon!
Frequently Asked Questions
Doubts? Continue reading! We have answered few of the common questions in the minds of travellers. If this doesn't answer it, feel free to get in touch any time through mail or call!
What kind of a traveller does this expedition cater to?
We have designed this trip keeping in minds the needs of every kind of travel enthusiast. You need not be a hardcore wildlife buff or a super-dedicated wildlife photographer to enjoy this trip. Like all the other IWS itineraries, this one aims to get you close to the wilder and unexplored side of India, and you would enjoy it irrespective of the category of traveller you fall into!
Will be have someone who will accompany us during the trip?
Yes! We will a lot you one of our IWS Guides who will travel with you and coordinate everything during your travels, from taxis, to hotel rooms, from safari timings and zones, to interaction with the locals. He/she will have it all laid out properly for you so that you don't have to get into the hassle of logistics and enjoy your travels to the most!
What camera equipment is optimal for photography during this trip?
For the camera body, any D-SLR would be great. Ideally, something with a high burst rates of around 6fps and above (for those high speed action shots) and decent ISO performance (since we will be getting the best shots at either dawn or dusk) would be better. For bigger mammals, a lens with a reach of 400mm would be ideal. For smaller mammals and birds, 600mm would be just perfect. If you wish to exploit the stunning nightsky for some astrophotography, don't forget that fast wide-angle lens! And oh! Don't for get extra memory cards and hard drives for dumping the thousands of amazing shots you will be capturing!
I am not an expert wildlife photographer. Would I still be able to enjoy this trip?
Most certainly! The cameras we have today are smart enough to get you some great shots even in Auto mode. However if you do wish to learn about the finer nuances of the art of photography, do let us know beforehand. We have a special IWS Guide who is an expert photographer and has taken several photography workshops. He will certainly help you to kick your photography skills up a notch!
How will we be travelling between the stops?
The mode of travel between locations would depend upon the distance and the quality of roads or trains available. For road transfers, you will be taken around in AC MPVs. For rail transfers, we would prefer berths in 2nd Class (two-tier) AC express trains. Choice of airlines for even further away destinations would depend solely upon your timing and convenience.
What kind of vehicle will be taking us into the park during the safaris, and is it safe?
The safari vehicle is a standard open top 4x4 gypsy modified to suit the different type to terrains of Indian forests. Because of being open from all four sides, the gypsy does give a feeling of being exposed to the wilderness, but it is absolutely safe, and there has been no cases where the animals has tried to attack a vehicle unless it is provoked or harassed.