Bangladesh Discovery


Bangladesh Discovery

Style: PioneerGroundbreaking tours to unique destinations
Duration: 15 days
Type: GroupSmall group tours with a maximum of 12 travellers

Dossier

Dwarfed by its enormous neighbour, Bangladesh is an exciting nation where the food is fantastic and the welcome always warm. We explore the delights of this charming country on this two week trip, starting in the bustling capital Dhaka – a great snapshot of Bangladeshi life. We take a leisurely trip through timeless landscapes and explore the magnificent Sundarbans National Park, home to tigers, monkeys and crocodiles, entering into the primeval and mystical world of the mangrove forests. We also visit tea estates and delve into tribal culture at Srimangal, explore the unique landscapes of the chars, and discover a wealth of stunning temples, shrines and monuments around Rajshahi. But without a doubt, your overwhelming memory will be of the hospitality of the local people themselves, pleased that you have come to visit and eager to show you their culture. Bangladesh is too often ignored, but those who visit come away enchanted with this vibrant and beautiful country. 


Tour Rating

Fitness ●●○○○ | Off the Beaten Track ●●●●● | Culture ●●●●● | History ●●●●○ | Wildlife ●●●○○

Tour Pace

Busy 

Tour Highlights 

  • Meeting the tribes who live in the sand banks of the Jamuna river
  • A train journey from Rajshahi to Khulna
  • Two nights exploring the Sundarbans by boat
  • Srimongal, perhaps the most beautiful region of the country
  • The friendly welcome from the Bangladeshi people

Tour Essentials

Accommodation: Mix of comfortable hotels and overnight on boat
Included Meals: Daily breakfast (B), plus lunches (L) and dinners (D) as shown in the itinerary
Group Size: Maximum of 12
Start Point: Dhaka
End Point: Dhaka
Transport: Private cars/buses, trains, domestic flight & river boat
Countries: Bangladesh

Day 1 - Dhaka

On arrival in Dhaka, transfer to the hotel. Time permitting, explore Dhaka and get to grips with this vibrant city. Overnight Hotel Victory or similar. 

Day 2 - Dhaka

Today we have a Dhaka city sightseeing tour. Places of interest include the Ahsan Manzil (the pink palace), Shakari Bazar (Hindu Street), Dhakeshwari Temple, Armenian church and the Star Mosque. Overnight Hotel Victory or similar. (BL) 

Dhaka

To some, Bangladesh’s capital is overwhelming. For others it is exhilarating. No-one can deny that Dhaka leaves an indelible impression on you. A chaotic mass of humanity, Dhaka is Bangladesh’s most vibrant city and with a population of around 15 million, one of the largest in South Asia. Formerly ruled by the Moghuls and known as Jahangir Nagar, Dhaka is packed full of caravanserais, forts, palaces, mosques and churches, all bearing witness to the many cultures that have left their mark on the city. The Buriganga River runs through the city, a great place for observing the many faces of Dhaka and getting a feel for life in the world’s most densely populated city. With its colourful thriving markets, it’s fascinating monuments, its numerous rickshaws and most of all its engaging people, Dhaka is an experience not to be missed. 

Day 3 – Dhaka - Bogra

Early this morning we travel to Bogra district (210km), enjoying the rural countryside & stopping en route at anything of interest that we may see. On arrival in the afternoon, we will visit Mahastangarh, the world heritage site and famous Buddhist monastery dating back to the 3rd century BC. Overnight at Hotel Naz Garden or similar (BL)   

Day 4 – The Chars of the Jamuna River

After breakfast we will drive to Sariakandi (45km) to visit the Chars of the Jamuna River. We take a boat along the Jamuna River and see how river erosion and flooding affect the lives of local people. In the late afternoon, we will drive back to Bogra. Overnight at Hotel Naz Garden or similar (BL) 

The Chars

Chars are sand islands found in a number of the main rivers of Bangladesh, home to remote communities that live very much outside of the mainstream. Only accessible by boat they have rudimentary facilities, lacking basic services such as electricity, and they are very vulnerable to flooding during the rainy seasons, something exacerbated by climate change. The chars throughout the country are home to over half a million people who eke out a living on the sands, creating tiny farms for themselves by virtue of the silt brought down the rivers from the Himalayas. These are one of the most fascinating environments in Bangladesh and will be one of the most memorable parts of your trip.

Day 5 - Paharpur

Today we will drive to Paharpur to visit this famous Buddhist world heritage site. This is the most impressive archaeological site in Bangladesh and it dates from the 8th century AD. Later in the day we will visit the Hindu Terracotta temples in Overnight at Hotel Nice or similar, Rajshahi (120km) (BL) 

Paharpur

The enormous complex of Paharpur was constructed by the Pala ruler Dharmapala in the 8th century, built in the middle of what was once jungle. The main site is the huge monastery of Somapura, consisting of a number terraces, plinths and staircases centred around a huge shrine, although now only the lower part remains. What is left seems almost organic, with grass growing over ancient brickwork and the temple seemingly being reclaimed by the earth. The temple itself is in the shape of a cross and stands 22 metres high, hinting at previous glory and an impressive site. Many walls are covered in elaborate terracotta plaques depicting scenes of everyday life 1200 years ago. Covering 22 acres in size, Paharpur is without a doubt the finest set of archaeological remains in the country. 

Day 6 – Khulna – Mongla

Early morning train journey to Khulna (approx. 6hrs). Arrive Khulna in the afternoon and then transfer to Mongla to embark on the Sundarban cruise boat. Enjoy the riverside life of Bangladesh. Overnight on-board. (BLD) 

Day 7 - Sundarbans

Spend a full day exploring the Sundarbans by boat. This is the planet's largest mangrove forest, the home of the Royal Bengal Tiger and many other mammals and birds. You cruise both the larger rivers and are able to enter smaller canals for maximum opportunities to see wildlife. You will also be able to go ashore to walk through and experience the forest first-hand. Overnight on board. (BLD) 

Sundarbans

The Sundarbans are spread across Bangladesh and India, with the majority being in Bangladesh. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, it is one of the most important habitats for wildlife on the India subcontinent, with a wide variety of species being represented here. It also acts as a flood barrier for inland towns and villages when cyclones hit the coast. Two different ecosystems are represented here, freshwater swamp forest and mangrove forest, prowled by tigers in search of deer and other prey. The Sundarbans is home to the highest density of tigers in the world, with an estimated 500 individuals stalking through the trees, although it is difficult to see them. Local villagers are however often less lucky – man-eating tigers are well known here and many villagers have taken to wearing masks on the back of their heads to give the impression of eyes, as it is said that tigers are less likely to approach their prey head on. Even without seeing tigers, the sheer pristine beauty of the Sundarbans, and the numerous other wildlife to be seen here, make this a very special experience. 

Day 8 – Sundarbans & Khulna

A morning in the Sundarbans and we proceed north to the Pashur river and arrive back at the port in Mongla. After lunch we will disembark our boat and drive to Khulna, stopping off on the way to visit the famous sixty domed Mosque near Bagerhat. Overnight at the City Inn, Khulna (BL) 

Day 9 - Otter fishing village

In the morning we will drive to the Otter fishing village (approx. 3 hours) and meet the local Otter fishermen. This is one of the last places in Bangladesh where the local fishermen use trained otters, much as shepherds use sheepdogs, to round up fish. We will meet with the fishermen and learn about the challenges they face. In the late afternoon we will continue with a drive to Jessore to catch a flight to Dhaka. Overnight at Afford Inn or similar (BL) 

Day 10 – Sylhet

Early this morning we drive to Sylhet. Sylhet is 250km north east of Dhaka and has a much more relaxed atmosphere than the capital. We will take a short city tour to explore this afternoon. Overnight Hotel Metro International or similar. (BL) 

Day 11 - Jaflong

Today drive to Jaflong (60km), one of the most scenic areas in Bangladesh, close to the Indian border. Here we can see how the local people are collecting stone, with great opportunities to see a different side of Bangladeshi life and superb chances for photography. Visit the village across the river to meet Khasia tribal people and see their daily lifestyle. Return to Sylhet and visit the shrine of the great saint Hazrat Shah Jalal. Overnight Hotel Metro International or similar. (BL) 

Days 12-13 - Srimongal

A morning drive to Srimongal (100km). We spend two days exploring the area around Srimongal, perhaps the most beautiful region of the country. We hike in the Lawachara Forest Reserve, with its numerous species of birds and primates including the extremely rare Hoolock gibbon, which we hope to spot. We also take a boat trip in the Hail Haor wetland sanctuary, locally renowned for its water birds. Other visits include the charming tea plantations and villages of the Monipuri tribal people for an insight into their daily lives. Overnight at Nishorgo Eco Resort or similar. (BL) 

Please note that the walk in the Lawachara Forest Reserve requires strong sturdy walking shoes/boots and it is advisable to also wear long socks and long trousers for this walk. 

Nishorgo Eco Resort is locally owned and managed accommodation on the edge of the Lawachara Forest. The rooms are basic and either bamboo huts on stilts or mud walled rooms. They have bathroom facilities and a fan but no A/C. It is very basic accommodation but full of character. 

If you wish to upgrade you accommodation here we can offer the Grand Sultan Tea Resort, just a few hundred metres away. This is a 4 star international hotel. Upgrades start from £170 per room, per night. Contact us for details. 

Day 14 - Dhaka

Return to Dhaka (175km) and on our way we visit Dhamrai (40km from Dhaka), a small market town once famous for its fine pottery, brass casting and other traditional arts. Some are still being practiced today. We'll be hosted by a family that has been casting brass for over 200 years. We return to Dhaka and check-in to our hotel. Overnight Rosewood Hotel or similar. (B) 

Day 15 - Dhaka

Transfer to the airport for your onward flight. (B)

 

Inclusions:
Arrival and departure transfers
All accommodation
Services of English speaking guide / tour leader (except on when travelling from Dhaka to Chittagong and vice versa)
Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary

Excluded:
International flights
Any airport taxes
Travel Insurance
Visas
Drinks