Scenes from the Sunderbans whose misty early mornings lend an ethereal quality to the start of your day’s safari. One knows this is a vast area of mangrove swamp lands but knowing that doesn’t prepare one for the sheer scale of the region, the tranquility, silence and sense of peace interspersed with moments of excitement as it’s fauna and avifauna appear momentarily. Should the region be sold as a ‘Tiger safari experience?’ No, that only raises expectations and invariably leads to disappointment. Should it be sold as a visit to a unique, UNESCO listed biosphere with beautiful scenery, the chance to observe a region with a unique culture, uncut, raw and untouched? Yes.
Tiger sightings are as common here as sightings of plastic, great for the environment, not so great for those who have been sold a tiger safari. Our count included several wild boar, chiral, a few crocs, several lesser adjutant storks, an osprey, a fish eagle and the usual array of egrets, pond herons, magpie robins, fan tails etc, but it threw up a few new to me species, an Eastern Curlew and Black-Capped and Brown-Winged kingfishers. We didn’t spot a tiger, though we did see not one, not two but three sets of fresh pug marks lending possibility to the fact that sighting stripes here may not be quite akin to searching for a needle in a haystack.