OAB Overland all Bangladesh

PLEASE NOTE BOA OVERLAND IS CURRENTLY UTILISING LOCALLY CHARTERED VEHICLES WHILST OPERATING IN BANGLADESH, WE ARE HOPING TO RESUME WITH OUR OWN VEHICLES IN THE 2014 SEASON.

We begin our journey in Kolkata before moving into Bangladesh… a rare and undiscovered gem! A country absolutely oozing with culture and history; and people who would rate up there amongst the friendliest in the world! 

Come and explore the largest mangrove in the world, the Sundarbans, on a three-day cruise. Gaze upon the impressive archaeological sites of Puthia, Mahastangar and Paharpur and wander the tea plantations in Srimangal. Take a city tour in bustling Dhaka, the city of rickshaws, followed by a break for a day in the capital… put your feet up around the pool or get out and about, making your own discoveries! Boat on Lake Kaptai around Rangamati and tramp the tribal hills of Bandarban. Walk the long beaches and colourful fish market at Cox’s Bazar, joking with the fisherman, many of whom are only on solid ground when they sell their wares. Take a dip in the pristine waters of St Martins Island and if we get lucky take a peep at the famous ship breaking yards near Chittagong…

Itinerary
Our scheduled drive times include lunch, photo and toilet stops, but please remember that this is genuine adventure travel, so these should be used as a guide only.  You will need to remain open-minded and flexible in order to get the most out of your trip.

Day 01: Arrive in Kolkata. You will be met at the airport and whisked off to the larger than life, Fairlawn Hotel in Sudder Street, just down the road from the Indian Museum. Sudder Street is a melting pot of beggars, travellers, shops, restaurants, rickshaw wallahs, taxis and hotels. Kolkata has long been recognised as the cultural capital of India and the countries friendliest urban centre. There is also plenty to see and do within walking distance of the Fairlawn Hotel. Overnight Kolkata.

Day 02: An easy paced city tour taking in such attractions as Victoria Memorial, Howrah Bridge (Rabindra Setu), the Mother Teresa Calcutta Centre, the flower market, Kali Temple and St Paul’s Cathedral is scheduled for today. Overnight Kolkata.

Day 03: An early departure from Kolkata will see us arrive at the Indian border town, Petrapole, where all border formalities are completed before entering Bangladesh at the Bangla border, Benapole. Here we will meet our Bangladeshi guide, complete border formalities, have lunch and then continue our day’s drive, arriving in Khulna in the late afternoon. Khulna is our first overnight stop in Bangladesh. Drive time eight to ten hours (including border formalities). Overnight Khulna.

Days 04, 05 and 06: On day four we drive south to Mongla in the Sundarbans. Mongla, is the main sea port of South-Western Bangladesh and it is in this port town that we board our vessel. We will spend the next three days exploring the Sundarbans by boat, as well as eating and sleeping on our large vessel. The Sundarbans, the largest mangrove swamp in the world, is a UNESCO world heritage site. In the Bengali language the name Sundarban can literally be translated as ‘beautiful jungle’ or ‘beautiful forest’.

Our first boat stop will be the Dhaingmari Forest Office where the park fees will be paid and the necessary permits collected. From Dhaingmari our vessel will proceed to Kachikhali Forest Station further south on the Bay of Bengal. In the days ahead we will visit Kachikhali Tiger Point, Kachikhali Beach, Kotka Forest Station as well as various creeks and canals by smaller boat. There are also opportunities to walk and hike in several designated areas as well as view the tops of the forest from watchtowers.

Almost certainly we will spot tiger footprints, and footprints of other wildlife on one of several nature treks, but please take into consideration tiger and other wildlife sightings cannot be guaranteed in such a vast, remote and difficult terrain… however, there is a very good chance an undetected tiger will be watching you!

For the birdwatchers the Sundarbans are rich in bird life with 170 species of which we will see many from our vessel as well as on our terra firma forays. There is also an abundance of aqua fauna such as Gangetic Dolphins, King Crabs and tree frogs and there are reptiles ranging from crocodiles and lizards basking on the river banks to a large variety of snakes and turtles.  Drive time to Mongla is one to two hours. Overnight boat stay for three nights.

Day 07: Late morning our boat will anchor in Mongla and we will disembark after an early lunch and drive to another UNESCO World Heritage site. The 15th century Sixty-Dome Mosque is in Bagerhat where we will have time for a wander for a couple of hours before heading north now, to Jessore. Drive time four to six hours. Overnight Jessore.

Day 08: We continue north from Jessore to the town of Kushtia, where we will almost certainly be the only tourists. We will take a ferry ride across the River Ganges and ride on the back of motorised tricycles (bod body) through very rural farming communities to Tagore House, residence of the famous Indian writer and lecturer, Rabindranath Tagore. After lunch in Kushtia, we will cross the Lalon Shah Bridge and drive to Ishurdi which is on the banks of the River Padma (Ganges) and very close to the Indian border between Rajshahi and Pabna. Drive time five to seven hours. Overnight Ishurdi.

Day 09: From Ishurdi it is a short drive to the Puthia Temple Complex, consisting of a number of terracotta Hindu Temples laid out around a lake surrounded by lush lawns. There is also an old abandoned palace here. While wandering around the ruins and temples, the local children will most probably be following us, laughing and chattering excitedly! From Puthia we continue to Bogra, and after lunch will also visit Mahastangar where there are ancient Buddhist structures surrounding a ruined citadel. Drive time five to seven hours. Overnight Bogra.

Day 10: We make a side trip to the ruins of Paharpur Monastery (allegedly the largest in the world) north of Bogra where we will visit the Somapuri Vihara, which is a Buddhist Monastery built in the eighth Century and is World Heritage listed. The temple and stupa complex covers more than 11 hectares. Our vehicle is too large to be driven all the way to Paharpur, so the last half an hour to the monastery is spent on motorised rickshaws. Drive time four to five hours. Overnight Bogra.

Day 11: This morning is a free morning, maybe a sleep in, or maybe a bit of your own exploring… sometimes it’s good to have a bit of you time! After lunch we drive to Tangail, the route takes us over the Jumuna Multi Purpose Bridge, the eleventh longest in the world. Drive time two to three hours. Overnight Tangail.

Day 12: Tangail to Srimangal is a long drive day. One will be amazed at all of the garment factories and brick factories we pass in the course of this driving day! Though the closer we get to Srimangal, the factories become fewer and fewer and eventually are replaced by farming land, fishing ponds and later in the day, tea plantations. In Srimangal, we stay at a comfortable and well presented colonial era tea estate; in fact it’s so well presented, it could be on a post card. Drive time eight to ten hours. Overnight Srimangal.

Day 13: Take an easy going trek in the beautiful and peaceful Lowacherra Rain Forest and visit the Khaisa Tribal Village where a thriving betel nut industry supports the village. After lunch we will utilise smaller vehicles and visit the Dauracherra Tea Estate and Factory where tea is hand picked by literally hundreds of workers all year round as well as processed and bagged! A rubber and pineapple plantation are also visited and we wind the day up with a stop at the Nilkantha Tea Cabin where we try out the famous seven-layer tea, too good to resist and a secret blend of ingredients that many have tried to replicate with little success! Overnight Srimangal.

Day 14: Today is a drive day to Dhaka and the closer we get to this city, the flourishing industries become more apparent until we are totally surrounded by factories, apartments, offices and of course a chaotic traffic system. The hustle and bustle of Dhaka is a huge contrast to the rolling green hills, shady tea estates and rain forests of the Srimangal region. When we arrive in the outskirts of Dhaka, the traffic can be unbelievably busy and honking a vehicle horn is part of the driving technique… at least in BOA’s all-terrain Mercedes Benz coach style overland vehicle one can observe the theatrics of the Dhaka drivers in a relaxed and comfortable fashion! In Dhaka we stay at the comfortable and modern Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel, located for centrally in the CBD. Drive time five to seven hours. Overnight Dhaka.

Day 15: Due to the sheer volume of traffic in Dhaka, including rickshaws (the city is often referred to as ‘the city of rickshaws’), we use a smaller vehicle for our city tour of Dhaka. Our tour includes Dhaka University with well kempt grounds and many beautiful buildings including ‘Curzon Hall’ (named after Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India), Shaheed Minar (language martyr memorial erected to commemorate the language movement martyr), the 330 year old Mogul fort ‘Lalbag Kella’, The Liberation War Museum (so many people don’t realise up to three million Bangladeshi people were killed in this war in Bangladesh between March and December in 1971), the 11th century Dhakeshawri Temple, the modern and beautiful National Parliament House, the bustling Shankharia Bazar and one of many the river ghats. All in all a very full and interesting day. Overnight Dhaka.

Day 16: BOA has set this day aside as a free day for those of you who are going to continue with us to Eastern Bangladesh. After more than two weeks on the road … put your feet up around the pool, or get out and about the city, making your own discoveries. This is the end of the first leg of this trip, some of your fellow travellers may be leaving us here in Dhaka, and we may also have more join us. Overnight Dhaka.

Day 17: An early departure is scheduled today, simply so we can beat the morning rush hour. If we get caught up in the traffic, at least two hours, possibly more can be added to our drive time for the day. We will arrive in Chittagong for lunch. After lunch we will board either motorised rickshaws or small vans and drive to the infamous ship breaking area. Foreigners are not allowed access to this absolutely fascinating place, but if we are lucky, we may catch a glimpse of the activities through a gate into one of the yards. Ocean vessels of every shape and size, from tug boats to super tankers are literally dragged onto the beach and a swarm of workers dismantle it by hand and recycle every single piece. We will also drive to the ship chandler stores; here there are some amazing bargains and unusual items for sale. Drive time six to eight hours. Overnight Chittagong.

Day 18: Rangamati is approximately eighty kilometres from Chittagong and is in the Chittagong Hill Tract area; the last thirty kilometres is through winding and hilly road and very lush vegetation. We arrive in Rangamati around lunchtime and drive straight to our boat where we will have lunch whilst cruising around Lake Kaptai, Bangladesh’s largest man made lake. We plan to stop at a local teahouse and local tribal village where we encourage you to interact with the locals. The local people here weave beautiful fabrics and any bought from the village is a tremendous help towards their village economy. Drive time three to four hours. Overnight Rangamati.

Day 19: Before leaving Rangamati, some of you may like to take the time to walk through the local Buddhist monastery, Rajbana Vihara, the largest Buddhist monastery in Bangladesh. From here we drive to Bandarban, which is still part of the Chittagong Hill Tract area. We have to drive back through Chittagong to get to Bandarban, arriving there in the late afternoon. Drive time six to eight hours. Overnight Bandarban.

Day 20: Bandarban, which literally translates to ‘the dam of monkeys’ is the remotest and least populated region of Bangladesh. The region also has the highest peaks and is home to more than fifteen ethnic minorities. Today we will utlise smaller local vehicles instead of the BOA vehicle and drive to Chimbuk Peak, which is just over twenty kilometres from Bandarban. At Chimbuk there are magnificent views of the surrounding countryside and one can feel as though they are floating over the clouds, we may even get views of the Bay of Bengal. Murong tribal village is within walking distance, our local guide will introduce you to the lifestyle and traditions of the local people here. Another one of our scheduled stops today is the Shoylo Prapat Water Fall which flows perennially and is the economic hub of the local Bawm community. There are also local handicrafts, textiles and food available here. Overnight Bandarban.

Day 21: Today we drive to Cox’s Bazar, but before departing the region, there will be a stop at the Bandarban Golden Temple, otherwise known as Buddha Dhatu Jadi. The temple is perched on top of a hill bout ten kilometres from Bandarban and is arguably one of the most impressive structures in the country. The temple belongs to the Theravada Buddhism order, which is practiced by the Marma tribal people, a dominant ethnic group of the Bandarban Region. Once we have finished at this site, we will drive to Cox’s Bazar, arriving in the afternoon. Drive time four to six hours. Overnight Cox’s Bazar.

Day 22: There are a variety of activities available today. A wander around the buzzing and colourful morning fish market is a must do, also explore the third Century Buddhist Temples and the beautiful Burmese Bara Khyang, which is the country’s larges bronze Buddhist statue. In the afternoon we will take a short drive to Inani Beach (considered one of the worlds longest and broadest beaches), it is a pleasant drive along the coast, passing many fishing villages and boats. Wind up the day with a meal at BOA’s favourite eating spot in Bangladesh, the Poushi Restaurant. Overnight Cox’s Bazar.

Day 23: Today an early start is required from Cox’s Bazar so we can catch the 09:00 morning ferry to St Martins Island from Teknaf. We will leave our BOA vehicle in Teknaf for the night before boarding our vessel. The boat trip takes around three hours and covers approximately thirty kilometres. St Martins Island is the most southern point of Bangladesh and is located nine kilometres south of the Cox’s Bazar-Teknaf Peninsula and eight kilometres to the west of the coast of Myanmar. The locals call the island Narikel Jinjira which translates to ‘Coconut Island’. Narikel Jinjira is just over seven kilometres long and has a maximum width of just over fourteen hundred metres and an altitude of… 3.6 metres! We’ll arrive in time for lunch and have the afternoon to become familiarised with the island. Drive time three to four hours, boat time three hours. Overnight St Martins Island.

Day 24: There are no motorised vehicles of any kind at all on St Martins, not even motorbikes, which in turn means no horns! There is also no mains electricity (only generators which do not run for twenty four hours) and no Internet… bliss. Even the stars are out during the evening on St Martins! The population is approximately 7,000, with most of the local people belonging to fishing families; village life is slow paced with most of the work happening in the early morning and late afternoon. St Martins Island is a wonderful place to walk around and explore. There are beautiful coral and sandy beaches, an abundance of coconut trees; refreshingly blue, crystal clear and unpolluted seas and over one hundred and eighty species of wildlife (including well over one hundred types of birds) as well as a sea turtle hatchery on the western side of the island. We cruise back to the mainland on the ferry at 14:00 hours. Boat time three hours. Overnight Teknaf.

Day 25: Today we drive up to Chittagong, bypassing Cox’s Bazar en route. Chittagong is the second largest city in Bangladesh and has the busiest seaport. The city is a major commercial and industrial centre as much of Bangladesh's export and import passes through the Port of Chittagong. Before entering Chittagong, we will pass back over the Karnaphuli River where you will be blown away by the massive number of equally massive ships riding at anchor in this deep-water channel. Drive time six to eight hours. Overnight Chittagong.

Day 26: We will utilise smaller vehicles for our tour of Chittagong. Included will be the Shahi-Jama-e-Masjid Mosque and Chilla of Badar Shah, the WWII Memorial Cemetery, an orphanage and at lunch time, we will stop at the Crystal Lounge & Restaurant for a bite. Our itinerary today is flexible as to what and where we go. Drive time six to eight hours. Overnight Chittagong.

Day 27: Today is our final drive day. We will arrive back in Dhaka and the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel around mid to late afternoon, depending on the city traffic when we reach Dhaka. We finish off this remarkably diverse and unique trip with a final group meal in the evening. Overnight Dhaka

Day 28: Farewell and end of trip. We personally bid you farewell and arrange transport to get you safely to the airport.

We thank you for choosing to travel with us. Best Of Asia Overland, the specialists in ‘Adventure in Comfort’,  welcome you anytime.

Crew: One permanent western leader/driver plus local guides

To find out what is included on our trips, please go to the 'TRAVEL THE BOA WAY' tab and click on 'what is provided'.

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