It is probably fair to say that Bangladesh for various reasons isn’t on many people’s wish list of places to visit but ironically that is one of the main reasons we wanted to visit. It was extremely refreshing and rewarding to travel around a country, unspoiled by mass tourism and to have the opportunity of experiencing and observing the many facets of Bangladeshi life in such a natural and personal way.
We wanted to see as much of Bangladesh and its people as possible to help us develop a more balanced view of the whole country so opted for a three week tour. Nijhoon Tours was the perfect solution as they were able to accommodate our specific requests on places to visit and smooth the way by booking internal transport, accommodation and travel permits to Chittagong Hill Tracts and Sundarbans.
© Jackie & Mike Hulton riding a boat on Meghna river. Photo Credit: Arafat Rasul
Prior to arrival, Hasan was very helpful and answered my numerous questions promptly and honestly. He personally met us on arrival and payment was straight forward. During our stay he was constantly in touch making sure everything was OK and occasionally making changes if something wasn’t to his liking e.g. upgrading us to a better hotel at no extra cost when the one we were booked into didn’t meet his standards.
When my husband developed an eye problem he quickly arranged an appointment with an eye specialist who dealt with it very competently. Hasan also managed to secure tickets to England/Bangladesh Test Match when ours failed to materialize to which my husband is extremely grateful. It was a pleasure to meet up for a meal on our last night and reminisce on our holiday and hear about his plans for the future.
© People become happy to be their photo taken. Photo Credit: Arafat Rasul
Our tour was too long and varied to write a full account but highlights include Old Dhaka, I loved it, The Sundarbans, such a privilege to spend 3 days on our private boat in such a pristine environment with such a lovely crew and so few tourists. The walk along the empty beach following the recent tiger prints was an experience!
Visits to different Chars, Puthia, Srimangal and The Rocket and train journeys were all lovely. As we are interested in wildlife, the visits to Baikka Beal, a bird wetland, and Lawachhara Forest with gibbons and monkeys were extra special. As someone who is interested in indigenous people the whole of the Chittagong Hill Tract and its varied tribal population was amazing.
© Dinner with a local family. Photo Credit: Arafat Rasul
And last but not least was the visit to the Raas Manipuri Festival. The costumes and dancing were spectacular and Hasan ensured we got front row seats. It was a privilege to attend a Hindu festival and mix with all the local people enjoying themselves.
Possibly the biggest highlight was the Bangladeshi people. Everywhere we went we were greeted with smiling, friendly faces eager to have their photos taken and to take ours. Our numerous visits to homes in towns and villages and the sharing of food or a chai gave us a chance to meet ‘real’ Bangladeshi people and a chance to begin to understand this relatively new nation.
© On the beautiful hills of Chittagong Hill-Tracts area. Photo Credit: Arafat Rasul
A word on security. We decided to visit despite the July bombings in Dhaka, security concerns with visiting cricket teams and foreign office warnings against visiting Chittagong Hill-Tract.
We were so glad we did. At no time did we feel at all at risk or in danger. In fact it felt like one of the safest countries I have traveled to. Our whereabouts were tracked by security personal whilst in Chittagong Hill tracts but our guide had a very good relationship with the police and at no time did this feel oppressive or uneasy.
© Visiting a Santhal village at Rajshahi. Photo Credit: Arafat Rasul
In fact it was almost reassuring, we even got invited to police station to meet to ‘chief’ We almost had the whole area to ourselves-what a treat, beautiful people and scenery which made our image of Bangladesh complete.
Lastly. A big thank you must go to our guides and drivers who made our travels so memorable, comfortable, enjoyable and informative.
© Meet friendly people everywhere you go. Photo Credit: Arafat Rasul
Liton, our driver, for remaining so cheerful throughout those long journeys and his skill at safely negotiating the Dhaka manic traffic.
Masbah for his informative tour of Sonargaon and his company for the test cricket and delight in a win for the hosts. Arafat our friend and ‘fixers’ for so many days. Thank you for all your background knowledge, introducing us to your friends, your little treats and making the unexpected happen like the visit to the hospital ship whilst visiting a Char (small river island).
© Trekking inside Sundarbans. Photo Credit: Arafat Rasul
In summary if you want to visit Bangladesh, go now and I thoroughly recommend Nijhoon Tours for their professionalism, local knowledge and caring attitude and commitment to clients.
Have you ever visited Bangladesh? How fascinating have you found the country? Share your experience with the fellow travelers in comments, so that they can have a real insight about the country, and more people get encouraged to visit the least traveled destination in the world.