Monday, March 5, 2018

A Trekker's Guide To Bangladesh

A Trekker's Guide To Bangladesh
©Sayam U. Chowdhury

One feels more profoundly connected to the earth and the environment when one is exploring on feet, rather than on a motorised vehicle. Your senses heightened, as you take in the sights and sounds, and the brain receives the stimuli that it craves from new experiences and exploration. And this is what treks are; a long walk that has a lot more to offer.

Sometimes the trek is adventurous, strenuous and even dangerous, going through difficult terrains, but any trek always has the ability to surprise you. Treks give a chance to immerse yourself completely in the moment, where the only thing that's important is where you place your next step. And an opportunity to test yourself, both physically and mentally.
It is no wonder then that trekking is now a very popular outdoor activity all over the world. Bangladesh, being one of the densely populated countries, does have some wonderfully scenic and spectacular trails that can take the trekkers through some diverse landscapes and experiences.


©Sakib Ahmed

The National Park in the northern district of Dinajpur is a wonderful sal forest that offers a pleasant trek through the sylvan coolness. There is a small stream that has to be crossed to enter the forest. The forest itself is magical, with large sal tress filtering the forest trails in a mosaic of light and shade. Walking through the forest offers a calmness as one can listen to calls of a plethora of birds, including orioles and drongos.

You will encounter members of the indigenous Santal community deep in the forest paths. A Santal village is just on the other side of the forest. Following the forest trails will lead you to the village. The quaint surrounding will offer you a glimpse into the simple lives of the community.


©Fuad Hassan

Lawachara National Park, in Srimangal of Moulvibazar district, is probably one of my most visited forests in the country, and one that offers a glimpse of the grandeur of the olden days where the forests were truly impenetrable. These days, one can hire a guide and go on treks inside the forest.
Two treks are available, one is a 30-minute walk and the other is 3-hours long. You can take eco-guides who work closely with the local Forest Department and you can contact a guide from the local forest office. For a small fee, one can take assistance from these guides.
The forest itself is incredibly diverse and the trek will take you through a range of micro-habitats. The three-hour trail winds through deep inside the forest, through bamboo groves, and large chapalish trees, down hilly charas or forest streams.

Image result for hum hum waterfall
This breath-taking waterfall lies deep in the remote Rajkandi Reserve Forest and offers a unique opportunity to walk through mystical hilly boulder strewn jhirior stream with crystal clear water trickling through.
The Rajkandi forest is in Moulvibazar district. To reach the waterfall, one has to undertake a tough 3-hour trek, that takes the trekker up and down forested hills and valleys down to the stream that would eventually lead to the waterfall.
The stream is narrow and peaceful with large mossy rocks, trees and bamboo groves reaching high on both sides. The sunlight filters through the greenery, reflecting off the high green walls and clear water, is finally absorbed by the large mossy rocks.
The trek through the stream is in an emerald world inside a fairy-tale. The sound of water flowing over rocks is soothing and offers the trekker a chance to reflect and inhale the beauty of the place.


©Sayam U. Chowdhury

This is probably one of the most famous treks in Bangladesh that take you up steep hills, through tribal villages, to a magical lake, passing incredible landscapes and all the way up to one of the highest peaks of Bangladesh. The Boga Lake-Keokradong trek, in Bandarban, is most certainly one of the most exciting and picturesque treks with expansive vistas and layers of green hills extending all the way to the horizon.
The trek will let you experience some breath-taking views, especially the beautifully blue Boga Lake nestled among the deep green hills. You can even take a dip in the clear water of the lake, go fishing using traditional methods or just take a calm walk along its bank, absorbing the beauty of the place.
The walk through the narrow hilly streams or jhiri will allow you to spend some intimate moments with nature and be lost in your thought. The trek is adventurous and uphill but one that has the ability to provide some amazing moments.


©Sakib Ahmed

This takes you through some of the most pristine natural landscapes of the country, across hills and rivers and streams, climaxing into the cascading waterfalls of Nafakhum and Amiakhum. The magic of the place is indescribable and best to find out for oneself.
At Thanchi, you will have to find yourself a guide, who will get a boat ready for you which can take you through some of the most beautiful sections of the hilly river Sangu, filled with massive boulders and sheer rock faces on both sides.  The river will take you all the way to Remakri Bazar passing Tindu Bazar, where you will have to stay the night. From Remakri, the trek finally begins.
From there a short 2-hour trek will take you to Nafakhum waterfall, an epitome of calmness and reflective beauty of nature. The water, coming down in steps from the rock is mesmerising and one can really spend hours and hours just imbibing the beauty of the place.
All across Bangladesh, there are places hidden, waiting to be explored and blazed a trail through. These are just a handful of them, all of which are stunning in their diversity and the experience they provide. A community of trekkers has been established in Bangladesh and are active on social media, arranging treks regularly. One can easily look them up and tag along.
To read the full article written by Sakib Ahmed click here
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