There are many Sundarban tour operators that offer different types of package tours to the Sundarbans National Park in West Bengal. Most are predefined group tours with fixed itineraries and can either be day tours, overnight, or multiple nights with set accommodations included. You will be picked up from Kolkata and dropped back there and can either stay aboard a boat or on land. Hotels and resorts also provide their guests with tour packages. See what these top places to stay in the Sundarbans have to offer as well.
Help Tourism specializes in purposeful, eco-friendly travel to natural areas in east and northeast India. The organization has its own "resort", the Sundarbans Jungle Camp on Bali island, and boats for river cruises. The resort was built in partnership with locals to provide them with a livelihood and reduce tiger-human conflict. Its six comfortable, ethnic thatched cottages with modern attached bathrooms are located on the banks of the Bidya river. Locals are all employed in the running of the resort and as guides.
Tour packages of various lengths from two to four nights are available. Expect to pay around 40,000 rupees for a private three-day package for two people. This includes transport from Kolkata, accommodations, all meals, boat cruises, naturalist and local guide, park entrance fees, village experience, and country boat ride. Special birding tours are also possible. Bookings can be made through the Help Tourism website, although unfortunately, it's not very user-friendly.
Tour de Sundarban (also known as Backpackers) has its own exclusive purpose-built accommodations and boats as well. The solar-powered Eco Village, located on Satjelia island, has 17 mud cottages with attached western bathrooms, hammocks, and a community center for travelers to hang out in. The company was founded by three "brothers" (they are actually an uncle, nephew, and cousin), who were so inspired by a visit to the Sundarbans that they decided to start taking other people on trips there.
The tours are most suited to energetic, adventurous and sociable people, who are not looking for luxuries -- but rather a village feel, fun ambiance, and value for money. The accommodations are rustic and local transport, including ferries and rickshaws, is used (which is all part of having an authentic experience).
Two and three-day packages are offered, as well as day tours. Their rates include transport, accommodation, Bengali food, permits, boat safari, village walk, and evening performances from local musicians. Expect to pay 4,200 per person for two days and 5,500 rupees per person for three days. There is an option to spend one night on the boat. Tours are usually limited to 15 people.
Sundarban Chalo is another tour company, run by a group of four brothers, that provides budget backpacker-style tours to the Sundarbans. The tours are similar to those offered by Tour de Sundarban. The main difference is the accommodations, which are non-exclusive. Guests stay in basic cottages at a "resort" in Pakhiralay on Gosaba Island, near where the main market is. Again, don't expect luxuries or resort-style facilities. If you don't mind getting dirty, a mud walk (or rather, bath, for those who want to submerge themselves in it) along the mangrove shore is included in the activities! Sundarban Chalo also operates a day tour from Kolkata. The price for group tours ranges from 2,650 rupees per person for one day, increasing to 5,000 to 7,000 rupees per person for three days. The company conducts the tours using its own boat, built in 2015.
Based in Gosaba, at the entrance to Sundarbans National Park, Sundarban Eco Tourism is popular with domestic Indian tourists. The company has been in business since 2015 and offers reasonably priced tour packages ranging from one to three days. The tours depart from Kolkata, and guests can opt to travel either by train (the cheapest way) or car. Rates start from 1,499 rupees per person for a one-day package by train and go up to 4,400 rupees per person for a three-day package by car. The cost is less if an overnight boat stay is included. Accommodations are provided in decent budget hotels in Pakhiralay.
If you'd prefer to stay on a boat rather than on land, and you're looking for a private and personalized tour experience with a touch of luxury, check out Sundarban Houseboat. The unique boat has been specially designed and renovated to provide inviting classy hotel-style accommodations. You won't need to sacrifice comfort to stay on this boat. There are three bedrooms, all with attached western bathrooms, that can accommodate 14 people in total. Facilities include air conditioning, flat screen TVs in all rooms, living and dining room with sofas, kitchen with gourmet chef, sun deck with loungers, library, games, and movies.
Packages are available for a duration of one to four nights (or more!), visiting various watchtowers, islands, and villages. The boat can be hired exclusively, or on a per room basis. Rates vary according to guest requirements. Book as far in advance as possible because its popular!
Another option for a luxury Sundarban cruise is aboard Vivada's M.V. Paramhamsa. This huge cruiser has four decks with 12 luxury cabins, 20 deluxe cabins, sun deck, bar, restaurant, coffee shop, and massage parlor with steam and sauna room. The boat sails to the Sundarbans weekly from Kolkata, with three-night packages available. The route goes via Namkhana (fishing village), Bhagabatpur Crocodile Project and Lothian Island, Netidhopani watchtower, Sudhanyakhali watch tower, Dobanki watchtower, and Bali island. Day trips and excursions along creeks are organized in a smaller vessel, and there are numerous opportunities for village visits. Cultural programs also take place in the evenings on the boat's sundeck. Rates start from around 50,000 rupees per person for three nights.
Government-owned West Bengal Tourism operates popular one-night and two-night budget cruise packages to the Sundarbans, staying aboard their boats. The organization has two large cruisers, Sarbajaya (the better of the two) and Chitralekha. The one-night tour package includes visits to Sudhanyakhali, Sajnekhali, and Dobanki watchtowers. The two-night package includes an additional visit to Jhingakhali watchtower.
What you need to keep in mind when booking these tours is that the boats can not travel through the more narrow waterways due to their large size. Being restricted to wide waterways means less chance of wildlife sightings. Plus, these are group tours with up to 50 people. Expect to pay around 6,000 rupees per person for two nights.