Summary : Join a journey into one of the last major mangrove forest of the world, looking for interesting wildlife and plants. Heading further along the coast of the Bay of Bengal we will see the rural life of Bangladesh and Myanmar, before ending the voyage in Yangon, seeing some of the most venerated and sacred Buddhist sites.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Snorkeling, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Embark the ship and meet your Expedition Team. Enjoy time to familiarize yourself with your new home away from home, and meet fellow travelers. In the evening, enjoy the first of many fine dining experiences in The Restaurant and relax in the Explorer Lounge.
Today, Silver Discoverer will head along India’s east coast in a northeasterly direction. Meet some of your fellow explorers on the outer decks, helping our naturalists looking for seabirds and marine life. You can also attend one of several presentations offered by our experts, or learn about the preparation of culinary highlights presented by our Chef.
This evening the Captain will invite you to the Captain’s Welcome Cocktail and our Chef and Restaurant Manager would like to see you in The Restaurant for a special Welcome Dinner.
Silver Discoverer’s visit to Gopalpur will permit us to travel to Chilika Lake, India’s first wetland of international importance. The lake is the largest wintering ground for migratory birds on the Indian sub-continent with over one million migratory waterfowl and shorebirds staying there. The Nalbana Bird Sanctuary with Nalaban Island is the core area of the RAMSAR designated wetlands.
Birders will be on the lookout for Lesser Flamingos, Grey, Purple, Pond and Night Herons, White Ibis, Brahminy Ducks, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, White-bellied Sea Eagles and River Terns.
This is also the only known area in India for Irrawaddy dolphins and dugongs.
Continuing along India’s east coast, your lecturers will take the opportunity to present topics related to the Bay of Bengal and the upcoming visit to the Sundarbans.
Attend a seminar, or relax on the outer decks, letting your Bar Team prepare the refreshment of your choice.
If you think you need some exercise, The Gym will be at hand; if you are more inclined to have a massage, visit The Spa.
Silver Discoverer will be sailing through the Sundarbans up the Mongla River to reach Mongla Port, one of Bangladesh’s important seaports—although found inland—to clear into the country.
While you travel up the river, spend time on the outer decks to get a first impression of the world’s largest mangrove forest. Alternatively, attend lecture presentation or talks to know more about this fascinating part of the Indian subcontinent.
Named after the Sundari trees, the Sundarbans is an area reaching from Bangladesh into India. Spreading over an area of approximately 10,000 square kilometres, it is the largest halophytic mangrove forest in the world. The Indian core area (Sundarbans National Park) has been designated as a World Heritage Site in 1987; the three Wildlife Sanctuaries in Bangladesh were inscribed in 1997. Wildlife species present are macaques, Indian grey mongoose, leopard cats, Ridley sea turtle, wild boar, jungle cat, flying foxes, and spotted deer (Chital).
During the three days you will spend here, Silver Discoverer will be mainly based in the Pashur River. Intend to go ashore at Hiron Point for natural history walks and possibly an exploratory Zodiac cruise. This is where you will pick up local rangers which together with local guides will accompany you during the three days of exploration.
The days will be spent going out early in the morning. After your first impressions head back to Silver Discoverer to escape the mid-day heat. During the afternoons, take to the Zodiacs to look for aquatic mammals that frequent the tidal waters, including the Ganges dolphin, Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphin, Irrawaddy dolphin and finless porpoise, while on land you might see wild boar, spotted deer, and rhesus macaques.
Birders will be on the look-out for White-bellied Sea Eagles, Brahminy Kites, Intermediate Egrets, Indian Pond Heron, as well as Collared and Black-capped Kingfisher. As the best time for wildlife observation here is around sunset, you will stay out until late.
In the very early morning of your second and third day in the Sundarbans, ‘first light’ Zodiac cruises will be on offer into the mangrove forest. The narrow channels are known to have Stork-billed and Brown-winged Kingfisher, Oriental Magpie Robins, White Wagtails, and many other birds. During your cruises take time to drift, which will permit you to hear birdsong all the better.
In time for late breakfasts return to Silver Discoverer and attend lectures about the Sundarbans.
At Harbaria, well-maintained boardwalks will permit you to enter the mangrove forest without engine-noise. Rhesus macaques are regularly seen, but this walk will give a great opportunity to see the different plant species your lecturers talked about: cedar mangrove, cannonball mangrove, sea holly, sea mango, blinding mangrove, nipa palm, and Phoenix palm. Groups ashore are always accompanied by one of the local rangers.
At Moheshkhali see the real rural Bangladesh. During the morning, take Zodiacs to go ashore and to explore the small village with its school and temple. To get a feeling of how the locals live, take local transport (rickshaws and tuk tuks) and visit a Buddhist temple, meeting the monks and getting to know the daily routine of the apprentices and monks themselves. Later visit the school (where donations will be very welcome) and a group of Burmese weavers will be show the use of traditional equipment. The cotton products these ladies prepare will be on offer as well. Visit a small Rakhayn (Burmese) community at Thakur Tala village before heading back by Zodiac to have lunch aboard Silver Discoverer. Moheshkhali is not at all touristy and your visit should be a good opportunity for us to interact with local communities.
In the late afternoon, take to the Zodiacs, this time to see life on the river banks. See fishermen in little boats or with nets from the shore, and pass areas where small wooden ships are being repaired. Go ashore at Sonadia Island to see one of the fishing camps and should get to see the oxen after which the island is named (Mahisa is buffalo in the local language).
St. Martin’s Island and Chera Dwip are Bangladesh’s southernmost islands and are actually connected at low tide. These are the only coralline islands and as such have been protected with only limited access for many years.
Turtles come to nest on the beaches, and the beach morning glories and palm trees give the impression of a South Sea island. Go ashore to explore the small island(s) and depending on the tide intend to offer swimming and snorkeling.
Once Silver Discoverer has arrived in port in Myanmar, you will have a look at the capital of Myanmar’s Rakhine State and one of the most important ports along Myanmar’s Bay of Bengal coast.
Visiting the capital, the hope is to see the Shwezedi monastery, quite important in Myanmar’s modern history. Since Myanmar has recognized more than 135 ethnic groups and the Rakhine State Cultural Museum gives a good overview of this particular ethnic group.
With Zodiacs explore the Kalandan River. Intend to take the Zodiacs not only up the river, but into smaller channels and see one of the local villages.
Pending local authorization and if conditions permit, explore Mrauk-U further inland.
With its 15 miles of white beaches, fringed by palm trees, Ngapali has attracted visitors who look for an unspoilt coast and simply want to relax.
Go ashore during the afternoon and it is yours to decide whether you want to unwind on the beach or perhaps do some exercise and hike in the nearby rainforest.
While Silver Discoverer sails along the coast of Ayeyarwady, one of Myanmar’s regions, your lecture staff will be on hand to offer a selection of informative and interesting talks and presentations.
The Spa and Gym are other options to spend your time, and you can be pampered by the Bar and Restaurant Teams. The choice is yours.
In the afternoon, your onboard Videographer/Photographer will present the Voyage-DVD.
Silver Discoverer will sail up the Yangon River, and go alongside in the very heart of Yangon. Today see one of the largest reclining Buddha in the world at the Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda and visit the world-famous 2,500-year-old Shwedagon Pagoda. The top of the stupa is said to be adorned with more than 5,400 diamonds and more than 2,300 rubies. So much gold and so many gold leafs have been applied to the pagoda over the centuries that it is estimated the stupa has more gold than the Republic of Myanmar has officially as gold reserves. Venerated as a symbol of architectural perfection the glittering golden stupa is considered the appearance of Gautama Buddha in the present world—certainly a highlight.
To celebrate your arrival into Yangon and the end of our voyage, enjoy a very special evening ashore. At the end of your excursion be driven to the Karaweik Palace Restaurant where a myriad of Myanmar flavors along with a cultural presentation of Myanmar traditional music and dances will be another highlight of your voyage.
Following breakfast, disembark Silver Discoverer.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Suite accommodations; Wi-Fi onboard ship; onboard meals and entertainment; snorkeling gear; butler service onboard ship; gratuities aboard ship (except spa) onboard ship; complimentary beverages onboard ship (including select wines, champagnes, spirits, soda, water and coffee). Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; transfers and luggage handling; optional shore excursions; government fees and taxes; passport and visa expenses; some champagne, premium wine and spirit selections, caviar, cigarettes and cigars; laundry or valet services; items of a personal nature such as boutique purchases, medical care, and spa services; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © Creative Services at Silversea Cruises, © Bruno Cazarini, © James Godfrey