Ratargul is Bangladesh’s only Swamp Forest. It is located about 26km outside of Sylhet district city. The Ratargul forest is spread over an area of approximately 30,325 acres. The 504-acre site is full of forests, and the rest of the area is complete with small and big water bodies.
Ratargul is known as a “Sundarbans of Sylhet”. For four to five months out of the year, water completely covers the ground.
Tourists from all over Bangladesh flocked to see the forest trees submerged in the water. Many tourists called Ratargul the ‘Amazon of Bangladesh.’
In the rainy season, there are different species of birds seen in the trees’ branches, and then some wildlife also takes shelter in the branches of the trees.
Besides, thousands of migratory birds sit in the water bodies of Ratargul in winter. It is usually the right time to travel to Ratargul from July to October (towards the end of the monsoon).
Ratargul is a natural forest, and the local forest department planted several trees here, including Hijal, Varun, Karch. It also has about 25 species of water-tolerant plants, including Kadam, Jalibet, Arjuna.
In 1973, the Bangladesh Forest Department declared a 504-acre area of Ratargul forest as a wildlife sanctuary.
How to go to Ratargul?
Buses from Gabtoli, Fakirapul, and Saidabad bus terminals in Dhaka leave for Sylhet. Ac buses like Green lines, Saudia, S Alam, Shyamoli, Ena, etc., cost Rs. 1000 to Rs. 1200 (11.78$-14.14$) per bus per person.
And the price of non-AC buses per person is Rs 470 to Rs 600 (5.54$-7.07$).
You can take Upobon, Jayantika, Parbat, or Kalni express train from Kamlapur or Airport Railway Station train to Sylhet from Dhaka as your travel companion.
From Chittagong, two trains, Paharika and Udayan Express can travel to Sylhet 6 days a week.
You can fly from Dhaka to Sylhet on Regent Air, United Airlines, Novo Airlines, and US Bangla Air from Shahjalal International Airport.
How to go from Sylhet to Ratargul?
Ratargul can be visited from Sylhet in two ways. Ratargul can be reached quickly through the roads inside Khadim Tea Garden and Khadimnagar National Park near Sylhet city.
On this route, one has to go to Sringi Bridge with CNG, autorickshaw, or JEEP.
From Sylhet, you can go to Ratargul in the morning and return by afternoon. So the CNG or autorickshaw fare will cost Rs 1200 to Rs 1500 (14.14$-17.67$) for the day.
If you use CNG for the entire day, you’ll get to see Bichanakandi for the same price.
From Amberkhana in Sylhet, you’ll have to pay Rs 100 (1.18$) per person to come up to Sringi Bridge. You will find small boats of fishermen to enter the Ratargul forest from Sringi Bridge.
4-5 people board a small boat. The fare for one such boat is Rs 850 (10.01$). Life jackets, umbrellas, and middle hats, etc., are available in Ratargul.
On the second route to Ratargul, you have to go to Jaflong from Sylhet and get down to Sarighat. The local fare from Sylhet to Sarighat is Rs 40 to Rs 50 (0.47$-0.59$).
You have to come to Goainghat market by CNG from Sarighat and go to Ratargul by boat. But it takes more time on this route.
From Sylhet Bandar Bazar Point to Saheb Bazar will go through CNG to reach Motarghat and rent a dingy boat for Ratargul swamp forest.
It is important to remember that you have to hire small boats from fishermen to enter the forest on the way to Ratargul. A maximum of 4-5 people can be seated in a boat.
Where to stay around Ratargul Swamp Forest?
There are many cheap residential hotels and rest houses in the Lala Bazar area and Dargah Road, where you can get a variety of rooms for less than 1000 (11.78$) taka.
You can also stay in hotels like Hotel Hill Town, Gulshan, Dargah Gate, Surma, Kaikobad, etc., as per your needs and afford.
Well-serviced residential hotels include Hotel Haly Gate, Hally Inn, La Vista Hotel, Pansi Inn, Hotel Metro International, Britannia Hotel, etc. These hotels will cost between Rs 2,000 and Rs 10,000 (23.56$-117.80$).
Luxury hotels and resorts include Nivarana Inn, Hotel Noorjahan Grand, Rose View Hotel, Nazimgar Resort, Grand Palace, etc. The cost per night will be between Rs 8,000 to Rs 30,000 (94.24$-353.40$).
Precautions on travel to Ratargul
Be careful that snakes usually take shelter in branches of various trees after the forest sinks in the monsoon. There is also an infestation of the earthworm.
If you don’t know how to swim, keep a life jacket with you. Take umbrellas and raincoats if necessary.