12 Jul Beautiful Bangladesh, Bandarban run to the Hills
by Ahnaf Akeef from Bangladesh
If you love mountains as much as I do, Bandarban is the place for you. Located in the south-eastern part of Bangladesh, it is a ten-hour bus ride away from the capital Dhaka. It offers varying flavors of nature for both casual travelers and adventurous daredevils. So without further ado, let me introduce Bandarban to you.
Bangladesh, Milonchhori, on the way to Chimbuk Hill by Ahnaf Akeef
Upon arrival in the quaint town of Bandarban, grab a bite to eat and hop on what is locally known as a Chander Gari, which literally translates to Moon Car. The most popular means of transportation for tourists, it will cost you 30-50 pounds a day. But trust me, the adrenaline rush from standing on the back of a truck going 60 miles an hour through the treacherous hilly roads will more than make up for it. And you can count on the driver to double as your tour guide.
Bangladesh, view from atop Chimbuk Hill by Ahnaf Akeef
As you head into the mountains on your Chander Gari, make sure to stop at Chimbuk hill. Head up the hill on foot for unobstructed views of the surrounding hill tracts. This is a good spot for a tea break with a view. Relax here for half an hour before you are on your way again.
Bangladesh, Nilgiri Helipad by Ahnaf Akeef
Nilgiri Resort will be your first official stop. A mere 45 minutes away from the town, this tourist resort that is built on top of a hill is arguably the most prominent tourist spot in Bandarban. The red cottages spread out on top of the hill shrouded in clouds almost makes it look like a small village out of a movie. If you plan ahead, you can rent one of these cottages and spend a night at Nilgiri. And let me tell you, that is truly a treat for the soul. The serenity of Nilgiri is one of a kind – the aerial view from atop the hill and the feeling of being away from civilization both make for a transcendent experience. After nightfall, if you are lucky enough to have clear skies, head over to the helipad after dinner. The panoramic view of a sky full of stars and the milky way is bound to leave you mesmerized. But make sure to put on more than one layer because it can get chilly at night.
Moving from Nilgiri even further into Bandarban, the small town of Ruma will be your next stop. Ruma is almost like a sub-district and it has a plethora of natural waterfalls for tourists. But be warned, most of them are not meant for the faint of heart as they require extensive trekking through wild mountain trails.
The one I visited was one of the most easily accessible and least time consuming waterfalls of Ruma. Namely Rijuk, it is about an hour away by boat from Ruma. The boat ride on a river enclosed by hills on both sides is a pleasure in itself. Adjacent to the river, the waterfall only had a few harmless locals taking a shower in it. So it was mostly a very solitary experience, and an appreciated one at that. Other than skinny dipping in the waterfall, you can scale the rocky hill from which the waterfall flows – again, only applicable for the daring ones. The ride back to Ruma is about an hour, and then a ride back to the town of Bandarban is about two more.
Bangladesh, Rijuk Falls by Ahnaf Akeef
This is only a glimpse into the wonders that Bandarban holds. It truly is a treasure chest for adventurous travelers from around the globe. There are waterfalls here that take five days to reach, and the photos I’ve seen of it makes it seem well worth the trouble. So if trekking and hiking through hills and waterfalls is your kind of thing, make sure to visit Bandarban in Bangladesh. There’s a reason a travel addict like me keeps going back there over and over again – four times in 2016 alone. I suppose the mountains do have some magic in them.