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An afternoon getaway to the Napittachhora Waterfall

Winter is usually the season of trips. And there is no shortage of places to visit in Bangladesh. One of the best places to visit would be the Napittachhora waterfall in Chittagong. Here’s a short, essay type look into how my day went on such a trip.

At 11 am on a Friday morning we set off, with Napittachhora Waterfall as our destination. There were only three of us. Even though the original plan was to meet at 9 am, we always ended up being late. And thus we found ourselves trekking through hills under the glare of the mid-noon sun.

It took us about an hour to get to Mirashorai from the city. Then we asked the locals how to get to Noyaduaria road; where we would continue the rest of the path on foot. 

From the main highway, it took us another half an hour of walking through the village path. A road between rice fields and vegetable plantations led to the first large stream. Here is where the trail really began. We asked for directions at the intersections. The villagers were kind enough to point us in the right direction. Some of them even offered us lunch on our way back.

We crossed this particular house. In large pink lettering, the words ‘Ekhane adhunik oh ruchishil khabar pawa jay’ were painted across the wall. We found that amusing and frankly the food was good.

Most of the travel pages will recommend hiring a guide. You could go without one, but in hindsight, I may be biased. There was no shortage of guides on the way, so don’t worry about where to find one. I was confident that we didn’t need a guide, so we didn’t get one.

When we reached the first big stream, we saw only the native people who lived there. It was most amusing when two brothers, one about 13 and the other no older than 10, were offering to be our guide for a bargain price of 200tk. Shahid and Shamsil had managed to get lost on a different trip once before and were less inclined to risk it this time. In the end, using the combined powers of bargaining, we agreed to hire the little brother for 150tk.

We paled in trekking skills when compared to our little guide, named Shonka Tripura. While we were struggling, even Shamsil with his long limbs, Shonka was casually walking through the treacherous, slippery, rocky terrain as if taking a stroll. Trained by years of living in these hills, he could have scaled it in such time that it would make a mockery of us. And I on occasions felt as though he was.

There was a particularly tricky stretch of the trail right near the end, where stepping over the stream was not an option. Whereas until then we could see ground beneath the water, here the current was strong enough that it had eroded the bed and formed small pools of water of which we could not see the bottom. The stepping stones were more slippery, the ground was muddier, and one slip could lead to situations we would rather not imagine. Shonka was way ahead, of course. So far ahead, that we had lost sight of him. With some expertise and some holding on to rocks with both hands for dear life, we made our way to the Napittachhora waterfall.

It took us about an hour from where the first large stream began. Given it was winter, and it hadn’t rained for a while, it wasn’t exactly what we were expecting when we saw the pictures. This is when all three of us silently regretted not picking a “winter spot” to go on a trip to. I know this because we all slowly sat down and were telling each other (and ourselves) how it was a challenging trek up the stream.

5 unusual, visa-free destination for travelling Bangladeshis

Travelling has many benefits- it teaches you about other cultures, it helps declutter your mind, and it also gives you a clear idea about who you are.

In 2017, about 1.32 billion people travelled worldwide, and more and more people are taking an interest in it. However, for Bangladeshis, the formalities surrounding an international trip can often be daunting. For us getting a visa is fairly difficult. But does it mean your dream of travelling the world will remain a dream?

Many countries offer visa-free entry/ on arrival visas for Bangladeshis. So sometimes, all you need to do is pack a bag and get on a plane. And here are 5 countries that will gladly welcome you.

Read more: 5 Visa-free countries for Bangladeshis

Cambodia (On Arrival Visa)

Source: Unsplash

Cambodia is blessed with a vibrant culture and natural beauty. It is home to Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument ever built. The massive structure will take your breath away, but that is not all Cambodia has to offer. It has untouched beaches, historical sights, and ancient temples that will take you back in time. The visa process is very easy, and you can get an on-arrival visa at all the major airports like Phenom Penh and Siem Reap. All you need is passport-size photographs and a filled out form. And like a cherry on the top, Cambodia is not super expensive. So what are you waiting for? Hop on a plane!

Fiji (Visa-Free entry)

Source: Google

Despite being a breathtaking country with a warm, rich local culture, Fiji is often not on the radar of Bangladeshi travellers. It does not make sense- because Fiji offers visa-free entry for tourists, where you can stay up to 4 months! Fiji has over 300 islands and over 500 islets, making it the perfect destination for beach lovers. It also has a very interesting culture, delicious food and intriguing history. Did you know that cannibalism was widespread throughout the islands? Neither did we!

Kenya (On Arrival Visa)

Source: Google

Yes, we know that Kenya is not at the top of your bucket list. But it should be. Kenya is a leading safari destination in East Africa. It has a number of wildlife conservatories that you can visit, and they all boast the beauty of wildlife. Fun fact: The biggest five animals- rhinos, leopards, lions, buffalo, and elephants can all be found in Kenya. For travelling Bangladeshis, Kenya offers an on arrival visa. So pack your bag, and feast your eyes on how diverse the world is.

Madagascar (On Arrival Visa)

Source: Telegraph.co.uk

The name might remind you of the movie Madagascar, but real-life Madagascar is far more enthralling. There are only 17 countries in the world that are considered to be megadiverse, and Madagascar is one of them. This place is undoubtedly a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. You will get to see numerous types of lemurs, birds and chameleons. And no, there’s no lion or giraffes or hippos. From 500-year-old burial sites to labyrinths of limestones, Madagascar has a few well-known world heritage sites. But forget about all that. Visit Madagascar because it’s beautiful.

Bahamas (Visa-Free Entry)

Source: Lonely Planet

Does the idea of swimming with sharks intrigue you? If yes, then travelling to the Bahamas will be a great experience for you. With 700 islands and 2500 cays, the Bahamas will completely change your perspective of the underwater world. These subtropical beaches attract over five million tourists every year, and we see the appeal. They offer visa-free entry for Bangladeshis, so this might be the perfect place for you to explore!

Did we miss any of your favourite places? Don’t forget to let us know!

With Sabira Mehrin of Wander Woman: Creating a community of independent women travelers

Like many patriarchal societies, girls need permission to do basic things in life– to stay out after dark, to get a job, to make their own career choices. In this context, there are still women who are pushing boundaries and venturing out on their own. One big change is that more woman are now travelling and seeking adventure.

Read more: These 4 apps will make traveling a lot easier

What is Wander Woman?

Among many things, Wander Woman is a travel company– by women, just for women. Wander Woman started out as a Facebook group but is growing into so much more. The group currently has 10,030 members.

Wander Woman comes with one sole purpose – bringing all women together in one platform to share the love for travelling around the world.

Travelers post their tips, ask for help to navigate blocks in their journey and share their stories. Solo travelers can also coordinate with each other, form groups for short trips based on common interests.

Read more: 5 countries you can travel to without a visa if you’re Bangladeshi

Who is Sabira Mehrin?

Sabira Mehrin is the founder of Wonder Woman. She is full of life and full of determination. She is trying to bring women together, help them travel and see the world, while creating a community of cool explorers that help each other.

She is also efficient. She has to figure out how to deal with her biggest challenge in administering a facebook group and keeping the group authentic. “I was very picky! I only wanted member with authentic profile, with legitimate work portfolios- and it was extremely hard to administer the group. So I made the best use of all my time- in traffics, and such.”

Why Wander Woman?

In a little more than 12 months, Sabira Mehrin has turned a small Facebook group into a full-fledged start-up. But what made her want to create this group in the first place?

“When I was a student in IBA, I used to participate in global business competitions and conferences. All of them were organized by big companies. So whenever I traveled, I never faced any kind of hassle in the process of purchasing tickets and all. All of these were done by the professionals.

But when I got into job and started planning a self-funded trip for myself for the first time, I realized I only knew few people who could give me the right kind of information. Also, while researching, I came across very few Bangladeshi travel bloggers. So I saw the lack of information, the discrimination, and saw that the issues were mostly for the women. And I thought, how can I create a platform that makes it easier for women to travel? And my best friend gave me the idea to start the group- just to assess the situation. I opened the group and added 200 people. And from there it started to grow, and it didn’t stop!”

Why do people trust Wander Woman?

There are a lot of factors at play when it comes to woman and travel- including safety, reliability and of course, trust issues. However, the closed nature of the group, the direct interactions and careful moderation has led to a thriving community with trust.

When we asked this question, Sabira exclaimed with genuine surprise, “I don’t know! They just do! I have spoken to so many parents about permissions and stuff, and they all seem to come around after talking to me! And I feel privileged to be blessed with this type of trust. So if anyone has trouble getting permission for solo trips, just show your parents our group! Let them see that it is safe, and we will do our best to give you the best experience possible!”

What’s next?

What’s not next is a typical, commercial agency. Sabira keeps that in mind as she finds partners to help her build the community. “When we first started out, a lot of travel agencies reached out to us. But I soon figured they were all being very commercial. We would prefer if we could find people who were more interested in building the community with us.

Sabira has big plans for Wander woman for 2019. “Wander woman got registered”, she said. “We want to make travelling more accessible to the students in near future. And I know that people believe that wander woman is a little too niche, but I refuse to compromise the quality of our packages. So we might not reach out to the the mass market just yet. Let’s see what happens!”

Read more: 5 tips for the solo traveller in Bangladesh

Tips for a solo traveller?

Sabira is an avid traveller. So when we asked her for tips she said, “Solo travelling is about two things- courage and planning. You don’t have to be fearful, necessarily, but you need to be cautious. So while some places are safer than others, you can still make the best of your situation by being smart. I have come across so many helpful people, help was coming from unexpected places whenever I was in a pinch. That was really surprising for me.”

Read more: 4 Bengali traveling myths that are completely wrong

So if you are a girl and you love travelling, do check out their group! Because there is something for everyone!