Perhaps the best way to see the Bhitarkanika National Park is from the rivers that run through it.
The Bhitarkanika National Park in Odisha is India’s second largest mangrove forest and the mangrove wetlands there have earned the nickname: ‘mini Amazon of India’
Antara River Cruises has launched two new sustainably built catamarans that will traverse the Bhitarkanika beginning later this year.
Antara River Cruises began in 2003 as a dream for travel industry pioneer and naturalist Raj Singh. He has turned into Antara’s thoughtfully designed, well-appointed fleet of nine ships that sail South Asia’s most iconic rivers.
Hybrid solar electric and fuel power
His new two-suite, state-of-the-art, sustainably built vessels, Mahanadi and Bhitarkanika are designed to explore the Bhitarkanika mangrove wetlands. They are the first hybrid solar electric and fuel powered yachts to cruise in India. They will sail in an area covering 672 sq km of the estuarine region of the Brahmani – Baitarani River systems and their tributaries.
These extraordinary cruises will see the catamarans navigate through the hidden treasures of this enchanting and undiscovered region. Cruising through this wildlife sanctuary at a slow pace allows you to see the abundant flora and fauna all around you, such as the saltwater crocodile and over 320 species of birds.
A cruise on a catamaran provides a more intimate setting, often just 4 people who can explore the area exclusively with personalised service and flexibility. It’s a quiet, simple though rich journey through the wetlands, mangroves and dense forests of the Bhitarkanika National Park along with visits to local villages and temples known for their historical and cultural significance and beaches dotting the coast.
Hidden treasure of history and biodiversity:
Bhitarkanika is a 672 sq km large, ecologically significant and protected sanctuary. It was birthed when the king of the ancient kingdom of Kanika meticulously carved a labyrinth of creeks, not only as a defence against sea pirates, and safeguarding his kingdom’s flourishing commerce, but also as a secret spot for his hunting escapades. These wild, intricately designed waterways, complex to outsiders, are entered through the Khola gate. Khola means to ‘dig the earth’, signifying the land’s excavation. See the mangroves, creeks and mudflats and their salt-tolerant species and the ubiquitous Sundari tree.
This thriving mangrove ecosystem protects the coastline from erosion and is a nurturing ground for an array of marine and land species, including the formidable saltwater crocodile, graceful Indian pythons, elusive king cobras, a plethora of avian species, including migratory birds from Central Asia and Siberia, elegant spotted deer, and robust wild boars.
Comfort and elegance:
The catamarans, each 17 metres long and 6 metres wide, travel at 5 knots. They boast a perfect blend of comfort and elegance offering spacious interiors with panoramic views. Featuring two identical cabins, each with sweeping windows. They have private 3-fixture bathrooms and wardrobes with common spaces to lounge and dine and an airy sundeck. The suites are designed with fresh contemporary furniture. They contain original works of art on palm leaves, handloom textiles and luxe linen. This ensures a beautiful night’s rest in the heart of the forest. Fully air conditioned with luxurious amenities, the Antara catamarans redefine cruising in Odisha offering a tranquil home as you cruise through the wetlands.
Glide through the rich and unique mangrove ecosystem with creeks, mudflats, and estuaries of the park, presided over by the majestic Sundari tree, immersing yourself in the unparalleled beauty of dense mangroves, vibrant landscapes, and rich biodiversity that the ‘mini Amazon’ is renowned for. As you lounge on the sun deck or in the comfort of your room, marvel at the flora and fauna enlivening the banks and the constantly changing view along the crisscrossing rivers of the park.
Let your camera capture the majestic saltwater crocodiles or the many varieties of kingfishers caught in the act of snapping up their breakfast fish or and even a foraging water monitor lizard having a lazy morning. Ride a small boat through a tangle of breathing roots with a naturalist, perhaps spotting a fishing cat’s luminous eyes amidst the gloom, and immerse yourself in the thrilling stillness of unspoiled nature.
Indulge your palate with a curated selection of local and international cuisines. Onboard chefs ensure a gastronomic experience that complements the breathtaking surroundings. Wake up to a breakfast with a view or enjoy a sundowner as you gently traverse the Pathsala River.
Or indulge in a curated high tea as the sight of the distant Bay of Bengal mesmerises you. Multi-course traditional fare awaits you at meal times giving you the flavours of the region.
Join our expert guides on immersive excursions, be it bird watching, nature walks, or exploring hidden villages. Every moment promises discovery and awe-inspiring encounters with the natural wonders of Odisha in India.
Mahanadi and Bhitarkanika offer 3 night / 4 day itineraries
- Amazon of the East sails every Friday
- Cruising in Bhitarkanika sails every Monday.
Passengers will embark at Gupti, just over a 3 hour drive from Bhubaneswar airport. They will cruise through Dangamal exploring Bhitarkanika and then return to Gupti.
Cruises are priced at USD 1080 per person per night on twin sharing/double occupancy.