Located on the very south-eastern tip of Bangladesh, the Teknaf Peninsula has some rugged cliffs, picturesque rural villages and one of Bangladesh’s last pristine rainforests, where wild Asian elephants are sometimes seen roaming the forest. In short it is still a great tourism destination, especially compared to the commercialisation of Cox’s Bazaar. If you’re all the way down this way or thinking of travelling to St. Martin’s Island, Teknaf, especially the Teknaf Game Reserve is definitely worth a look.
Nishorgo was a USAID program that tried to introduce eco-tourism as a potential way for local people to gain an income and attract nature tourism to various project sites around the country. Typically these were chosen on the basis of being the last nature reserves that Bangladesh had left. After building a few visitor centres, eco-cottages and creating a network of forest trails, all that’s needed now are the tourists! Teknaf Game Reserve isthe area’s prime scenic attraction with plenty of these forest trails available for day trekking. With virgin evergreen and semi-evergreen forest, it is one of the last remaining refuges for some highly endangered animals, especially wild elephants. Sightings sometimes occur on the eastern side close to the highway in the mornings. In the afternoons, you’ll have a decent chance of seeing them if you head into the forest. There is also a beautifully designed visitors’ centre at the game reserve gate, across from the Fardeen Nishorgo Eco-cottage at Dumdumia village. Here you’ll find a fairly good introduction to the wildlife and nature inhabiting the forest, plus an introduction to the fragile ecosystem still in evidence at the reserve.
Busses depart for Teknaf every hour from the main bus terminal at Cox’s Bazaar. These are generally the slow, pick-up-and-drop-off-anyone variety. The local bus terminal is located well away from the beach along the Main Road, and is best accessed by a short CNG baby taxi ride (Tk50). The journey takes 2.5 hours and costs about Tk90. A privately hired vehicle will make the journey for Tk2,000–2,500 and is probably a better option for a group of travellers who would like to see the more empty stretches of beach at Teknaf.