- 10 days
About the challenge
Burma is a beautiful country of jungles, mountains and fertile plains, with graceful pagodas dotted across the diverse landscapes. Cycling is the perfect way to discover the friendly culture of this land almost untouched by tourism.
From Mandalay we head for Bagan’s ancient temples, before heading east through hot dry lowlands, passing small villages, teak plantations and rice paddies before tackling the long winding road up into cooler jungle-clad hills. A great descent brings us to the shores of Lake Inle, where we have time to relax and see the local way of life.
Dates & prices
|Departs||Days||Charity||Availability||Registration fee||Fundraising target||Payment option|
|14 Mar 2015||10||Open challenge||Spaces||£399||+||£4000||Or||£1800||Book now|
|07 Nov 2015||10||Open challenge||Spaces||£399||+||£4000||£1800||Book now|
|12 Mar 2016||10||Open challenge||Spaces||£399||+||£4050||£1800||Book now|
|05 Nov 2016||10||Open challenge||Spaces||£399||+||£4050||£1800||Book now|
Day 1: Depart London
Day 2: Arrive Mandalay
We arrive in Mandalay, Burma’s last royal capital, and transfer to our hotel. Mandalay is a thriving city with many temples and colonial buildings preserving its history, and it’s a fascinating place to start our Burma experience. We have time to relax before dinner and a trip briefing. Night hotel.
Day 3: Mandalay - Myingyan
Cycle approx 55km
This morning we explore some of Mandalay’s historic sites such as the famous U Bein Bridge, the world’s longest teakwood bridge, Kuthodaw Pagoda and Mandalay Palace. We then drive south out of the busy city to a small village and start our cycling challenge! Much of our way follows the Ayeyarwady River (also known as Irrawaddy) and we catch glimpses of the great river as we cycle through areas of sugar palm and acacia trees. We pass small villages and fields growing crops such as watermelon, and gain a great introduction to the way of life in this rural landscape. Night hotel.
Day 4: Myingyan – Bagan
Cycle approx 75km
Another scenic day is the saddle, as we continue south through the small bustling villages dotted across the agricultural plains. These central lowlands are quite dry, and it is likely to be hot and quite dusty, though many of the roads are tree-lined and shady. We ride through more magnificent palms, which are used to produce toddy, the local alcoholic offering; you’ll get plenty of chance to try it! Our highlight today is the vast plain of Bagan, the remains of an ancient kingdom and one of the most unforgettable sights in Burma. At its height in the 11th-13th centuries, Bagan was home to over 10,000 pagodas; although many of them were destroyed, over 2000 remain. We ride among them on dusty roads, temples and stupas of many sizes rising up into view. This wonderful day ends by climbing the steep steps to the top of the Shwe-san-daw Pagoda for the magical sunset over the plain before heading to our hotel. Night hotel.
Day 5: Bagan – Meikhtila
Cycle approx 140km
Leaving Bagan and its enchanting temples behind us, we ride east through the lowlands. We pass more sugar palms, as well as fields of sesame, ground nuts and corn as we cross these rolling plains. Today is our longest day, and it will be hard at times despite most of the terrain being flat, but there is always plenty to see! We’ll see local people working in the fields, and many people riding old metal bicycles, often balancing an array of local produce; we will feel quite humble on such modern bikes! The landscape is dominated by the outline of Mt Popa, an extinct volcano that rises above the plains. Friendly waves and smiles accompany us as we pass villages, and there are plenty of chances to stop at the roadside for a cold drink or a tasty snack. Night hotel.
Day 6: Meikhtila – Kalaw
Cycle approx 125km
We’ll no doubt be tired from yesterday’s efforts, but our challenge steps up a gear today as we leave the hot dry plains for the lush, jungly hills of the Shan highlands. We pass farmland, forest and teak plantations; as we approach the hills we start to see rice paddies and plenty of water-buffalo, and the vegetation around us becomes much greener and denser. Motorbikes and small tractors buzz past as we pedal along the quiet tree-lined roads, becoming progressively hillier. After reaching the Shan State border, we start a gradual 30km climb on a beautiful jungle-lined road, which winds up gently through the trees into cooler temperatures. It’s a remarkably scenic part of our route and you’ll have the perfect excuse to take plenty of photo-stops. Kalaw lies at 1285m and was the summer retreat of the British colonials escaping the heat of the lowlands, and it’s a wonderful place to end our day’s ride. Night hotel.
Day 7: Kalaw – Indein – Lake Inle
Cycle approx 50km
Our last day is shorter, but spectacular, taking us on tracks and small roads through the rolling hills and farmland of the Shan Plateau, passing paddy-fields and small villages perched on the hillsides. The villages are home to hill-tribes such as the Palaung; their different cultures and colourfully woven clothes show us yet another side to Burma. There is plenty to immerse yourself in as we cycle through and, however tired your legs may be after the past few days, you’ll want today to be longer! We have a wonderful 10km descent to Indein, an impressive temple complex on Lake Inle where the pagodas are overgrown by trees and vegetation; we’ll have time to explore. Our challenge ends on the shores of Lake Inle, where motorised canoes take us to our hotel on the lake. After time to freshen up we’ll have a great evening to celebrate our achievements. Night hotel. (Dinner not included)
Day 8: Lake Inle – Yangon
Today we enjoy discovering the local way of life on Lake Inle, where stilted villages and floating gardens demonstrate the innovative local culture. We explore the creeks and waterways by boat, discovering the craft workshops, temples and houses built on the lake. One of the highlights will no doubt be to watch the leg-rowing fishermen, an unique way of fishing that the local people have developed, which allows them to use two hands to cast their nets. A boat then takes us out into the open, northern part of the lake, where we enjoy the views en-route to He ho. Here we take a short flight to Yangon. Night hotel. (Dinner not included)
Day 9: Yangon; flight departs
We have plenty of time to explore the sights of Yangon, where the main highlight is the magnificent golden Shwedagon Pagoda, before heading back to the airport for our flight home. (Lunch not included)
Day 10: Arrive UK
Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.
The tour cost includes all flights, transport, accommodation, internal air tax, all meals except three as specified in the itinerary, and entrance to Bagan and any other sites included as part of the itinerary. A bike is also included. It also includes full trip support of experienced Discover Adventure leaders/mechanics, and doctor (depending on final group size) as well as local guides and drivers.
It does not include personal travel insurance, airline fuel supplement charged by the airline (capped by Discover Adventure), meals as specified, entry visa, tip for local support crew, Burma entry visa, or international airport tax. It also does not include entry to any optional sites you may wish to visit. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.
Group flights leave from London Heathrow or Gatwick, (we regret that we are unable to book connecting flights), and are booked through Discover Adventure Ltd under ATOL licence 5636. By travelling with Discover Adventure you are protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are most likely to fly with Singapore or Malaysian Airlines, however, we don’t always fly with the same airline so this is a guideline only. You will usually receive confirmed flight details several months before departure. Our itineraries are always based on current flight schedules and are therefore subject to change by the airline. If you prefer to book your own flights please ask us for a land-only cost.
We stay in clean, comfortable hotels throughout the ride; some are quite simple, others very good, so expect some variation. Rooms are on a twin-share basis.
All food is included except three meals. The food is local in style and very tasty; there is plenty of it. Please let us know any dietary requirements well in advance.
Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. Please do not expect as much variety as you would have access to at home – we will be in rural areas and among people of a different culture who may not understand your requirements, however willing they are to help. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Please feel free to ask us for advice. Any meals not included are listed in the itinerary and are generally when we are in towns or cities and you are free to explore and try other culinary experiences! There is always something to suit every budget.
Discover Adventure Crew
Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. They are also trained in expedition first-aid. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader. Depending on group size, an expedition doctor or medic will also accompany the group.
Local Support Crew
Our local support crew is made up of a friendly team of local guides and drivers. Your local guide is a great source of knowledge about local customs and lifestyles. The Discover Adventure crew work closely with the local crew to ensure your trip runs smoothly and safely.
Support vehicles will be with the group at all times. All luggage and spares will be carried in the vehicles.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and emergency satellite phones, extensive medical kit and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency back-up in the UK. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires and travel insurance – is all done with your safety in mind.
Preparing for the challenge
The terrain is varied, with flat plains, rolling farmland and more significant climbs in the Shan Hills. Many roads are shaded by trees, so even in the dry plains there is some respite from the heat. Cycling distances range from half-days at 50km to the longest day at 140km. Cycling is on good tarmac roads most of the time, though the last day has some unsealed track – this requires no technical off-road experience but we recommend some experience of cycling on tracks so you know what to expect. Traffic is usually light and we will cycle at our own pace, but we may re-group at times for busy sections. We are travelling through remote areas and weather may have an impact on road conditions. We will be riding 21-speed mountain bikes with semi-slick tyres.
Clothing & Equipment
We are travelling through remote areas where we could be exposed to bad weather at any time so be prepared for everything! Weather conditions can change quickly. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice. It is imperative that you supply your own helmet and wear it at all times while cycling, with straps done up.
It will be hot and dry in the lowlands, and gets a little cooler when we reach the hills; it can be a little chilly at the start and end of the day, especially on Lake Inle. We don’t travel at the wet times of year, but rain is more likely towards the end of the trip – it’s green and lush in the hills for a reason!
This ride is designed to be challenging for those of good health and fitness, and is achievable for most people provided they train well in advance. We will supply you with a thorough training guide when you have registered. Training for the challenge is all part of the preparation and requires commitment! Without it, you will find the ride less enjoyable – and we want you to have the time of your life!
Passport & Visa
A ten-year passport is essential and must be valid for at least 6 months after entry into Burma. UK citizens require a visa which should be obtained in advance.
You must have had a Tetanus injection in the last ten years, and we highly recommend protection against Polio, Hepatitis A and Typhoid.
For most people, the main attraction of travelling to a different country is to see new sights and enjoy new experiences. Sometimes those new experiences can make life harder or more inconvenient than you may like, such as toilet hygiene or different food, or simply a different attitude to solving problems. This is all part of the challenge you are signing up for! We are very privileged to live in a country with a high standard of living, and travelling exposes us to different challenges – all of which help broaden our horizons. We can guarantee that coming face-to-face with experiences outside your normal ‘comfort zone’ will help you bond with your fellow cyclists and provide you with plenty of things to laugh about! A sense of humour and sense of adventure are two of the most important things to bring with you!
Worldwide Sustainable Tourism
Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through.
In November 2010, Aung San Suu Kyi, the pro-democracy leader of Burma signalled the end of a tourism boycott which started in 1995. At Discover Adventure we have witnessed the rise in interest in the country and are pleased to have visited in May 2014 to reconnoitre two challenges.
It is important to us that we’ve selected privately-owned ground operators for all of our services and have planned itineraries which, to the best of the knowledge at our disposal, are not affiliated with the government of former military junta. We strongly believe we will be contributing to the local economy in a positive way
Discover Adventure Projects
We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up.
We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with TCV and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Volunteer today at www.tcv.org or call 01302 388883.
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