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Burma

Activity
Trek
Duration
10 days
Grade
Grade 1

About the challenge

Isolated from modern tourism until very recently, Burma is a captivating land rich in natural beauty and culture. Our rewarding trek takes us through the unspoilt tribal highlands of the Shan hills to Lake Inle, one of Burma’s most memorable sights. Our hilly route takes us through jungle, farmland and quiet villages where oxen pull wooden ploughs. Our trek ends at Lake Inle, where boats take us past the remarkable lake villages and floating gardens, and we can witness Inle’s unique leg-rowing fishermen. Our trip ends with Bagan’s unforgettable plain of ancient temples, and Yangon’s incredible Shwedagon Pagoda – this is a trip packed with cultural discovery and exceptional trekking.

Dates & prices

   
Departs Days Charity Availability Registration fee   Fundraising target   Payment option  
07 Mar 2015 10 Open challenge Spaces £399 + £3800 Or £1700 Book now
31 Oct 2015 10 Open challenge Spaces £399 + £3800 £1700 Book now
05 Mar 2016 10 Open challenge Spaces £399 + £3850 £1700 Book now
05 Nov 2016 10 Open challenge Spaces £399 + £3850 £1700 Book now

The itinerary

Day 1: Depart London

Day 2: Arrive Yangon

We arrive in Yangon and transfer to our hotel in the centre. You can check in and relax, or explore the streets of this historic city, formerly known as Rangoon, before meeting again for dinner and a briefing. Night hotel.

Day 3: Yangon – He Ho – Pindaya – Tuang Myint Gyi
Trek approx 4 hours

An early flight takes us north to He Ho, near the shores of Lake Inle, where we transfer to the small town of Pindaya, where our trek starts. We have time to visit the amazing Pindaya Caves, where for centuries thousands of Buddha images have been placed inside the hill, forming a labyrinth of Buddha figures; this amazing shrine is an historic pilgrimage site. We start trekking after lunch, a wonderful half-day trek which takes us into the hills through lush jungle. It’s cooler in the hills, but still hot trekking, so this shorter day acts as good acclimatisation to the climate. Towards the end of the afternoon we come to small plots of farmland, where mandarin trees are grown alongside tea and coffee plants. Night monastery.

Day 4: Tuang Myint Gyi – Mwe Daw
Trek approx 8-9 hours

Our first full day of trekking is very varied, as we set off through dense bamboo forest. Our route is quite hilly and the trails can be muddy if it’s rained, which makes the going harder. After a few hours the landscape becomes flatter and the jungle thins out to more cultivated farmland and villages. We are likely to see the local people drying tea and working the land, where potatoes and vegetables grow alongside chilli and peanuts, and huge green jackfruit hang from the trees. It’s a wonderful insight to the local way of life here in these remote villages. Night monastery.

Day 5: Mwe Daw – Nawar
Trek approx 7-8 hours

Today becomes hillier again, as we trek through the villages of the Palaung people. Many still wear traditional dress, with distinctive red and black woven cloth, and the farming methods are very traditional; we are likely to see oxen pulling old carts and wooden ploughs. Our route takes us through verdant patches of jungle, and the natural beauty of our surroundings combined with such a rich cultural experience provides a fascinating and wonderful day’s trekking. Our day ends at a hilltop monastery with fabulous views across the hills. Night camp.

Day 6: Nawar – Thi Thein
Trek approx 5-6 hours

Leaving the serene monastery behind, we trek to the small village of Mynka and then have a short drive to Kalaw, where we can experience the bustling and colourful market, full of the produce we have seen growing as well as much, much more. It’s a great contrast to the quite villages and allows us to see a little of the town, a former British hill-station. From here we continue trekking through more a populated, agricultural area, where there is always something interesting to take in as we walk. Our route becomes hillier and more remote, taking us through a pass in a range of limestone mountains; we then continue on undulating paths through villages and rice terraces. Night monastery.

Day 7: Thi Thein – Indein – Lake Inle
Trek approx 4–5 hours

After an early breakfast we head off on our last day of trekking, taking a wide track passing through villages. We see rice paddies on the hill terraces and descend towards the lake, which we only see when we are quite close. The flat plain by the lake is dotted with houses lining the waterways, and it feels very populated after the remote hills. Coming to the shores which mark the end of our trek, we have time to explore the wonderful temple complex of Indein, where the temples are overgrown by acacia trees and other plants; a very atmospheric place to explore. We then take to motorised canoes, and cruise through the canal system, passing houses on stilts and the innovative floating gardens where countless tomatoes are grown, among other crops. We will also see the local fishermen, whose unique method of using one leg to row while fishing is becoming an icon of Burma. The boat finally brings us to our hotel on the lake, a wonderful place to mark the end of our trek. Night hotel.

Day 8: Lake Inle – He Ho - Bagan

An early morning boat ride takes us to north of the lake, through more open water, seeing early morning fishermen on the way. The early morning light is beautiful and it’s a wonderful journey. At Nyaung Shwe we transfer to He Ho for our short flight to Bagan, one of Burma’s most unforgettable sights and a highlight of Southeast Asia. We spend the rest of the day exploring the wonderful temples and pagodas of Bagan, the remains of an ancient 11th-century kingdom, which rise from the vast plain by the Ayeyarwady River. In the evening we enjoy a slap-up dinner to celebrate our achievements this week. Night hotel. (Dinner not included).

Day 9: Bagan – Yangon; flight departs

Another short flight takes us back to the capital, Yangon, where we have time to wander round the fascinating golden Shwedagon Pagoda, one of the most important Buddhist sites in the country. We then return to the airport for our international 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 route

Detailed information

What's included?

The tour cost includes all flights, transport, accommodation, all meals except two as specified in the itinerary, and entry fees to Bagan and any other sites included as part of the itinerary.Experienced Discover Adventure leaders and doctor (depending on final group size) are also included, along with a local support crew of guides, cooks and drivers, and all safety equipment.

What's Excluded?

It does not include personal travel insurance, airline fuel supplement if charged by the airline (capped at £200 by Discover Adventure), meals as specified, tip for local crew, Burma entry visa or international airport tax. It also does not include any optional sites you may wish to visit.We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.

Flight Information

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 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.

Accommodation

We sleep in local monasteries on the trek; this is a great privilege and a wonderful insight to monastery life, though conditions are necessarily quite basic, sleeping on mattresses on the floor. At the start and end of the trek we stay in good hotels which may vary in standards a little. Rooms are on a twin-share basis.

Food

All food is included except for two meals as specified. The food is local in style and very tasty; there is plenty of it. Please let us know any dietary requirements well in advance.

Dietary Requirements

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 very 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 - where you are free to explore and try other culinary experiences! There is always something to suit every budget.

Trip Support

Discover Adventure Crew

Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader. All our leaders are from the UK or other English-speaking countries. Most work for us on an ad-hoc basis and have ‘real’ jobs in-between trips! We never send our leaders to the same destination for months on end – we want them to be as enthusiastic about your trip as you are. Although our leaders are trained in expedition first-aid, they are accompanied by an expedition doctor or medic (dependent on group size), who is there to look after the well-being of the whole group and deal with any incidents. They help the leaders to ensure the trip runs smoothly and encourage you when things get tough. The number of crew looking after you will depend on the final size of your group, but an average-sized group in Burma would be led by two leaders and a doctor. At Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: trekker ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent trip safety.

Local Support Crew

Our local support crew is made up of local guides and drivers. Your local guide knows the local area well, and is a great source of knowledge about local customs and lifestyles. Our drivers do not always speak much English but are very friendly and approachable. The Discover Adventure crew work closely with the local crew to ensure your trip runs smoothly and safely. Your leader will arrange a collection of tips for the local support crew at the end of your trek. Tipping is not obligatory, but once you see how hard they work on your behalf you will be happy to donate something! All our local crew are paid wages, but bear in mind that the average wage in this country is far below what you would spend on a normal night out.

Luggage

Your luggage is carried by vehicles from hotel to hotel. Vehicles will drop us off at the start of the trek and pick us up for any transfers. They also carry all food, water etc. Space is limited and hard-sided luggage is not suitable, so it is essential that your kit is packed in a soft sailing bag, rucksack or expedition kitbag. Ask us about our specially-designed low-cost kitbags if you don’t have one already. You should also bring a small daypack to carry for items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage until the evening.

Trip Safety

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

Trekking Information

We trek varied paths and tracks through lush jungle, farmland and villages. Some tracks are wide and used by carts a great deal; others are narrow and may be overgrown or muddy. Trekking conditions may be slippery after rain. The terrain is hilly, and the slopes can feel steeper in the heat! Much of the area we trek through is remote, with few good roads, though we are never far from small villages and rural life.

Clothing & Equipment

We are travelling through remote areas where we could be exposed to bad weather at any time so be prepared for quickly changing conditions and temperatures. 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.

Fitness Levels

Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.

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.

Vaccinations

You must have had a Tetanus injection in the last ten years, and we highly recommend protection against Polio, Hepatitis A and Typhoid.

Cultural Differences

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 trekkers 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.

Carbon Offsetting

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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