The first trekking on our world trip and what a great start this was! 🙂 Let’s explore this 3 days trekking together, shall we:
If you don’t like to read, skip forward to the trekking video !! 😈
You would have to fly on Mandalay first and then take the train to Kalaw. The train to Kalaw is actually a lot of fun. You’ll see beautiful landscapes, get in touch with locals and pass through tiny villages. The local women will jump aboard and try to sell you oranges or sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves. The journey goes in 2 stretches, with a sleepover in Thazi. You don’t actually want to spend the night in Thazi, but alas you have no choice 🙄
After 2 dusty days, you finally arrive in Kalaw. It’s an old British colonial city up in the mountains. Which is great, because the cool breeze is very welcome to catch a breath from the long train ride. There’s also some exploring to do be done in Kalaw, like the busy food market or the caves next to the Shwe Oo Min pagoda. The huge prison-like building next to it, is one of the only military officer schools in the country 💡
After a good nights rest and having put on my new walking shoes, we were ready to embark on your 3 days journey. There are actually plenty of guides to be found in Kalaw. We decided to do our trekking with Rohit. He knows the area really well and was always smiling. He just started his own agency. Find Rohit Trekking on Facebook. Or alternatively check out Eagle Trekking.
The first day we walked from Kalaw into the hills, through fresh rice fields, green meadows and wandering buffaloes to eventually end up at this incredible viewpoint where we had lunch:
After lunch we had some fun with the drone, following us around, have a look at the video to see what I mean. And then off we went through more green hills. We passed a few small traditional villages, where – as usual – the kids came to greet us in droves! By the end of the afternoon, we actually walked on an active train track, because … why not? Haha 😈
Well basically because there is no other road. All the locals do this as well. We passed a ton of kids running home from school, women carrying fresh vegetables or bags of rice etc … All walking on the same train track.
Until the track starts rambling and shaking and everyone jumps into the bushes on the side. YES, the train is coming! We were so scared that it would run us over, we literally dove into the ditch. Haha 😀 In the end, the train swooshed by us, we obviously survived without a scratch!
The remainder of the afternoon was a bit less eventful luckily 😉 We passed the train station and slowly made our way to the small traditional village where our homestay was situated. Now we were in for another big surprise!
The homestay was almost the last house on the street and was made entirely out of wood. People lived on the first floor and the ground level was reserved for the animals. Our ‘room’ was made up of a mosquito net around a mattress in the main room of the house. Our guide slept in another ‘mosquito-tent’ across the room. The ‘toilet’ was a whole in the ground outside on the yard and when we asked about a hot shower, they all started laughing and pointed to a water basin in the backyard.
Now before you run away and stutter you’re never going on this trekking. There is also the option to stay in a proper hotel 😀 However we wanted the immersive experience and in the end we were very happy with our choice. The family where we spent the night, was so very kind and happy. They prepared a delicious and fresh meal for us, to share with the whole family. They don’t speak English, but when the grandma comes to bring you tea, smiles and holds your hand for a second, it all makes sense! 🙂
Next morning we woke up early to see the sun rise over the hills. After a good breakfast and saying our goodbyes to the whole family, we started marching again. Up another hill, haha 😀
The 2nd day we passed through a lot more rice fields and local villages. We walked up green hills to descend them through a narrow path on the other side. No more train tracks this time! 😛
The best part: just before sunset, the whole community started packing up things and started heading back home. An amazing caravan of farmers, buffaloes and cows, carts with packed up rice, all moving in the same direction … the village where we would spend our second night.
Here I took advantage of the golden hour to shoot these drone beauties:
The last day we left early, because as we were descending from Kalaw towards Inle Lake, the temperatures were increasing again as well. So in order to arrive at the lake around noon, we grabbed ourselves an early breakfast and started walking.
The 3rd day the landscapes were very different from the first 2 days though. We walked in green pine forests, through lush and humid jungle only to go down on rocky edges with virtually no vegetation. And the last stretch was a reddish desert-like plain with treacherous and dunes. All in 1 day! 😀
We were expecting to get a magnificent view over the lake as we were climbing down those rocky edges. But actually no lake to be seen. At last, we arrive at a small harbor on one of the river deltas. This is where we jumped onto one of those motorized longboats. After about 20 minutes on the river, we finally saw the grand Inle Lake appear! With a bunch of their traditional fishermen waiting for their catch.
That concludes our trekking to Inle Lake. I hope you enjoyed it. If you want to read more about our perfect 28 days itinerary for Myanmar, click!
Of course, if you don’t like to read or just because this video is awesome, you can click play right below and experience the whole trekking visually !! Yeey 🙂