This is one of the essential activities to do when you come to visit this beautiful country of Myanmar (Burma), and for cause… We had already experienced some fantastic things in this country, but this trek is just amazing. Prepare to jump in a parallel dimension, to live more authentic moments than ever before, to jump from landscapes to landscapes, and to awaken all your senses. All this in three days.
Choose your trek to Lake Inle
There are several possibilities to discover the life between Kalaw and Lake Inle. You can leave one day, two days and one night or three days and two nights. We have opted for this last solution.
Know that for the trek of 3 days it is necessary to count between 30mi and 43mi, for the 2 days between 18mi and 24mi, and finally for the day you will be able to adapt according to your expectations and your capacities. Don’t expect a real physical test. It is relatively flat, and the grounds are mostly well-accessible. However for the 3-day trek, good physical condition is still highly recommended.
If you are not too athletic, you are strongly advised to make a minimum of 2 days. The experience of sleeping in a typical village and living the time of a night the lives of the inhabitants is still incredible.
For the others, do the 3 days, you will not regret it 🤗
The trek from Lake Inle was one of the activities we expected the most. So we wanted to prepare it to the best and thus to live the experience as we heard: authentic, simple, athletic, with beautiful landscapes and beautiful encounters. You will see that most of our desires have been largely fulfilled…
There are dozens and dozens of independent agencies and agents in Kalaw (departure town for the Inle Lake Trek). To choose Well, we arrived the day before the date of our departure for the trek in a very central hotel that is recommended to you in addition warmly (one of the cheapest of the corner and really well placed)
Superb cheap and central hotel in Kalaw, with a beautiful view of the pagoda.
So we took the time to compare three different solutions:
- A “responsible” agency => Ko Kyaw.
A former independent agent, Ko Kyaw has opened his agency for a year to meet the high demand. He now manages his team and creates a more upscale brand. You will leave with a guide + a chef (for the kitchen) to adventure through a “personalized” course, in selected villages that he knows well. He moved to our hotel to explain everything to us and was very pro. Its price does not include the transportation of baggage and the boat on Lake Inle like most of its confreres. However he justifies his price by his approach of sustainable development, the fact that he pays more to the families in whom you sleep, that there is a chef who accompanies you for the meals, that the guide is a real pro etc… We really felt sincere and deeply attached to his country. So if you have the means and the desire to travel responsibly, we sincerely believe that this is an excellent solution.
Price: for 3days 2nights => $30/day/person either for a couple $180 (284 000 kyats)
Add to that $18/person for the boat (obligatory to reach your hotel) or $216 (340 000 kyats). and $3 for the carriage of baggage.
- An independent Guide => bone bone.
Independent Guide, we had spotted it via a traveler’s blog for whom the experience had gone really well. Unfortunately we could not meet for lack of time, but the few exchanges by mail that we could have made us say that it is really serious. In addition, some research on the Internet quickly allows to validate this hypothesis. Well framed program, all inclusive price, guided by bone bone himself, everything seemed serious. If our availabilities had stuck, I think we would have gone through it.
Price: for 3days 2 nights => $150 (220000 kyat) all inclusive for 2 persons.
- A known and recognized agency => Uncle Sam’s (Sam ‘s family)
Their reputation is no longer to be done. You’ll see it quickly, but if you ask anyone a good agency for the Inle Lake Trek, the name that comes out every time is “Uncle Sam’s”. Even the guide of the Backpacker recommends them! Their fame at first made us frankly afraid. Affordable, warm welcome, enticing program… We cracked, and we left with them! And you will see that we are delighted ^^
Price: for 3days 2nights => $90 (140 000 kyats) all inclusive for 2 persons.
The Inle Lake Trek
Day 1: From Kalaw to…..
Visit Uncle Sam’s office at the foot of the hotel. First fright, twenty people are waiting in front or in as we guide them before leaving. We are relativizing, and we enter the agency with a smile:). Well-established organization, we take the luggage that we had prepared to our hotel of Lake Inle and we keep our two small luggage with us. We are recapitulating our reservation, we are valid that we will be only two (you can be part of a group and pay less) and we are asked to wait on the side we are called with our guide. At that moment I admit to being a little afraid to be falling into the workings of a factory with tourist well tied, which I hate above all. But too bad, we’re there, and we’re happy.
We’re being called. We are the “group” 7. And our guide will be…. MinMin (say Mi mi). And then a little smile gets out of my face. First good news of the day, this is the guide I had asked the night before. Ask Me why, I had just read a good comment from a group having made the trip with a certain Mimi. Delighted, we go out to join our guide waiting for us outside.
Surprise, it is not a woman as expected, but a young man very small, and, without making bad pun, all cute. Next to him, an old man stands proudly standing: He is the famous Uncle Sam. After having made us a nice speech, where he explains that he is proud to present his country to foreigners for several years and that he would sincerely like to read by mail our feedback of experience, he leaves the floor to Mimi. 22 years, Guide for a year, he will accompany us during these 3 days of trek between Kalaw and Lake Inle. So funny!! We left on foot with our bags towards the mountain.
The groups leave in a staggered way, and everyone does the utmost to avoid the tourists crossing during their journey. Despite some early encounters with 2 groups, they managed to keep us away almost all along the way.
We get out very quickly from the city to find yourself in the middle of the rice fields, in the first mountains. Beautiful landscapes, first sweats, Mimi kindly proposes to take a break on the edge of a small lake. An artificial expanse, created by the British and serving as a reservoir for the town and surrounding villages. Impossible to bathe, but perfect to soak the feet that start nicely to heat. All along the journey (during the 3 days), we have dealt of questions, and the breaks allowed an even nicer approximation, because of the proximity and to be only all three. His English is not perfect, but is enough to answer all our questions. 10-15min Later, we left again to the onslaught of the Myanmaraises mountains.
Lunch break. After 1 hour of walking in the Burmese jungle we arrived at View Point. A magnificent vantage point to glimpse an ornate mountain horizon, dotted with fields of orange trees, rice paddies and at our feet, tea plantations.
Placed in a small hut giving a panoramic view of the mountains, we are ready to taste a very good Nepalese meal cooked by the only restaurant in the corner. Just excellent! It is a place where all the groups meet, so do not expect to be alone (so to speak the only place of the trek between Kalaw and Lake Inle), but it does not spoil the show. We did not resist a little nap of 20 min on the edge of the hill, with a light breeze as a lullaby… Mimi, with all the delicacy that characterizes it, comes to announce the departure in 15 minutes or 12:30.
Well-deserved break. 2:30 walk with still completely different landscapes. After spending 2 small villages full of charm, elementary and secondary schools somewhat noisy but really pretty, trod the rails of the train to the walking Dead for 45 minutes, we are settled at Kan Ba Ni Station.
A nice typical station where you can, if you have the same chance as us, attend the show of the arrival of a train (2 to 3 times a day). You go from a train station living only with its small stalls to a combat low-end sellers on the wharf exchanging their property against a few kyats to travelers (mostly locals) through the “window” of the train. Two minutes after the train’s departure, the station becomes calm and peaceful. A show to see if you can. After tasting a good tea and cupcakes (we recommend the Sweet Donuts) offered by Mimi, we left for our last destination of the day.
25 kms. We have arrived at a good port. The legs start to shoot a little, but the happiness of seeing our house one evening makes us quickly forget. We put our luggage in a hard house, concrete on the ground floor and wood at the first. Two small beds on the floor await us in the family lounge, with rudimentary comfort certainly, but similar to the beds whose family has. We have blankets as mattresses, and three others to cover at night.
We also discover with amusement, the toilet at the bottom of the garden in a mini hut. There is the bare minimum, ie a hole and a bucket of water to clean and pass… The ultimate being the shower! 3 Pieces of wood, 4 tall plants by here and there, a seal of water, and hop here is our shower 😅 However, for the girls (Morgane will tell you), plan to take your shower with a sheet or something to cover you, even in the shower. The eyes are everywhere and as we see everything, there are some who do not bother too much:)
Finally, everything is perfect or almost. Our only regret is to have not had the opportunity to share a moment with the family (who does not speak a word of English obviously). They eat in the kitchen (you in the living room), sleep in another room, and do not try to come to see you to swap would be what 3-4 words. But that didn’t stop us from going to the children’s contact and helping them to peel thousands of cloves of garlic, the fruit of the day’s picking. Exchanges of a few words in English, attempts to repeat the first names (very funny moment) and some glances have largely enough to make our happiness at all.
As the family is totally indifferent (it’s like that in every house), it’s Mimi who takes care of everything! It is now 1h that he is dealing in the kitchen of the house with the utensils available.
The feast begins and the night falls
KO technique, morphed will have been right for us. The night is very fresh and the insulation almost non-existent, so if you have, feel free to take a meat bag in addition.
We had not slept more than 10h for a very long time! Our favorite guide comes to wake us up. It’s been an hour since he made us breakfast and 10min after, everything was ready on the table. On the menu: Banana toast, turmeric flavored rice, avocado salad, sugar cane fruit and cakes. Just the best breakfast we aillons ate in Myanmar. A small icy shower (armpits and intimate parts), brushing teeth, and here we go again for new adventures. He always arranged for us to be the first group to leave so as not to cross anyone on our way.
Such as warriors, we put, like most of the premises in Myanmar, the Tanaka. It is an ancestral technique to protect itself from the sun (and which takes on the role of “makeup” for women). Just rub the tree bark on a smooth, moist stone. The juice is then gently deposited on the skin. You are advised to try. Guaranteed effect. It’s a pride for them to see you wearing that ☺ ️
Change of scenery. So we are surrounded by chili fields, says Chili. Being completely fan of chili, here I am in paradise, as Bewitched of this red gold. Impressive Info: During the summer season, they pick the chili pepper every week and by hand please. We regularly cross tap rooms with huge sacks filled with chilli on their backs. Despite this, they go three times faster than us and have a smile to the ears by seeing us (effect Tanaka + stranger surely).
All dressed in black, we meet a woman, obviously from the corner with a pretty turban full of colors on the head. We then discover the PAO: one of the 7 ethnic groups in Myanmar. Luckily she tells us (in her language) that she is heading for a wedding ceremony. Of course, we ask Mimi if it is possible to make a detour to be able to attend, even by far, what he accepts immediately.
Arriving on the spot, the magic and the hospitality of the inhabitants explode us in full figure. Hardly time to spend to take a discreet look at the party, that one of the guests catches us and invites us to return. Here we are at the heart of a wedding ceremony. Our guide, obviously a little embarrassed because not dressed for this kind of event also runs, and we go up in a small room where are seated married and witnesses. The custom is that every guest, if he wishes, lays a piece of string around the wrists of the couple, wishing to have something positive inside, such as fertility, money, happiness in their lives, etc.
We were once again impressed by the openness of their religion and their practice. Not Buddhist for a sub, nor even believing for my part, the sharing of their habits and customs was a true shared happiness. After long smiles exchanged, 1000 invitations to come to drink and eat with the hundred guests present, we leave on our way.
Arrival at the drop point, Destination = > lunch. First blisters and first drops of rain. The pain begins to be felt in the legs and tendinitis begins to resurface. Finally, I must admit, Morgana is much more in shape than I ^^.
After a few bandages and a great meal, a little nap will take us both (yes yes, even with a night of 10 hours, we can still take a nap 😇).
Second and last village to welcome our trek from Lake Inle. Beautiful village, with beautiful houses in hard, and houses all so pretty in braided bamboo. It is finally in this last that we will have the chance to sleep 😍. Houses of the less fortunate, they build them themselves with their families and generally live there together.
Family much more hospitable than the first, we exchange a few glances, smiles, and stammers that make us all well laugh. Similarly, the owner makes us a dance at the Griezman: unlikely ^^. Mimi faithful to the post, we prepare the meal while we taste the delicious Mandalay beer while playing with the kids to make animal sounds with our hands. Simple moments, but terribly sincere and regenerating.
The sequel, is a (again) excellent meal lit with the candle, followed by a big dodo to the sound of bamboo that cracks under the cover.
Under our three blankets, our eyes close while rehashing the chance we have of living it all.
Despite the freshness of the morning, you can already hear the village waking up around 5:30. The kids start playing outside before they go to school. Parents prepare meals, cows, buffaloes and other means of locomotion. The fires begin to warm up the tea, and the Roosters to sing. You have to live it to feel this life from another time that starts smoothly.
So we wake up with a gigantic smile but also with the gout in the nose. The shower and the toilets are of the same comfort as the previous one and the water of the reserve always as icy. But we don’t care, it’s still too great.
Filled belly and loaded backpacks, we admire without being able to say a word as the beauty of the show is astounding. The mountain covered with the morning mist with the freshly raised sun comes to caress the fields of wheat. Despite a sore ankle that becomes almost unbearable for me, we left for five hours of walking. Visit of a typical and atypical school and exchanges with the locals. We were also able to admire the harassing work of women and men in the fields. Rarely motorized, the buffalo are put to the test to plow the fields. A bit like we were told in our history books in elementary school. Back in time yet very real and still topical here.
Last step after passing an impressive bamboo forest. I can hardly walk anymore, my tendinitis has definitely resurfaced (Morgana She, is doing well despite some aches). We drink, we eat, and we re-tell ourselves again and again what we just lived. It’s crazy how lucky we are, and we’re really starting to fall in love with this country.
The time of the last parting rang with Mimi. Cliché but almost moving. It was above the stars during the whole trek from Lake Inle (yes nothing but that ^ ^). Moreover you are strongly advised to ask for his presence if you wish to do this trek with Uncle Sam. Photo, laughter, smile, and still smile, we use the hand (very modest in Burma) and we read in our eyes to all: thank you. To celebrate, we wear Mimi between the two of us by making him jump in the air like a hero. He is one!
We embark on a very typical long boat ride on the Lake Inle that will mark the end of our fabulous trek.
End of our trek from Lake Inle. The ride on the lake is incredible, almost unreal. Difficult to describe, it is a succession of villages and houses on stilts mixing with pagodas and schools. We see the life of the inhabitants of the lake but also some tourist boats like ours. The beauty of the place is augmented by these imposing mountains that border the Grand Lake of 120 km2. In the middle we see the sinners, with their old boats and this way so recognizable that they have to sail with a paddle stuck between the foot, the groin, and the armpit. A show on their own….
One hour later, we finally arrived at a good port. In conclusion: 3 days of Trek, 70 kms of walking, thousands of smiles, encounters, landscapes more breathtaking than the others, and a guide a gold. A unique and memorable experience that you are strongly advised to do and live in your own way. The richness of the place, fuelled by the kindness of the Burmese still fully authentic, makes this experience unforgettable, which we hope will remain for a long time…