This is one of the essential activities to do when you come to visit this beautiful country that is Myanmar (Burma), and for good reason … We had already lived fantastic things in this country, but this trek is simply incredible. Get ready to jump into a parallel dimension, to experience more authentic moments than ever before, to jump from landscapes to landscapes, and to awaken all your senses. All in 3 days.
CHOOSE YOUR TREK TO THE INLE LAKE
The Inle Lake trek was one of the activities we expected most. We wanted to prepare it to the best and thus live the experience as we thought it was: authentic, simple, sporty, with beautiful landscapes and beautiful encounters. You will see that most of our desires have been largely fulfilled …
There are dozens and dozens of agencies and independent agents in Kalaw (starting town for the Inle Lake trek). To choose, we arrived the day before the date of our departure for the trek in a very central hotel that we recommend you besides warmly (One of the cheapest in the area and really well placed)
So we took the time to compare three different solutions:
- A “Responsible” agency => Ko Kyaw.
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 higher-end brand. So you will leave with a guide + a chef (for cooking) to adventure through a “personalized” journey in selected villages he knows well. He moved to our hotel to explain everything and was very professional. Its price does not include the transportation of luggage and the boat on Inle Lake like most of its colleagues. However it justifies its price by its approach of sustainable development, the fact that it remunerates more the families where you sleep, that there is a leader who accompanies you for the meals, that the guide is a true pro etc … He 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 it is a great solution.Price: for 3 days 2 nights => $ 30 / Day / Person for a couple $ 180 (284 000 kyat)
Add to this $ 18 / person for the boat (required to reach your hotel) is $ 216 (340 000 kyat). And $ 3 for carrying luggage.Contact: email@example.com
- An Independent Guide => Bone Bone.
Independent Guide, we had spotted it via a blog of travelers for whom the experience had gone really well. Unfortunately, we were unable to meet due to lack of time, but the few email exchanges that we had could have told us that he is really serious. In addition, some research on the internet can quickly validate this hypothesis. Program well framed, all-inclusive price, guided by Bone Bone himself, everything seemed serious. If our availability had stuck, I think we would have passed by him.Price: for 3 days 2 nights => $ 150 (220000 kyat) all inclusive for 2 people.Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- A known and recognized agency => Uncle Sam’s (Familly Sam’s)
His reputation was made. You’ll see it quickly, but if you ask anyone for a good Inle Lake trekking agency, the name that comes up every time is “Uncle Sam’s”. Even the backpacker’s guide recommends them! Their fame has, at first, frankly frightened us. Affordable prices, warm welcome, attractive program … We cracked, and we went with them! And you will see that we are delighted ^ ^Price: for 3days 2nights => $ 90 (140 000 kyat) all inclusive for 2 persons.Contact: email@example.com
Inle Lake Trek
Day 1: Departure from Kalaw
Before the start, with Uncle Sam Himself ????
Meet at Uncle Sam’s, at the front of the hotel. First scare, twenty people wait in front or in front as we guide them before leaving. We relativize, and we enter the agency with a smile :). Organization well run, we get the baggage we had prepared for our hotel Inle Lake and we keep our two small luggage with us. We recapitulate our booking, 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 confess to being a little afraid of falling into the wheels of a well-crafted tourist factory, which I hate above all else. But never mind, we are there, and in addition we are happy.
We are called. We are the “group” 7. And our guide will be … MinMin (say Mi Mi). And there, a small smile falls off my face. First good news of the day is the guide I asked the day before. Do not ask me why, I just read a good comment from a group that made the trip with some Mimi. Delighted, we go out to join our guide waiting for us outside.
Surprise, it’s not a woman as expected, but a young man very small, and, without making a bad word, cute. Beside him, an old man is proudly standing: it’s the famous Uncle Sam. After making a nice speech, where he explains that he is proud to present his country to foreigners for several years and that he sincerely would like to read by mail our feedback, he leaves the floor to Mimi. 22 years old, guide for a year, he will accompany us during these 3 days trek between Kalaw and Inle Lake. Awesome! We went on foot with our bags towards the mountain.
The groups go off-beat, and everyone does their utmost to ensure that tourists do not cross each other during their journey. Despite some early encounters with 2 groups, they managed to keep us away almost all the way.
We leave the city very quickly to find ourselves in the middle of the rice fields, in the first mountains. Beautiful landscapes, first sweat, Mimi kindly proposes to take a break at the edge of a small lake. An artificial expanse, created by the British and serving as a reservoir for the city and surrounding villages. Impossible to bathe, but perfect for soaking feet that start gently to heat. Throughout the journey (during the 3 days), we gave Mimi questions, and the breaks allowed a closer relationship, 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, here we go again to attack the birman mountains.
Lunch break After 1 hour of walking in the Burmese jungle we arrived at View Point. A magnificent viewpoint to see a horizon decorated with mountains, dotted with orange fields, rice paddies and our feet, tea plantations.
Placed in a small hut giving a panoramic view of the mountains, we are ready to enjoy a very good Nepali meal cooked by the only restaurant in the area. Simply excellent. It’s a place where all groups come together, so do not expect to be alone (it’s almost the only place on the trek between Kalaw and Inle Lake), but it does not spoil the show. We did not resist a nap of 20 minutes on the edge of the hill, with a light breeze as a lullaby … Mimi, with all the delicacy that characterizes him, announces the departure in 15 minutes or 12:30.
A well deserved break 2h30 walk with still completely different landscapes. After spending two charming little villages, some noisy but really pretty elementary and secondary schools, walking the rails of the train on the Walking Dead for 45 minutes, here we are at the Kan Ba Ni station.
A pretty typical station where you can, if you have the same luck as us, attend the spectacle of the arrival of a train (2 to 3 times a day). You pass from a station living only with its small stalls to a jumble of fight vendors on the dock exchanging their property for a few kyats to travelers (mostly locals) through the “window” of the train. Two minutes after the departure of the train, the station becomes calm and peaceful again. A show to see if you can. After enjoying a good tea and cupcakes (we recommend the sweet donuts) offered by Mimi, here we go again to our last destination of the day.
25 kms. We have arrived safely. The legs start to pull a little, but the happiness of seeing our house one night makes us quickly forget. We put our luggage in a hard house, concrete on the ground floor and wood on the first floor. Two small beds on the floor await us in the family room, with rudimentary comfort certainly, but similar to the beds that the family has. We have blankets as mattresses, and three others to cover ourselves at night.
We also discover with fun, the toilet at the bottom of the garden in a mini hut. There is the bare minimum, that is a hole and a bucket of water to clean and pass … The ultimate being the shower! 3 pieces of wood, 4 tall plants here and there, a seal of water, and here is our shower However, for girls (Morgane will tell you), plan to take a shower with a sheet or something for you cover even in the shower. The wandering 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 not having 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 exchange even 3-4 words. But that did not stop us from getting in touch with the children and helping them peel thousands of garlic cloves, the fruit of the day’s picking. Exchanges of some words in English, attempts at repetition of first names (very funny moment) and a few looks were largely enough to make our happiness to 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 working in the kitchen of the house with the available utensils.
the feast begins and the night falls
Technical knockout, Morphée will have got the better of us. The night is very cold and the insulation almost non-existent, so if you have, do not hesitate to take a meat bag and more.
Day 2: PAO People
7.30 am a beautiful landscape with a covered sky that enhances even more colors
We have not slept more than 10 hours since a long time! Our favorite guide comes to wake us up. It’s been 1h that he prepares breakfast and 10min after, everything was ready on the table. On the menu: banana toast, turmeric-flavored rice, avocado salad, fruit and sugar cane cakes. Simply the best breakfast we have eaten in Myanmar. A small icy shower (armpits and private parts), brushing teeth, and here we go again for new adventures. He always arranged for us to be the first group to leave so we would not meet anyone on our way.
Like warriors, we, like most locals in Myanmar, have Tanaka. It is an ancient technique for protecting oneself from the sun (and which plays the role of “makeup” for women). Just rub the tree bark on a smooth, wet stone. The juice is then gently deposited on the skin. We advise you to try. Guaranteed to please! It’s a pride for them to see you wearing this
Change of scene. So here we are surrounded by chilli fields, said chile. Being completely a fan of pepper, here I am in paradise, bewitched by this red gold. Impressive info: during the summer season, they pick the pepper every week and hand please. We regularly cross premises in clappers with huge bags filled with chilli on the back. Despite this, they are three times faster than us and have a smile to our ears when we see (Tanaka Effect + foreigner surely).
All dressed in black, we meet a woman, obviously from the corner with a pretty colorful turban on the head. We discover then PAO: one of the 7 ethnic groups of 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 from afar, what he accepts immediately.
Arrived on the spot, the magic and the hospitality of the inhabitants explode us in the face. Barely enough time to take a discreet look at the party, 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 married and witnesses. The custom is that each guest, if he wishes, puts a piece of string around the wrists of the couple, wishing inside something positive such as fertility, money, happiness in their lives etc …
We were once again impressed by the openness of their religion and practice. Not a Buddhist for a penny, nor even a believer for me, the sharing of their habits and customs was a real happiness shared. After long smiles exchanged, 1000 invitations to come to drink and eat with the hundreds of guests present, we leave on our way.
Arrival at the point of fall, destination => lunch. First blisters and first drops of rain. The pain begins to be felt in the legs and tendonitis begins to resurface. Finally, I must admit, Morgane is much better than me ^^.
After a few bandages and an excellent meal, a nap takes us both (yes, even with a night of 10 hours, we can still take a nap ).
Second and last home village of our Inle Lake trek. Beautiful village, with beautiful houses in hard, and houses as pretty woven bamboo. It is finally in the latter 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 welcoming than the first, we exchange a few looks, smiles, and stammering that make us all laugh. In the same way, the owner makes us a dance with the Griezman: improbable ^^. Mimi faithful to the post, we prepare the meal while we enjoy the delicious Mandalay beer while playing with the children to make animal sounds with our hands. Simple moments, but terribly sincere and refreshing.
The following is an (again) excellent candlelit meal, followed by a big dodo to the sound of bamboo cracking under the blanket.
Under our 3 blankets, our eyes close while we look back at the chance we have to live all that.
Day 3: Direction Inle Lake
Despite the morning freshness, we already hear the village waking up around 5:30. Children start playing outside before going to school. Parents prepare meals, cows, buffaloes and other means of transportation. The fires begin to warm the tea, and the roosters to sing. It is necessary to live it to feel this life of another time which starts smoothly.
We wake up with a gigantic smile but also with a drop in the nose. The shower and the toilets are of the same comfort as the previous one and the water of the reserve still icy. But we do not care, it’s still great.
Full belly and packed backpacks, we admire without being able to say a word as the beauty of the show is amazing. The mountain covered with the morning mist with the fresh sun comes to caress the fields of wheat. Despite an ankle pain that becomes almost unbearable for me, here we go again for 5 hours of walking. Visit of a typical and atypical school and exchanges with the locals. We also admired the harassing work of women and men in the fields. Rarely motorized, buffaloes are put to the test to plow fields. A bit like we were told in our history books in primary school. Back in time yet very real and still relevant here.
Last step after passing an impressive bamboo forest. I almost no longer walk, my tendinitis has definitely resurfaced (Morgane she is doing well despite some aches). We drink, we eat, and we re-tell each other again and again what we have just experienced. It’s crazy how lucky we are, and we’re really starting to fall in love with this country.
01:45 p.m .
Goodbye time has come with Mimi. Cliché but almost moving. He was above the stars throughout the Inle Lake trek (Yes just that ^^). Moreover we strongly advise you to ask if you wish to do this trek with Uncle Sam. Photo, laugh, smile, and still smile, we use the hand (very modest in Burma) and we read in our eyes at all: Thank you. To celebrate, we bring Mimi between us both by making him jump in the air like a hero. There is one!
We embark on a long, very typical boat from the area for a boat ride on Lake Inle which marks the end of our fabulous trek.
End of our Inle Lake trek. 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 can see the life of the inhabitants of the lake but also some tourist boats like ours. The beauty of the place is enhanced by these imposing mountains which border the large lake of 120 km2. In the middle are the sinners, with their old boats and their recognizable way of navigating with a paddle wedged between the foot, the groin, and the armpit. A show on their own ….
1 hour later, we finally arrived safely. In conclusion: 3 days trek, 70 kms of walking, thousands of smiles, encounters, more breathtaking landscapes than each other, and a guide a gold. A unique and memorable experience that you are urged to do and live in your own way. The richness of the place, fueled by the kindness of the Burmese still fully authentic, makes this unforgettable experience, which we hope, will remain so for a long time …