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Friday, 20 October 2017

Ecotourism

Myanmar is acknowledged as being a bio-diversity ‘hotspot’, with a diverse landscape that ranges from the snow-capped peaks of the eastern Himalayas, to the coral reefs and rainforests of the far south. Myanmar holds around half the closed-canopy forest remaining in South East Asia, and these threatened forests harbour increasingly rare species, such as the tiger and Asian elephant. A handful of areas in this beautiful country have been protected as national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. ASEAN, the economic grouping of South East Asian nations recognises the importance of these protected areas and has named six of them, ASEAN Heritage Sites. Mr Myanmar Travel encourages travellers to visit Myanmar’s parks and sanctuaries. We hope that by encouraging tourism to these areas, we can demonstrate that protected areas have commercial value and that their continued protection and expansion will bring economic benefits to local people.

Myanmar also has a long established logging industry. Unlike other countries where logging is highly mechanised and destructive, Myanmar still employs large numbers of domesticated working elephants to haul logs out of the forest. This is a far more environmentally-friendly extraction method as selective logging can be carried out with far less damage caused to the surrounding forest. Mr Myanmar Travel can arrange overnight visits to two elephant camps, where you can ride elephants into the forest, talk to the ‘Oozies’ (elephant handlers) and watch the elephants being trained, cared for and washed. The camps are also good places for walking and bird watching.

Mr Myanmar Travel can arrange visits to all of the locations listed below. Please note that some locations are accessible only during certain months of the year. Travel permits are required for some parks; Mr Myanmar Travel will obtain these permits on your behalf. Please contact us for more details of visiting these areas.

Myaing Hay Wun Elephant Camp.

Located off the Yangon – Pyay road, this is the closest elephant camp to Yangon. The journey starts with a two hour drive to the town of Hpalon. You then continue along a rough unsealed road to the forest camp – about another 90 minutes drive. As elephants are most active during the cooler hours of the day, we recommend that you spend one or two nights here; there is comfortable accommodation on-site. Tour prices include all meals, transportation, accommodation and the services of a guide who can help you communicate with the staff and Oozies on site.

The area of this camp attracts wildlife typical of the dry monsoon forest of the Bago Yoma. Animals seen in the forest include: Gaur, Banteng, Barking Deer, Wild Boar, Hare, Wild Cats, Monitor Lizards and many species of butterflies and birds.

Activities here include:

*Elephant rides into the surrounding forest.
*Fishing at La Har Ma Hge fishpond.
*Forest hiking.
*Observing elephant training.
*Observing log extraction techniques.
*Observing the elephants washing in the stream.
*Introduction to elephant veterinary care.
*Meet and interact with the ‘Oozies’, or elephant handlers.

Hpo Kyar Elephant Camp.

Located west of the town of Thargaya, north of Taungoo, Hpo Kyar elephant camp is located on the banks of Thaing creek in the Swa forest reserve. The camp is built in a scenic location amongst some 150 year old teak trees. The camp grounds attract birdlife making this another good location for bird watching. Overnight stays can be arranged either on a return trip from Yangon, or en-route from Taungoo to Kalaw or Mandalay. We recommend spending at least one night here. Four day tours (roundtrip from Yangon) can be arranged that combine Hpo Kyar with Moeyingyi wetlands bird reserve.

Activities here include:

*Forest Trekking.
*Elephant rides in the forest.
*Observing the elephants washing in the stream.
*Horse riding.
*Observing the feeding of young elephants.
*Botanical walks.
*Observe elephant training.
*Interaction with the Oozies.
*Overnight camping trips in the forest.

Khakaborazi National Park – an ASEAN Heritage Site.

Mt. Hkakabo Razi is, at 19,295 feet, the highest mountain in mainland South East Asia, and the focal point of this, Myanmar’s most northerly and remote National Park. The peak was first scaled only in 1997, by Takeshi Ozaki of Japan, and U Nama Johnson of Myanmar. The national park covers 1,472 square miles and features untouched lowland evergreen forest, hill pine and moist upper mixed deciduous forest. Wildlife here includes Takin, Musk Deer, Blue Sheep, Black Barking Deer and Phet Byi. The park area is also home to the last pygmy tribe in Asia, the Tarong.

Mr Myanmar Travel can arrange treks to Dahongdam, the last village before the mountain starting from the northern town of Putao. Please see the ‘Adunglong Valley’ journey in the ‘Trekking’ section of our website.

Hukuang Valley Tiger Reserve.

At 5,220 square miles, the Hukuang Valley is the world’s largest Tiger reserve – bigger than all of India’s tiger reserves put together. It is also one of the largest contiguous forests left in all South East Asia. The landscape here is mainly lowland forest, rising to hills covered by coniferous forest. In the lowlands there are many rivers, swamps and oxbow lakes, making the area a haven for rare water-birds such as white-bellied heron, white-winged duck and masked finfoot.
The 2002 – 2003 survey which coincided with the formation of the park photographed all of the following species (and more) with camera traps:
Tiger, Clouded Leopard, Golden Cat, Marbled Cat, Leopard Cat, Asian Dhole, Malayan Sunbear, Himalayan Black Bear, Large Spotted Civet, Crab-eating Mongoose, Wild Boar, Muntjac, Sambar, Gaur, Serow, Hog Deer, Pangolin, Pig-tailed Macaque, Stump-tailed Macaque, Rhesus Macaque, Capped Leaf Monkey, Black Stork and Woolly-necked Stork. The park is also home to elephant and gibbons.

This protected area is a wildlife enthusiast’s and ornithologist’s dream. Mr Myanmar Travel can arrange tours to this remote area starting from Myitkyina, in northern Myanmar. Access to the park is via the famous WWII Ledo Road; the journey from Myitkyina takes around 8 hours by jeep or truck over this rough road to Park HQ at Tanai. Tours through this beautiful landscape are led by an experienced guide and you camp overnight in the reserve itself. The last night is usually spent in a local village. A permit is required to travel here and this can take up to 2 months to obtain, so late bookings are not possible. Travel to the park is possible between October and May.

Moeyingyi Wetlands.

The most accessible of all the wildlife sanctuaries, Moeyingyi is a bird sanctuary located a short drive from the ancient city of Bago. Originally a reservoir, this lake and marsh is on the migration route between Siberia and the Malay Peninsula and attracts thousands of waterbirds. Some 125 species have been recorded here including Sarus Crane and large numbers of Purple Gallinule. Bird watching here is from boats on the serene, peaceful lake.

Mr Myanmar Travel recommends an overnight stay here as the birds are most active, and the light is at its best at dusk and dawn. Comfortable accommodation is available. The wetlands can be combined with Bago to make a 2 day excursion from nearby Yangon, or combined with Hpo Kyar elephant camp in a 4 day trip. Alternatively, Moeyingyi can be visited en-route to Taungoo, Kalaw, Mt Kyaiktiyo or Mawlamyine by car.

Indawgyi Lake Wildlife Sanctuary – an ASEAN Heritage Site.

indawgyiSituated 180 kilometres west south west of Myitkyina, Indawgyi Lake is the largest natural lake in Myanmar. 24 kilometres north-south, 10 kilometres across, this picturesque lake is a bird reserve, a habitat for more than 120 species including pintails and shelducks. The lake is known for its clear, unpolluted waters with transparency of 3.5 metres. A famous pagoda, Shwe Myint Zu sits on the lake and villages of stilt houses are scattered around the shore. The local forests are logged using elephants and their camp can also be visited.

Mr Myanmar Travel can arrange visits by chartered car or jeep from Myitkyina via the town of Hopin.

Lampi Marine National Park – an ASEAN Heritage Site.

smallEstablished in 1996, Lampi Island Marine National Park is located in the southern Myeik (Mergui) Archipelago and covers the eponymous island and surrounding sea. The island is about the size of Singapore and is in an excellent state of preservation, with untouched lowland tropical evergreen forest and an abundance of wildlife. The island, 48 kilometres long, rises steeply to a height of 350 metres and is fringed with beaches, bays and old-growth mangrove forests.

Wildlife on the island includes Asian Elephant, Lesser Mouse Deer, Small-clawed Otter, Crab-eating Macaque, Muntjac and wild Boar. There is a large, spectacular population of Flying Foxes and several Turtle species nest on the beaches. Sea mammals noted in the area include Spinner, Spotted and Striped Dolphins, Long-finned Pilot, False Killer, Bryde’s and Minke Whales. Dugong and Estuarine Crocodiles have also been recorded. The forests are also famous for their birdlife featuring Kingfishers, Hornbills, Pacific Reef Egrets, Nicobar Pigeons and White-bellied Sea Eagles.

Lampi Island can be visited by boat from the Myanmar Andaman Resort or by live-aboard boat from the towns of Kawthoung or Myeik. Activities in the area include bird watching, hiking, snorkelling, fishing and kayaking. A kayak trip up the mangrove river is a particular highlight. Please refer to the ‘Myeik (Mergui) Archipelago Adventure’ page of the ‘Adventure’ section of our website.

Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park – an ASEAN Heritage Site.

alaungtawkathapha Named after a disciple of the Buddha, Alaungdaw Kathapa was established by the British colonial administration in 1941. The park covers an area of almost 160,000 hectares in the centre-west of Myanmar and contains a mixture of forest types including teak and dry dipterocarp forest. The park is popular with Myanmar tourists who visit the shrine where Kathapa is buried.

The park is famous for its wealth of animal and birdlife. Large mammals recorded here include Tiger, Elephant, Leopard, Clouded Leopard, Black Bear, Gaur, Banteng, Sambar, Barking Deer, Serow, Goral, Wild Boar, Wild Dog and several species of Primates. A large number of bird species have been recorded including: Great and Oriental Pied Hornbill, Redheaded Trogon, Hooded Treepie, Vinous-breasted Starling, Chestnut-bellied and Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Streak-eared Bulbul, White-throated Babbler, White-bellied Yuhina, Kalij Pheasant, White-bellied Woodpecker, Blue-eared Barbet, Red-billed Blue Magpie, Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike and Blue Whistling Thrush. In addition some 60,000 migratory water birds overwinter here. Some 200 butterfly and 77 reptile species have also been recorded in the park.

The National Park is accessible between December and May and a permit is necessary to visit. Access is via private car or jeep from Mandalay and Monywa and accommodation is available on-site. It is possible to visit the shrine of Kathapa on elephant-back. Mr Myanmar Travel can arrange visits that are tailored to your particular interest. We would recommend a stay of at least 3 nights.

Meinmahla Kyun Wildlife Sanctuary – an ASEAN Heritage Site.

meinmahlaLocated 19 kilometres from Bogalay in the heart of the Ayeyarwady Delta, ‘The Island of Beautiful Women’ is a 52 square mile reserve protecting the last major stand of Mangrove forest in the delta area. 29 species of mangrove grow here but the main attraction for visitors is the opportunity to look for wild Estuarine Crocodiles. A crocodile head-start program is run from here where eggs, or recently hatched crocodiles are removed from their nests and raised in captivity until they are 50 centimetres long, and not so vulnerable to predators. The forest is also home to Sambar, Hog Deer, Wild Dogs and two species of very rare freshwater Turtles; the Burmese Roofed Turtle and the Mangrove Terrapin. Nearby Kadonlay Beach is a nesting ground for rare Turtles.

Meinmahla Kyun is located in a remote area; part of the enjoyment of a visit is the journey there. The reserve is reached either by car or jeep to Bogalay, followed by a boat journey – or visitors can charter a boat all the way from Yangon. Both journeys are very interesting and enjoyable. Mr Myanmar Travel can make the arrangements and obtain a travel permit for you. Accommodation is at Park HQ or aboard your chartered boat – we recommend a stay of at least 2 nights.
 

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