This adventure takes you to the wild north of Myanmar, Kachin state, and the confluence that gives birth to the great Ayeyarwady River. Your journey takes you south, via Myitkyina to Bhamo, the farthest navigable point on the river for large ships. From here you take the boat, through the spectacular second defile to Katha, the scene of Orwell’s ‘Burmese Days’. And the adventure doesn’t stop here! Your last day is spent in a jeep, tackling the rough, restricted and remote roads that will return you to the comforts of Mandalay.
This adventure starts with a flight from Yangon, Mandalay or Putao and ends in Mandalay; all your transportation, accommodation and the services of a guide are included. Your journey passes through some remote countryside and some of the accommodation may be of a basic standard. The itinerary can be adjusted with extra, or fewer days and the route can be amended on request to travel to Bhamo via Lashio and Namhkan, rather than via Myitikyina. Tours travelling via Myikyina can be further personalised with side trips to Indawgyi Lake or Hukuang Valley Tiger Reserve. Please ask us for details.
Day 1. Yangon / Mandalay / Putao - Myitkyina.
This tour begins with your flight from one of the above destinations to the town of Myitkyina, the last major town in northern Myanmar. Upon arrival our car will meet you and transfer you to your hotel to check in. Spend the rest of the day exploring this interesting riverside town with its mix of ethnicities and religions.
Day 2. Myitkyina – Myit Son.
After breakfast, explore the large market and perhaps bargain for some Kachin jewellery. Meet up with your car and head north, 27 miles over rough roads to today’s main destination, the local beauty spot of Myit Son. Meaning ‘Confluence’, this is where the great Ayeyarwady River is formed; by the coming together of the wild Malikha and Mayhka Rivers. Local people and Myanmar tourists flock to the area to view the white water and you may see prospectors panning for gold in the shallows. Get here soon – a huge new hydroelectric dam is planned for the Ayeyarwady just downstream from the confluence which will submerge Myit Son beneath its lake.
Day 3. Myitkyina – Bhamo.
Enjoy your breakfast then meet up with your car for the drive down this quiet section of the famous WWII Ledo Road, south to the river town of Bhamo. During the six hour journey which fringes the hills of the Chinese border, it is possible to stop by some local villages and experience life in these almost forgotten backwaters. About 3km north of Bhamo lie the remnants of the 15th century Shan Kingdom of Sampanago; some ruined pagodas, a reclining Buddha and overgrown city walls can still be seen. Check into your hotel and have a first look around this busy town.
Day 4. Around Bhamo.
Bhamo, the farthest navigable point on the Ayeyarwady for large boats, sits only 50 miles from the border with China. After breakfast today, head down to the market near the river and watch the local townsfolk haggling with tribal peoples; Shan, Lisu and Kachin from the surrounding villages. Then meet up with you driver for a day in the surrounding countryside. Depending on the time of year it may be possible to visit some of the ethnic tribal villages or perhaps journey to an elephant camp or the old British hill station of Seinlon. Overnight back in Bhamo.
Day 5. Bhamo – Katha.
Today is the highlight of the journey so far. Proceed to the river dock to board your ferry for the all-day journey down river to Katha. The first major stop is the town of Sinkan, at the mouth of the second defile (river gorge). You then enter the scenic defile itself – nearly 14 kilometres long with cliffs up to 300 metres high. Look out for the ‘Parrot’s Beak’, a painted rock that indicates the water level to the boat captain.
The next major town is Shwegu, a centre of the logging industry in an area of dense forest. Look out for the island of Kyun Daw, which is covered by over 2700 ancient stupas. As the light begins to fade you will arrive at your destination, the river town of Katha – famous as the setting of George Orwell’s ‘Burmese Days’. Check into your hotel and go for a walk around town; many buildings such as the old police station, the British Club, the hospital and jail are much as they were when Orwell wrote about them in the 1920s.
Day 6. Katha – Mandalay.
There is an early start today as you depart Katha, under its century-old rain trees by jeep for the rough road south to Mandalay. Normally, visitors are not allowed to travel this road but we can obtain a permit to allow you to experience this rough back country, passing villages where the children may be frightened of you (they may never have seen a foreigner before!). This long, challenging day ends at dusk when you arrive in Mandalay, at the door of your chosen hotel.