SEATTLE, WA – Myanmar today is a most curious place. Driving through the countryside visitors see farmers working their water buffalo in fields nestled beneath hills covered in pagodas and experience first-hand day in and day out the effects of Buddhism that permeate this long hidden culture.
This mystery realm known as Myanmar (Burma) is a must-visit-now destination, says Kurt Kutay, founder and owner of Wildland Adventures. He gives three reasons. First, decades of self-imposed isolationism stalled globalization, thus preserving here a throwback Asia. Second, Myanmar has transformed itself to a democratically elected and installed government and now welcomes the outside world. Third, Myanmar is one of the safest countries in the world to travel to now and exemplifies a peaceful and friendly population.
Known for blazing new trails in adventure travel, Wildland Adventures again distinguishes itself with three new itineraries that explore Myanmar in 2016. In keeping with a 30-year custom of exploring worlds afar in style, these tours delve deeper into daily life and sacred sites than simply posing at a monument. In line with Wildland’s founding ethos three decades ago, the company supports community based projects across the country that are run by locals from among its 135 eclectic ethnic groups creating intimate interactions for their travelers with the Burmese people.
“While visiting iconic sites we take roads less traveled to meet local people, hear their personal stories, and see how we can help them improve their lives after the military junta. For example, we bike between the colonial-era hill town of Kalaw and Inle Lake. We experience the drama that is Bagan on foot and from the air,” Kutay explains. “Whether chatting with a local Shan farmer in Northern Shan state, or with villagers in the countryside in Yandabo on the banks of the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady), or with an Intha woman showing how to make traditional foods in her house on stilts on the lake, it’s always about making a connection and understanding Myanmar by getting to know its people.”
Kutay promises that his guests will be stunned by the time capsule they explore as they stroll through Shan and Kayin villages, bike around Mandalay, tour a pottery-makers’ village, awaken to the sounds and scents of local markets coming to life, bathe elephants in the river, gaze in awe at the fabled temple field of Bagan, and circumnavigate on foot the 2,500-year-old Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon (Rangoon) with Buddhist pilgrims.
Following are sketches of Wildland’s three new trips to Myanmar…
Mystical Myanmar is a 13-day journey from $4,415 per person, double, that discovers Myanmar’s mystical depths revealed in timeless rural life where few travelers venture. On this easy active adventure guests walk amongst hill tribe villages, kayak on Inle Lake, cycle down rural roads, trek through the jungle to an elephant conservation sanctuary and venture into the mountainous states of Mon and Kayin to overnight in Hpa An village. Combining the iconic sites with the unknown, guests explore the vast complex of temples at Bagan and visit three of Myanmar’s most sacred sites: Golden Rock Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, Shwedagon Pagoda and Mahamuni.
Myanmar: Highlights of a Golden Land is a 15-day journey from $4,650 per person, double. Unique to this tour, at the conclusion of an active pursuit of Myanmar’s cultural classics, guests unwind for a day and overnight at Ngapali Beach, a resort situated in a fishing village on the Bay of Bengal. Here guests will be loathe to leave a country that has imbedded memories of a hot air balloon adventure over the Bagan temples, bicycle rides through small villages, riding the rails across the countryside and boating along waterways, sipping tea with the Palaung on tea plantations in Shan State, and marveling at the white and gold of temples shimmering in the dusky light.
Myanmar Family Adventure is a 10-day journey from $3,440 per person, double. Picture the kids bathing elephants, on bicycle rides, soaring in a hot air balloon adventure, taking a jeep safari to discover hidden temples straight out of Indiana Jones, walking through dense jungles to tribal villages and always meeting families and hearing their stories.
In addition to helping support local guides and community-based tourism services like boutique hoteliers and local restaurant entrepreneurs who interface with Wildland’s guests, the company contributes to building much-needed water wells in the dry zone. Through the generous contributions from previous travelers, three wells (and counting) have already been built in these remote villages just since the start of 2015.
For more information on all of Wildland Adventures’ worldwide programs, availability and reservations, visit http://www.wildland.com.