A common activity for travellers in Myanmar is to walk from Kalaw to Inle Lake. You can either choose a 2 or 3 day venture. I booked my two day hike through a company called Ever Smile in Kalaw (32,000 kyat which includes transport, accommodation and food), and there are plenty of other companies who offer this service in the town. The company will transfer your luggage to the hostel you will be staying at in Nyaungshwe, and if you are not staying there you will be able to pick it up after the trek.
Day one begins with an 8am pickup and then the trucks drive about 30 minutes away to drop the travellers to the start of the trail, (apparently 3 day trekkers just follow the driven section on day one). Our group consisted of nine people and one guide. Personally, I was anticipating a more strenuous, jungle trek, but I was pleasantly surprised by the meandering pace we adopted as we strolled through rolling hills that reminded me of the English countryside.
Most groups seemed to stop at a little village where we were offered tea and watched the local women hand weaving scarves that they wrap around their heads. These things can often feel quite touristy, but it had a more relaxed vibe. They didn’t encourage anyone to buy their products, and even allowed some people to try them on. After a spectacular Burmese lunch we continued the trek. At this point parts of the trail started getting quite slippery, and it was difficult to enjoy the scenery as you were constantly watching your footing. I found a sturdy stick to support myself during this section.
After 18km we arrived at the village where we were staying. You can request to stay in the local monastery which is a very basic affair, but our guide told us that it was quite unhygienic in there. We stayed in a simple homestay that was comfortable for the one night, but it didn’t have any running water or western toilets, so I was glad that it was only a fleeting visit. Dinner here was the best Burmese food that I have ever tasted, and after the strenuous day it was well needed.
Breakfast is served at 6am, and by 7 you will stroll out of the village. Life begins early in Myanmar, so many locals will already be well into their working day. Day two consists of a 14km walk, and by lunch time you will have reached the end of your trek. From here there is a short boat trip included which will ferry you over to Nyaungshwe where most foreigners stay. Alternatively, some guides will offer you a tour of the surrounding sites for an additional 3,000 kyat.
I did this trip just at the end of the wet season in October. Luckily, all of the terrain was lush and green from the rains which made it even more picturesque. Also, we only had one little downpour during lunch. However, I am certain that conditions would be very different depending on the season.
Things to bring:
- Waterproof jacket
- Warm clothes for the evening
- Insect repellent
- Good shoes for walking
- Toilet roll
- 1l water
- Money for drinks along the route and the 12,500 kyat entrance fee to Inle