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A River Journey on the Upper Irrawaddy in Burma

8 days from £2740 per person

This expeditionary cruise on the northern section of the mighty Irrawaddy River explores a remote and predominately rural territory. Travelling between Mandalay and Katha, this seven night cruise operates from September to March and largely focuses on both the history and religious life of this fascinating region. Visits are made to the monasteries of Khanyat, the tiny fishing village of Kyun Daw, ancient Tagaung and Mingun – site of the world’s bronze bell. A full day will also be spent in delightful Katha which provided the setting for George Orwell’s novel ‘Burmese Days’ and, memorably, both the Second and Third Defiles of the Irrawaddy will be navigated. Traversing an isolated area, flexibility is required and the routing of the itinerary and certain visits may change.

Route: Mandalay - Khanyat - Katha - Kyun Daw - Tagaung - Mandalay

Itinerary Highlights

Famed for its three defiles – steep-sided river gorges – the upper reaches of the Irrawaddy are wild and dramatic with strong currents, swirling rapids and beautifully varied scenery.

Spend a day is the delightful colonial town of Katha. Once the home of George Orwell, follow in his footsteps to retrace the events in his novel ‘Burmese Days’ which was set in the town.

The village of Kyun Daw is located on an island in the middle of the Irrawaddy River. Visit traditional stilt homes and local shrines and look for the increasingly rare Irrawaddy dolphin.

Itinerary: A River Journey on the Upper Irrawaddy in Burma

Early this morning transfer to Saggai Kyun Man Aung Jetty in Mandalay no later than 0700 hours. Here board the RV Kindat Pandaw or the RV Kalaw Pandaw for the seven night upstream ‘Upper Irrawaddy’ cruise. Upon leaving Mandalay, the first stop will be at the remarkable potteries of Kyauk-Myoung. Here see all stages of manufacture from the throwing of the pots to the week-long firing in huge kilns. Re-board the boat and cruise north entering the Third Defile of the Irrawaddy and continuing on towards Khanyat. (L/D)
Today continue sailing upstream and disembark in Khanyat. There will be an opportunity to enter a selection of the monasteries that are located here as well as the village’s Buddhist orphanage. A visit will also be made to the home of a former head teacher which houses a small museum of items personally collected and the grave of a 19th century English officer who died during the colonial period. End the day with an ascent of Pagoda Hill in Tigyang for far-reaching views of the Irrawaddy River. (B/L/D)
Located on the western bank of the Irrawaddy River, Katha is a charming and historic town with strong literary associations. The setting for George Orwell’s influential novel ‘Burmese Days’, many of the sites, such as the British Club, which feature heavily in the book can still be seen here. Katha was also the final resting place of the original Irrawaddy flotilla which was scuppered in 1942 to avoid them falling into the hands of the Japanese. The local fire station has a collection of ships bells from these historic vessels and a visit will also be made to the hardwood forests upstream of the town. (B/L/D)
Today travel by local boat to the fishing village of Kyun Daw. This tiny settlement is actually set on an island in the Irrawaddy and the rickety wooden homes are all built on stilts. Kyun Daw is also home to a noted Buddhist nunnery and you will be able to visit some of the hundreds of small shrines that dot the religious complex. If lucky, you may also spot the rare Irrawaddy dolphin which has been sighted here in the past. (B/L/D)
Returning downstream, this morning depart Katha and pass though the Second Defile of the Irrawaddy – the most dramatic of the river’s three gorges. The remainder of the day is spent on the river as the boat continues on towards the ancient town of Tagaung. (B/L/D)
Disembark in Tagaung for a walking tour of this fascinating town. Thought to be one of the earliest inhabited settlements in the country, view the extensive fortifications, visit a well-known nat spirit shrine and take a tour of the current archaeological excavations. Return to the boat and spend the remainder of the day cruising towards Mandalay. (B/L/D)
This morning arrive in Mingun – site of the world’s largest intact bronze bell and the enormous, and earthquake damaged, ruin of Mingun Pagoda. A visit will also be made to Mingun Old Peoples Home which was originally established in conjunction with the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company in the 1930s. Continue on to Sagaing, a major religious centre of over 1,000 stupas, pagodas, sanctuaries and monasteries, where there are fabulous views over the Irrawaddy River. (B/L/D)
After breakfast disembark the Pandaw at Saggai Lay Kyun Man Aung Jetty in Mandalay. (B)
**KEY: N = No meals, B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

What To Do Next?

We design unique, tailor-made holiday itineraries to suit you, by combining your ideas with our knowledge and experience. Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, or if you require some advice, please call us or complete the enquiry form online for a quotation.

What's included

  • Cruise accommodation and sightseeing with other passengers
  • Shared transfers as specified

What's not included

  • Any International flights
  • Cost of visas
  • Travel Insurance
  • Expenses of a personal nature
  • Meals unless specified

Guide to Price

The above price is based on two people travelling together and sharing accommodation in low season. The price is only a guide and can vary according to selected airlines, hotels and date of travel. If you wish to travel with your family, friends or on your own we will be very happy to assist you with your arrangements.

Burma / Myanmar Holiday Review

Our itinerary was varied and interesting at all times; the logistics were impeccable. We found the people of Myanmar to be kind and considerate. What we most enjoyed was the authenticity of all we did and saw. Once again, many thanks to the team for a truly great experience.

PB & MT - Burma / Myanmar - February 2018

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Experts in Tailor-Made Holidays

For over 30 years, Pettitts Travel have led the way in creating authentic, tailor-made holidays. Our knowledgeable team have first-hand knowledge of our destinations and no two itineraries we prepare are the same.

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