Trekking from Kalaw to Inle Lake, Myanmar
Inle Lake is one of the most famous spots in Myanmar, known for its hill tribe villages, beautiful scenery and traditional fishermen. It’s also an excellent location to do some trekking.
Myanmar has not yet developed itself as a tourist destination. A fact that is easily discovered when you look at Inle Lake: it’s a gorgeous location, with only a handful of operators that provide treks through the country. All the better, because that also means it’s never a very busy location. (Not that Myanmar really has any busy locations anyway, but still!)
Trekking can really be a hit or a miss, mostly depending on your guide. So a lot of people take their time to seriously investigate trekking companies, compare them, speak to the guides and then make an informed decision.. I don’t 🙂
I walked in to my hotel in Kalaw, where someone I knew happened to be and she just happened to sign up to a trek.. Well, I want to do a trek too, so just sign me up for the same one! I know, not a very thorough process, but sometimes you just have to leave things to chance 😉
Later that day our guide came to the hotel to brief us on the upcoming trek and answer any questions we might have. Already: very good service, I didn’t expect it!
So next morning we got up and met the rest of the group. We would be trekking with 5 people and 2 guides. The owner of the company (Min Min) used to work for another trekking company, but recently started his own business. As he needed more guides to work for him, he was in the process of training another guide. That’s how we came to have 2 guides, which really wasn’t a bad thing!
We literally just walked out of town and into the hills.. No taxi, no drop-off before you have to start your journey. Nope, just step outside your hotel and get going!
There are multiple options when it comes to trekking near Inle Lake. You can do a day-trip from Inle Lake, or multiple days starting from Kalaw. It really just depends on the time you have available and your physical situation. Money-wise, it really doesn’t matter: 3 days of trekking, including accommodation and all meals, only cost me $ 40,-
Now I visited Myanmar in the dry season, which is something that is very visible during the trek: the hills are brown and dry and the rice fields are empty. The views are still great, and on the upside: at least the trek was not slippery! But I can imagine that the surroundings are twice as impressive when it’s wet!
We did need to adjust our itinerary to the weather: we were trekking during the hottest time of the year and most of the time without any shade anywhere in sight.. So you might want to stop walking and sit down during the hottest hours of the day!
All the food provided was amazing! It was all cooked by our guides, and with their Nepalese background they managed to bring us an absolute feast every single time! No matter how worn out, how tired: once that food was served, our spirits lifted!
We had 2 different accommodations during the trek: a home stay and a stay in a monastery. The home stay didn’t live up to my expectations. Yes, we stayed in a home in a village in the hills.. and yes, we had to squat in an outhouse and were surrounded by buffalo and stray dogs.. But we didn’t talk to any of the locals and hardly got any insight into their normal way of life. That would have been very interesting!
Same goes for the monastery. We were surrounded by novice monks, the location was amazing, but again, our food was brought to us by our guides and we didn’t get to interact with the monks at all.. (I wouldn’t be allowed to speak to them because I’m a woman, but even the men in our group had zero interaction..)
But on the whole, the trek was definitely worth it! We walked through hills and villages, rice fields and over a long stretch of railway (the train only shows up a few times a day and is so slow that you can actually outrun it.. so the train tracks are mainly used as a walkway)
After about 60 kilometers of walking, spread out over 2,5 days, we finally reached our end point: Inle Lake. You can do full-day Inle Lake boat trips, but we had an hour-long boat trip included in our trek. So after all that hard work, we could just sit back, relax and enjoy the views. Simply AMAZING!!