Although mostly hidden from the outside world until recently, Myanmar (or Burma) is – not unlike Cuba – on the verge of exploding with tourism. Since it opened to the West a few years ago, the growth in travel has been almost exponential. A million visitors arrived in 2012, then 2 million came in 2013. Myanmar’s government has crafted a master tourism plan which targets 7.5 arrivals within the next five years.
Despite its novelty, a tourism ‘triangle’ – encompassing Bagan, Inle Lake and Yangon – has already quickly developed, and the country is changing just as quickly. Everyone wants to go to Myanmar before it loses its unspoiled charm. But you’ll need to get off the beaten path for an authentic experience.
Many companies go to Myanmar, including Natural Habitat, Travel Indochina, and Exo Travel. Abercrombie & Kent, and AMAWaterways even have river cruises through the country. One company, though – Mountain Sobek Travel – has a special, immersion itinerary that takes travelers to isolated areas of Western Myanmar which are still largely unspoiled by tourism.
By foot and mountain bike, guests with Mountain Sobek Travel traverse the remote mountains of the country, visiting seldom encountered ethnic Chin villages. Guests learn about their unique traditions, particularly the women’s tattoos which cover their faces in an elaborate spider web. Taking a day and half to complete, these tattoos were formerly given to girls around the age of nine. Now forbidden by the government, this is a custom which is quickly disappearing in the country.
Noted explorer, producer and host of the Emmy award winning PBS series, ‘Adventures with a Purpose’ and co-founder of Mountain Sobek Travel Richard Bangs will be leading this itinerary between November 10 – 18, 2015. November is the beginning of the coolest and driest time to visit Myanmar.
Although there are several other departures scheduled for 2016, all led by experienced guides, the November ‘Discovering Burma‘ tour with Mountain Sobek Travel is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel in a small group with one of the world’s great adventurers, authors and TV hosts.