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Burma Highlights - A Wildlife & Cultural Tour

Tour Code: BUR01

A 14-day holiday combining the best of Burma's wildlife and its fascinating culture, including the capital city of Yangon, the Hlawagar Wildlife Park, Inle Lake, Kalaw, Mandalay, the Irrawaddy River and the world-renowned temples of Bagan, plus an optional 5-day extension to Mount Victoria.

14 days from £3995(inc flights) Land Only Price: £3395 SRS: £895 + an optional 5-day extension


Burma is opening up, and the National League for Democracy, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, now welcomes responsible tourists who are interested in integrating with Burmese people and supporting local economies. Naturetrek is therefore delighted to offer its first tour to Burma. This is a tour of two halves, focusing on Burma’s fascinating cultural heritage as well as the wildlife inhabiting the country’s unique and little-explored ecosystems. We begin with a flight to Rangoon and from there to Heho in the north-east. While based at Heho we’ll explore Inle Lake for Asian wetland species such as Pheasant-tailed Jacana and look for local specialities. Driving further into the hills at Kalaw we will meet several of Burma’s indigenous hill tribes before retuning to Heho for a flight to Mandalay on the banks of the Irrawaddy River. After a whole day's sightseeing in and around Mandalay, we will spend most of the next day on a leisurely cruise, during which we will observe the gentle pace of Burmese life and watch common wetland birds such as lapwings, pratincoles, martins, egrets, herons, whistling-ducks and kingfishers. After our relaxing cruise we reach the magnificent temple complex at Bagan, in what must be a highlight of this exciting holiday. The natural wonders match the cultural ones here as the temples are in an endemic Burmese ecoregion called the ‘dry zone’ which is home to many of the country’s endemic birds. We’ll also look for other dry-country specialists such as Red Collared Dove and Pied Bushchat. We finish our main tour back in Rangoon, and for those keen birders who wish to remain longer we offer a post-tour extension.

  • Look for local specialties such as Jerdon’s Bushchat & Collared Myna at Inle Lake
  • Visit Hin Khar Gone & Myin Sine Gone villages
  • Meet indigenous hill tribes & enjoy sightseeing & local markets in Rangoon
  • Full day sightseeing at the beautiful natural & cultural sites around Mandalay
  • Enjoy a day-long cruise along the Irrawaddy River
  • Visit the U Bein bridge, the Mingun Pagoda complex & watch a traditional dance
  • Search for White-throated Babbler & the exquisite Jerdon’s Minivet at Bagan
  • Barred Buttonquail & Burmese Shrike among the sought-after dry-country species
  • Post-tour birding extension to Mt Victoria

Food

All food is included in the price of the holiday.

Accommodation

Comfortable tourist hotels on the main tour and simple guesthouses on the extension. All rooms have private facilities.

Bagan Temple Complex

Bagan Temple Complex

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Depart London.

Day 2 Arrive Yangon (Rangoon).

Day 3 Hlawgar Wildlife Park.

Day 4/5 Heho and Inle Lake.

Day 6/7 Kalaw.

Day 8/9 Mandalay.

Day 10 Cruise Mandalay to Bagan.

Day 11/12 Bagan complex.

Day 13 Fly Yangon.

Day 14 Fly London.

Burma is a remarkable land quite unlike any other; glistening pagodas are found around every corner and lines of saffron-clad monks pace peacefully along tree-fringed lanes. Burma’s wildlife mirrors the richness and diversity of its superb cultural heritage. In particular, it boasts a splendid avifauna which includes several exciting endemics found in the country’s broad range of habitats. Thankfully, Burma is opening up and the opposition party, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, now welcomes responsible tourists who are willing to integrate with the Burmese people, support local economies and enjoy the rich natural heritage. 

We begin with a flight to Burma’s capital, Yangon (Rangoon), where a rich indigenous and colonial heritage is juxtaposed against the city’s more modern face. Our two nights in Yangon will be divided between cultural and birdwatching excursions within and outside the city. Standing at 100 metres in height the spectacular Shwedagon Pagoda dominates the Yangon skyline and is one of Burma’s top religious sites. We will visit the pagoda at sunset, when it is at its most beautiful, gleaming gold; we will also hope to witness the emergence of a colony of Wrinkle-lipped Bats which live within the pagoda complex. The following morning we will enjoy our first taste of Burma’s rich birdlife in Hlawgar Wildlife Park. Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Racket-tailed Treepie, Black-naped Oriole, the ‘white-eyed’ form of Stripe-throated Bulbul, White-crested Laughing-thrush, Olive-backed Sunbird and Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker should be among the special birds we find here. A nearby wetland may well also provide our first Oriental Darter or Asian Openbill. 

Next we fly north-east to the small town of Heho in Shan State from where we will drive to nearby Inle Lake, which is situated in the Shan Hills at a refreshing 880 metres above sea level. Inle is Burma’s second largest lake and famous for its unique culture, including ‘leg-rowing’ fishermen. We should see some of the commoner Asian wetland species here such as Grey-headed Lapwing, Purple Heron, Chinese Pond-heron and Pheasant-tailed Jacana and we will be on the look-out for several local specialities including Jerdon’s Bushchat and Collared Myna.  

During our time in the Shan Hills we will also visit the old British colonial hill station of Kalaw which lies on the edge of the Shan Plateau. We will spend one full day here, gently exploring the slopes and pine forests in search of hill specialists such as Black-headed Greenfinch and Burmese Yuhina. The indigenous hill tribes that inhabit this area have many intriguing belief systems and traditions, and we will stop at several small villages to learn more about these fascinating customs. Leaving Kalaw behind we will travel by road to Mandalay, Burma’s cultural capital. 

Mandalay, made famous by Kipling in his eponymous 1892 poem, resonates with Westerners as a byword for the mystical and exotic. We will spend two days exploring Mandalay, the ancient capital of Burma, and its surrounding area which includes some of the country’s most venerated cultural sites, amongst them the world’s largest teak bridge, the U Bein, where monks and nuns wander slowly across the creaking hardwood slats. We will also journey up the Ayeyarwaddy (formerly the Irrawaddy) by boat to Mingun, the site of a colossal unfinished pagoda. During our river cruise we will be on the look-out for some of the region’s rich diversity of birds.  

Our next destination is the town of Bagan which, between the 9th and 13th centuries A.D., was capital of the Kingdom of Pagan. During its heyday the town and surrounding plains had more than 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries; over 2,000 of these ancient structures still survive in this world-class cultural site. Boarding the ferry bound for Bagan, we will spend a leisurely day sailing along the Ayeyarwaddy, past rustic Burmese villages and rural scenes, looking for wetland birds such as lapwings, pratincoles, martins, egrets, herons, whistling-ducks and kingfishers. On arriving at the small riverside town of Bagan, our time will be divided between enjoying the temple-strewn plains and birdwatching. The area around Bagan is also a highly significant Burmese eco-region called the ‘dry zone’ and is home to many of the country’s endemic birds.  

We finish our main tour with a flight to Yangon, where there’s time to enjoy a few of the remaining sights including the beautiful Kandawgyi Lake, the Botahtaung Pagoda, the colossal reclining Buddha of Chaukhtatgyi and the famous Scott’s Market, noted for its variety of handicrafts. An optional extension to the bird-rich slopes of Mount Victoria is highly recommended and provides an opportunity to see some much-prized rarities, such as Buff-breasted Parrotbill and the splendid Slender-billed Scimitar-babbler to name but a few.

Bagan TemplesShwedagon pagodaBarred ButtonquailBlack-naped OrioleChestnut-headed Bee-eaterJerdon’s BushchatOlive-backed SunbirdOriental DarterPheasant-tailed JacanaPied BushchatRacket-tailed TreepieRed Collared DoveWhite-crested Laughing ThrushYangon, Myanmar (Burma)Asian Wrinkle-lipped BatsAsian Wrinkle-lipped BatBar-tailed TreecreeperBlack-bibbed TitBoatmanBumese BushtitBurmese ShrikeHooded TreepieJerdon's MinivetShwedagon PagodaSunsetWhite-throated BabblerBagan Temples, BurmaBagan TemplesBagan TemplesShwedagon Pagoda
Mr & Mrs G.
Hampshire
Wonderful holiday. Can't stop talking about it! The whole trip was full of interest with a variety of experiences, great for both birders and non-birders. Excellent local organisation; buses always ready, restaurants always booked, hotels always attended to our needs with the utmost grace. This was a most memorable holiday and we would like to thank Rajan, Sujan and everyone at Naturetrek. We feel very lucky and privileged to have had such wonderfully varied experiences in this beautiful, beguiling and fascinating country.
P.L.
London
Top class birding with an excellent extension. A very good introduction to Myanmar.
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DeparturesAvailableCost

Sun 21st January 2018 - Sat 3rd February 2018

YES

£3995

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £3395 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tour extension: Mount Victoria extensionMore info

Sun 23rd December 2018 - Sat 5th January 2019

YES

£4995

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £4395 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tour extension: Mount Victoria extensionMore info

Sun 20th January 2019 - Sat 2nd February 2019

YES

£3995

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £3395 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tour extension: Mount Victoria extensionMore info

Sun 22nd December 2019 - Sat 4th January 2020

YES

£4995

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £4395 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tour extension: Mount Victoria extensionMore info

Visiting: Burma

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Tour Extensions

If you wish to prolong your holiday we offer the following extensions.

Mount Victoria extension

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Rajan Jolly
Operations Manager

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01962 733051

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CultureBirdsMammals

Tour Leaders

Tour Reviews

Wonderful holiday. Can't stop talking about it! The whole trip was full of interest with a variety of experiences, great for both birders and non-birders. Excellent local organisation; buses always ready, restaurants always booked, hotels always attended to our needs with the utmost grace. This was a most memorable holiday and we would like to thank Rajan, Sujan and everyone at Naturetrek. We feel very lucky and privileged to have had such wonderfully varied experiences in this beautiful, beguiling and fascinating country.
Mr & Mrs G., Hampshire