This popular trek which links the mountain town of Kalaw to Inle Lake is a good opportunity to be in contact with different tribes in the area and enjoy gorgeous landscapes. We are in Shan State, home of the Shans (the main tribe) but also other interesting tribes.
The classical trek is a three days – two nights trek but it can also be done in two days in combination with a short car ride. I chose the agency called Sam’s family, one of the first trek agencies established in Kalaw with a very good reputation on guidebooks and forums.
If you want to trek three days there are two alternatives, I chose the longest one (65km) which also allows people to meet more tribes. After some days traveling together I said bye bye to Freddy (he chose a two-days trek) and I joined a group of 8 people: 5 French people and me plus our local guide and cook.
The first day was the longest day but also the day with more different landscapes. We walked 25.3km through pine forests, rice fields, tea plantations and also on tracks in approximately 7 hours. During the previous days it had been raining a lot in the area and the path was very muddy and slippery. On the way some of my mates had problems with leeches, I was happy to wear my high boots! But the views were so beautiful that this was a minor problem.
During this day we crossed two Palaung villages. Palaungs are a very hermetic tribe and they can marry only between themselves. In the past they cultivated opium until it was banned by the government, 15 years ago. Now they grow green tea and oranges and we could meet some of them picking tea leaves.
At night we slept in a Danu village, with a local family. After a Burmese bath (a bucket of freezing water from a dwell outside the house) Chow (our guide) and the cook cooked for us rice, chicken, vegetables, tofu salad and the typical Burmese soup, we could not complain! We all slept in the common area of the family house.
The second day was harder because we were a bit tired from the first day walk and we did not sleep very well (the mattress was too thin plus the owner of the house was snoring too loud in my case). We walked 24 km in 7 hours. The path was less hilly and the landscape was more colorful, like a patchwork of different agricultural areas (rice, tea, potato, sesame and chili plantations).
During this day we crossed many Putupauk villages. Putupauk tribe is the second biggest tribe in Shan State and their women are very easy to recognise because they always wear a black longyi and an orange turban. They grow chili and have farms with animals, it is very common to see funny scenes with animals on the road.
That night we stayed in a Pa-O village where Chow and our cook prepared us a special dinner and later we drank some beers outside by the fire. They started to sing some local pop songs and they did not stop until they finished their repertory, it was their moment, lol
On the third day Chow and the cook had a last surprise for us: banana pancakes! We had an excellent breakfast to start the last day of the trek with energy. On this day we walked 15 km in 5 hours and we reached the highest point of the trek, at 1474m, with nice views.
Despite the heat we had a good walking rhythm, maybe because we all were dreaming about a long hot shower and a nap on a good bed, lol. At lunch time we reached the jetty and we took the boat to Nyaungshwe, the end point of the trek.
It was a fantastic trek, much more cultural than nature oriented but with beautiful landscapes. The group was very nice and I laughed a lot with the French guys. Chow and the cook spoiled us with their meals and company and they explained us many interesting things about their people, this trek was one of the highlights of my Myanmar trip!
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Quirky explorer with a preference for lesser-known sights, I am continuously looking for new ideas and tips to help you plan your dream World Tour!