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Burma & the Gorges of the Bhamo

  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • Fares
  • Accommodation

A journey overview

  • Mandalay
  • Irrawaddy Cruise
  • Katha
  • Bhamo
  • Sagaing
  • Bagan
  • Yangon

16 Days Explorations
  • Departing:
  • 21 Aug 2018

The rarely navigated reaches of the Upper Irrawaddy River are flanked by steep gorge walls with echo-chamber acoustics. Deep in remote central Myanmar, riverside villages are unmoved by the outside world, and buffered by tropical forests that appear untouched.

Burma and The Gorges of the Bhamo 2018 map

In Mandalay, visit the Shwe Kyin Monastery and observe the novice monks. A special Welcome Dinner and puppet show awaits us at the Mya Nanda Restaurant. We embark upon an exploration of Sagaing, home to Buddhist monasteries, nunneries and a monastic hospital. After visiting Kuthodaw Pagoda, we enjoy sunset from a prime antage point. On board a local boat, our glasses are raised in celebration.

Pointing the bow in a northerly direction, our captain guides us up the Irrawaddy River on the Sanctuary Ananda. Drinks and canapés precede a lavish Welcome Dinner on board. In Nwe Nyein, we observe the creation of beautiful pots, as leg-powered potter’s wheels are worked by local craftsmen. Back on board the ship, we continue travelling through soul-stirring riverscapes on to Kyar Nyat. Arriving in the ancient walled town of Tagaung, fascinating archaeological sites dating back to the Pyu Dynasty await us. As we head further upriver toward the town of Katha, Myanmar’s history is revealed to us in an onboard lecture.

On the Sun Deck, we are invited to join a morning meditation session. The intricacies of Burmese cuisine are brought to light by our chef. Later we are ferried to the colonial splendour of the former British Club, which was used by George Orwell while writing Burmese Days. Setting our sights on Bhamo, we enter deep into the tropics, passing the famous Parrot’s Head statue. Before dinner, we enjoy a traditional Kachin dance performance. In the bustling market town of Bhamo, we explore the Shwe Kyi Na pagoda and historic Catholic churches. Turning the Sanctuary Ananda around to head in a southerly direction, we see people and elephants working together at a logging camp in the village of Moeda.

Exotic scents wafting from nearby food stalls tease us as we revisit the small village of Kyar Nyat. We spend time with the humble villagers of Sin Kyun. The village has received philanthropic help from the guests of Sanctuary Ananda, and the locals welcome us with delight.

The sounds of weavers’ looms serenade us during an afternoon visit to Amarapura. Later we bear witness to a spectacular sunset from our vantage point on the U Bein Bridge. Closing in on Bagan, riverside monuments become increasingly more grand. Hundreds of age-old marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist texts are revealed during our travels to Mahamuni Pagoda and Shwenandaw Monastery.

Bidding farewell to the cheerful crew of the Sanctuary Ananda in Bagan, we board a morning flight to Yangon, where the Governor’s Residence Hotel awaits. The Kalaywa Tawya Monastery offers us a glimpse into the daily rituals of novice monks, something seldom seen by travellers. The glittering domes of the Shwedagon Pagoda round off our sightseeing. We now prepare for a four-course Farewell Dinner at Le Planteur restaurant. Graced with more time in Yangon, spend the day at the National Museum, or simply wander at your leisure, appreciating the culture we’ve been privileged to immerse ourselves in – one so distinct from our own.