Trekking from Kalaw to Inle Lake in Myanmar
In a nation that has been heavily affected by political instability for decades, the stretch of land from Kalaw to Inle Lake brought us to the purest nature, free from any air pollution in the cities found elsewhere in Myanmar.
Choosing trekking company
Once we had a good power nap and a sumptuous breakfast in this hotel, we headed to the town and booked ourselves a trekking adventure!
I’ve read some reviews online about Sam’s Family and Eversmile Trekking but we ended up going with another company which turned out to be really amazing.
We went with Jungle King Trekking, located just right next to Winner Hotel. It costs 39,000 kyats for 3 days 2 nights trekking, in a group of no more than 8 persons, inclusive of all meals, accommodation for 1 night at homestay, 1 night at a monastery, transportation of your backpack to Inle Lake / your desired accommodation, excluding tips and drinks.
The other two costs about the same, 40,000 kyats for 3 days 2 nights with slightly different accommodation.
You can also take this trek on your own but as always, it would be easier to navigate, arrange meals and lodging with a trekking guide.
How was the trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake?
The former colonial hilltown Kalaw has rapidly become a tourist spot in the rapidly developing country. When Myanmar opened its door to tourism and sanction was lifted, not only foreign investments are attracted, but also an influx of travellers rushing to this country to experience the unpolluted paths. Let alone the trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake.
Kalaw is only 60km away from the immensely popular Inle Lake, where images portray fishermen balancing on one leg as they unveiled fishing nets across the water, wrapping the other leg around the oar to propel themselves.
We started off at about 9am. On the way, I have specifically asked about the terrain. Our tour guide, Simon said ‘the first day, up, flat, flat, flat then down, second day, down down, flat, flat, flat, last day, all the way down.’ That was useful which pretty much sums up the difficulty of the trek.
Beginning our trek from the centre of town, we slowly gained altitude as we walked up to the elevated plains above Kalaw. Mountains and meandering valleys spread across the landscape. A layer of haze softens the view from the dust kicked up by the unaltered agricultural industry.
The trek brought us through different local villages where Simon was actively explaining the crops they were planting or harvesting. Whenever our tour guide found something edible, he would share with us for example we had cherry tomatoes and wild berries!
I was always hungry when I travel. I started to feel hungry at 11am, I know, too early.
On our way…
As we trekked through the indigenous Shan villages, shy children ran out and hid themselves behind trees to look at the foreign human traffic. ‘Mingalabar’ was the most often used greeting word (and the only Burmese word I remember.)
Our nights were well spent at a homestay and a monastery. We were provided with thin mattress, fleece-blanket and a pillow. I passed out completely once I hit the bed.
Our cook made surprisingly delectable food. I was starving every single time that I forgot to take pictures!! From starter to dessert, you would not feel hungry afterwards, at least I gulped three bowls of rice down every night. Salad, ginger-flavoured soup, almost unlimited vegetables, chicken, tofu, beans, peas, eggs, bread, green tea, chai tea, apples, watermelon…made up our sumptuous diet for three days.
As we approached our destination, we saw an immense lake like an ocean ahead. Our timber, narrow boat with our backpacks on was ready to take us to the hotel. It was a picturesque ride especially you see how the locals commute and the leg-rowing fishermen perform their daily routine. This trek is one of the value-for-money adventures that you can undertake in Myanmar.
What to Bring for Your Three Day Trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake
The trekking company will transport your big backpack to Nyaungshwe so all you need is a small day pack. Here are my suggestions:
- Clothes for three days (pack according to the season. For us, we need a light jacket for the night and early morning)
- Hiking boots (the trail was muddy so it’s best to have the right equipment)
- Sandals (most of the time you need to take off your shoes when entering someone’s houses, it is still useful to get around at night)
- Hat / Bandana
- Toiletries (very basic outdoor showers)
- Travel towel
- Swimsuit (a muddy-ish river where you can dip in.)
- Mosquito repellent
- Wet wipes
- Toilet paper
- Cash for water (around 500 kyats) / snacks (100 to 500 kyats) and entrance ticket (12,000 kyats per person)