Trekking from Kalaw to Inle lake with kids

We arrived in Myanmar in early June 2019 – the start of monsoon season and found out quickly that things can change quickly. From blue skies & bright sunshine to dark grey and heavy downpours in a matter of minutes. So with this in mind we were debating whether trekking from Kalaw to Inle lake with kids would be a good idea!?!

We checked the forecast and everyday it showed thunderstorms and rain. And yet, we’d only actually experienced 1 thunderstorm during our week in Myanmar so far.  Plus the temperature is in the mid 30’s reaching higher in the humidity!

We ummed and arred but then decided we were just going to go for it. We had waterproofs, we had walking shoes, the ground was not yet saturated..  our skin is waterproof!! And had hats, umbrella and would take plenty of water for the heat! What the hey….

 

Trekking company

I messaged a couple of companies I’d seen recommended. First, uncle Sam’s trekking company. They were very quick to respond and word 35,000 kyat per person. This would reduce if others joined the trek (which they didn’t).

The second was Ever smile trekking company. They were slower to respond and I’d actually reserved with uncle Sam’s. We did see their group of 9 trekking at the same time. So I’m actually glad it was just us as we were a little slower in the afternoon heat!

There was another trekking group, called jungle king trekking company, which had a number of people in their group too!  All in all we were headed the same route.

 

Treks

You can either book a 3 day, 2 night or 2 day, 1 night trek. We decided on the latter for the reasons stated above. I don’t mind getting wet but 3 days may be too much in case monsoon season did decide to arrive!

Our 2 day trek is similar to the 3 day, except you take a 40 minute transfer to your starting point. If you choose the 3 day trek you will be walking from Kalaw!

 

What’s included

Included in the trekking price is the following:

  • Transfer of bags to your destination at Inle lake area
  • Day 1: snack & green tea, Lunch & dinner
  • Day 2: Breakfast, snack & green tea, & lunch
  • Transport to start of trek
  • English speaking guide
  • Boat trip back to Nyaungshwe

Note: we had soooo much food! And it was delicious and varied. We could have fed another 4 people!! Fresh fruit, noodles, curry, rice, rice crackers… yum!!  I loved the salads!

What’s Not included

All drinks. Expect to pay 500 kyat for 1litre of water and 1000 for soft drinks. We didn’t buy beer.

 

Things you need

  • Water 1l at least to start (you can buy more en route)
  • Sunhat
  • Change of clothes
  • Flip-flops
  • Torch
  • Towel
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Sun tan lotion
  • Toiletries, including toothbrush & toothpaste.
  • Battery charger (no electric points)
  • Hand wash
  • Wipes

You won’t go hungry, plus the village we stayed in had snack shops to buy water and food.

Accomodation

In a word… Basic!

It was a bamboo hut with an outdoor squat toilet and a cold bucket shower. But isn’t that why we were doing this? To get some culture and experience real Burmese life!  Thankfully it was just 1 night!! Ha ha

The beds were a couple of mattresses on the floor with a pillow, duvet and blanket for the night. It was cool enough to not need a fan or air conditioning.

 

Day 1 trekking 

We were driven 40 minutes to our starting point. Basically it’s the same as the 3 day hike but you drive the first day instead!

The morning was cloudy so meant that kept the searing heat at bay! The hike took us through farmland and our guide talked us through the different crops. We saw the primitive way of farmlife and the tools that they used. 

Most fields were ploughed using ox. I was surprised to see so many women working the fields too!

We stopped after about an hour and a half for a snack with a lady making scarves as longji in the traditional way.

Our snack was green tea and bean paste mixed with flour and deep fried. Basically a crisp.

Bean paste crisps

Onwards we wandered through the fields as the soil became redder from the iron components. The sun broke through the clouds too and so we were starting to feel the effects! It was getting quite hot. But within an hour we were stopped for lunch. We were given a huge meal of crackers, noodles, soup, salad and fruit! I didn’t think I could move after all that.

Then we continued our trek through the forests and rice paddy fields. As the afternoon progressed, it started getting hotter and Jasper was starting to struggle. We managed to chivvy him along and made it to our destination, Pattu by 3pm!

The host & her family were lovely. She provided us with tea and showed us to our shower (bucket of cold water). There were flip flops for us to use if we needed.  Because we’d got so hot and sweaty we endured the cold bucket shower. It was very refreshing.

After, our guide took us for a walk through the village. The boys were greeted with lots of intrigue. Plus we saw a number of other trekkers.

That night we had dinner which consisted of soup, ginger crackers, rice, green beans and carrots, chicken curry, spinach, chips and tofu noodles! Seriously, we are not going to go hungry!!

It was now dark and we bedded down for the night. I stuck my ear plugs in and the next thing we knew it was 5.30am! Ready to get up and start the day!!

 

Day 2 trekking

Ooh, I can feel my legs. We were up and dressed for breakfast of French toast, fruit & tea by 6am. We then headed off at 7am.

The first part of the walk was mainly uphill (not too strenuous) up to the road. Along here here you reach a checkpoint where you need to buy a ticket for Inle lake. The cost is 15,000 kyat per person (under 5s are free).

Once paid, we turned the corner and were greeted with views down to Inle lake! Just Stunning.  

From here we knew we would be walking predominantly downhill. After a further hour we stopped at a snack shop for cookies and tea.

The sun was fierce today and so Jasper was already struggling and it was only 9am. We had another 3 hours walking to do. We started heading down through the fields. 

For the most part it was through forests and trees. This provided some much needed shelter, but also meant there wasn’t much of a breeze making it very humid.

We needed to take a number of drink breaks along the way and to take shelter from the sun. The terrain was mainly gravel, so our feet were stinging from slipping our way down. Going downhill isn’t always as easy as you think!

Finally we reached the valley floor and only had a short walk to our lunch stop. Jasper had to dig really deep and Ethan did amazing to keep him motivated! I’m so proud of both of them 💖💪

When we stopped at the restaurant for lunch the boys took their shoes off and put their flip flops on! Oh the relief!!

We all drank a large soft drink to quench our thirst and just sat! Once again we were treated to a great lunch of salad, noodles with egg and lots of fruit. The only problem is we were all just too full! We’re not used to eating so much food!!

Once we were done we were then ushered into our transportation (which thankfully was right at our door). We climbed aboard a long boat with 4 seats and not a lifejacket in sight!

We then proceeded to speed down the waterways. As the water levels are so low we had to negotiate some areas. But then it all opened up onto Inle lake – wow! There’s so much activity; mainly lots of fisherman balanced in very precarious positions on their boats! Crazy skills. I’m going to look forward to seeing them in our boat tour.

The boat journey took and 1 ½ hours. But even though the sun was shining, the speed gave us a nice cool breeze.

Eventually, we arrived in Nyaungshwe. This is the town that most people stay in to access Inle lake. There are some resorts around the Lakeside, but area much more expensive!

We were dropped at the main jetty and from there we walked about 15 minutes to our accommodation! Tired, but happy! We collapsed on our beds for a much needed rest!

A great experience & one I’m glad we did!

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