The Irrawaddy Delta covers an area of over 1000 square miles with Rangoon, its most famous port and capital of all Burma from 1886 to 2005. Originally a vast inhabited wetland and jungle, much of it was cleared and cultivated by the British who annexed Lower Burma in 1855. It subsequently became the rice basket of Asia, effectively feeding much of the Indian Raj. During this period of prosperity a number of rice towns developed in the colonial style. The most famous of which was Bassein. The Irrawaddy Flotilla Company by the 1920s operated over 100 creek steamers across the Delta connecting these towns and villages at a time when there were neither roads nor bridges.
There are seven main channels and myriad lesser ones forming a complex labyrinth of waterways understood only by the most experienced pilots. In the backwaters there is the feel of Kerala, on the larger channels it could be New Orleans and the Deep South.
Contrary to expectation these great wetlands are not monotonous at all and there is considerable human interest in the form of pretty towns, markets, temples, churches and mosques. There is also profuse bird life in the less populated areas.
Our 6-night programme aboard the stunning Katha Pandaw enables relaxed exploration of this fascinating region, starting and returning to Rangoon. An additional Saturday night either before or after your cruise – including a delightful dinner cruise – may be booked on board the Katha Pandaw moored in the heart of the colonial downtown area.
YOUR SHIP –
> RV KATHA PANDAW
Cruise Price Includes: Entrance fees, guide services (English language), gratuities to crew, main meals, locally made soft drinks, local beer and local spirits, jugged coffee and selection of teas and tisanes, mineral water.
Cruise Price Excludes: International flights, port dues (if levied), laundry, all visa costs, fuel surcharges (see terms and conditions), imported beverages such as wines, premium spirits and liqueurs, fancy soft drinks like Perrier, espressos and cappuccinos at bar and tips to tour guides, local guides, bus drivers, boat operators and cyclo drivers.
Early morning departure from Rangoon via the Twante Canal stopping at Twante to view the potteries and on to Pyapon (64miles) a delightful delta town and seaport with lively docks and markets.
Bogale is at the heart of the delta and once a Mon capital and trading port connected to international trading routes between the 15th and 18th centuries. We hope to visit the Mein Ma Hla Kyun Wildlife Reserve, an island of just under one hundred square miles classified as a mangrove eco system reserve and home to salt water crocodiles.
This will be the most fascinating day’s sailing as we weave through creeks and channels cross-country across the heart of the delta. We will stop for a walk about in a suitable village.
Morning cruise across the final section of delta to join the great Bassein River that takes us up to Bassein, the capital of the delta and an important seaport too. Of interest here are the traditional umbrella manufacturies, where the typical monk’s waxed cloth umbrellas are made. On foot we will explore the town, its shrines and vibrant markets.
Noon departure with lunch to follow, taking the more usual upper delta route of the old IFC ‘launch service’ between Rangoon and Bassein. Evening exploration of this attractive river port.
On these busier channels there will be a variety of shipping whilst the riverbanks team with life and activity. Maubin is a very pleasant place to enjoy a sunset walk along its colourful strand.
Morning run crossing the Twante Canal and home to the Rangoon River and our berth in colonial downtown and disembarkation noon (lunch excluded).
Extend your stay on board the Katha Pandaw for an extra night. Enjoy the experience and perspective of staying in central Rangoon from your luxurious river ship. Includes an evening Irrawaddy dinner cruise.