The hike from Kalaw to Inle Lake was great for experiencing the real Myanmar village life style and seeing the natural beauty of the country. This is the best way to get to the famous Inle Lake and should not be missed by anyone visiting Myanmar.
There are many agencies in Kalaw offering the hiking trip to Inle Lake. We went to a few and found that they all had a similar program and the prices were all around the same – 40,000 Kyats per person including 2 nights homestay and all meals for the 3 day trip. We chose for Ever Smile Hiking tours and had a great guide (her name was O-O) and very nice food along the way.
On day 1 we started off hiking from outside our hotel in Kalaw, where we met the group of 6 other hikers that joined the trip. The weather was rather cloudy and a bit rainy at times, so we were a bit hesitant at first, but it also gave the mountain area a mystical vibe. On the first day the hike was a lot uphill. We skipped the forestry part as it would be too muddy because of the wet weather. The guide made the decisions on the way based on the weather conditions.
On our way we passed by different villages, and even joined a wedding celebration where we were invited inside and offered fruits and snacks with tea and cigars. The village locals were very happy to meet us and felt honored that we attended their wedding, while we actually felt very lucky to stumble upon their village for the wedding. A win-win!
We completed the hike of 24 kilometers and arrived at our homestay in a small village. The accommodation was very basic. A large room with thin camping mattresses for all of us, outdoor toilet huts with squat toilets, and a bucket of cold rain water to shower with. It was quite cold in the evening, so a cold shower was not what you want after a 24 km hike… Most remarkable is that there was no electricity. These villagers live completely without electricity, although they are not so remote.
On day 2 we hiked through various landscapes, the scenery was very different than the first day. The first day it was more large mountain landscape views, but now it was more farm lands, where we saw all the local crops. They grow anything from tea to chilli to sesame and rice. The different colors of the farmlands were really amazing sceneries that made the long hike very nice. On day 2 we completed 24 kilometers again. We ended our hike with a climb up to a cliff mountain where we had beers delivered to and watched the sunset over the horizon of the farmlands. The accommodation was similar again on the second night.
On day 3 we hiked some more through the villages, and the landscape changed again. It was more dry land with even some cactus growing around, which made us feel a bit as if we were in the dessert. But that quickly changed in to a jungle forest, which was the final bit before arriving at Inle Lake. There we had lunch, and then embarked on the boat trip that would take us to the town of Nyaungshwe, which is the little town where most tourists stay (including us). This marked our final hike of 21 kilometers for day 3.
The boat ride was definitely a big reward! After 3 days of hiking for a total of 69 kilometers, we finally got to see the lake. We saw the famous traditional fisherman of Inle lake, which looked like an art performance on the water. We passed by a silver shop where they showed us how they process the silver found in the lake. We also saw some floating farms on the way. The view of the lake was spectacular and definitely the most rewarding closure of our long hike from Kalaw!
In summary, what we liked most about the hike from Kalaw to Inle Lake:
- The changing scenery – every day was completely different!
- The food – we had some of the best food in Myanmar on this trip.
- The villages and the people – every village had different traditional clothes that represent their tribe and different languages.
Total hike of 3 days: 69 kilometers.