Myanmar Bird Watching Tour

A 12 day trip to Myanmar (Burma) 
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Eclectic landscapes ripple across Myanmar as the Himalayan Mountains descend into the lush jungle-clad hills and the tropical hues of the coast. All remain unscarred by modern development to create a natural haven for hundreds of endemic bird species. Myanmar offers excellent birdwatching in destinations that are rarely seen or documented by Western visitors. This 12-day luxury tour provides a sublime exploration of these landscapes. 

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General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Yangon, Shwedagon Pagoda, Hlawga Wildlife Park, Bagan, Old Bagan, Irrawaddy River, Natmatuang National Park (Mount Victoria), Kalaw, Inle Lake, Heho

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Yangon – The Delights of the City

Welcome to the Southeast Asian tropics, where palm trees rise higher than colonial buildings and a lush green awning winds along the coast as relatively rare birds flutter across the city. You will be greeted at the airport and transferred to five-star accommodation in the heart of Yangon that overlooks the colonial harbor. On a guided tour, explore the gardens of the city where locals meet and a plethora of life flaps its wings; pheasant-tailed jacanas, oriental darters, coppersmith barbet, a selection of bee-eaters, prinias, and tailorbirds are all to be found. They provide a prime introduction to the Myanmar's variety of colors, along with a chance to absorb the endearing culture of the country. Locals wave as they wander through the parks, young monks come to practice their English, and you will join the line of people visiting Shwedagon Pagoda at sunset. As the meditative chants echo across its golden facade, this important Buddhist structure will immerse you in the spirituality of Myanmar.

What's Included: accommodation, airport transfer, tour

Day 2: Yangon – Discovering the Birds of Hlawga Wildlife Park

Hlawga Wildlife Park is filled with tropical tones; the greens are vivid and fresh, and the birds nest in exotic treetops. Red jungle fowl roam, green-billed malkoha hides among the branches, puff-throated babblers seem to dance as they walk, while the lesser necklaced laughing thrushes always entertain. This landscape is filled with the rare and the near-endemic and captures the essence of Myanmar's appeal. Water bird species like the oriental darter and pygmy goose are spotted. Various warblers and wagtails arrive in the dry winter months. The park is close to the city, and you will gain an iconic impression of the country and of how it allows nature to flourish without interruption. Almost the entire population is Buddhist, and their mantra is not to destroy, but to coexist with nature. Often, rare birds are seen at a proximity you would not find in other countries. Hlawga is visited as a full-day trip from Yangon.

What's Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Bagan – Birdwatching Along the Irrawaddy River

Fly north to touch down in the semi-desert of central Myanmar where life flourishes around the few permanent stretches of water. The mighty Irrawaddy performs serpentine loops as it cuts through Bagan to enable ancient temples to reflect in its tranquil waters. Once you check into your hotel, you will enjoy lunch at the river before you spend the afternoon on a cruise down the Irrawaddy in a wooden boat. A skilled gondolier will ensure that the journey is quiet, and will maximize your opportunity to spot some of Myanmar's endemic birds: white-tailed stonechat, long-billed pipit, Indian skimmer, spotted redshank, Laggar falcon, and a huge variety of plain and sand martins. Travel slowly and wind along the Irrawaddy to capture the confluence of exotic birds and exquisite temples, the latter casts a dramatic backdrop on an afternoon of tranquil birdwatching.

What's Included: accommodation, domestic flight, airport transfers, tour, breakfast

Day 4: Bagan – Endemic Species and Unique Temples

Thousands of sandstone temples rise evocatively across Bagan, mysterious memoirs to the 10th to 13th-centuries. Some have crumbled slightly, most have faded, but all showcase an enigmatic beauty from the past. Such exquisite cultural relics are elevated by a colorful collection of birds. Today, explore the large Bagan site which mixes sublime temple remains with Myanmar's endemic birds such as the Jerdon's minivet and rare-hooded treepie, along with the near-endemic Chinese francolin, rain quail, Burmese shrike, Indian nightjar, and Siberian rubythroat. Yellow-streaked warblers flutter past sculpted Buddhas, and yellow-legged buttonquail is spotted in trees surrounded by clusters of sandstone stupas. Like so much of Myanmar, the juxtapositions are defined by elegance,  to complete the atmosphere of a land untouched by time.

What's Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 5: Natmatuang National Park – Exploring the Forests Where Few Foreigners Have Ventured

Mount Victoria rises 3,053 meters to mark the southeastern fringe of the mighty Himalayan chain. Ascend in altitude to cross through rich grasslands and diverse forests, where pines and rhododendrons are interspersed by mighty oaks. Dwarf bamboo grows in clumps to contrast with the full stretches of evergreens. The higher you travel, the thicker the trees as the canopy closes in as the slopes become shrouded in the jungle. Natmatuang National Park encompasses all the slopes of Mount Victoria and is Myanmar's premier birdwatching destination, and the focal point of this itinerary.

Today, travel through the hilly semi-desert into the dry deciduous forests of the lower slopes where white-rumped falcons and white-eyed buzzards roam. Villages become smaller and sparser as you move between rural Myanmar and wild Myanmar. Your accommodation is on the lower slope, a luxurious lodge with glorious views over the park's exotic canopy. So many species flies around your private verandahs, such as rosy minivets, red-breasted parakeets, blue-throated barbets, and a selection of flycatchers. They provide the melodious chirping as sunset casts its spell across the sky.

What's Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Days 6 – 7: Natmatuang National Park – The Birds of the Eastern Himalayas

Over these two days, travel across the altitudes to explore the myriad of habitats that stretch across the Eastern Himalayas. A variety of raptors also traverse the heights, such as buzzards, mountain hawks, kestrels, and the sublime soaring wings of the black eagle. They dominate the skies as the small and subtle nest in the trees; red-tailed minla, black-throated parrotbill, red-faced liocichla, all occupy the mid-altitude pine and evergreen. Move into the flourishing higher slopes, where fire-tailed sunbirds and Whistler's warblers find their place in the thick oaks. Perhaps Myanmar's most irresistible endemic bird is the white-browed nuthatch, only found in these vibrantly green upper slopes. As with all the days on this itinerary, the excursions run at your pace and can focus on any particular interests. You will be guided by local birdwatching guides who have spent their lives discovering the nature that surrounds them.

What's Included: Accommodation, guided tour, breakfast.

Day 8: Natmatuang to Kalaw – Returning Through the Temples and Waterways

Today will be spent on travel, although there is an opportunity for a variety of birdwatching stops on the route. Descend from Mount Victoria's slopes into the semi-desert and return to Bagan for another evocative glimpse at the temple landscape. Enjoy your lunch here as the pagoda summits offer an effervescent piece of the panorama. Fly from Bagan to Heho, to be greeted by a new local guide as you enter the Shan State. Here, the rice paddies mingle with evergreen forests and a necklace of peaks roll gracefully beyond the horizon. It's a 45-minute transfer to Kalaw, your base for the next two nights.

What's Included: accommodation, tour, domestic flight, airport transfer, breakfast

Day 9: Kalaw – Journeying Into the Remote Evergreen Forests

Shan State is a land of small tribal groups, an area where almost everyone lives in tiny villages among the hills. Most of the land has not been cultivated and leaves significant stretches of the forest as a haven for near-endemic birds like the Burmese yuhina, the dark-backed sibia, the Indochinese cuckooshrike, and the vivid niltava. Sometimes, the forest rescinds to offer views onto rice paddies as children ride buffalo across the steppes. Emerge from the trees into a tiny village to be invited to drink tea in bamboo houses. This region invites you into local life and traditional hospitality; sometimes it's hard to pass through a village without a stop for a small mug of their bitter tea, organically grown in the surrounding hills. Other local delights include black-breasted thrush, white-browed laughingthrust, white-tailed leaf warblers and black-throated sunbirds. It's a relaxed day, with a mix of scenic drives and walks in the forest.

What's Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 10: Kalaw to Inle Lake – More Endemic Birds in the Forested Hills

Inle Lake is soft and serene, a meeting place for so many of Myanmar's charms. Stilt-house villages rise in its center, the houses only accessible by wooden boats. Near-endemic birds flutter across manmade floating gardens while kingfishers fly beside the nets of local fishermen.  Arrive in the late morning and check in to your delightful stilt house, a luxury wooden hotel that hangs above the river. From a private balcony, enjoy excellent views over the water and all it attracts with the northern pintail, marsh sandpiper, colonies of egrets, spot-billed ducks, glossy ibis, and a great collection of breeding birds abounding. In the afternoon, take a closer look along the shore and glide in your wooden boat to find the small and colorful of Inle's birds.

What's Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 11: Inle Lake – Boat Journeys Across a Serene Lake

Continue your birdwatching with the big and noisy species such as the black-crowned night herons and a roosting colony of cattle egrets. Steppe eagles float overhead while a series of duck species occupy the floating gardens. Pinned to the lake floor by bamboo poles, these gardens are a beautiful expression of local ingenuity as they bend with the wind and provide a haven for ibis, kingfisher, cranes, and coots. Today is a relaxed day of birdwatching, with a morning and afternoon boat trip punctuated by some quiet time at the lodge. Sit back on the balcony and much of the bird life gets wonderfully close.

What's Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 12: Heho to Yangon – Departure

Inle's birds provide their final rousing call as their morning song cascades across the placid blue of the lake. Relax with breakfast and take in your last morning in Myanmar before you are transferred to the airport at Heho for a domestic flight to Yangon. A representative will greet you in Yangon to assist with your transfer to your international departure.

What's Included: airport transfer, breakfast

Price

Starting Price 

$2,155
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.