Country roads in Chin state
The journey to Mt Victoria is one of Myanmar’s greatest road trips. The roads are a bit rough, requiring a four-wheel drive jeep to navigate the terrain and the travel time is slow. Thus, most guests spend a minimum of four days on their Mt Victoria tour to get the most out of their foray into the Chin Hills. Departing from Bagan, leave the temples behind as you travel southwest through dry zone terrain. Then, cross the Irrawaddy River and continue west watching as the landscape begins to shift from flatlands to highland forests and jungles. After a stop in the charming village of Saw for a rest, cross into the Chin State and arrive to the town of Kanpetlet. Stepping out of the jeep in the early evening, breathe in the cool, fresh mountain air and take a look around at the lush surroundings. Now there is no doubt–you have finally arrived to Chin State!
hike to the summit
Enjoy a hearty breakfast at the Kanpetlet hotel, fueling up for the highlight of your Chin State adventure: the hike to the top of Mt Victoria. A short drive of 45-minutes will take you to the start of the trail, which is located at 6,000 feet above sea level. Lace up your hiking boots, grab your binoculars, some water, and off you go! During the 3-hour hike you will see an abundant display of exotic plants, a large variety of bird species, and depending on the time of year, butterflies. Of course the views also become increasingly impressive as you make your way to the peak at 10,200 feet. Celebrate your accomplishment with a few photos and then sit down for a picnic lunch, replenishing your energy for the return hike.
From Naturals Wonders to Cultural Encounters
Hiking down Mt Victoria, you have plenty of time to really appreciate the views and to stop and chat with fellow hikers on the trail. Once back at the jeep, it’s time to hit the road again, driving 1.5 hours to Aye Village. Aye is a typical Chin village, a collection of family houses nestled in the rugged highlands with some abodes precariously jutting out over the hills on stilts. You will be staying in one of these homes, giving you the unique opportunity to experience what life is like in one of Myanmar’s most remote regions. Walk around the village and you will feel like you have entered another world…one untouched by the trappings of modern society. As the sun begins to set, return to your home for the night where a traditional local dinner will be served. Nod off to sleep, enjoying the solitude of this remote corner of Myanmar.
Trails, villages, and ancient traditions
The next morning awaken to the sounds of the village coming to life. The days start early here with farmers heading out to the fields at the first light of day. After eating the breakfast prepared by your hosts, it is also time for you to hit the road, making your way to Mindat, the final destination on your Chin State excursion. But do not worry–the adventure continues throughout the day with plenty of stops en route.
There are a few options, depending on your fitness level. If you have regained your energy after your Mt Victoria hike, you can spend a half-day walking to Kyardo Village. If you have had enough activity, you can still venture to other small villages by jeep and on foot. No matter the route you take, you are certain to learn more about the rich traditions and diversity of the Chin State.
Most of the people are Christian; but, they also practice animism–a form of spirit worship–and you can visit some of the churches and shrines in the area. You will see cottage industries, such as the weaving of traditional Chin textiles and local wine production. While meandering through the villages you may also encounter women from the Chin ethnic group with incredible tattoos on the faces of females. This ancient practice is now banned so it is only the older women who display these traditional markings, meaning you will be one of the fortunate few visitors who will get to see this fading facet of Chin culture.
With your Myanmar Diaries filled with pages of these unique Chin encounters, continue to Mindat for the evening. Although Mindat is quite small, it may feel like a big city compared to where you have been in recent days! Freshen up and enjoy dinner before turning in for a good night’s sleep.
Looping back to Bagan
Before returning to Bagan, take some time to wander through Mindat in the morning. The atmospheric highland town has an interesting morning market which is worth a visit and the town itself is quite photogenic with its wooden buildings and green surroundings. Breathe in one last lungful of mountain air and journey by jeep back to Bagan, descending into the flatlands around mid-day and reaching town before dusk. Your holiday may not yet be over, but certainly your Mt Victoria excursion is going to be just one of the highlights that will fill your Myanmar Diaries.
Ei Phyo Pai (Ms.)
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- Viewing diverse landscapes as you journey to Mt Victoria
- Spotting exotic flowers and birds near Mt Victoria
- Enjoying stunning views from Myanmar’s third-highest mountain
- Experiencing life in a remote Chin village
- Meeting Chin elders with traditional facial tattoos
- From November to February
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