Myanmar is an incredibly diverse country, home to over 100 hundred different ethnic groups. Each unique stop on this 11-day expedition will feel like a world unto itself. We'll photograph on land, on water, and by air; we'll see sunrises and sunsets; we'll explore shadowy caves by day and striking stupas by night. John McDermott, a professional photographer who has worked throughout Myanmar and neighboring regions, will provide the group with hands-on guidance and expertise. Throughout the journey, our cameras will act as a constant reminder to pause and observe, to pay attention to details and ask questions about the rituals, traditions, and cuisines that we'll experience together.
We'll begin in the city of Mandalay, Myanmar's former royal capital, stretching along the Irrawaddy River. From there, we'll take to the waterways, bound for the ancient capital of Bagan, a vast flood plain dotted with hundreds of temples and stupas stretching into the horizon. Next, it’s on to Pindaya to explore limestone caves home to thousands of shining Buddhas, and then to Inle Lake, a pristine body of water featuring floating gardens, markets, monasteries, and traditional fishing boats. Our final days together will bring us to Yangon and the Shwedagon Pagoda, the country’s largest and most important religious shrine.
Note that the trip begins in Mandalay and ends in Yangon. When planning your travel, we recommend flying into Mandalay International Airport (MDL) by 3 p.m. on November 8 and departing from Yangon International Airport (RGN) anytime on November 18. Thailand's Bangkok International Airport (BKK) is a convenient hub for connecting flights. We are happy to refer you to our flight specialists for assistance in booking your travel.
You should feel comfortable walking four to five miles over the course of each day and remaining on your feet for long periods of time. The trip includes transport by foot, boat, and private van, in addition to two regional flights.
Participants should have a strong basic understanding of the digital photographic process, including some post-processing skills using Adobe Lightroom and/or Photoshop, or their equivalent. A good DSLR or high-end mirrorless camera is suggested along with the proper user manual and/or complete understanding of the camera’s menus. Each participant should have a good kit, but one that is compact and easy to carry on your person at all times. Lens selection is a user choice but situations will call for both wide-angle and telephoto capabilities, and fast lenses are preferred. Tripods are optional but recommended as they will come in handy in low light and dusk settings. Email us if you'd like our full set of suggestions for your photo gear kit.
Remember that it is always important to ask permission to photograph someone, even if it is just with a nod of the head, and especially from anywhere close-up.
November is the start of Myanmar's more temperate winter season, with daytime temperatures in the upper 80s to low 90s°F (32–34°C), dropping down to the low 70s°F at night (22°C). Keep in mind that we’ll be spending lots of time outdoors and moving around.
Myanmar has many things to recommend it as a travel destination, but there's no question that it's more complex than it's usually portrayed to travelers. To gain a more nuanced understanding of Myanmar is, in our view, one of the reasons to go there—specifically with guides and fellow travelers who are interested in much more than just sightseeing. Our local guides are committed to showing you what makes these places so special to the people who call them home, and operating in an ethical way and with a high level of respect for all Burmese people.
Like everyone, we are appalled by the ongoing persecution of the Rohingya Muslims. At the same time, it’s clear that tourism in Myanmar can still be a force for good, especially when we’re able to work directly with local vendors and communities. To the best of our knowledge, in operating this trip, we do not work with any suppliers who are connected to the military elite. A portion of everything we earn goes toward efforts to reform the country’s education system through the Parami Foundation. In addition, the money that we spend in villages throughout the trip lifts people’s lives, and in a small way, helps empower people who are not a part of the country’s established power structures.