Myanmar is country of immense biological diversity. It is one of the few Asian countries where scientists from around the world can still discover new animal species such as the leaf deer ( Muntiacus putaoensis) , recently discovered in NW Myanmar’s Kachin state. Avian species such as Gurneys pitta, have recently been re-discovered long after it was considered extinct. Our SE forest tracts in the Tenassarim and those of northern Kachin state are some of the last haunts of the endangered tiger and other rare Asian mega fauna.
At Woodlands we value this natural world in the same way that we value our culture and beautiful historical/religious monuments. We feel it is our duty to help preserve these natural regions and we do so through ecotourism. Only ecotourism values undisturbed forests and wildlife in their natural state.
Woodlands is one of the few outfitters in Myanmar that offers travelers guided jeep safaris and meticulously organized treks into Myanmar’s national parks and wilderness areas. Our wilderness journeys can be built into traditional tours of Myanmar’s cultural and historical monuments lasting only an afternoon. Or we can arrange multi-day adventures, which allow one to immerse more deeply into our unique SE Asian ecosystem. What follows are very brief introductions to some of Myanmar’s more outstanding natural wonders. For more information on combining visits to these places with cultural tours, please contact us.
Alontaw Kathapha National Park (Sagaing Division)
Deep in western Myanmar’s Sagaing Division, not far from the Chin Hills lies Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park. This exquisite 620 square mile national park was established as a wildlife sanctuary in 1941 and opened as a national park in 1984. For lovers of mega fauna and birding, the park is a destination itself. It can be accessed by car from both Mandalay and Monywa. The park contains many residential birds, butterflies tiger, leopard, gaur, banteng and barking deer among others. Like most of our excursions into the natural world, all tours can be done on the backs of elephants.
Khakarborazi National Park (Kachin State)
If you are looking for untracked wilderness the likes of which has all but disappeared from most of inner Asia, this 1472 square mile National Park is the place for you. Its wilderness, remote tribal groups, and diverse fauna were first made famous by the intrepid explorer Frank Kingdon Ward in the early part of the 20 th century. His books are required reading for all explorers to this park. More recently, Alan Rabinowitz of the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York wrote Beyond the Last Village about his multi-year quest to survey this wilderness and turn it into the park that it is today. is situated in Nogmung Township, Kachin State.
The journey to Hkakaborazi starts from Putao (formerly known as Fort Hertz in British times) which is a small town not unlike Chamonix, France or Boulder, Colorado. Putao has a small airport which groups can fly into from Yangon or Myitkyina. Soon out of Putao all roads end and groups begin walking. Woodlands treks into the park can last from 1-2 days or 4 weeks for those intent on reaching the glaciers of Myanmar’s unexplored Himalayan peaks.
Our treks into the Hkakaborazi wilderness are also anthropological expeditions. You will have the opportunity to interact with various ethnic groups such as the Lisu, Rawang, Myanma Tibetan, and what may be the last generation of the T’rong- a tribe that is so isolated it no longer has the diversity of people to perpetuate itself.
The natural history one encounters in the Hkakaborazi wilderness is unmatched. Nearly all flora ecosystems are passed while walking including evergreen, hill alpine and moist upper mixed deciduous forests. As for wildlife, Takin, Musk Deer, Blue Sheep, Black Barking Deer, several species in the cat family, black neck crane and many, many other species are encountered. For information on our visits to Hkakaborazi’s Burmese Himalaya, please contact us.
Indawgyi Lake Wildlife Sanctuary (Kachin State)
Indawgyi Lake Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Lontene village, Mohnyin Township of Kachin State. It is the largest inland lake in South East Asia. The lake and surrounding forests were declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1999. The reserve is ideal for birders or those simply looking to relax. Nearby the lake are community run eco-guest houses where people can stay. These look out over the lake and provide easy access to hiking areas.
Birders will find this area a paradise as it is one of the best birding sites in Myanmar. Among 120 species of forest dwelling birds are Red jungle fowl, Pheasant, Barbet, Green Pigeon, Great Pied Hornbill, Collard Treepie and Dove. Resident and migratory water birds include Great Cormorant, Spot-billed Duck, Tufted Duck and Spot-billed Pelican.
The lake can be reached over a mornings drive from Myitkyina. After exploration of Idawgyi it is possible to venture further west into Naga areas of Sagaing state-one of the least known but richest cultural and wildlife areas of Myanmar.
Lampi National Marine Park (Thanintharyi Division)
Lampi is one of the largest and perhaps the most biologically diverse of the 800 islands in the fabled Myeik Archipelago. This island chain off the coast of SE Myanmar not far from Thailand, is treasure trove of cultural and biological wealth. These remote, pristine islands are similar to Thailand’s coastal islands 40 years ago before mass tourism. They are home to the nomadic Mokken people that live on boats and fish for a simple subsistence existence. They are some of the least known people in the world. Our journeys to this island chain include a mix of diving, sea kayaking, snorkeling, nature hiking etc. Lampi island is known for its diverse terrestrial and marine biodiversity such as dense evergreen forests, amazing tidal mangroves, fish, marine turtles and coral reefs. The islands can be reached by boat from Kawthaung, a frontier town opposite Thailand’s Ranaung region.
Natma-taung National Park
Also known as Mt. Victoria, Natma-taung National Park was established in 1994 to protect this mountain and the surrounding environment. The 279 square mile wide National Park is situated in Chin State. Mt. Victoria (Natmataung) is nearly 11,000 ft high-not high by Himalayan standards, but very high for this area of mere ‘hills’.
The base camp of Natmataung can be reached from Bagan temple landscape by car. The trip up to Natmataung Peak (10,500 ft) can be done entirely on foot from old Kanpetlet city. One can drive the first 10 miles by car ride and hike the last 5 miles. Woodlands offers fine overnight camping trips in this area that allow one to camp on the flanks of the peak. Our trips also offer one fine glimpses of the Chin culture as well as the fascinating mix of Manipuri/Mizo culture spilling over from nearby India.
Pho Kyar Elephant Camp is situated by the side of Thaing Creekin Taungoo, Bago Division near Thagara which is just 205 miles away from Yangon. It was set up as the base camp of Taungoo timber Extraction region for doing timber business & for elephant keepers 20 years ago.